HC Deb 18 June 1912 vol 39 cc1502-3

I beg to move, "That leave be given to introduce a Bill to amend the Shops Act, 1912."

I think it is agreed on all sides that the Shops Bill, which was passed last year and embodied in the Act of this year, requires amendment with regard to its application to premises for the sale of refreshments. It has now been proved that the Act, which came into operation some little time ago, presses somewhat hardly upon waiters and restaurateurs, both in the City of London and elsewhere. Waiters stand in a very peculiar position, especially in regard to those restaurants that cater merely for luncheon in the middle of the day in the large cities of the United Kingdom. The waiter, as a rule, does not come to work before ten or half-past ten in the morning, and under this Bill he is bound to have luncheon one day in the week before 1.30 p.m., though people begin to flock into the restaurants at half-past twelve. At that hour the waiters work under very high pressure indeed until half-past two or three. The waiter can generally go home before half-past three. In fact, very few waiters work at the restaurant more than thirty-five, forty, or forty-five hours per week. Therefore I ask leave to bring in this Bill limiting the Shops Act in its application to premises for the sale of refreshments. The restaurants in the City of London and also the Restaurants Society, which represents the restaurants and the waiters, have been in constant communication with the Home Office; and I understand that this morning they have come to terms with the officials at the Home Office. Whilst the Home Secretary stated he was himself unable to bring in a Bill to amend the Act, he said there was no reason why a private Member should not bring in such a Bill, and, with that view, this Bill has been prepared by myself at the request of the restaurateurs of London and also on behalf of the waiters. We have taken as our model Clause 6 of the Bill of last year. That was amended in Committee, but unfortunately it did not get into the Bill which is now an Act.

The Bill provides that as an alternative to Clause 1 of the Act the occupier of premises used for the sale of refreshments (whether licensed or not) may by giving proper notice elect that the following provisions shall apply:—

  1. (a) That each assistant shall have one whole day's rest in seven, either by 1503 having 34 whole days on a week-day, of which eight shall be consecutive, with 18 whole holidays on Sunday in every year (two half-holidays on a week-day to be deemed equivalent to one whole holiday on a week-day).
  2. (b) That intervals for meals shall be allowed to every such assistant amounting on a half-holiday to not less than 1½ hours and on every other day to not less than 2 hours.
The penalties for breach of these on the part of the employer to be as provided by the Act for breach thereof.

I can assure the House that this Bill meets with the approval of the whole of the restaurant keepers and the various societies which represent them, and also the waiters, and therefore I hope the House will see fit to give it a First Reading.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir William Bull, Mr. Walter Long, Sir Henry Dalziel, Mr. John Henderson, and Mr. Newton. Presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Friday, 5th July, and to be printed.