§ Except as hereinafter provided, every shop shall be closed for the serving of customers not later than seven o'clock in the evening on every day other than Saturday, and not later than eight o'clock in the evening on Saturday.
§ Provided that in the case of any shop where the business carried on is that of a newsagent, tobacconist, or confectioner, the hour at which the shop shall be closed shall be eight o'clock in the evening on every day other than Saturday, and nine o'clock in the evening on Saturday.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The first Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury)—to leave out the Clause—goes against the whole principle of the Bill.
§ Mr. C. PERCY
I beg to move after the word "shop" ["provided every shop shall be"] to insert the words "where any assistant is employed".
I think it will be generally agreed that in all popular movements a line can be drawn within which one can act with safety and advantage, but if you go beyond that line, then you are almost certain to be launched into the region of evil and regrettable consequences. I often feel that in some particular directions Parliament has been so engaged in legislation that if we go very much further a man will not be able to speak or move or act without some well-paid Government official dodging his heels and insulting his self-respect. What is the object of this Bill? It is called the "Shop Assist- 1662 ants' Charter," and its object is to secure to a very worthy and responsible body in this country leisure by which they can indulge in rest, recreation and culture, which every law of equity demands that they shall possess. If it is desired, so far as the ship assistants are concerned, to effect this purpose, I would suggest to the promoters of the Bill that a very easy way is simply to pass an Act providing that no shop assistant shall work for more than, say, forty-eight hours a week, but this Bill has cast its net so as to include a very large and important body of small shopkeepers, to interfere with whom any further would, I submit, be not only an act of injustice but really approaching an act of tyranny. Of whom is that class very largely composed? It includes the single and unprotected woman; it includes the widow who has a family to rear; it includes the old pensioner and the man of small means, with a small business possessing, in many cases, stock to the value of anything from £5 to £50, or even £100, living in one or two rooms behind or above the shop, living peaceful and quiet lives, and, above all, desiring to be let alone to manage their own affairs. Why should we try to prevent a man, say, in a little village or little town keeping his shop open, if he pleases, until half-past seven or even eight o'clock on a summer night or on a fair day, so that he may by so doing add a little to his slender income I hope the Government will consider this point, and accent this Amendment. I quite agree that to secure that liberty which is possessed by this country more than any other country in the world, we have to sacrifice a certain amount, but when legislation is sought to curtail and hamper the industry, ambition and desire of the small man to add a little to his income, while doing no harm to any member of the community and only good to himself, I think the time has come when Parliament should say, "Enough! Stop! "and should refuse to adopt any such legislation.
§ Major NALL
I beg to second the Amendment, on the ground already expressed by the Mover. There is no doubt that the inclusion within the Bill of the many small men, who have set tip in trade during the last twelve months, many with grants from the Civil Liability Commissioners, will be absolutely ruined if the Bill passes in its present shape. I 1663 have had deputations and long communications from organisations representing these people, and I do not think it is generally realised what a great state of alarm does. exist amongst these people, who, unfortunately, are not sufficiently organised to make their protest felt as it ought to be felt. I suppose it will be argued on the other hand that the small shop will get the business of the larger shops which has been forced to close under this Bill. I am one of those who has expressed himself in favour of early closing as a general principle. At that time I never for a moment expected that when this Bill came up it would seek to do more than to maintain the hours which have been enforced under D.O.R.A. I never expected that it would refuse to consider the case of the man who trades in a small way on his own account, for the most part in a back street, and who in no way competes with the larger, or more prosperous, or multiple shop in the main street.
This Bill not only seeks to enforce one of the most pernicious forms of D.O.R.A.—and who in this House is not pledged to see the burial of D.O.R.A.—it not only seeks to continue one of the most repressive forms of D.O.R.A., it seeks to make it far worse. Having, like many other bon. Members, undertaken to support early closing, that is, 8 o'clock on Mondays and 9 o'clock on Saturdays, it really, I think, is not fair to small traders to make them close at 7 p.m. Many of these men and women have told me that they are quite prepared to be closed all day, or for the greater part of the day, if they can pursue their legitimate trade in the evening They deal in a form of trade which only arises after the workers have got home. They get home now in many cases at 5 o'clock, under the shorter hours, and they may come out again about half-past six or seven; but how on earth are these people going to trade, the one with the other, as they have been accustomed to if these shops are to close at 7 o'clock? Therefore, while there is a case for earlier compulsory closing of shops in general there is, to my mind, no case at all for making the small trader who depends upon his evening sale shut down at the hour that he does not want and at an hour that will do him no good. There is no sense in stopping him trading in the evening if he has had the greater 1664 part of the day for recreation. Such a measure of repression as is proposed in the present Bill can only be described as Prussianism gone mad. Therefore, on these grounds I second the Amendment, which will exempt altogether the man or woman referred to, promote a much better state of things, and exempt those small traders whose trade is absolutely dependent, on the evening hours.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
I only desire to make a brief reply to the case which has been made for the Amendment, because obviously, if this Bill is to have any success, it is necessary for the supporters of it to be very brief though adequate in their reply. The Amendment seeks to exempt from the operation of the early closing set out in the Bill those shops which do not employ assistants. It would be fatal to the whole principle of the Bill if shopkeepers who employ no assistants remained open as long as they liked, while, on the other hand, those who employ assistants had to obey the provisions of the Bill. No one could administer such a law. You might have the members of a family, say, engaged in a shop under no contract of service yet being permitted to remain open at any time.
§ Major NALL
The Amendment to include contract of service has not been moved. It includes any assistants, whether members of the family or not.
§ Sir K. WOOD
That would add to the difficulty of the situation. It would simply mean an examination into the business of proprietors of shops, as to the people engaged in their shops. My final observation is, that it is not a fact that this Bill adversely affects shop assistants or proprietors of shops in this country. This Bill largely owes its origin to the request of these very people themselves. The owners of shops desire that this Bill should speedily become law. I hope, therefore, the House will see its way to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
Certain hon. Members who have spoken represent town constituencies. I should like to point out that in the case of country villages in remote country districts, people will be disappointed if this Amendment is not carried. There may be difficulty in the working of it. In many country villages there is a small shop run by a man 1665 without an assistant. The case certainly is different and harder in the case of the country village than in the ordinary town. There may be strong arguments for what is here advocated in the towns. I am quite sure that the case of the country village, or trader there, may prove to be one of very considerable hardship. After their work is done, men go a long way to get what they want, and if they find practically no shops open, it will be a hardship both for the dealer and the customer.
I shall cordially support this Amendment, because I feel that it does get to the root of the whole business, which is; that the man who runs a small shop should be allowed to conduct his business in his own way. In my small experience as a Member of this House, I have had scores of letters from ex-soldiers who want concessions from one Government Department or another to open a little business. I know, from the thousands of letters I have received, that they want to make up for lost time. These men have fought, and have given to the country their best. They come back here to find—what? Immediately they open their little shop, we get a gentleman here, without the authority of the Government even—it is this peddling Private Bill business—coming to try to put a new embargo on the activities of the small shopkeeper. I say this: If we have secured to the assistant a good wage and decent hours, we ought to leave the employer the whole of his business to conduct in his own way. We are living still under D.O.R.A., and what is going to happen is that either the Government or these interfering private people are going to fasten D.O.R.A. upon us. This is a Bill which is a restriction of private enterprise and the liberty of the subject, and every Amendment which whittles down the interference that this Bill imposes I shall cordially support. The hon. Member who has just spoken said something about little villages. Although a townsman myself, I have the honour of representing a constituency comprising a number of little villages, and I can imagine nothing more inconvenient than to say to an ex-soldier who has opened a general dealer's shop in one of those villages, "You must shut up at five o'clock, or you shall not do any more business after seven o'clock." The whole of this Bill is based on false 1666 and impertinent principles, and I am sure, when the country understands it, and when the small shopkeeper realises what it means, such principles will not receive the support of the people of this country.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
After listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich (Sir Kingsley Wood) in support of this Bill, I fail to understand what is the exact object of this Measure. Three or four weeks ago, when I heard this Bill discussed on the Second Reading, I gathered that its main object was to prevent shop assistants in large establishments from being compelled to work after 7 o'clock, or more than a certain number of hours per week. Now I understand that this Bill has nothing to do with that. I cannot understand why shop assistants are not able to take care of their own interests. They might form a trade union, which would dictate their terms of service and wages, and every other condition, and it does not require legislation to do that. This particular Amendment has nothing to do with large undertakings. I agree with the Mover of this Amendment that sometimes legislation is required to protect persons from exercising freedom on behalf of individuals when it is injurious to the whole community.
We have been told that every virtue lies between two extremes, both of which are bad. I cannot help thinking this is one of the extremes which is bad, because it prevents everyone having that freedom which every citizen has a right to have. I hope the House will consider carefully the arguments which have been put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend. Hon. Members appear to think that all shops have a large number of assistants, but in our villages the small shop is generally kept by one person, with his wife, or daughter, or perhaps a son, to assist, and there are no shop assistants employed in the ordinary sense. Are you going to prevent such shops as those being kept open an hour later than the time indicated in this Bill. Why such, a proposal should be made it is impossible for an ordinary citizen to understand. Why should you prevent people in one of those villages knocking a tradesman up to serve them.
It is said that the object of the Bill is to prevent assistants being employed for 1667 longer hours than is necessary, but this can be achieved without inflicting this extreme hardship upon hundreds and thousands of small shopkeepers in different villages who are crying out against this Bill. Since this Measure was introduced I have received piles of letters protesting against the iniquity of this Bill, and they are nearly all from small shopkeepers. They come from all parts of the country, from Birmingham, Gravesend, Leicester, Essex Road, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but I will not weary the House by reading them. I might very well have read every one of them, and I am sure the House would have been impressed, because they come from very poor people who will be oppressed by this Bill, the object of which is said to be to enable a large number of shop assistants to leave their shops an hour earlier. It is, without exception, the greatest restriction upon the liberty of the poor people of this country than has been the case in regard to any Bill which was ever brought before this House. I urge those who are desirous that this Bill should pass to give their support to this Amendment.
§ Sir WILLIAM PEARCE
I am sorry the supporters of the Bill have not seen their way to accept this Amendment. There are, first of all, a large number of people who shop between 6 and 8 o'clock, and secondly, there are a large number of small shops belonging to very poor people whose trade is nearly all done between those hours. I have received quite a pathetic letter from an old lady in the East End, who says that her business is done between the hours of 6 and 8 o'clock (evening), and her principal customers are those who are out at work all day. Unless the promoters of this Bill can do something to meet these cases I am afraid there are many of us who cannot support this Measure.
Sir J. D. REES
The circumstances in which hon. Members are placed to-day cannot but make one glad that this is the last of the interfering Fridays. We are placed by this private Bill somewhat in a dilemma. Evidently this measure is supported by the Government, although I do not know to what extent. I notice there is a sort of collusion between the hon. Member in charge of the Bill (Major Baird) and the hon. Gentleman (Sir K. 1668 Wood) who has spoken from the Front Bench. A private Member is placed in such a position that, with every desire to do his duty to-day, he feels that he might as well have participated in pleasures of the first magnitude which offer elsewhere.
I would like to know what is the attitude of small shopkeepers on this question, and I have been trying to find out the view of my own constituency. I am not much impressed by the result of the canvass which has been placed before us. I do not think we should be pushed on a Friday into voting large sums of public money or interfering with the liberty of the subject. I understand my hon. Friend on the Front Bench to say that the Government is in no way responsible for this Bill, but to me their attitude seems more than platonic, and the hon. Member on the front Bench has manifested all the outward and visible signs of a Member of the Government in charge of a Bill. I do not understand the hon. Member for Woolwich when he delivers such an ex cathedral sort of speech. He spoke of finality in this matter, but I shall be glad if we do not reach the stage of finality—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)
The hon. Baronet had better keep to the Amendment.
Sir J. D. REES
I realise that this Amendment will largely alter the effect of this Bill. I want to know what is the attitude of the small shopkeeper on this point. There are bound to be many in my own constituency who employ no assistant. I think it would be an exceedingly strong measure to say that a woman who single-handedly carries on a shop should be compelled to close in this way. The great shops agree that the small shops do not seriously compete with them, and I hope, therefore, we shall have an opportunity of consulting our constituents before we are forced to vote on this exceedingly important matter. It is no use our having beaten the Prussians if we are going to introduce Prussianism into the management of our own affairs.
§ Mr. HAILWOOD
I rise to support the Amendment. The nature of my own business has possibly given me more knowledge of small shopkeepers than is possessed by many Members of this House. They are opposed to being compelled to close their shops at this early hour. An old lady recently came to see 1669 me. She keeps a sweet shop in the neighbourhood of some theatres. She tells me she does practically the whole of her business between seven and eight at night. She does not employ any assistant whatever. She does not do much business during the daytime. If legislation is passed compelling that woman to give up that last hour of the evening when she is perfectly willing to attend to the shop, it will be very hard on her. She supplies, presumably, a necessary want in the neighbourhood. People often purchase sweets while they are waiting for the second house. Why should she be interfered with in carrying on her business? Then we have the case of ex-soldiers coming back from the Front and trying to build up little businesses for themselves. I have a letter here from one of these men in which he says:I beg to point out my strong disapproval of the 7 o'clock closing. In 1914 I volunteered for the front and was accepted. I won the Mons star. I joined up to fight for freedom—that freedom which every Englishman desires to enjoy. Now the war is over the small man is not wanted to light. But why should his privileges be taken away by the large men who have already made their money? If this early closing takes place it will be the first step towards bankruptcy for thousands of men like myself. The small shopkeeper fought for freedom, expecting to be able to earn a livelihood in England after fighting for it. I hope you will do your utmost to get early closing ruled out.The essential point is this, when the business grows to such an extent that assistants are necessary it will automatically come under the other provisions of the Bill, so that there can be no possible hardship in regard to the multiple or other large shopkeepers who employ a number of assistants. Why need they be afraid of small individual shopkeepers entering into serious competition with them? That seems to be the whole essence of the objection they have to the small shops keeping open. I submit that, inasmuch as when the business has grown sufficiently big to employ assistants it will automatically have to close at 7 o'clock, there is no ground for putting them under this obligation. We hear a lot to-day about the monopolies which we have in our midst. I do not believe that the public have suffered any very great hardship from monopolies, as so far they have been conducted efficiently and have sold their goods at reasonable prices. These small shopkeepers feel the competition of the great tradespeople in the 1670 neighbourhood. They are handicapped in various ways. They cannot buy in large quantities, and therefore they ought to be allowed as much freedom as possible in order to develop their business. We have to rely on competition for bringing down prices and for the prosperity of this country, and if we are going to cut away the opportunity of competition at its lowest point by handicapping these small shopkeepers, I submit it will be a very bad thing for this country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. WARREN
Listening to the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon, one would almost imagine that this question of early closing has come under the notice of some hon. Members for the first time to-day. Let me try to educate some of my hon. Friends by calling attention to the fact that for at least 30 or 40 years there has been gradually created a public opinion in this country in respect of this question that has no relation to shop premises. This has not been sprung upon the House or upon the country within the last two months. Ever since my early days, as the son of a shopkeeper, I can remember the endeavour gradually to educate not only the shopkeepers but the people of the country to a more reasonable and sound line of conduct in relation to shopping. Over a long period grave abuses have grown up in relation to this matter.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Will the hon. Member please come to the Amendment?
§ Sir A. WARREN
I beg pardon, Mr. Deputy-Speaker; I am on Clause 1.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are not on Clause 1; we are on the Amendment.
§ Sir A. WARREN
As a rule I extend the greatest courtesy to hon. Members of this House, and I venture to hope I may receive the same from them. This Amendment, in my judgment, cuts at the root of the whole thing. During these later years we have learned that it was possible to make considerable alterations. The speeches this afternoon might have been delivered with good effect in 1914, when the provisions of D.O.R.A. were enacted, not only in relation to multiple shops, but in relation to all kinds and conditions of business premises, the proprietors of which, whether they liked it or not, were compelled to come under those provisions, whether they carried on their 1671 business themselves as individuals or with assistants. They had no appeal. I hope we have learned from that not to want to go back to pre-War conditions. Where are you going to differentiate between the proprietor of a small shop who carries on his business by himself, the proprietor of a small undertaking who has one or two assistants, and the proprietor of a large undertaking with scores or hundreds of assistants? I think it may rightly be urged, so far as the larger undertakings are concerned, that they would not be seriously affected, but certainly hardship would be imposed upon the small shopkeeper who keeps one, two or three assistants. Who is going to differentiate in regard to that? Where is the hardship if this Clause goes through as it stands, seeing that under Clause 4 all these small persons could get exemption by making application in the proper quarter? I hope we are not going to destroy this Bill by such an Amendment as this, and by damning it with faint praise, because there is a great public opinion in favour of this Measure. For these reasons I shall resist the Amendment.
§ Mr. KILEY
I desire to support the Amendment. I note with interest that there are at least two hon. Members who are prepared to justify the proposal contained in the Bill that the proprietor of a one-man business—or one-woman business for that matter—shall not be allowed to trade because of the possibility of their interfering with the large establishments that may exist in their district. A good deal has been said from the point of view of the shopkeeper, and also of the shop assistant, and as far as the reduction of the hours of shop assistants is concerned, I am prepared to support any reasonable proposal that will reduce their present hours. I am not so much concerned at this moment about the assistants, or even the proprietor of what is known as the one-man business; but I am a little concerned about the consumer who patronises those shops. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) stated that he would be very brief, and, after listening to his arguments, I congratulate him upon his discretion, because he referred very little indeed to, and did not put forward any solid reason to justify, the proposed interference with the people whom we are 1672 now discussing. Like myself, he is in the fortunate position, doubtless, of being able to obtain what he requires during certain hours of the day. If we are not at home ourselves, we can leave someone there who can take in what we require, and place it in some place suitable for its keeping. There are, however, a considerable number of people who are not so fortunate. They have to go out day by day to earn whatever they can obtain, and at the end of their day they have to go and obtain their requirements. They have no reserve, and have to wait until the end of the day to receive their daily wage; and in many cases they have no suitable place in which to keep provisions for any period. On behalf of people of that kind we might reasonably consider whether these small shops in the back streets, which at the present time supply a public need, should be interfered with. The only justification for interfering with them is that in some way some hardship might be inflicted by causing shop assistants to work longer hours than is necessary If that is the only reason, I suggest that there is a suitable way of dealing with the difficulty, namely, by bringing in another Bill to limit shop assistants' hours of labour. I think that such a proposal would receive the unanimous consent of this House.
Sir F. HALL
I rise to support the Amendment, because I do not believe in the ringing of the curfew and in telling people exactly what to do and what not to do. I believe in giving all care and attention to those who are working for one, but when you turn round and say to the principal, "You shall not do such and such a thing at such and such an hour," it is a fine pass that we are coming to if this House of Commons is going to adopt such a Measure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ardwick (Mr. Hailwood) said just now, many of these small shopkeepers take the bulk of their money quite late in the evening. They have nothing else to keep them. You are going to turn round and tell these people that, because it is necessary and advisable that the large multiple shops shall be closed at a certain hour, we, the House of Commons, say that they shall not have a right, whatever their requirements may be, to do any work after a certain given hour. The next thing we shall have brought into this House will be some Bill to compel a man to go to bed at a certain 1673 given time. Why not? If you turn round and say that a man shall not work after a certain time, why not also say that he shall go to bed and go to sleep at a certain time? I really cannot think that the majority of the Members of this House intend to put such a limitation upon the hours one may work. Only quite recently we have had discussions with regard to production. We are always told by the Government that we must produce more. Yet, while on the one hand we are told that there must be a larger production, on the other hand people are told that they shall not produce their income after a certain given hour. I sincerely trust that this Amendment will be accepted, and if my hon. Friends go to a Division upon it I shall certainly support them.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This is an extremely important Amendment, which deals with the livelihood of a very large number of people, and those hon. Members who always say they support the poor and oppressed ought at any rate to listen to the arguments of those of us who, from our own experience, know how hardly this Bill, unless amended as is now proposed, would press upon the poorer and smaller class of shopkeepers. My hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Lane Fox) said that the arguments had been advanced as if the only people who were concerned were people in large cities. He pointed out quite rightly how hardly this would press upon people who dwell in the smaller country towns and villages, but I think he forgets that there are in many large towns—I have had personal experience of this which I propose to acquaint the House with—the same class of people as exist in the Yorkshire villages. An hon. Member suggested earlier in the day that I did not sit for a democratic constituency. I do not know what the meaning of the word "democratic" is in the hon. Member's mind. I thought it meant that everyone, whoever he was, whether he happened to be rich or poor, should have an equal voice in the management of the Government. The hon. Member apparently thinks it is only the people he represents who should have that voice and the people I represent should have nothing whatever to say to it. The illustration I am going to give is an illustration of what occurred when I formerly sat for what I think the hon. Member will admit was an extremely democratic constituency, because it was mostly composed 1674 of working men, who, I suppose, in his idea, are the only people who are democrats. For 14 years I sat for the Peckham Division of Camberwell.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I must ask the right hon. Baronet kindly to keep to the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is exactly what I was going to do. I was going to say, and I think you, Sir, will agree that it is in order, that when I sat for Peckham there were a large number of shopkeepers who had small shops which they managed by themselves, or possibly with the assistance of one of their family, and consequently I had great experience of what this Amendment means to a very large number of people. The manner in which they carried on their shop was this. They lived over the shop, their sitting-room, and very often their kitchen, was behind the shop, and there was a door which communicated with a bell, and when you opened the shop door the bell rang and the owner of the shop, who was sitting in his back parlour, came in and served you. The only opportunity these people have of selling their goods is when the larger shops are shut. I am glad the hon Member (Viscountess Astor) approves of what I am saying. I hope she will back me up, especially as her name is on the Bill, and probably a very large number of people in Plymouth are in the same position as were my former constituents. Their livelihood could only be maintained if they were allowed to serve the working classes when returning from their work—in those days, thank God, they worked longer than they do now—between 6 and 8, and finding the larger shops closed, were able to go to the smaller ones. I have received a letter from an ex-soldier pointing out that he desired when he came back to this country to do his best to make a living and advance himself in this world. I have had letters from small shopkeepers thanking me for the action I have taken, not only now, but ever since I have been a Member of the House, and as an illustration of how strongly these small shopkeepers feel on this interference, let me point out what occurred in my last election at Peckham. The small shopkeepers were so strong upon this matter, that because a proposal had been made to limit their hours, and because someone, in disregard of the truth, had said that I was in favour of it, 1675 they would hardly allow me to go into their shops when I went round canvassing. I remember going into one shop kept by a woman, and I thought at first I should have to run for my life. I asked her what it was about, and she said, "Because you people in the House of Commons have been endeavouring to take away my sole means of livelihood." That is what will happen if the Amendment is accepted. We ought to encourage these people—shop assistants do not come into the question at all—who are endeavouring to advance themselves in life and earn a livelihood. How is it that hon. Gentlemen learned in the law have come to the front and a great many of them have arrived at the Woolsack? By working hard, not for a few hours in the day, but very often sixteen, seventeen and eighteen hours out of the twenty-four. I know the idea on the other side of the House is that the less you do the better for everyone. That is not my idea, and it is not the idea which has made England what it is.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
For some it is.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I will not be drawn aside by the hon. Member's interruption. Just as these great men, learned in the law, have arrived at the position at which they have arrived by their hard work, so ought we to encourage, instead of endeavouring to prevent, the small shopkeeper earning an honest livelihood and advancing himself to a better position and a larger shop.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
The necessity for this Amendment is very apparent, and I cannot understand why it is resisted. There is no doubt whatever, that the purpose of restricting hours of labour is because, owing to the complexity in the development of modern countries, there have grown up large employers of labour, limited companies, and other soulless corporations, between whom and their employés there is no human tie, and there has become a tendency, therefore, to oppress and overdrive the individual, and it is to protect the individual against the large employer that you have these various, what would be called in a primitive state of society, infringements of personal liberty. But we have not yet reached a stage when we are to prevent a man from oppressing himself. Why 1676 should a small man be prevented from working in his own shop? It is his own. It is the pleasure of his life. A man who is simply working for a wage may want to get away to his cycle, or something else, as soon as he can; but the man who is conducting his own business is in a totally different position. The gentlemen whom my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) mentioned, are working for themselves, and they do not mind how much work they do. Is he to have his liberty restricted? Everybody knows that the reason for the success of the smallholder in this country and in other countries, is because very often the land and the industry is his own, and nobody is his master. Are you going to spread this principle that, a large farmer may come and say, "My labourer only works nine or 10 hours, and this smallholder is working 10, 12 or 14. I demand that his working hours be restricted." This principle is possible of infinite extension. Therefore, while there is the greatest possible justification for extending the protection to shop assistants, we must consider all sides of the question. I have always believed that shops were open far too long, and that they could do their business in five hours. Under the Liquor Control Restrictions, with the shorter hours, the public-houses are able to make more profits than they made under long hours. The same with many of the shops. They could close for half the time they are now working, because most of the shop assistants are marking time, but it is a different matter with the small individual, the old lady whose shop bell goes ting ting, as the right hon. Member for the City of London enters in order to purchase his sweets. It is the greatest possible cruelty to inflict this arbitrary rule upon them. It is an entire infringement of our principles of liberty. There is no demand for it by the small shopkeeper. The demand is made by the large shopkeeper who has many assistants, and if they are not to work full time, he wants to collar the whole of the business in the hours of the day that he is open. The enormous business which he has gives him a great advantage. The only way for the little man to get even is, if he likes, to work a little longer, so that he may have a little longer time in which to make ends meet. We must return to the old maxim and act upon it, "Seest thou a man who is diligent in 1677 his own business, and he shall stand before kings."
§ 3.0 P.M
§ Captain LOSEBY
I want to give the reasons why the supporters of the Bill must oppose this Amendment until it comes with facilities given by the Government for serious discussion. This Amendment goes to the root of the whole Bill and like similar Amendments must be rejected. I have lived in South Africa where a Bill very similar to this has worked with highly beneficial results to the shop assistant and with practically no embarrassment to the public. There the hour for closing is, I think, 5.30 or 6, and it has been found there, in spite of the sympathy we have for the small shopkeeper, that it is quite impossible and that it would be highly inequitable to make an exception on his behalf. The reason is very simple. If you enforce the rule as against one man because he has an assistant you must enforce it in ordinary fairness against his rival who is in the same street, but who has not an assistant. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Let hon. Members put themselves in the position of the shopkeeper with one assistant who has one rival in the street, without an assistant. The shops in the town are closed, or at any rate the shops for some considerable distance, and it follows that a very large proportion of the trade goes to the one man who is not compelled to close, for the simple reason that there is no competition with him. Otherwise, if all close, it does not affect the takings of the shopkeeper, it simply means that the shopkeeping public will in a shorter period of time do the same bulk of trade. You cannot make this particular exception, despite the very plausible arguments put before the Committee.
§ Commander VISCOUNT CURZON
I represent a very large constituency which has a considerable number of small shopkeepers. This Bill goes to the very root of their business. I have also a number of large stores in my constituency. I was one of the first people to support early closing in this Parliament. I am entirely in sympathy with the shop assistant with the large store who wants to get away and to get as much open air as possible; but that is no reason for taking away the livelihood possibly of an ex-service man who has come back from the front and started in business as a small shopkeeper. I speak 1678 as an ex-service man who came direct to this House from the service in which I had been engaged, and this question came upon me then for the first time. One hon. Member says that it was not before the House for the first time, but so far as I am concerned it was, and if I was an ex-service man who was wanting to start in business, I should feel it very hard if I were compelled to close my shop at seven o'clock if I wanted to go on longer. It is done in the interests of the larger stores who are well able to look after themselves. The small shopkeeper is the man whom we must help, and we must consider his interests first. I support this Amendment in the interests of the small shopkeeper whilst having every sympathy for the assistants in the large stores.
§ Sir F. YOUNG
I appreciate fully the argument and the sentiment behind this Amendment in favour of those people who do not employ assistants. I have been familiar with this type of legislation for a great many years. I have seen the law developed in another part of the Empire. I have laboured in the very direction in which this Amendment is moved and while I did take an active part in that direction, in the long run uniformity did come into operation in that particular part of the Empire. Further, I am bound to say that in the lapse of years the effect on the small shopkeeper was not such as I then feared and such as is now feared by several hon. Members. I speak from experience and while not without sympathy for the purpose of the Amendment yet in the light of that experience I feel bound to vote in support of the promoters of the Bill.
§ Mr. JESSON
One aspect of the question has not been touched on yet. Like many other Members, I have received a large number of letters from small shopkeepers asking to be exempted from this Bill. I have received no such request from the big shopkeepers. The point that I am most concerned at is that the small shopkeeper, while he wishes to be left alone himself, is not above trying to interfere with other people. The question that occurs to my mind is that there are different sections of the community who take their rest while others are enjoying themselves. That is one of the difficulties we have got to face. The shopkeeper, so far as I can see, is in no different position from these other industries and pro- 1679 fessions, and if you are going to apply this kind of legislation to everyone who wants to reduce the hours of labour, and not only that, but to cease working at a specific time, if it is fair for one section of the community it is perfectly fair for all other sections. I do not see how you are going to apply it to the entertainments profession, or to such people as tramway-
§ men and busmen. However, I will not pursue that. I want to make my protest against one section who want privileges for themselves, wishing to prevent those privileges being extended to other sections.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 123; Noes, 96.1681
|Division No. 145.]||AYES.||[3.10 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Green, Albert (Derby)||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hailwood, Augustine||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hood, Joseph||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Renwick, George|
|Bottomley, Horatio W.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Jameson, J. Gordon||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jesson, C.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydv'l)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Kiley, James D.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lort-Williams, J.||Turton, E. R.|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Macmaster, Donald||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Macquisten, F. A.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Moles, Thomas||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Morrison, Hugh||Young, W.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Murchison, C. K.||Younger, Sir George|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Neal, Arthur|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Oman, Charles William C.||Mr. Percy and Major Nall.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Duncannon, Viscount||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Elveden, Viscount||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Finney, Samuel||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Foreman, Henry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Forrest, Walter||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Galbraith, Samuel||Martin, Captain A. E.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Gilbert, James Daniel||Matthews, David|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mills, John Edmund|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Bromfield, William||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Greig, Colonel James William||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hallas, Eldred||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Casey, T. W.||Hancock, John George||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Perring, William George|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hartshorn, Vernon||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Hayday, Arthur||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Hills, Major John Waller||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Dawes, Commander||Hinds, John||Remer, J. R.|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Sitch, Charles H.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Robertson, John||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Sturrock, J. Leng||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Taylor, J.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Seager, Sir William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Sexton, James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Simm, M. T.||Wason, John Cathcart||Sir Kingsley Wood and Mr. Briant.|
§ Mr. INSKIP
I beg to move, after the word "customers," to insert the words "on Sundays and".
I move this Amendment in order to call attention to the consequences of this Bill if it should have the effect of compulsorily closing every business, except those which have been already exempted, at 7 o'clock in the evening. I am encouraged to think that this Amendment will have the support of hon. Members who are responsible for the Bill, because the Early Closing Association, who have really conducted the agitation in favour of the Bill, in their last annual report, intimated their intention of introducing a measure to deal with this question of Sunday trading. They say:The Board hope to give more of their attention and energy in future to this important phase of the labour question, as they fully realise that an evil of this kind is sure to grow rapidly unless checked.After this present Bill is on the Statute Book, they propose to direct their energy towards introducing the promised Bill dealing with this important question. I venture to think that it is desirable that they should receive assistance in this matter, and that we should lend them our assistance this afternoon and try and incorporate in this Bill the principle that they are so anxious to introduce at the earliest possible moment. This Amendment has nothing on earth to do with the sale of Sunday newspapers. It has been supposed that I am particularly concerned with Sunday newspapers. I realise that Sunday newspapers are a profitable source of income for some persons, not only those who publish them but also those who are engaged in political affairs and who wish to issue manifestoes. I should be very sorry in these needy days to interfere with any one source of income, and therefore the last thing in the world that I desire to do is to interfere with the publication or the writing of Sunday newspapers. My Amendment is directed to this Bill because the inevitable result of compelling shops to close at 7 o'clock in the 1682 evening will be to lead to Sunday opening. A day of rest is still one of the greatest blessings that a man can have. I value it myself, and I think others would value it also. I do not introduce this Amendment in any narrow spirit. The newspapers have published a manifesto which says that these Amendments are believed to be promoted by religious bodies. One would imagine that the only Amendments that this House would favour are those promoted by non-religious bodies. As a matter of fact, the religious bodies have nothing to do with this Amendment or with my action in putting it down on the paper. I was led to put it on the paper by a letter, the first of many of its kind, which I have received from obviously a comparatively uneducated person.
§ Mr. SEXTON
There is such a thing as educated ignorance.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is referring to me—if so, he shows less than his habitual courtesy to other hon. Members—or whether he is referring to the writer of this letter.
§ Mr. SEXTON
It does not matter.
§ Mr. INSKIP
Well, if it does not matter, perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough not to intervene. This letter comes from somebody whom I should think the hon. Member would be glad to represent if she would give him her vote. She says:If they would only allow me to keep open till 9 o'clock I need never open on Sundays, but, if this Bill goes through, I will have to, because I will not be able to live on what I take in the week. I have been in this shop 22 years. I put all I had into it, and I have made it a success. It this Bill goes through, I will have half my living taken from me. I hope you will see your way to do something for us small people.It is quite evident that the Amendment does go some way to protect people of this class. The inevitable result of closing these shops at 7 o'clock will be to drive people into opening on Sundays. 1683 I am not in a position to say whether that is desired by the movers and promoters of this Bill, but, if the Bill is to go through in its present form, I hope that the House will add an Amendment of this sort, because, otherwise, it is a piece of organised hypocrisy. You are going to give men or women an extra hour or half-hour on the score that it is good for their health, but you are going at the same time to force them into the slavery and drudgery—you are going to drive them by economic necessity—of keeping their shops open when they might have a whole's day's holiday and recreation instead of merely an extra hour or half-hour at the end of the day when they are jaded and tired. In spite of what an hon. Member said earlier this afternoon, there is no desire to wreck this Bill, and if its promoters had been a little more tolerant of the opinions of other people and had been prepared to meet them a little more reasonably, we might have composed such differences as exist in regard to this Bill, in which case an Amendment of this sort would not have been necessary.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
On a point of Order. The object of this Amendment is to secure the closing of all shops on Sundays. Is not that the present law of the land?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That does not affect an Amendment to this Bill.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
Surely it makes the Amendment out of Order?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Amendment is quite in order.
§ Mr. INSKIP
If the hon. Member were more acquainted with the laws of the land, he would know that certain shops can open on Sundays. I move the Amendment solely in the interests of that large class of the population who, if they are driven to close early, will lose the chance of doing business. If the promoters of the Bill will say that they will accept an Amendment later on the Paper, which proposes that shops shall only be closed at 8 o'clock, and they will make that permanent, instead of 7 o'clock, it will be open to us to withdraw this Amendment and facilitate the passage of the Bill.
§ Major NALL
I beg to second the Amendment. There is an aspect of the question of Sunday trade which has not yet been touched upon, and that is in reference to those cities where there is an ever-increasing number of alien settlers. I do not want to bring into the discussion the question of alien immigration into this country, but in the division I represent this danger will arise if this Bill is passed. It is arising even now without the Bill. The English traders who are accustomed, as most English people are, to close on Sunday, are in some quarters feeling the pinch of competition from those who are prepared to open on Sunday, and the fact that these people in many cases will have their hours of trading curtailed, even with the provision which we hope to put into the Bill, will to a large extent induce these people to open their shops on Sunday, and so considerably to extend the volume of Sunday trading. If the promoters of the Bill are really in earnest in endeavouring to secure some reasonable measure of early closing, it is essential for them to accept this, so as to avoid the benefits conferred by the general principle of the Bill being largely whittled away by an increased volume of Sunday trading.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The House will observe that my hon. Friend, in moving this Amendment, suggested that if I accepted another Amendment he would withdraw this Amendment. The Seconder suggested that if this Amendment were accepted, other Amendments would be withdrawn. I leave the House to judge of the sincerity of suggestions of that sort.
§ Major NALL
I never suggested that any other Amendment of mine would be withdrawn.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The hon. Member suggested that the passage of the Bill would be facilitated. I want to deal with this Amendment on its merits. If it were carried it would, of course, make the Bill ludicrous and fantastic. It is true that the law is perfectly plain on the question of Sunday trading. The matter of its enforcement is another story. The promoters of the Bill and the Early Closing Association have no desire to raise the question of Sunday trading in connection with this Bill. All that they are seeking to do, at the instance of many thousands of shop assistants and of shop owners, is 1685 to regulate the hours of closing. Anyone would think, from some of the statements made this afternoon, that there has been no regulations in connection with early closing in existence for the last four or five years. It has not been the experience of the shopkeepers of the country that the regulations under which they did business during the past four years have hurt them in any degree whatever. As a matter of fact, their hours have been much shorter, and they and their assistants have been able to enjoy leisure as they had never done before. Having regard to the experience of the last four years, I ask the House not to treat this as an attempt to interfere with the liberty of the subject, but rather to take advantage of experience which has been gained during the War and which has proved a public benefit and a considerable benefit to the shopkeeper and shop assistant. As to the Amendment, I do not believe that many Members will credit the seriousness of the suggestion that people will be so badly hit as to be forced to open their shops on Sunday. I think that the argument of my hon. and learned Friend and the letter which he read in support of it, are fantastic and ludicrous. I do not believe that anything of the kind they have suggested will occur. The Amendment has its purpose, of course, in delaying the passage of the Bill, but from the point of view of seriousness and merit, I do not think the House will consider that any number of shopkeepers would pursue such a course for a moment.
Sir J. D. REES
My hon. and learned Friend moves in a mysterious way his object to attain. Having heard him and his seconder I find their methods so mysterious that to this moment I do not understand what it is they wish to accomplish. All I can suggest is that they are very anxious that nothing should escape untouched upon the last of the available Fridays, and they have therefore decided to raise the question of Sunday trading, which is not in the Bill. It seems to me that the Amendment must be taken as intended to prevent a continuance of the existing state of things, which is satisfactory to everybody so far as I know. It is obvious that there would be the strongest opposition from the country to any interference with the present sale of newspapers on Sunday. People who read only the "Times' and "Morning Post" have no notion of the importance of 1686 Sunday papers, with their immeasurably larger circulations. They are the only literature of immense numbers of people in this country, and I do not think that any person inside or outside the House can keep abreast of public opinion who does not so far encourage Sunday trading as to buy Sunday papers and read them by the half-dozen. As I understand the Amendment—I do not understand it—on the surface it proposes to interfere with the present well-established and popular position in regard to the distribution of news on Sunday, and I shall strongly oppose it.
§ Mr. INSKIP
The hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is not prepared to accept the Amendment in the spirit in which I moved it, or to say that he will accept a later Amendment. At the same time I recognise that this Sunday trading question is a very difficult question. My view is that the observance of Sunday will not be enforced by Act of Parliament unless it is in keeping with the wishes of the Nation. I beg to ask leave to with draw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, to leave out the word "seven" and to insert instead thereof the word "nine".
I have received letters from shopkeepers on this subject, and I have had a communication from the National Market Traders' Federation stating that at a conference of the Federation on the 22nd of April they considered this subject with this expression of opinion, and whilst they are not opposed to the regulation of the hours of closing, they were strongly of the opinion that the hours proposed in the present Bill were too short and would inflict serious financial loss on all small traders and on market trading. They urged that the hours of closing should not be earlier than those at the present time made by Order in Council under the Defence of the Realm Act, namely, 8 o'clock on four nights and on one day at 1 o'clock and 9 o'clock on Saturday nights. They also pointed out that under the general hours of closing, especially in industrial areas and particularly those in which an appreciable amount of female labour is employed, experience proved that in those areas the bulk of the shopping is being done after the workpeople have finished their daily tasks and are free to devote their mind to their purchases. That seems 1687 to me to be an extremely simple, explicit and clear statement in support of this Amendment. My hon. Friend (Sir K. Wood) said that there had been no inconvenience and no financial loss owing to the Order during the last three or four years working under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. But in this Bill it is proposed to go one better and to say 7 o'clock instead of 8 o'clock. Those Orders under the Defence of the Realm Act were passed in a period of great emergency when it was necessary to do certain things, but I would venture to suggest now that that emergency has passed away that the proper course would have been not to have shorter hours but rather to have lengthened the time. At present a majority of shops close at 7 o'clock, or a little after that time, but City clerks, shopkeepers' assistants themselves, artisans and the wives of various working people have very little opportunity of shopping unless they can do so after 7 o'clock. Then there is the consideration of the number of employed women, a fact with which we have to reckon and who were not employed in former times. When I had the honour to represent a working class constituency I found that a very large proportion of the business in the shops, especially butchers' shops and other shops of the kind, was done between 7 and 9 o'clock. In the large industrial areas large numbers of people would be seriously inconvenienced if the shopping is stopped at the hour mentioned in the Bill. I understand there is a further Amendment to substitute 7 o'clock for 8 o'clock. if the hon. Member in charge of the Bill would consent to accept 8, then, although I think nine is the better hour, I should accept 8 as a compromise.
§ Mr. PERRING
I beg to second the Amendment.
I wish as a shopkeeper of forty years'. standing to express what I know to be the almost unanimous wish of the shopkeeping class in respect to this early closing. I know from personal knowledge that for many years the shopkeeping class have been endeavouring by all the means they possess to get earlier closing, but there has always been a small minority of about five to ten per cent. who have persisted in keeping open later, with the result that thousands of men have been kept 1688 working in their shops when they might have been enjoying recreations and other advantages of home life. I can assure the House that the experiences of the War have demonstrated beyond dispute that there is no need for late shopping. I remember well when I was a young man working eighty hours a week myself and keeping open till 10 or 10.30 and till 12 or 12.30, and in those days the same story was told of the ruin which would come to people if they had to shut up earlier, and slowly the hours of the shopkeeping class have been reduced, and speaking from personal knowledge and from coming into contact with tens of thousands of shopkeepers in connection with their organisations, I can say that they have found during the War that they can close very much earlier and do their trade without loss or inconvenience, so much so that a large percentage of the shopkeepers during the War closed at seven and are to-day closing at seven, which is one hour earlier than under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I think that goes to show that the hours fixed under the Regulations were in excess of the needs of the occasion.
Reference has been made to butchers, and it was common knowledge during the War that butchers did their business in about four hours a day, and that they could serve their customers in that time, and notwithstanding all the inconveniences of the War, all the work associated with munitions and so forth, the people found the time and opportunity to purchase from the butchers and other such traders within the limits of four or five hours a day. The suggestion that the trading class want to keep open till nine o'clock is contrary to the facts, and I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) should speak on behalf and in the name of the shop-keeping class. Surely the shopkeeping class know better themselves than anybody else what they desire and what is in their own interests, and I hope the House will not listen to statements made by hon. Gentlemen who do not understand the shopkeeping class at all; and although they may say they represent them, my experience of such districts is that the Member very seldom visits the district and comes into personal touch with the shopkeepers, except at election times. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh! 1689 Withdraw."] Well, I am speaking from my own experience. [Laughter.] I am sorry I have made the House laugh at my own expense, but I was speaking of my forty years' experience as a shopkeeper, and not of my few months' experience here. I represent here the district in which I have carried on business all my life, and therefore I am in personal touch with my constituency, which is more than the majority of Members can say. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is to say, that I am in my constituency every day of the week, and that at least is more than a great many can say, and therefore I claim that I have knowledge not only of my own constituency but of the shopkeeping class, and I appeal to the House not to approve of the Amendment, but to support the Bill, which is the result of many years of effort and labour.
§ Mr. INSKIP
The Amendment proposes to substitute nine o'clock for seven, and an Amendment in my name later on proposes to substitute eight for seven. I hope that that will be taken, as it is intended to be, as an illustration of our, I hope, reasonableness in this matter, because there is no doubt there is a large body of opinion in favour of nine o'clock. I do not claim that it is a majority, because I do not know, but the hon. Members in charge of the Bill desire seven o'clock. I desire to call attention to some facts which ought to be borne in mind. The present Closing Orders are for eight and nine o'clock and were, of course, made under the Defence of the Realm Act. My impression was, that nobody wished the Defence of the Realm Regulations to be continued longer than necessary, but the promoters of this Bill indicate that they wish those Regulations to be continued in this respect.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think it may meet the general view of the House if we can come to some compromise or arrangement with my hon. and learned Friend, provided we are assured that he will help us to facilitate the progress of the Bill, and if it was the general desire that instead of the hours in the Bill we should take the middle course and make them eight and nine—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—so far, at any rate, as my hon. Friends and myself are concerned, we should be prepared to accept that. I would point out to those who object, that we are con- 1690 fronted by the fact that it is now ten minutes to four, and we also know that it is within the power of six or seven Members of this House easily to prevent us getting this Bill this afternoon. We think, therefore, from the point of view of the promotion of the Bill, that we should be acting wisely if we endeavoured to come to some arrangement.
§ Mr INSKIP
My hon. Friend has made a proposal which in my judgment is a reasonable one. I made the same proposal to the hon. Member in the Lobby a fortnight ago, and if my proposal had then been accepted in the reasonable spirit which is now displayed, the hon Member would not be in the position of being too late, as I gather he is on the present occasion, but if, on behalf of the promoters, he will accept eight o'clock, I shall not continue my remarks.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I take it that if I accept, the hon. and learned Member will assist us in getting the Bill?
§ Mr. INSKIP
The hon. Member only accepts the offer subject to conditions, and therefore I must go on with my argument. I was saying that the Defence of the Realm Regulations, when first drafted, proposed to impose 7 o'clock on the country, and that it was solely in consequence of the opposition which emanated from the Labour party, and from hon. Members who represented the Labour party in those days, that 8 o'clock was substituted in the Orders under the Defence of the Realm Regulations instead of 7. That is a fact. What we are anxious to do here is to impose as a permanent obligation 8 o'clock, instead of going back to the pre-War conditions, which will be, of course, as we were before the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I venture to think that is as substantial an advance as the country is prepared to make. The Defence of the Realm Regulations will come to an end next August, and if this Bill does not pass, we shall revert to the ante-War position. We shall go back entirely upon the present Regulations, and the proposal to have 8 o'clock is merely rendering permanent Regulations which otherwise will come to an end. If there is any indication that the country as a whole desires to proceed further in the same direction, well and good; but I see no real movement in favour of 7 o'clock at the present time. 1691 A powerful and very well-organised Association has influenced a great many Members, although I think the arguments of the Associaion sometimes are not quite respectful to the working-classes. They say:The complaints against early-closing come chiefly from down-tool workers, who get away at the stroke of the clock themselves, and who would be the first to complain if they were compelled to keep at work.It is pretty well evident that the opposition to 7 o'clock comes from those who are understood as the workers. I find another illustration of the same argument, which, I think, is justified, that there is no great body of opinion in favour of 7 o'clock, because in another document issued by the Association they say:The voting among confectioners, chemists, newsagents and second-hand wardrobe dealers shows 50 per cent. in favour of 7 o'clock closing—That is surely not a strong argument, if it be intended to base this Bill on the fact that the majority of the electors of the country want 7 o'clock.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The hon. Gentleman has stopped in the middle of a sentence.
§ Mr. INSKIP
If the hon. Member had not interrupted, I was about to read the remainder of the sentence—while in all other trades, including drapers, grocers, bootdealers, fishmongers, butchers, tobacconists, etc., the voting was 93 per cent. in favour.4.0 P.M.
Tobacconists are excepted from the Bill, and, naturally, a tobacconist who is going to be allow ed to remain open till eight or nine o'clock is quite prepared to vote in favour of the butcher or fishmonger being closed at eight o'clock, and naturally the voting in favour is swollen by support of that sort. I do not think any case has been made for any real advance on the present situation. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken said that some of us, undoubtedly, are not in touch with our constituents. If he had not made that observation, I should not have had to produce this documtent, which contains 15,300 odd signatures from the customers of shops in my constituency who desire that shops shall be closed at eight o'clock and nine o'clock instead of seven o'clock and eight o'clock as proposed in this Bill. I do not think my hon. Friend who lives in his con- 1692 stituency, and who is so much in touch with his electors, has ever had such a proof of closeness of touch with his electors as is shown by my constituents. I think if any Member of this House goes to his constituents he will find an overwhelming majority of people in favour of continuing the present position, and who think that to have to close at seven o'clock is an infringement of liberty.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
I think we have had ho better example, during the few months I have been here, of the futility of this House to bring about social reform than the discussion to which we have listened this afternoon. The right hon. Baronet who introduced this Amendment did so on the ground that the shopkeepers were against seven o'clock closing, which has already been replied to by a shopkeeper; and, secondly, that the industrial workers of the country would be seriously inconvenienced unless shops were kept open until eight o'clock. I come from a constituency which is almost entirely industrial, and there the shopkeepers and the organised workers are co-operating with a view to getting early closing throughout the constituency. That movement is taking place throughout the whole of Wales Already, I believe, in the whole of my constituency, seven o'clock has been voluntarily agreed to as the latest hour at which shops shall be kept open.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
I am only replying to a suggestion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that the shopkeepers and industrial workers do not want this. Two sections of the community are co-operating over a very large area of Wales, at any rate, to bring about the very reform contained in this Bill. I have had deputations of business men asking me to support the Bill as it stands. I know that Trades and Labour Councils throughout Wales are co-operating with the business people to try to break down the very bad habit, which has existed undoubtedly among the workers of Wales—I say Wales, because I know what I am talking about in respect of Wales—of going to shop at the last possible moment. I remember that on a Saturday night people went to shop at 11 o'clock, and deliveries took place at 1 and 2 o'clock on Sunday morning. That habit has been broken down to a considerable extent, and 1693 to-day in the town in which I live there is not a shop open after half-past seven or eight o'clock, and some of them even on Saturdays close at six. This is a movement in which the shopkeepers and working people are working in hearty cooperation. I hope this House will not put any embargo on that movement, but will encourage it in every possible way. I think there is no section of the community which has had such drudgery as the shopkeepers.
§ Mr. JESSON
May I ask if the same people are co-operating to see that people take their amusements earlier?
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
I am dealing with the provisions of this Bill, and, as far as I know, as the representative of an industrial division, and as a representative of the organised working-class movement, it is their desire, at any rate, that this Bill should go through, and I hope the House will reject the Amendment.
Sir J. D. REES
The hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) seems to be very much in the position of the Minister who on one occasion was, in connection with a Bill, so pushed about from pillar to post that a Member—of course, he was an Irish Member—said: "The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill seems to me to be ready to sacrifice the whole of the Bill if he can only preserve the remainder." So far as I understand the procedure of the House, I should have thought that it was necessary to get the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City out of the way before the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bristol relating to 8 o'clock could be considered. I frankly confess, having made considerable effort to understand what is the attitude of my own constituency in this matter, that there does appear to be a feeling of reluctance to revert to the hours which existed before the War. I do believe that. But I did not find any evidence as to what hour they desire to close, whether seven, eight, or nine. Therefore I wonder whether my hon. Friend who, I confess, was strong upon this Amendment, does not now think that it would be very much more desirable for the Government to deal with this matter rather than that it should be dealt with by a private Bill? Whether also, in regard to a crucial matter like, this, that there should not first be a re- 1694 version to the status quo before the War, and then, after fair consideration by the House, the introduction of such hours as are considered desirable. As to the proper hours, I am prejudiced by the belief that whatever happens the House should not continue the regulations made during the War in a time of peace. I have that feeling strongly, and consequently, to some extent, am prejudiced against this private Member's Bill. I believe the same feeling exists througout the country. I believe that we ought in this matter to imitate what was done in regard to the relaxation of trade union regulations during the War. We should have first of all a clear reversion to the status quo ante, and then a fair consideration, without fear or favour, to be based upon an actual inquiry which each hon. Member can make for himself as to what are the proper hours. The hon. Member for Paddington rather seemed to me to take too high ground as regards his exceptional position in the matter. He reminds me of what is said in Holy Writ: "Let another man praise thee and not thine own lips." Then there is another text that may be accounted applicable: "Seest thou a man who is wise in his own conceit, there is more hope of a fool than of him."
Mr. T. THOMSON
I sincerely hope the promoters of this Bill will not accept the proposed Amendment. I also appeal to the House that the House itself should not accept the suggestion to make the hour eight, because it has been pointed out that in doing so you will be putting the country in a worse position than it was in pre-War times. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think I could satisfy the hon. Baronet opposite that my statement is correct. A good deal of reference has been made to the Regulations under D.O.R.A., and the condition of things during the War. Hon. Members seem to have forgotten that the 1912 Act allows each locality, at the request of their own shopkeeper or tradesmen, to fix the closing hour, it may be at 7 o'clock. Therefore, if you repeal the Act of 1912, which the schedule of this Bill does, you prevent the local authorities exercising the powers which they have had up to the present of fixing the closing hours at seven. In London the hours are late. The further you get away from London the more progressive you are in matters of this kind. In many of the northern constituencies—my own in particular—a large number of 1695 the various classes of shops have had in force for a number of years compulsory closing orders fixing the hour of seven. Therefore, if the House passes this Bill, which repeals the Act of 1912, and fixes by the Amendment before the House the earliest hour at which shops may be closed at eight you are going below those districts which already have in force, under the 1912 Act, earlier closing hours. We go back to the reactionary methods, and reactionary practices. One hon. Member opposite said that if these trades are in favour of closing at an earlier hour why do you require compulsion? Surely the essence of this Bill is that you may get 10 per cent. standing out against 90 per cent. who wish to close earlier, and the 10 per cent. prevent the whole arrangement. I appeal to the House not to press this Amendment, which would really put the country into a more reactionary position than it is at present, and it will be a great blow to a large number of shop assistants and also to shopkeepers themselves.
§ Mr. HINDS
I am very much disappointed at the reception this Bill is getting to-day, and I do not think hon. Members are reflecting the feeling of the country upon this subject. A large number of shops which used to open at eight o'clock in the morning are now opening at nine o'clock, and surely ten hours are enough. We have been talking about better conditions for our people, and now you are proposing to make it eleven hours or twelve hours. We cannot attract the best class of people into the shops because of these long hours, and when young people are thinking of going to a trade they ask, How many hours are they going to be employed behind the counter? I would like to see the shops close at six o'clock, and it has been shown that this can be done. I beg of the House to reflect the opinion of the country upon this matter, and give us better conditions by closing at seven o'clock.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I want to see this Bill passed. I represent a typical London constituency, in which retail trade is the staple industry, and my constituency is in favour of the shorter hours, which are supported by the borough council, the tradesmen, and the general public. I think we should go to a Division at once on this Amendment, and retain the 1696 earlier hour, and then get on with the Third Reading.
§ Mr MACQUISTEN
I believe it is a fact that under the present law, where there is a majority of the trade that desire it, they can get the 7 o'clock limitation. The true remedy for all this is to limit the number of hours a shop can be open, and leave it to the shops to arrange the time. There are a large number of hours in every business when there is scarcely anything to do, and there is nothing more demoralising than not to be busy. I think it would be much better if the shopkeepers could join together and make arrangements for a short day.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
I hope the House will take the advice of Members who have spoken and pass this Bill. Nearly everything that can be said has been said upon it, and we do not want it to be thought that there is any intention of talking the whole thing out. I cannot believe that hon. Members who have put down Amendments have any such desire. There is a tremendous amount of feeling in the country in favour of the Bill, and although the earlier closing may interfere with the convenience of some people, I would suggest that those who have selfish habits should change them. Some people may like to work many hours, and there may be some small shopkeepers who will not like the restriction, but we are trying to legislate for the majority rather than the minority. I beg hon. Members to remember that there are many women and girls who go into the shop at 8 or 9 in the morning, and have to remain there till 7, 8 and even 9 o'clock at night.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I have an Amendment down later on to provide that shop assistants shall not work more than 48 hours.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
By the time we reach that Amendment, we shall have wrecked the Bill. I would rather give the Measure up than accept 8 o'clock as the closing time. I beg hon. Members not to think so much about the freedom of the public. We hear a lot about that, but I am afraid that some of the speeches to-day are really made in the interests of the freedom of the individual. I have letters from all over the country—from working girls and women—begging the House to pass the Bill, and I hope by our action now we shall prove that we are not a body of reactionaries, but want to get this legislation through. I would 1697 appeal to hon. Members not to press their Amendments, but to let the Bill go through.
§ Major NALL
As I have an Amendment down, I hope I shall be allowed to express my views. The hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) has touched upon the sentimental side, and has spoken of the letters she has received from all over the country in favour of the Bill. May I observe that I have myself received quite a number of letters against the Bill. The hon. Member, quite unintentionally I am sure, misled the House by saying that this Amendment would make it compulsory on shops to keep open till eight o'clock. It does nothing of the sort. The Bill as it stands, says that all shops must close at seven. The Regulations that are in existence at the present time require shops to close at eight o'clock, yet, notwithstanding that eight o'clock is the legal time at the present moment, in many districts the shops close at six o'clock. I know they do so in the City of London, and also in the City of Manchester. In the suburbs they do not desire to close so early. I have endeavoured to get some expression of opinion from those who serve in shops, and I am told by keen and active members of the Early Closing Associations in the district which I represent, that they do not want seven o'clock closing. Some say they think eight o'clock is too late, and suggest half-past seven; others say they want it to be eight o'clock. There are, of course, a very considerable number who are keen to get seven o'clock. The whole intention of this Amendment is to continue the hours that have been found to be more or less convenient up to the present time. When I was asked, as many hon. Members were, "Are you in favour of early closing?" I said "Yes"; but I never anticipated for a moment that I should be asked to come here and support a Bill which still further reduced the hours during which shops may be open. We have dealt with the question of the one-man shop, and I will confine my remarks now to the general question of shops in which assistants are employed I have here letters and resolutions from representative bodies in the Manchester district—hairdressers, furniture dealers and licensed brokers, confectioners—all emphatic in their protest against seven o'clock closing, while for the most part they do not object to eight 1698 o'clock. It is for that reason that we have put down this Amendment. It does not matter to most hon. Members personally, whether it is six o'clock or nine o'clock, but, having taken the trouble, as I have, to find out what is the most reasonable hour to meet the varying opinions expressed on this matter, I am forced to the conclusion that the present hour, eight o'clock, and nine o'clock on Saturdays, are the most reasonable hours. I hope, therefore, that the House will regard this as a genuine Amendment, based on information gleaned for the purpose, and will support the proposal which it embodies.
§ Mr. SEDDON
I do not wish to incur the censure of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), but I can claim to know something about this subject, and I want to protest emphatically against some of the tactics that have been adopted for the destruction of this Bill. The progress of closing has been protracted. I remember starting life behind the counter, from 7 o'clock in the morning till 9 o'clock at night, 12 o'clock on Saturdays, and no half-holidays. Since then there has been a great advance, not only in the minds of the shopkeepers, but in the minds of the general public, and it is realised that those long hours were not only an injury to the young life behind the counter, but were a scandal and a shame. The public have now become accustomed to 7 o'clock closing, and it would be a backward step to make it 8 o'clock. After all, the hours of the great mass of the workers have been reduced to 48 hours or less per week, and the idea of making the shop a pantry for the housekeeper is bad for hox as well as for the assistants. There are one or two Amendments still on the Paper. I am sorry they are there. The promoters of the Bill have been badly advised in dragging in one or two other questions, especially newspapers.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The promoters of the' Bill at no time inserted any provision relating to newspapers. They totally exempted them from the beginning.
§ Mr. SEDDON
They brought in chocolates and one or two other things.
§ Sir K. WOOD
No, the promoters of the Bill did not introduce any questions.
§ Mr. SEDDON
I withdraw that. The Committee upstairs have brought in these 1699 contentious quarters, I believe, in order to wreck the Bill, and I am exceedingly sorry, because I am convinced that hundreds of thousands of shop assistants are entitled to the leisure this Bill will give them. I am certain the public have been educated up to the objects of the Bill, and I hope we shall immediately go to a division and get the Third Reading of a Bill which has been long delayed and urgently needed.
§ Mr. BRIANT
By a self-denying ordinance, though one of the promoters of the Bill, I have kept quiet up to now. Though there were many matters on which I should like to have spoken I thought I should render better service by keeping quiet, leaving those who were acting from other motives than moved me to occupy the time of the House. Obviously there is no possible chance of passing the Bill by 5 o'clock. I do not know what will happen to it, but I am certain our proceedings this afternoon will fill with dismay hundreds of thousands of people. We are on an Amendment affecting hours. I am confident England has discovered, by the experience of the War, that shopping is more a habit than anything else. If at the beginning of D.O.R.A. there had been a plebiscite of the people as to whether they could shop before eight there would have been a large majority which would declare they never could do it, but once having had to do it they found it was a matter of habit. I am not prepared even at this stage to withdraw the hours as in the Bill at present, namely 7 and 8, and if it goes to a Division I shall certainly vote against the Amendment. I am a little surprised at some of the supposedly sympathetic remarks made about discharged soldiers. I have heard that the discharged soldier wants to work till any time in the night to earn a few more shillings. I know a great deal of him, and he is the last person who wants to work till 9 or 10 o'clock at night. The many tears that hon. Friends had shed over him are of doubtful sincerity. I have heard a great deal this afternoon about the hardships to people who cannot purchase before seven or eight, but who is there who cannot? The vast mass of workers, I am
§ glad to say, leave work at an early hour and most of them can either shop where they are working or can get home in ample time to shop before seven o'clock. I believe the country as a whole is against the House. I cannot help thinking some of the Amendments have been partially obstructive in their nature. Therefore if this goes to a division I shall certainly vote for the retention of the hours named in the Bill, and if it does not pass it will not be our fault.
I am sorry to stand between the House and a division on this point, but as one who is a British born Member of this House—and I know something of the spirit of the British people—I am sure with regard to this Amendment that it is one more attempt to encroach on the liberties of the British people for whom I have a right, as most hon. Members have a right, to speak. When the hon. Member who last spoke said that we were shedding tears over the ex-soldier, I assure him that I have in my wallet scores of letters from ex-soldiers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read them."]—asking me to take a part in defeating this Bill.
§ Earl WINTERTON
If the Noble Lord, whose courtesy we have noticed for many years in this House, will keep himself composed for a few minutes, I will sit down. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I am surprised that I am exciting so much heat. This Bill, as far as I am concerned, matters very little. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed? "Divide!"] We have protected by one Amendment the ex-service man and the one-man shopkeeper, and I am very little concerned with this Amendment except to say that I am going to do my best to defeat at every turn every attempt of this House, whether by the Government or by private Members, to fix Defence of the Realm Act Regulations on us for all time. We will go to a division and vote against "seven" and then put "eight" into the Bill and nine if possible.
§ Question put, "That the word 'seven' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 19.1701
|Division No. 146.]||AYES.||[4.35 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Beauchamp, Sir Edward|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Barnett, Major R. W.||Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Barnston, Major Harry||Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Barrand, A. R.||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hayday, Arthur||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Blair, Reginald||Hayward, Major Evan||Purchase, H. G.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hills, Major John Waller||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hinds, John||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hood, Joseph||Remer, J. R.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hopkins, John W. W.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Bromfield, William||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jameson, J. Gordon||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jephcott, A. R.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Johnstone, Joseph||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Seager, Sir William|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lort-Williams, J.||Simm, M. T.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Macmaster, Donald||Taylor, J.|
|Dawes, Commander||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Mallalieu, F. W.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Martin, Captain A. E.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Matthews, David||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Farqharson, Major A. C.||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Turton, E. R.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Mills, John Edmund||Wallace, J.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Mitchell, William Lane||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Foreman, Henry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Forrest, Walter||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Morris, Richard||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morrison, Hugh||Whitla, Sir William|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Murchison, C. K.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel John||Neal, Arthur||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Parker, James||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hancock, John George||Perring, William George||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sir Kingsley Wood and Mr. Briant.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Hailwood, Augustine||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sir F. Banbury and Major Nall.|
§ Mr. INSKIP
I beg to move, after the word "Saturday" ["eight o'clock in the evening on Saturday"], to insert the words "and no shop assistant shall be employed in any shop for more than forty-eight hours in the week."
1702 In view of the fact that in a few observations, the hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) suggested that I was only anxious to wreck this Bill, I do not propose to say anything more than that this Amendment is genuinely 1703 intended to suggest the right method of dealing with this problem, instead of what I conceive to be the wrong method of the promoters of the Bill. I do not know whether they are going to accept it, but I hope that in any future Bill dealing with this problem it will have the hearty approval of this House.
§ Major NALL
I beg to Second the Amendment.
It would really do all that this elaborate Bill is supposed to do. It is the root of the whole question. The assistants, quite rightly, say that their hours should be reduced along with those of other members of the community. One is rather driven to the conclusion that the Bill before the House is based upon an unholy alliance between shop assistants and big employers. The shop assistants say, "We want shorter hours," and the employers say, "Very well, we must crush out the small man who does not depend upon assistants." Therefore, we have this unholy alliance endeavouring to strangle the small man through the machinery of this elaborate Bill. If this Amendment be accepted, it will limit the hours of employment in any shop to 48 hours in any week. The whole object of the Bill will have been secured, and the whole charter for assistants—
§ Mr. BRIANT
To save the time of the House, I may say that I am prepared to accept this Amendment.
§ Major HILLS
I only wish to make an appeal to the Government. It is obvious that it is quite impossible for this Bill to pass this afternoon—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This Amendment has been accepted. The hon. Member must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ Major HILLS
I only wish to make an appeal to the Government.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. and gallant Member will confine himself to the Amendment, I will listen to him, but he must not deal with other topics.
§ Major HILLS
Should I not be in order in asking the Government to give further time for this Bill?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member cannot raise that question upon this Amendment.
Before the Amendment be accepted, I wish to say how much I congratulate the promoters of the Bill in coming to their decision. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] It is all that we have been contending for. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed, agreed!"].
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment has been accepted, and there is no object in discussing it further.
With all respect, as one who has taken a somewhat prominent part in opposing the Bill, I beg to be allowed to say that, as this Amendment has been accepted, the whole spirit of the Bill has been altered, and I hope we shall now]et it go through.
§ Mr. HINDS
If you bring the 48 hours into the Bill, the large shops can go in for shifts, to the detriment of the smaller shops. It will mean also the appointment of a horde of officials for the purpose of seeing that the shops open for only those hours. I protest against acceptance of the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Major HAMILTON
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the words:Provided also that any shopkeeper who usually has an assistant or assistants may continue to serve customers without the aid of such assistant or assistants after the hours hereinbefore mentioned.If we allow a man who owns a shop and employs no one to clean his windows or to brush his step to keep his shop open, I think it only fair that the man who does employ occasional assistance should have the same opportunity of keeping his shop open for the same time. It is the corollary to an Amendment we have, already carried.
§ Major NALL
I beg to second the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.