HC Deb 20 November 1928 vol 222 cc1551-2

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the compulsory closing of hairdressers' and barbers' shops on Sundays. This is a Bill to stop Sunday labour, which I wish once again to submit to the House. There are several reasons why it should be passed. In the first place, it has been supported by nearly every Member of the House. It is a non-party Bill, backed by Members representing every party in the House. It is also the fact that this particular trade is a dangerous trade. The conditions under which the people work are injurious to their health, and in a great many cases the shops themselves are unhealthy places, and if we had a proper standard of inspection of these shops, I believe many of them would not be allowed to carry on. Further, the workers in this trade work longer hours than does the average shopkeeper. As one who worked in the trade from the time when I was a very small boy, I can tell the House that hours have not decreased as they have in other trades. To-day the average hours are from 60 to 70 per week.

Again, I would point out that a large number of young boys are engaged in this occupation. They frequently begin before they have left school, starting in the trade at 10, 11 or 12 years of age to work what we call "half time," and they have to do that for seven days in the week. When they reach the age of 14 years, they become available for working full time in this trade in which they never get one full day to themselves. Conditions generally in the trade are abhorrent, and very few boys who can avoid it will go into the trade. It is the unanimous desire of those of us who are in the trade and are fortunate enough to be outwith these conditions to join with the other people who are compelled to work seven days per week in demanding a higher standard for the people who have to follow this occupation. Again and again during the last 50 years or more we have taken every opportunity of testing the opinion of the trade, and it is to-day as it was long years ago, and there is a desire that the present conditions should come to an end in this year 1928.

Conditions tend to grow worse. There are more shops throughout the country and more of them are open on Sundays than was the case 20 or 30 years ago, because competition grows ever keener. It is a poor trade, poorly paid, and, as I have said, the work is carried on under conditions inimical to your health as well as ours. In 1914 one out of every five of the persons engaged in this trade died of consumption. When you go to the barbers' shop to be looked after, just remember that one out of every five of the men who are attending to you is a source of infection to you. If you allow them to work under these conditions you are going to pay your share of the price. I do hope this Bill will get the same support from the general body of Members as it had last year, and I would appeal to the Home Secretary's Department to give it the facilities which he denied to it last year. We like him despite the way he sometimes expresses himself with regard to opinions that he does not like, and while he is the mildest man who ever cut a throat, I hope he will show us that in this case he will not cut the throat of this poor little starveling, this poor little ill-faring baby, but will do his best, with that kindness which is characteristic of him, to see that it survives and becomes a Measure that will be a credit to himself and a credit to the humanity of the Members of this House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Stewart, Mr. Templeton, Mr. Morgan Jones, Mr. Barr, Mr. Hayes, Mr. Sutton, Mr. R. Morrison, Mr. J. Jones, Sir Samuel Chapman, Lieut.-Colonel Moore, Mr. Womersley, and Mr. Broad.