HC Deb 16 May 1930 vol 238 cc2273-6

The next Amendment which I select is that in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson)—in page 1, line 13, to leave out from the word "place" to the word "the" in line 14 and to insert instead thereof the words "other than."


On a point of Order. I have down a, proposed new Clause—(Exemption as to attendance on certain persons)—dealing with the ques- tion of business carried out under the instructions of a medical practitioner, and I wish to know if that has been ruled out because it is considered that these medical cases are covered under Clause 2, paragraph (a).


The hon. Member's proposed new Clause is not selected.


I beg to move, In page 1, line 13, to leave out, from the word "place," to the word "the," in line 14, and to insert instead thereof the words "other than."

This is an Amendment which was put on the paper by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson), because he considered that it would be in the interests of the Bill. It is a technical Amendment, but it ought to be made in order to clarify the position.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I am afraid I cannot advise the House to accept the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment would be to extend the exemption in regard to bodily or mental infirmity, and we think that we have already made ample provision in making it possible for persons suffering from bodily or mental infirmity to be treated, and also for those who are resident in hotels and those in sea-going ships.


The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart), who is in charge of the Bill, said that it had been discussed on several previous occasions. I try to make it a rule not to betray emotion in this House, but I confess that my defences nearly broke down when I heard his speech and his profound appeal on behalf of the Bill. We have not heard from the promoter or from the Under-Secretary of State, however, why it should be necessary to make an exception in regard to bodily and mental infirmity. As the Clause is drafted, the effect must be that any person who is unable, by reason of bodily or mental infirmity, to go to a hairdresser's shop will have the right to be attended by a hairdresser on a Sunday. I could see some reason for making an exception in the case of persons where it was necessary for medical reasons to be shaved or to have their hair cut on Sunday, but I cannot see a reason for making it in the case of any person who is not able to go to a hairdresser's shop. Who will determine what bodily or mental infirmity prevents a person going to a shop?


As the result of consultations and of a desire to get this Bill, which is the Magna Carta for our trade, carried, we were anxious to conciliate wherever there was reasonable opposition. It was put to us that an individual might be suffering from an illness—it might be paralysis or something else—that might make him unable to use his own hands or to attend to himself, and we decided to allow such a person to be attended. There was also the question that if a person was in an institution, he should be attended there for the same reason. If we had not agreed to that, we should have met with opposition on those grounds. I am bound to confess, as an individual having had experience of institutions, for it has been my lot to have been connected with institutions such as asylums, infirmaries, and general hospitals, that I know the necessity for these things being attended to, and I think that in making these concessions we have done something that has not in any degree weakened the Bill itself, nor in any way destroyed the principle that underlies the Bill, which is that the shops themselves shall be shut. The number of people who will ask for a barber to go and attend them on a Sunday will be very few indeed, for, like other people, when we are asked to do extra work on unusual days or at unusual hours, we take advantage of the situation and just get as much out of the person as we think the person can give. For those reasons, I hope the hon. Member will not press his Amendment but allow us to get the Bill through.


As I have already said, I accept the principle of the Bill, and I realise that the case in favour of making these particular exceptions is overwhelming. The appeal of humanity alone would really, after what one has just heard, secure that these exceptions should be made. In asking leave to withdraw the Amendment, I do so with very real pleasure, and I can assure the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart) that it was moved in the very best interests and that it has been of use if only for the fact that it has enabled him to give us such a charming speech.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.