HC Deb 16 May 1930 vol 238 cc2276-300

I beg to move, in page 2, line 39, after the word "who", to insert the word "knowingly".

The effect of the Amendment would be to provide that any person who knowingly contravenes the provisions of the Bill would be liable to a penalty. I hope the promoters of the Bill will be able to accept the Amendment quite readily, because they will realise that in dealing with these barbers' shops you are dealing with a very wide range of population. In many of our great towns at the present time there is an alien element, and although I do not frankly welcome, at any rate, a certain section, still, when we are legislating in these matters, we should realise that conceivably they might not quite as readily get to have a knowledge of this Clause as other sections of the community. I do not know that I need prove that that section exists. It is well known to many London Members, and we had the evidence just now of the hon. Member that he can remember the time when Glasgow was Scottish, and now it is getting mixed in some parts.

For that reason, I think in this case it is necessary, either to alter the date at which the Measure comes into force, or else to insert the word "knowingly", and of the two courses, the object would be met as simply by putting in this word, because in the time it would take for the knowledge of the existence of the Act to circulate, these people would clearly be able to decide as to their position with full knowledge. It is true that by inserting such a word as this, a legal line of argument is always opened, which puts many of us into technical difficulties. I cannot pretend to give, nor should I wish to do so if I could at the present time, the legal effect of the insertion of this word. From the common sense point of view, it is evident that it ought to be inserted, and there are other Members present who will be able to give a purely legal definition of the word. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department will be able to help us in this matter. The hon. Member nods his head, which is as good as a promise that we shall have a full legal definition from the point of view of the Government.

Commander SOUTHBY

I beg to second the Amendment.

I would appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite in the interests of the Bill. He has been extremely good in accepting Amendments which have been put, not only from this side, but from the other side of the House, in order to make the Bill, as far as can be, a better Bill, and I know that he would be the first person to wish to have this Bill as clear in the minds of the people who will have to operate under it as can possibly be arranged by this House. Undoubtedly, it might be difficult in certain cases for a man to know whether he was really contravening this Clause or not, and, therefore, if the insertion of this word will make it perfectly obvious in a man's mind, and, provided that there is no legal argument against the insertion of the word, will make it a better Bill, I appeal to the hon. Member to accept it, because this Bill has such a measure of support from all sides of the House, and these Amendments are not moved with the object of wrecking the Bill, but to make it as acceptable as possible to any who may even now have any doubts about it. Therefore, if the Under-Secretary can accept it without legal difficulties ensuing in the operation of the Bill, I hope that the promoter of the Bill will get him to do so.


I only rise to speak on the legal point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). The insertion of the word "knowingly" here would not exempt a man, in my opinion, from an offence under this Measure should he say, "I did not know about the Act." That would be no defence at all. But where the word would be advisable, and, in fact, necessary, would be to protect an individual in the case of ignorance of certain existing facts. Let me give an illustration. If the word were inserted, it would be no defence for a man who was summoned for keeping his shop open on Sunday, to say that he had never heard of the Act. On the other hand, supposing a barber said that he went to a place on a Sunday afternoon, to attend a person, who "by reason of bodily or mental infirmity" could not go to the shop, and the barber went there in good faith, not knowing the real facts, and he afterwards found out that the facts were different from what he supposed, then he would be liable to a penalty under this Bill. There may be other circumstances where an offence might be inadvertently committed, and, therefore, I would suggest to the Under-Secretary that he might readily accept this Amendment.


I want to say a word as to the difficulty of accepting this Amendment. I think that the hon. and learned Member will agree with me that the terms of this Bill are not those which allow of the word "knowingly" being introduced. The word can have no application to the question whether a man opens his shop on a Sunday or not, and, as far as the illustration was given, there is no bench of magistrates, surely, in the country who, in the circumstances given by the hon. and learned Member, would thing of convicting. I speak from experience of magistrates. Before coming to this House, every week it was my duty, in one capacity or another, to appear before them. The word "knowingly" is a word which has given rise to considerable difficulty. Every defending solicitor seizes upon it in a court of law. It will only tend to defeat the purpose of the Bill, and it was moved by the hon. Member, if I may say so, from a complete misapprehension. He suggested that if it had not been brought to the knowledge of the hairdressers of the country that this Bill was in operation, they could plead that word in their defence.

Of course, as has been pointed out by the hon. and learned Member, ignorance of the law is no excuse for contravention of the law, and certainly, as the Bill is not to come into operation until 1st January, 1931, it is futile to suggest that by the passing of this Bill, if it gets the Third Reading to-day, and secures a passage in another place and the King's Assent, within a short time, everyone engaged in the trade will not be well aware of the passing of the Measure which affects their life so closely. I hope that the promoter of the Bill will not accept the Amendment for it will largely destroy the effectiveness of the Measure, and I have no doubt that when the Bill was drawn, the possibility of the insertion of this word was carefully considered.


I cannot advise the promoter to accept this Amendment. The effect would be that no penalty could be imposed under the provisions of the Bill in respect of a breach of its provisions, unless it was proved that the Bill was knowingly contravened. The enforcement of this Measure rests entirely upon the local authorities, and the inclusion of this word would hamper them and make it difficult. We have already had some experience in this type of legislation. In the Shops (Hours of Closing) Acts, and particularly the Act of 1928, no such word as this is used in connection with the offences Section, and no difficulties have arisen in the administration of that Act. We might reasonably take the view, having regard to our experience in the administration of that Act, that local authorities will not institute prosecutions under this Bill if a warning would serve the purpose. Those of us who understand any law at all, realise the limiting effect of the word "knowingly" and the difficulties that would arise in establishing any prosecution at all if the word were included. Under those circumstances, I should advise the House to resist the Amendment.


The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) have not dealt with the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment moved it under a misapprehension as to what the effect would be. The House has already passed in Clause 2, paragraph (b) a provision that a barber in a hotel may shave or cut the hair of any person resident in the hotel. In London hotels where there is what is known as a trans-Atlantic traffic, there are large barbers' shops which are very much used on Sundays, because, as it happens, the American nation is fonder of getting a shave on Sundays than any other nation. Literally thousands of Americans crowd into the barbers shops of places like the Savoy Hotel, and will do so at the big hotels which are being built in Park Lane, some of which, I understand, will contain two or three thousand rooms, and these are intended almost exclusively for the trans-Atlantic trade. How is the unfortunate man who runs such barber's shops to be sure that a person who comes in for a shave is a resident?

In order to guard against circumstances that will arise under that paragraph, there ought to be a provision later in the Bill to protect the barber who unwittingly shaves a person who is not a resident. How can the barber possibly know whether some of the people who crowd into his shop are residents? Is he to say to each customer, "We are very Sabbatarian people, and it has been laid down that it is an act against God and man to be shaved in this country on Sunday; can you tell me if you are a resident?" If the man tells the barber to go to a warm place, and says that it is no business of his, and sits down and gets a shave, the barber is liable to serious penalty. I suggest that where so many pettifogging conditions are put into the Act, as they are put into this Bill, there ought to be some provision which will prevent the unfortunate barber from being fined£5, or, in the case of a subsequent offence,£20, for breaking the law unwittingly.

I was not surprised to find the hon. Member for Bodmin being in favour of the Amendment, for it is consistent with the principles of the Liberal party and the Noncomformist conscience that people should be heavily fined for unwittingly doing something on Sunday; it is fully in accord with the gloomiest traditions of Puritan England. The hon. Gentleman who supports the Bill is much more reasonable, and I suggest to him that some words should be put in to prevent a hairdresser, who unwittingly breaks the law because some customer takes advantage of paragraph (b), from being heavily fined.


Until comparatively recent times, it was the well established principle of our common law that nobody could be convicted of an offence unless it could be proved that he had the mens rea or the guilty mind. Then, coming to a recent type of legislation such as the milk Acts, where certain things were stated to be offences, the Courts were driven to put an interpretation upon the Clauses, that the Act has said, "If this is done it is an offence." An interpretation has been put on many of these Clauses that if the Act is in fact broken, however innocently, an offence is committed and the person is punished. They have said that if the legislature do not mean that, it is their duty to say it. As I read Clause 2, a hairdresser who has a regular clientèle, cannot shave that clientèle on Sunday, but if one of them rings him up and says, "I am sorry, but I have a cold, and the doctor says I must not go out, so please come round and shave me," he can go and shave him. He cannot shave him if he is well, however. The Clause says that the barber can shave a man if he has a bad cold, but he cannot shave him if he has not a cold. That is the sort of legislation with which we are dealing.

Suppose that a customer rings a barber up and says, "I have a bad cold and must not go out," and the barber says, "All right, I will come round and shave you", and it turns out that the cold was not so bad as to prevent the customer going out, how is the unfortunate barber to deal with the position? He has clients whom he wants to keep and, after all, barbers make their living out of the class of people who do not like shaving themselves, and, if they get the habit of shaving themselves on Sunday, they may get the habit of shaving themselves on other days of the week. The barber is rung up by a valuable client who wants shaving, and the barber says, "I cannot shave you unless you are too bad to go out." The man replies, "I have a bad cold, and my wife says I must not go out." He goes round and shaves him, but the man is able to go out, and someone hears about it and he is prosecuted. The magistrate must then say that, if the cold was not had enough for the man to go out, the barber has committed an offence, but, if it was bad enough, he has not committed an offence. Does not this show the futility of saying the barber is to be punished if he makes a mistake? Indeed it is not his mistake. How is he to pass judgment on whether a customer is fit to go out or not? But that is the wording of Sub-section 2 (a). I should not like to say what I think about it.

The wording of that Sub-section means that the barber is free to go round and shave his customers if they are unable to go out. I do not know what "unable" means, whether it means that he has to produce a medical certificate he is unable to go out or that he must have a broken leg. The barber has to take all the risk of this, and, if he has some competitor who wants to down him, or there is some well-paid Government inspector whose job it is to prosecute people and try to get them convicted, he may find himself prosecuted for shaving Mr. John Jones on a Sunday when Mr. John Jones was fit to go out. Does he take the customer's word for it? How is lie to judge? To say that a man who shaves somebody who said he was not fit to go out when he was fit has committed a criminal offence is absurd. As a lawyer with a great respect for the law of the country, I say that it is making it an ass. It is carrying it to absurdity.

Now you have words proposed to be put in saying that he must know he has committed an offence. The hon. Gentleman just now referred to the Shop Hours Act, but you cannot commit an offence under that Act without knowing it. You cannot keep your shop open after hours without knowing it. There are certain offences you cannot commit without knowing it, and there are others that you can. As to hotels, it is a perfectly common thing for someone to come down to the barber's shop in them and ask for a shave. If the barber asks "Are you resident in the hotel?" and the man tells a lie and says that he is, the barber may be prosecuted and fined. That is carrying things too far. You do not want to create crimes except in the case of people knowingly doing wrong. It is wrong to say that it will not affect those who act innocently. If the House is foolish enough to create offences of this kind without a provision like this, it will affect innocent persons. It is not guilty persons who will escape, but innocent persons, whom the House does not wish to be punished, and who have been misled by their clients, will be convicted and fined. The House cannot really want to punish those people. They only want to punish those who knowingly offend.


"Knowingly open their shops."

3.0 p.m.


I do not see how that affects the case. I am pointing out that there are various offences which a man may commit quite innocently. Obviously, the intention of this Sub-section is that people unfit to leave their homes may be shaved by a barber. Mentally infirm persons are included. How on earth is a barber to determine the state of a man's mind and whether he is fit to go out and be shaved or whether he must be shaved at home? Perhaps a client was playing bridge and lost money the night before which might have affected his mind. If he shaves a man who really is not mentally unsound when he has been told that he is, he commits a criminal offence or, if he shaves a man on the assurance that he is unfit to go out and it turns out that he has been misled, he has committed a crime. Under the older Acts, it is open to a man to prove that he has acted on information, but in this case you do not give him the provision: provided he had good grounds for believing … he shall not have committed an offence. There is no protecting provision here. I cannot think of any other Act that has not a protecting provision by which, if there is a prima facie case, it is left open to the man to prove that he had good grounds for believing he acted rightly. Here you have a Bill creating offences of a most absurd kind. Why on earth it should be an offence to shave a man who can go out and not a man who cannot go out I cannot see. To say that an unfortunate barber who quite innocently has broken one of these clauses is to be subject to these heavy fines is wrong. If you insert the word "knowingly," you will not convict an innocent man, and it should not be the object of the House to create offences under which innocent men may be convicted, as under this Act they will be.


I am sure the barbers will appreciate very much the sympathy which has been shown by the hon. Member who has just sat down. It is the barbers who are promoting this Bill.


I do not understand it.


Perhaps you do not understand it, but you do not understand the conditions under which barbers work, their psychology is not the same as that of the hon. Gentleman's, whose conditions of life are somewhat different from theirs. They are the victims here that the hon. Member is so anxious about. It is they who have worked for this Bill and have asked for it, who have worked and spent money to secure it, and now they are to be told by various Members and particularly the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson) that they are to be protected because they are not knowingly committing an offence against the Bill. They do not want "knowingly" inserted. They are against it being inserted. [HON. MEMBERS: "How do you know"?] I know perfectly well, because I have been in contact with them over this Bill, and have had to plead with them to agree to Amendments which I have accepted and which, if they had not been accepted, might have given the hon. Member the opportunity of moving more Amendments.

Let me try to deal with this word "knowingly." In the city from which I come we have a foreign population who never knowingly do anything that is wrong, but who keep our police force very busy dealing with offences they have committed—but never "knowingly." Their ignorance of our language, their ignorance of our customs, is almost unbelievable; still, it is not "knowingly" on their part. If this word "knowingly" is incorporated in the Bill, then I, knowing the men who not knowingly do these things, know what will follow thereon. There will be many offences committed. It seems to be assumed that everybody is going to have a cold and that barbers will be called in to shave them. The hon. Member could not have heard what I said about the business capacity of the trade, because if he desires our services at his home at an awkward time we are apt, by increasing our charges, to try to make up on the hobby horses what we have lost on the swings.

The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) spoke about Americans coming into our big swell hotels and wanting to get shaved on Sundays. He said they were in the habit of getting shaved in America. This is news to me. I have been in the United States on several occasions, and in the little town where I lived were several barbers' shops, but not one of them was opened on Sundays, and in a comparatively large city like Springfield, in Massachusetts, I did not know of any barbers' shops which were open on Sundays. If there is all that desire among Americans to be able to get a shave on Sundays, it has to go unsatisfied. Is it suggested that because there will be hordes of Americans in the large hotels which are to be built in Park Lane and elsewhere it will be an inducement to strangers to go there for a shave? Will they be willing to pay the prices that will be charged? Fancy a docker from Rotherhithe or Bermondsey who thinks he needs a shave walking up to Park Lane on a Sunday morning to get shaved there, at a charge of 2s. or thereabouts! I do not think he would do it. With all my desire to get this Bill through, and that desire is more intense than any words of mine can convey, I am sorry I cannot accept this Amendment; and if hon. Members must stand by the Amendment I beg of them to allow us to go to a Division in order that we may get the sense of the House on the question.


I was very much amused by the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). The very illustration which he gave shows that this Amendment ought not to be passed. The only illustration that he could think of was that of his very charming and exotic friends who come over here from America and stay at the Savoy Hotel and other humble dwellings of that kind. If the only desire is to put this word into the Bill in order to solve their troubles, I do not think that the House need waste any more time on that problem. When, however, the Noble Lord talks about the gloomiest traditions of our Puritan Sunday, we know, of course, that he is feeling very deeply, because those who were responsible for the gloomiest traditions of our Puritan Sunday had at any rate sufficient strength of character to give his ancestors a great deal of trouble, and to send them flying at Marston Moor, Naseby, and other great conflicts in our history.

He said that the tendency of our times was all in favour of this kind of legislation. I wish it were. One of the most welcome signs in this House is this little Bill, for it represents the reversal of a tendency which in recent days has been in quite the opposite direction from the Puritan Sunday. Whether people take the Sabbatarian view or not, whatever view they take, anyone who values the principle that the minimum of work should be done on the first day of the week will welcome this opportunity of helping the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart) to get his Bill through, and to get it through in such a practical and definite form that it will be easy for those responsible for its operation to operate it. I am against this Amendment because I am sure it would make it much more difficult to operate the Measure if this word "knowingly" were put in.

I have sometimes been lost in admiration while listening in the House to hon. and learned gentlemen like the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson), spinning their arguments so thin, and I have sometimes wished 1 could have a barber to cut their arguments short, because, while they are trying to split hairs, they are very long hairs indeed. I am sure that the great majority of the House will agree that the argument which the hon. and learned Member put was very thin indeed. He was singularly unfortunate, because he happened to be absent when the Amendment was moved, and it was moved by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), who himself has on the Order Paper a new Clause which was not called, dealing with the case upon which he poured so much scorn in the latter part of his speech, namely, that of the man who was very ill. The difference between the Bill as it stands' and the proposed new Clause of the hon. Member for Torquay, who moved this Amendment, was that he desired to put the Noble Lord's exotic friends to the trouble of getting a medical certificate, instead of leaving it to the common sense of the administrators and the common sense of the hairdressers concerned, in dealing with people who were suffering from illness, and, therefore, were in need of the attendance which would be permissible under the Bill. I hope that the House will not agree to put this word in, because there are times when the common sense of ordinary people is much wiser than the hairsplitting of members of the legal profession.


I would make an appeal to my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment to withdraw it. I think that the House, after the admirable and good-tempered speech of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart), ought to' consider this matter with a due sense of proportion. I do not think that the dangers which have been held up before us in connection with this word "knowingly" are sufficient in any way to deter us from passing the Bill in its original text. The cases that have been put forward are very unlikely to happen in actual fact, and, in my view, it is impossible to get the words of any Act into such a form as to exclude all possible anomalies. We have to remember that there is a sufficient safeguard in the common sense of those who will conduct the prosecutions, if any, under the Act.

Take, first of all, the case of the man who has lost at bridge, who is feeling bad on a Sunday morning, and who wants some slight consolation. Is it possible, probable, or likely that the form of consolation that he would choose to soothe his wounded spirit would be to ring up his barber and ask him to come and shave him at his house? To my mind, if he had lost at bridge, he would be the last man to indulge in such an unsatisfactory and expensive form of consolation. If we take also the case put by the Noble Lord of the difficulty of discriminating between the man staying at a hotel and the chance passer-by, that again is a matter that would be looked after by those who institute proceedings and impose penalties under the Act. The same sort of difficulty, after all, arises with regard to the sale of drink in hotels and it has not been found that it causes any great injustice to any of His Majesty's subjects.

I differ from the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) when he said my hon. Friend was labouring under a misapprehension when he moved the Amendment. He moved it for the very reasons which the Amendment, if carried, would cause. If the word "knowingly" were put in, the prosecution would be given the added burden, not only of proving contravention of the Act, but of proving a sate of mind, which is always difficult, if not impossible. I am sure my hon. Friend is moved by no hostility towards the Bill. If the House is agreed to the principle for which the hon. Member for St. Rollox has been contending so gallantly and good temperedly for so many years, the Amendment ought to be withdrawn and we ought to expedite the passage of a very beneficial and harmless Bill.


I hope the Amendment will not be withdrawn. The essence of a crime is knowledge and, if this word is not inserted, the Bill becomes ridiculous. Take the case of Clause 2 (b). In any hotel, if that person is resident there "; I happen to go and have my hair cut on my way home at the Savoy Hotel. There is a very nice barber's shop in the basement. I walk in and have my hair cut in the ordinary way. I admit it is a soft job for the barber. At the same time, I cannot understand how, unless I get a certificate from the hotel, I am to prove that I am resident in the hotel. Another case occurs to me. I am not quite clear whether a Jew means a Jew by religion or not. It is very difficult to say. A man may be the son of Jewish parents and a Jew by tradition, but there are a great many who are not practising Jews. How on earth are you going to make a crime unless you prove that the offender has done something which he knows is wrong? Suppose a man who thinks he is a Jew carries on business, are you really going to make him a criminal because he has contravened the Act? Unless you are going to make this ridiculous, you must put the word in.


I hope the Amendment will not be withdrawn for the lighthearted reasons that have been given. I think the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart) has brought this on himself. He should have gone the whole hog. He should have had no exceptions at all. It is quite wrong that a prisoner should be convicted when he does not know. The Bill should have said, "No man shall shave another man on Sunday." He should neither have had bodily or mental infirmity. We are told people are unable to go to the place. We do not know why. Many a man has suffered from bodily infirmity on a Sunday morning who was quite well on the Saturday forenoon. He may have a tender skin, and perhaps say to the barber in his depressed frame of mind that he is afraid to put a razor into his hand. I do not see why we should not encourage people in these days of safety razors, which are now made in this country, to shave themselves. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) took the same view as he took in Committee on another private Bill. This Bill proposes to prosecute the wrong persons, and that is why the word "knowingly" should be put in. The people to prosecute are the people who tempt the barber, and come in with large fees to get shaved.

The hon. Membeer for St. Rollox rather gave away the show. He said that they would not come, and that they would make up on the swings what they lost on the roundabouts. Is the whole thing a plot on the part of the barbers to get an easy time going from house to house and charging excessive fees for shaving the millionaires? They must have a quarrel with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because there will soon be no millionaires for them to shave. The right Clause to have put in would have been one to prohibit a man from getting a shave. You may have an American who has come over here going down into the basement of the Savoy for a shave, and the barber may be excused for shaving him. The barber may ask him, "Are you resident here?" and the man may say, "Yes, my number is No. 13." In these circumstances, how can it be proper to prosecute the barber? I believe that in the hotels at this moment when men come in they are asked, "Are you resident in the hotel?" Of course, they say that they are resident in the hotel, and they get supplied. Now and again an odd conviction happens, but it is very seldom. If you have this Clause in without the word "knowingly," you will have inspectors going round, and they may get so many

convictions that people will regard them as so many nosey-parkers. There will be more and more inspectors running about saying, "Have you been shaved here?" Perhaps, if a person says "No," the inspector may proceed to stroke his chin to see whether he has been shaved.

The hon. Member for St. Rollox ought to put an end to all labour of this kind altogether. He then might have had some support. Here he is trying to create a class of criminals of people who have no knowledge of doing anything wrong. They believe that they are only facilitating the personal cleanliness of their fellow creatures, and yet they may be run in although they may be absolutely innocent. That is a very un-Christian proposal, and one which will be absolutely contrary to the commandment that a man should not be made a criminal for a comparatively innocent act. I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) boasting about the military success of the Puritan brewer. I am glad to hear of the debt we owe to the brewing population. With regard to the explanation of the hon. Member for St. Rollox about the trouble they had in Glasgow because they had a foreign population who never intentionally did anything wrong but who filled the police court, I think that we now understand for the first time that is in the nature of a confession, and that explains how it is that Glasgow is represented in the House of Commons as it is.


I had hoped to do everything I could to help forward the Bill in conjunction with the hon. and learned Member in whose name the Amendment stood, and that I should have been given an opportunity to ask for leave to withdraw the Amendment. In the circumstances, I am afraid that I shall have to proceed to a Division.

Question put, "That the word 'knowingly' be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided. Ayes, 33; Noes; 166.

Division No. 297.] AYES. [3.25 p.m.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Balniel, Lord Dixey, A. C. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Duckworth, G. A. V. Macquisten, F. A.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Erskine, Lord (Somersel, Weston-s.-M.) Morden, Col. W. Grant
Cobb, Sir Cyril Everard, W. Lindsay Muirhead, A. J.
Colman, N. C. D. Ferguson, Sir John Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ross, Major Ronald D. Thomson, Sir F. Withers, Sir John James
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wayland, Sir William A. Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Charles
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Williams.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hastings, Dr. Somerville Palin, John Henry.
Albery, Irving James Haycock, A. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Alpass, J. H. Hayday, Arthur Peake, Capt. Osbert
Attlee, Clement Richard Hayes, John Henry Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Ayles, Walter Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Phillips, Dr. Marion
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Pole, Major D. G.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Herriotts, J. Pybus, Percy John
Barnes, Alfred John Hoffman, P. C. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Barr, James Hollins, A. Rathbone, Eleanor
Batey, Joseph Horrabin, J. F. Raynes, W. R.
Beaumont, M. W. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Berry, Sir George Isaacs, George Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Jones, F. Llewellyn (Flint) Ritson, J.
Blindell, James Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Romeril, H. G.
Bowen, J. W. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Rowson, Guy
Broad, Francis Alfred Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Brockway, A. Fenner Kennedy, Thomas Sanders, W. S.
Bromley, J. Kinley, J. Sawyer, G. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Knight, Holford Scrymgeour, E.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Burgess, F. G. Lawrence, Susan Sherwood, G. H.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shield, George William
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Leach, W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cape, Thomas Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Shillaker, J. F.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lees, J. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Charleton, H. C. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Chater, Daniel Lowth, Thomas Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)
Cluse, W. S. Lymington, Viscount Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Daggar, George Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Snell, Harry
Davies, Dr. Vernon McElwee, A. Sorensen, R.
Day, Harry McEntee, V. L. Stamford, Thomas W.
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacNeill-Weir, L. Thurtle, Ernest
Duncan, Charles MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Tinker, John Joseph
Ede, James Chuter McShane, John James Todd, Capt. A. J.
Edmunds, J. E. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Toole, Joseph
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Elliot, Major Walter E. Mansfield, W. Viant, S. P.
Elmley, Viscount March, S. Walkden, A. G.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Markham, S. F. Wallace, H. W.
Forgan, Dr. Robert Marley, J. Wallhead, Richard C.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Matters L. W. Watkins, F. C.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Melville, Sir James Wellock, Wilfred
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Messer, Fred West, F. R.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Millar, J. D. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gillett, George M. Milner, Major J. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Montague, Frederick Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Glassey, A. E. Morgan Dr. H. B. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Gossling, A. G. Morley, Ralph Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Greene, W. P. Crawford Morris, Rhys Hopkins Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Groves, Thomas E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Clrencester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall. Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Muggeridge, H. T. Mr. James Stewart and Mr. Westwood.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Naylor, T. E.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)

Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "one."

In a Bill like this, I say, quite frankly, that a penalty of£5 for a first offence is far too severe. It is not too large a fine, perhaps, in the case of the bigger shops, but is much too large in the case of the smaller shops. I should not be averse to either£1 or£2 as the preliminary fine, but I hold that the very excess of the fine specified in the Bill is liable to make for weak administration.


I am willing to compromise by accepting£2 instead of£5.


Then I am willing to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 2, line 41, leave out the word "five" and insert instead thereof the word "two."—[Mr. C. Williams.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I cannot anticipate the decision of the House, but no doubt the promoters of the Bill will get the Third Reading either this afternoon or as the first Order on Friday next. I propose now to avail myself of the right to raise certain points before we finally part with the Bill, and it is in no spirit of hostility that I do so. This Bill represents the effort which has been made for many years by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to some extent by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, in favour of an alteration in the law which would have the effect of closing hairdressers' shops on Sundays, with certain important exceptions. I confess at the outset that I find myself, to use a vulgar term, in a somewhat mugwump state of mind on the Bill. As an old Member of the House I am always suspicious of arrangements come to behind the Chair, except in official matters between the two Front Benches. I never like Friday afternoon Bills when one is told of these arrangements come to outside, or when one is told that matters having been agreed upon one ought not to discuss a Bill further.

What are the obvious points in favour of the Bill? The Bill has been supported with obvious sincerity by the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart), who has indeed devoted a very considerable proportion of his parliamentary time and energy to pushing forward the Bill. On the debit side, as to that point, I always feel that in such cases any hon. Member may be wholly wrong in arguing from the particular to the general. I heard with sympathy the hon. Member's reference to the changed conditions in the city of Glasgow with which he is associated. He said that 20 or 30 years ago there was no such thing as a hairdresser's shop open there on Sunday, but that owing to the influx into that city of a certain, I will not say alien element, but a certain element which is not Scottish, there had been in recent times a widespread opening of those shops on Sunday, and this has had a prejudicial effect upon the trade by compelling other people to work long hours. Another point which is obviously in favour of the Bill is that the trade itself, especially the small people in the trade, are in favour of it. But, on the other side, I would ask the House to remember that it is a rather dangerous principle for us to adopt, that a particular trade should be the sole arbiter in regard to time of opening shops. I think it is a dangerous principle especially in these days of depression.

Then we come to another point which is obviously in favour of the Bill. There is no difference of opinion on the argument that Sunday trading is undesirable, It is equally true that we can take credit to ourselves in this country and in this House in that respect. More and more Continental countries are following what is known as la semaine Anglaise and those of us who have been associated with the early closing movement are very glad that it should be so. But, on the debit side, there is the fact that the law as to Sunday trading in this country is in an anomalous state and there is nothing in this Bill which makes it less anomalous. Indeed, the Bill makes it more anomalous. We are asked to pass a Bill to prohibit the opening of hairdressers shops on Sunday, but there is nothing in the Bill to prevent what is, I think, a far greater scandal, and that is the opening of shops on Sunday for the sale of newspapers, tobacco and things of that kind.

Of course, I cannot discuss that matter in detail, but everybody knows—and let us be frank about it—that the reason why hon. Members of this House do not deal with the question of closing newspaper shops on Sundays, is because, if they did so, they would be attacked with the greatest ferocity in the Press. But why is it more immoral for a man to be shaved on a Sunday than for him to buy a newspaper on Sunday? I myself have heard, not only in the church to which I belong, but elsewhere, more than one sermon and more than one speech by people whom I must respect, by ministers of religion, who have said that the greatest harm is done in this country by the habit of buying Sunday newspapers and reading their contents. Nothing is done in the Bill to deal with that matter. If we are going to have a Sunday Closing Bill it ought to be more universal than this Bill. It is illogical for this House on a Friday afternoon to deal with one aspect of Sunday trading. Admittedly the Bill is intended to attack the principle of Sunday trading, and, in theory, we are all agreed that Sunday trading is undesirable, yet none of us has the courage to bring in a Bill to abolish the sale of newspapers on Sunday. In my time there has never been such a Bill before the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Bring it in yourself!"] I have no more courage in the matter than hon. Members opposite. We are all in the same boat. [HON. MEMBERS: "Canal boats!"] There is in this country a movement supported wholly on non-party and non-political grounds, which indeed has the enthusiastic support of at least one Member of the Government, and which is intended to encourage people to spend their holidays in this country. I mean the "Come to Britain" movement. In putting forward arguments in favour of it, it is often stated that the amount of money spent in this country by tourists each year might amount to from£7,000,000 to£10,000,000 and might easily indeed be raised to£100,000,000 as it is in France. One of the things which it is said acts as a deterrent to tourists coming here is the restrictions imposed here which prevent them enjoying the facilities or amenities which they are able to obtain in foreign countries. It is said that again and again tourists are dissuaded from coming to this country because they say they have a freedom in Continental countries, even in the more Northern countries, like Germany, which they do not get here.

It is such restrictions as are imposed by this Bill that are alleged by the supporters of the "Come to Britain" movement to make it more difficult to attract tourists here. I submit that a Bill of this kind acts as a detriment, although it may be only a small one. They will read in their papers to-morrow that the British House of Commons has just passed a Bill by which you cannot get a haircut or a shave on Sunday, and they will say, "That is the sort of attitude the British take. They say they want more tourists, but can they be surprised if people flock rather to the Continental resorts?" I admit that we must claim in this country to be our own masters in the matter of what we shall or shall not do on a Sunday, but let no one go away and think that restrictions of this kind assist the country in that direction. Undoubtedly they do not.

Finally I think it is a grave mistake—I imagine it has been put in by the hon. Member for St. Rollox as the result of pressure from outside and from the very natural desire on his part to meet all the opponent to the Bill—to allow Clause 3 to pass. Under that Clause it is possible, as I understand it, for any adherent of the Jewish religion to keep his shop open all Sunday. I dare say it does not happen in Glasgow, but there are towns, such as parts of London, for example, where a great deal of this trade is carried on by the Jews, and they will get an enormous advantage under this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If they will not, one of the principal arguments for the Bill falls to the ground, because the hon. Member in resisting an Amendment put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir R. Rodd), in favour of one-man businesses, used the argument, which convinced me sufficiently to cause me to advise my right hon. Friend not to persist in his Amendment, that if we allowed one-man businesses to open on Sunday, we should enable them to make money at the expense of other people [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]. Certainly. The fact that they close on Saturday does not affect the trade they do on Sunday in the slightest degree. [Interruption.] Hon. Members cannot seriously use the argument that if in a town all the hairdressers' shops except the Jewish shops are closed on Sunday, that does not give an advantage to the Jewish trade. Of course it does; it is bound to do so, and you will find that the Jews will buy up all the hairdressers' businesses and, under Clause 3, they will claim that they have a right to carry on the business on Sunday, and probably open some shops on Saturday and others on Sunday. Let me say, as one who takes some interest in our fellow subjects from the East, that the Bill ought to have been wider. There are only a small number, but there do happen to be a certain number of Mohammedans as traders. Sunday means nothing to them; their great day is Friday. If you make exception in the case of the Jews, you ought to make it in the case of other religions as well. I have no feeling against the Jews, but I regard this as giving an advantage to the members of the Jewish community who are adherents of their ancient faith.

Let me say one word about a matter which has already been discussed on the Report stage. I believe with my hon. and learned Friend behind me, that it is going to be almost impossible, without doing real injustice, to carry out the provisions of this Measure. The House has refused to insert the word "knowingly," and I think that some hairdressers and barbers will quite unwittingly break the law. Therefore, while I think that the principle of Sunday closing is a good one, and while I, personally, am not prepared to oppose it in this Bill, I think that before it gets the Third Reading it ought to be realised that the Bill is doing nothing to alter the already anomalous state of the law, that it contains dangerous provisions, and is just the sort of Bill, for which, rightly or wrongly, we get a reputation for hypocrisy, by saying that hairdressers' shops shall not be open on Sunday, when we allow so many other forms of Sunday trading, involving just as much hard work and hardship to those who take part as in the case of the hair-dressere. I have no doubt that the Bill will be passed, and have no doubt that the unemployed in this country will be grateful for a very considerable contribution to their welfare this afternoon.


I have no desire to deal with the arguments of the Noble Lord. I am sure we all sympathise with him very much in his psychology in not being able to come to a decision, and sitting on both sides of the fence. I should like to say that when he launched out about this Bill not going far enough, and not shutting up newspaper shops and so on, I was congratulating myself that when we bring in a Bill for the Sunday closing of public houses, we shall have him as a most ardent supporter. I wish to refer to one remark which fell from the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) when he spoke of the Puritan brewer who won a great Republican victory. I think he forgot that that Puritan brewer sent out an ordinance that no soldier who drank or gambled would have any place in his army. As one whose name is on the back of the Bill, I rise for the sole purpose of congratulating the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart), who honoured me, when he went abroad two or three years ago, by asking me to take charge of the Bill. I hope that he will accept the tributes that have been passed upon him in all parts of the House as a token of the high personal esteem in which we all regard him, and of the unqualified congratulations that we give to him on the passing of this Bill, for which he has toiled so long.

Captain BOURNE

I should like to add my congratulations to the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart) who has worked very hard to get this Measure on the Statute Book. I have no desire to delay its passage, but I much regret that the hon. Gentleman has accepted Clause 3 because in introducing the principle that the opening of a barber's shop on Sunday should depend on the religious belief of the shopkeeper, is to introduce a principle into our law which is highly undesirable. If a hairdresser is to be allowed to keep open because he is a Jew, why should not a draper or a butcher or anybody else be allowed to keep open if, according to their religious beliefs, that day is not sacred? I feel strongly that we ought to try and preserve the principle of Sunday closing intact, but once we begin to make exceptions for the Jews, we must go on making exceptions for the Mohammedans who are resident on our shores, and it will eventually be impossible to prevent a large number of shopkeepers in any one town keeping open on Sunday if they do not happen to be Christians.

This is a big departure from the general principles of the law. There may be something to be said for it, but a principle of that magnitude should not be introduced in a Private Member's Bill. Although I approve the main principle of this Bill, I am sorry that the hon. Member for St. Rollox has found it necessary to give way in this respect in order to prevent opposition to the Bill. I hope that the precedent which he has set in this Bill will not be followed in any future Bill of this kind.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."


I think that the House is ready to come to a decision.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.

Adjourned at Four o'Clock until Monday next, 19th May.