HC Deb 11 July 1934 vol 292 cc437-43

9.26. p. m


I beg to move, in page 5, line 28, to leave out "there is carried on," and to insert "the business carried on is wholly or mainly."

The object of this Amendment is to ensure that this special provision, applying to businesses where customers are served with supplies or accessories for aircraft, motor vehicles or cycles shall be confined to those businesses in which the business is wholly or mainly of that nature. If the Sub-section be passed in its present form, then clearly any large department store or similar establishment that stocks any commodities, however few in number, that come within the category here laid down, would be covered by this provision. I would point out also that in my Amendment in page 5, line 40, I am asking for the same words, "wholly or mainly," to be applied to people employed in these shops. I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that these Amendments of mine do no more than bring this Clause into line with the Clause with which we just dealt. If hon. Members will refer to Clause 4, page 4, line 7, they will see that there the words "wholly or mainly" are applied to the people whose employment is to be covered by the provisions of that Clause. There is no need for me to elaborate the point; it is perfectly simple, and I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend will see, his way to accept this Amendment, which may be a little more than a drafting Amendment but which is no more than is necessary to make the Clause do what I am perfectly sure is the intention of my hon. Friend and the Government.


I beg formally to second the Amendment.

9.28 p.m.


This point is actually covered by our Amendment in page 1742 of the Order Paper, which is not quite in the same words but which would have the same effect. Under that Amendment we deal with the question of a place where two or more retail trades —that is a multiple store—are carried on and where this is not the principal retail trade. Perhaps it would be well if on this Amendment I surveyed all the Government Amendments. My hon. Friend would then see that we have done our best to meet the points which he has raised not only to-night but in correspondence.

This deals with the case of garages which provide supplies or accessories for aircraft, motor vehicles or cycles sold for immediate use. Here it is the question of dealing with an industry which is not quite on all fours with the general run of distributive trades. I would remind the House again of the fundamental provisions of 50 hours' overtime in six weeks, with only 12 hours' overtime per week for those between 10 and 18. In the Clause as it comes down to us from Committee we have, again, two privileges for the garage trade. The first is rather on the lines of the privilege given to the catering trade by which they may average their 48 hours. We give the garage trade the privilege of being allowed on giving notice to the local authority in the manner prescribed to average their periods of work over a three-weekly period instead of a fortnight as in the catering trade, and instead of the normal week in the other distributive trades. So for garages the 144 hours which are available can be distributed into three weekly periods as they please, provided that no individual week can exceed 5.4 hours. That is the normal way of dealing with their hours of employment. Unlike the catering trades, in this particular case they may work overtime in the three weekly periods, but there is the over-riding maximum that no week may be longer than 54 hours. They can therefore take their overtime if they like, but if they do not the three weekly average still remains and the maximum in any case is 54 hours.

The second privilege which the garage businesses have is that they are exempt, from the maximum limit of six weeks in which they can have overtime. The first Clause says that you may only have overtime in six specific weeks. The garages, however, as the Bill is reported from Committee, have exemption; they can take their overtime when they like, though the over-riding maxi-Mum still remains. We want again to make it as easy as possible, while safeguarding the position of the young employed person, to conform to what is the practice so far as we can ascertain it in this section of the business world, which has to deal with customers in a rather different manner from that of the ordinary shops.

So the gist of the Government Amendment is that first of all, when they are averaging their weeks of work so that they take 144 hours in three-weekly periods, they can then work 12 hours overtime in the three weeks, but none of the weeks can be over 54 hours. That is their normal way of dealing with overtime. If, however, they are not averaging, then their exemption from the six-weeks limit which is provided for in the first Clause is conditional on their not using more than 12 hours' overtime in three weeks. That is the effect of the second block of Amendments which we are making at this stage. We say that if they do not want that exemption from six weeks—that is to say, they prefer not to spread their overtime in little quantities throughout the year but wish to stick to what is allowed to all the trades in the first Clause of the Bill, namely, to take 50 hours' overtime but not more than 12 hours a week in six definite weeks—they have to give notice to the local authority that they are going to do so.

In the Amendment Which we are actually discussing, the hon. Gentleman deals with the question of a shop of the multiple class. A multiple shop may have a department—though we are not using the word "department" in the Bill—where their business is to sell retail accessories or supplies for aircraft, motor vehicles or cycles. We are dealing with this in the last paragraph of the Amendments to this Clause: we make the test there whether it is or is not the principal retail trade or business. That is not "wholly or mainly quite in the way the hon. Member puts it, but hon. Members will see that this follows. Our object there is that, if there be a motor department. in a big store, then these conditions of averaging should only apply to the employés in that department and should not be taken advantage of by the employers to deal with the overtime of their other employés who may be in other departments. In the ordinary garage, however, where the principal retail trade or business carried on is this business of motoring, we think that it is all right for averaging to apply to those who are employed in direct connection with that business, because in that kind of shop there is a certain possibility of a young fellow who is dealing with the sale of motor accessories being also at other times used in minor repairs in the same business.

That is the way in which we have dealt with that question. Notice will have to be given to the authority, and in that case my right hon. Friend proposes to take that opportunity of putting this provision, and those provisions which relate to the catering trades, in language which will be intelligible to all employers of labour in these particular industries. I do not think that anyone who is not an expert can possibly understand the Clause, but the explanation is what I have given to the House. If it is not clear, we propose to make it clear to those people mostly concerned, that is, the employers and their employes. I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.


I cannot say that the hon. and gallant Member has quite satisfied my point, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made:

In page 5, line 31, leave out from "use," to the first "that," in line 36, and insert "gives notice."

In page 6, line 10, leave out "paragraph," and insert "paragraphs."

In line 13, at the end, insert: (iii b) in any period of three consecutive weeks so that he is employed overtime about the business of a shop for more than twelve working hours in that period.

In line 14, leave out Sub-section (2).

In line 18, leave out Sub-section (3).

In line 24, leave out Sub-section (4).

In line 34, at the beginning, insert: If the occupier of any shop gives notice that he elects that the provisions of this sub-section shall not be applicable to that shop then, unless and until the notice is withdrawn, the said provisions shall not be applicable thereto, but as respects business carried on at any shop to which the said provisions are not so rendered inapplicable.

In line 38, leave out from "and," to the end of the Clause, and insert: if other business is carried on in the shop the overtime employment of persons in relation to whom this sub-section applies shall not be taken into account for the purposes of the application of the said proviso in relation to any other young persons.

In line 43, at the end, insert: Provided that while the provisions of this sub-section are applicable to a shop, section one of this Act shall, in relation to any young person employed in connection with the business aforesaid, having effect as if in proviso (b) to sub-section (2) thereof there were inserted the following additional paragraph, that is to say— (iii b) in any period of three consecutive weeks so that he is employed overtime about the business of a shop for more than twelve working hours in that period. (6) A notice given under sub-section (1) or under sub-section (5) of this section with respect to any shop and a notice withdrawing any such notice as aforesaid shall be given in such form, in such manner, and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, to the local authority whose duty it is to enforce the foregoing provisions of this Act within the district in which the shop is situated, and any such notice shall take effect on such date after it is given as may be prescribed."—[Captain Crookshank.]


I beg to move, in page 6, line 43, at the end, to insert: (G) Where two or more retail trades or businesses are carried on in the same shop and the business of serving customers with supplies or accessories for aircraft, motor vehicles, or cycles sold for immediate use, is not the principal retail trade or business carried on in the shop, the provisions of this section shall apply only in relation to young persons employed about the business of a shop who are wholly or mainly employed in connection with the business of serving customers with such supplies or accessories as aforesaid.

9.41 p.m.


I should like to thank the Under-Secretary of State for what he has done in trying to meet the points I have raised. The word "Department "in this Clause and in the previous Clause has been deleted, and quite properly, because there is no definition of the word "Department," and the whole interpretation of the Clause depends on the word being defined. I want to ask the Under-Secretary if he really has made it any easier by inserting the words: Where two or more retail trades or businesses are carried on. It is no less difficult to distinguish between two retail trades as it is between two different departments of a business, and I cannot see why the Government cannot accept my much easier form of words, "wholly or mainly," and distinguish shops of one kind from another by discovering whether the business is wholly or mainly of one particular character or not. I should like to ask how the hon. and gallant Member proposes to define a retail business. If in the same shop is carried on the sale of bicycles, the sale of aircraft accessories, the sale of wireless sets and the sale of lawn-mowers, is it one retail business, or two, or three, or four retail businesses? I think he is giving himself a problem which is not easier than the problem of solving what is a department. If he is going to put words into an Act of Parliament which depends for their interpretation on these nebulous words, he is making a mistake, and I would ask him to reconsider the matter, and also express the hope that he will find my words really easier from the point of view of definition than the words he proposes to introduce.

9.43 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

Surely the word "department" is a word which everybody understands. If the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) went into a shop with a, young lady 20 years old she would probably ask for a particular department, and there would be no doubt as to where she would be taken. She would be taken to the proper department. I think the hon. Member would do well to accept the words proposed in the Amendment.

9.44 p.m.


We have gone most carefully into this matter with our legal advisers and they are satisfied that this is a far better way of dealing with it than the way originally proposed in the Bill. It is generally clear, in a case where two or three retail trades are carried on in the same shop which is the principal retail trade. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) instanced a shop where wireless business and other retail trades were carried on, and I should think it would be comparatively easy for anyone to decide which was the principal retail trade. At the moment I cannot promise that these words will be reconsidered, because they have, only just been reached after a. great deal of consideration.

Amendment agreed to.