§ Order for Consideration of Lords Amendments read.
§ 12.32 a.m.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I beg to move, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."
Perhaps the Committee will excuse me if I speak for only a couple of minutes, as the hour is late, on the Amendments made in another place. When the Bill was passing through this House on Third Reading it was pointed out that there were certain matters that would require very careful consideration and that local authorities would have to be consulted. The Amendments inserted in another place are the result of the consultations undertaken by the Home Office with local authorities and the interested parties, and with the promoters, and are also due to the scrutiny undertaken by the Home Office and the Parliamentary draftsmen, in order, as it were, to lick certain Clauses into shape. I would emphasise this point, however, that the Amendments as inserted in another place do not modify the main principles of the Bill as passed by this House unanimously on Third Reading. I would add that the Amendments fall into two main categories.
1270 There are a great mass of drafting Amendments. Clause 5 has been completely taken out and re-drafted, but it remains the same with one exception, that in one respect it has been strengthened for establishing a tribunal to prevent evasion. The main other Amendments have been inserted generally after consultation, with the local authorities, to prevent undue hardship upon the public, especially in holiday resorts, and to prevent undue hardship upon smallholders selling the produce they produce at the spot they produce it. I will not detain the House longer at this hour, but I do feel that many many hours have been spent over this Bill and much labour undertaken by those interested belonging to all parties. I feel that the Amendments, voluminous as they appear, are absolutely in harmony with the Debate on the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
Before the hon. Member sits down, would he explain in connection with Clause 2, which is a very important Clause, what Clause he puts in its place?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
Perhaps the hon. Member will deal with that when we reach it.
§ 12.38 a.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
May I say one or two words? I have taken part in all the proceedings on this Bill from the commencement, and I want to say on behalf of those of us who sit on this side of the House who are connected with shop assistants that we were a little apprehensive when we saw some of these Amendments. But in view of the fact that if there is any opposition to them the Bill may be lost, we are accepting the Amendments because the Bill as a whole will do great service for the millions of shop assistants employed in this country.
§ 12.39 a.m.
§ Sir A. WILSON
I do not propose to oppose the Amendments which we are are considering, but I cannot allow the speeches of the hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me to pass without saying a word or two to explain the feeling of dismay with which I have read the Lords Amendments in relation to three points. One is in relation to smallholders and others who are allowed to sell their 1271 produce on the spot on which they produce it, with the result that if the smallholder has a plot adjoining the Great North Road he will be at liberty to sell, but if he is unfortunate enough to have a plot elsewhere he will be unable to sell. I hope that is not the meaning of the Clause, but I fear it is, and I earnestly hope that the ingenuity of the Home Office may find some way, by instruction or otherwise, to enable it to be possible under the Amendments we have before us for smallholders to sell their produce by the roadside at no considerable distance from their holdings, provided they sell nothing but that which they do produce. It is a very important point for some of us.
The second point has relation to the extension of Sunday opening to 18 weeks of the year in holiday resorts. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) has spoken of the millions of shop assistants who will benefit from this Bill. If my anticipations are realised, there will be a great number of shop assistants, greater than ever before, employed on Sunday in consequence of the orgy of Sunday opening which will inevitably follow the passing of this Bill. We are imposing heavy and unreasonable obligations on local authorities by requiring them under this Clause to carry out a whole series of plebiscites of shopkeepers under, roughly, a whole series of trades. I think it will cause bad blood. I believe that it will be very far from serving the cause of Sunday trading restriction which this Bill purports by its Title to forward.
My third point is in relation to the new Clause relating to the exemption of conscientious Jews. I, myself, proposed that the Jewish Board of Deputies should be brought in, but when I see what I see in the new Amendment, and that it is for the local authorities, if they think fit, to refer the matter to the Jewish Board of Deputies, we are going far on a very dangerous road. There have never been so many Jews engaged in the retail trade as now. There is no law by which they must be even British subjects. I hope that that may be prescribed. There is a loophole for it. We do not know to where this Amendment may lead if the Bill be passed. The only reason I am opposing this now is that if I do not 1272 do it to-day, the Amendments will be passed to-morrow.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.