HC Deb 01 May 1936 vol 311 cc1243-6

Amendments made:

In page 2, line 38, after "prevent," insert: the sale, despatch, or delivery of butchers' meat or Kosher meat required by.

In line 38, leave out "from being served on Sunday with meat."—[Mr. Liddall.]


I beg to move, in page 2, line 39, after "ship," to insert "or aircraft."

This Amendment and the one which follows have been put down to meet possible developments in aviation. The rapid development of aviation may bring in its train a state of affairs similar to that existing with regard to ships, namely, that aircraft may arrive at aerodromes on a Sunday and require a supply of meat.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made:

In page 2, line 41, at end, to insert "or aerodrome."—[Mr. Liddall.]

11.13 a.m.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

This Bill provides for the total closing of retail meat traders' shops on Sundays and for the prohibition of the delivery of meat from such shops on Sundays. There are only three exceptions to its provisions, and they are in respect of bona fide members of the Jewish faith and the supply of meat to ships and aircraft. In this country there are several large towns and cities where it is impossible to purchase butchers' meat on Sunday, Manchester and Sunderland being examples of places where the shops are closed by voluntary agreement and there has been no public outcry. On the other hand, in several parts of London, Newcastle and Bristol, and in many industrial towns in the North, there is a growing tendency for the shops to open, because when one or two traders in a town open the others, much as they may dislike the practice, feel compelled to follow suit. I presented the Bill at the request of the National Federation of Retail Meat Dealers and it has the hacking of good employers, large and small, their employés and a large public.

It is gratifying to me that on no occasion, on Second Reading, in Standing Committee or during the Report stage this morning, has one word of objection or opposition been raised. I express my appreciation and grateful thanks, first to you, Mr. Speaker, for enabling the Bill to be given a Second Reading when the time at the disposal of the House on that day was so limited; to the Secretary of State for Home Affairs for the sympathetic and valuable help in Committee and inside and outside the House, and to Members of all parties who have assisted the passage of the Bill in what, I believe, has been a record time. The Bill, I repeat, commands the support of practically everyone in the industry, and I confidently appeal to the House to give it a Third Reading. If the Bill is eventually placed upon the Statute Look, we shall confer upon a very large and worthy body of people the priceless boon of one day's rest in seven.


I have very much pleasure in seconding the Motion. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his skill and tact, and I join with him in thanking hon. and right hon. Members for the helpful consideration they have given to this Measure.

11.17 a.m.

Lieut.-ColonelSir ARNOLD WILSON

As a Member whose name appears on the back of this Bill, I endorse what has been said by the two hon. Members who have just spoken. This is an excellent example of what a Private Member's Bill should be. It is limited to a single topic and to a single trade. It has the universal consent of the consumer and of the industry, and it has been so carefully drafted that no changes have been made in Standing Committee and only formal changes since. It seems in all respects worthy of the consideration that this House has given it.

11.18 a.m.


The House may wish to have a few words from the Home Office. The Bill is of interest only to butchers. It appears to the He me Office that the position of this trade is such as to justify exceptional legislation. The requirements of those who are of Jewish faith can be very easily met in this trade by limiting the privilege of Sunday opening to those shops which are permitted to sell Kosher meat. The position in respect of the Jewish faith can be met much more simply here than in regard to shops in general, as the House was aware from the discussion which took place upon another Bill last Friday. It is understood that the Kosher licences are subject to stringent conditions, and are issued to a strictly limited number of butchers. It is possible and justifiable to deal with Sunday closing of this class of shop by framing legislation on simple lines and without attempting any legislation for shops in general. I note that the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A Wilson) is a supporter of the Measure, the provisions of which appear to be workable. There will, of course, be details requiring consideration in another place, but the House may reasonably give the Bill a Third Reading.

11.20 a.m.


I also join in congratulating the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall). I understand that he is a journalist, and not a butcher. The Bill is a remarkable illustration of what private Members are able to achieve in this House. I was a little alarmed at the ominous attitude of the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) as it bears upon the Bill which is next to come before us. The reason why we support this Bill on this side of the House is that we have learned enough about shop life to enable us to make up our minds that the only chance for every shop assistant to secure one day's rest in seven is through Parliamentary action.

11.21 a.m.


I should like to add my blessing to the Bill, and my congratulations to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall), who has fathered it through. It has had a very easy journey. This is the kind of subject, simple, straightforward and understandable, that rightly provides the subject for a Private Member's Bill. We shall soon approach a more controversial and more complex problem, but this Bill, I am satisfied, will work. In the borough which I represent, the problems presented by Sunday opening arises in a complex form, but the shape and character of the Bill, simplified as it is to deal with only one article of trade, will secure its smooth and satisfactory working.

11.22 a.m.


I would say a word from the point of view of public health. The Bill shows how the whole scheme of public health is associated with Sunday trading. I do not want to develop that particular point, but to say that there is a growing feeling of the necessity for public health and for the Sunday rest, quite apart from any question of religious observance. We who are concerned with public health have viewed with grave anxiety the growing infringement of the Sunday day of rest, which should be the one day of rest in the week. When one set of people have opened their businesses on Sunday it has been very difficult for others not to follow suit. There is a slippery slope, and we have been sliding down it for several years. There has been an increasing desire for liberty and a resentment at what is called D.O.R.A., and with the regulation of the private affairs of the people. The Bill is an instance of how we must turn on the reverse. We must take definite action, and it can only be done, as was said by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), by Parliamentary action. I hope the Bill is a presage of what may be done in that direction in order to return to the one day's rest in the week, especially the same day as far as possible, for everybody, and not a makeshift of giving alternative hours on other days of the week. I am sure that the public health community will welcome the Bill.

11.24 a.m.


I am wondering whether the Bill covers the opening of stalls and shops for the sale of horseflesh for cats. One knows that there are a number of shops which do that trade.


The object of the Bill is to deal with butchers' meat and not with cats' meat.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.