HC Deb 01 May 1936 vol 311 cc1247-9

The following Amendments stood upon the Order paper: In page 7, line 38, leave out Clause 7.

In page 8, line 5, leave out "Christmas Day," and insert "a public holiday as defined in the Shops Act, 1912."

In line 5, at the end, insert,— (c) in the case of shops exempted under section five of this Act on any Sunday when the succeeding Monday is a Jewish holy day."—[Sir A. Wilson.]


The first Amendment which I shall call is the Third Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson).

11.26 a.m.


I beg to move, in page 8, line 5, at the end, to insert: (c) in the case of shops exempted under section five of this Act on any Sunday when the succeeding Monday is a Jewish holy day. We understand, from petitions and circulars which have reached us and from statements which have been made by the promoters of the Bill or on their behalf, that, when the question of exemptions under Clause 5 comes up for consideration, Jewish traders who have signed the statutory declaration will be willing to undertake the close their shops on the 15 Jewish holy days on which conscientious Jews are required by their religious laws to abstain from all work; and, that being the case, it seems reasonable that they should be permitted, as Christians are on Christmas Day, to deliver goods on the previous day, although it may be a Sunday. The 15 holy days cover the whole year, and are fairly equally distributed. I doubt whether I should have put this Amendment down had I not anticipated that my previous Amendment—in page 8, line 5, to leave out "Christmas Day," and insert, "a public holiday as defined in the Shops Act, 1912," would also be called. Under that Amendment, public holidays, whether of Jews or of Christians, if preceded by a Sunday, would have been the object of special exemption in order to make easier the regular delivery of goods. The present Amendment would simply give, to conscientious Jews who have signed the statutory declaration and have given the undertaking and certificates prescribed by the Home Office, exemptions with respect to deliveries made on the days immediately preceding the days on which they will be compelled, as I anticipate, both by the Home Office prescription and by their own religion, to keep their shops closed.


I beg to second the Amendment.

11.29 a.m.


I hop, the House will not agree to this Amendment, and I ask my hon. and gallant Friend to withdraw it, in view of the fact that his previous Amendment has not been called. The position to-day is that, if Christmas Day falls on a Monday, there is an exemption allowing the delivery of goods on the previous Sunday. That is the only exemption. My hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment would give 15 possible exemptions, for, in the case of every Jewish holy day falling on a Monday, there would he an exemption for delivery of goods on the previous Sunday; but there would be no exemption for any day in the case of any other religion, with the one exception of Christmas Day. I submit to the House that such a position could not be accepted, and I would appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend not to press it.

11.30 a.m.


I am glad that the promoters are unwilling to accept this Amendment. I cannot understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attitude. In the Committee he told us that the Bill would be unworkable because there were too many exemptions, but today he is moving exemptions that would very nearly destroy the purpose of the Bill. I would appeal to him not to press the Amendment and so make the Bill appear ridiculous; and, if he will pardon my saying so, I am not sure that, in trying to make the Bill appear ridiculous, he night not in the end be making himself also appear ridiculous.

11.31 a.m.


I cannot allow my hon. Friend's remarks to pass unchallenged. The 15 Jewish holy days to which I refer could not conceivably, in more than two or three cases, fall on a Monday. They do not depend upon the seven days of the week, and it would be quite exceptional for more than two, or three at the most, to fall on a Monday. I confess, Mr. Speaker, that I am in somewhat of a difficulty because of your decision not to call my previous Amendment. The intention of the two Amendments was to make possible the delivery of goods on, say, the Sunday before the August Bank Holiday, or the Sunday before any Bank Holiday. I see no reason in the Bill why this should be restricted solely to Christmas, except that Boxing Day, which is a Bank Holiday, follows immediately after Christmas Day, that being the only case where there are three public holidays in succession. In view of the fact that under Clause 5 statutory exemption has been promised to Jews, on lines which have yet to be decided, and that the Jews themselves, between the Committee and Report stages, have made it clear that they contemplate a voluntary acceptance of the obligation to close on these 15 days, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to place their holy days on the same basis, so far as the Bill is concerned, as—


On a point of Order. May I ask how many times the hon. and gallant Member is allowed to speak on Report?


I can only speak again with the consent of the House. I rose merely to rebut the suggestion that I was trying to destroy the Bill, and was not serious. Having done that, I willingly respond to the appeal of my hon. Friend the promoter of the Bill, and beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.