HC Deb 03 March 1938 vol 332 cc1266-7
24. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider some amendment to the Shops Act, 1934, in view of the present anomalies whereby it is possible on the half-day closing to purchase from chemists a tooth brush and tooth paste, but not a shaving brush and safety razor, and in view of the fact that many retailers are unable to interpret the Act in numerous instances similar to the one given?

Sir S. Hoare

Under the Shops Act, 1912, shops are required to close for a weekly half-holiday, but various exemptions are provided including an exemption for the sale of medicines and medical and surgical appliances. My hon. Friend will appreciate that in legislation of this character some special exceptions must of necessity be provided, and that where there are exceptions there must always be border-line cases. I do not see how such cases are to be avoided by any amendment of the law, short of abolishing the exemptions altogether.

Mr. De la Bère

Does my right hon. Friend realise that it is impossible to interpret this Act, and that the numerous cases throughout the country surely demand a good deal more common sense in the Act?

Sir S. Hoare

I am afraid that I cannot admit my hon. Friend's assumptions.

36. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Home Secretary whether as, since the passing of the Shops Act, 1912, the banks in the city now close on Saturdays at 12 noon instead of at 1 p.m., and as the city shops need not therefore remain open until 1.30 p.m. in order to allow bank clerks to do their shopping, he will consider amending the Act to enable these shops to close at 1 p.m.?

Sir S. Hoare

The Shops Act, 1912, requires all shops to close not later than one o'clock on one day in every week, but a local authority may in certain circumstances by order exempt any class of shops from this requirement, either altogether or by fixing a later hour not later than two o'clock. I understand that in the City of London one or two classes of shops have been exempted up to 1.30 p.m., but that most shops have been exempted altogether from this requirement, though in practice they mostly close at 1.30 p.m. on Saturdays. If action is to be taken in the direction desired by my hon. Friend, this can be done under the existing law, either by voluntary arrangement on the part of the occupiers of the shops concerned, or alternatively by revocation of the orders of exemption now in force if a majority of the occupiers are in favour of that course.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Could not these bank clerks do their shopping on some other day than Saturday?