HC Deb 13 May 1938 vol 335 cc1919-41

As amended (in the Standing Committee) considered.

NEW CLAUSE.—(Provisions as to baking on Sundays.)

  1. (1) Section sixteen of the Bread Act, 1822, and section fourteen of the Bread Act, 1836, are hereby repealed.
  2. (2) The restrictions relating to work on Sundays contained in the Sunday Observance Act, 1677, shall, so far as they affect the manufacture of bread or flour confectionery or any other work incidental thereto, cease to have effect.—[Mr. McCorquodale.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.42 p.m.

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

In order to explain why it is necessary to present this new Clause it may be desirable to give the House.a brief statement of what occurred in the Standing Committee. After long negotiations upstairs, it appeared that there was a general feeling of agreement among Members of the Committee that the Bill should be amended on the lines on which it now appears before the House. I moved the necessary Amendments and new Clauses, which were accepted without any Divisions. Indeed, I saw in the Press that we had created Parliamentary history by adding 10 Clauses to the Bill without any discussion whatever. It will be seen by hon. Members that, broadly speaking, the effect of these changes is to prohibit employment in the baking industry between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except to the extent and subject to the conditions authorised under three systems, any one of which an employer is allowed to choose for his own factory. Under the first system, he is not prevented from working his factory at night, but he must not employ any individual on more than five nights in any one week. Under the second system he may work through Friday night and Saturday morning if it is essential to do so in order to get out the week-end bread, and provision is made for allowing work in the factory to start at 4 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. on other days of the week. Under the third system, he may work his factory through the night if he does so on a system of alternating shifts.

When we were discussing the first Clause in Committee speakers on all sides represented that it was too rigidly drawn with regard to the total prohibition of work on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and that it would result in hardship in a number of cases, including those of bakehouses, catering for people of the Jewish race. An understanding was reached that the Amendments which had been put down should be accepted in the Committee as they stood, but that this point should be further considered before the Report stage. As a result of subsequent negotiation and discussion I have put down an Amendment to leave out any provision with regard to the total abolition of work on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The present new Clause is allied to this proposal and is intended to regularise the legal position. I am advised that it would hardly be consistent with the new proposal to retain unaltered on the Statute Book the antiquated Acts referred to in the new Clause, even though nowadays they are ignored in the baking trade apart from occasional prosecutions at the instance of common informers. These old Acts have been partly repealed and modified in respect of the sale and delivery of bread by the Shops (Sunday Trading) Act and other Acts and this new Clause proposes to regularise the position.

12.45 p.m.

Dr. Haden Guest

I beg to second the Motion.

These Amendments have been arrived at by agreement, as the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale) said. The Bill, which went into Committee printed on two sides of one page, has come out of Committee a substantial eight-page document. The Bill has been largely changed, and these Amendments are to carry out certain details in connection with the amended Bill which were overlooked in Committee.

12.46 p.m.

Mr. Duncan

I happen to be, along with my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) and others, on a Joint Select Committee considering the Food and Drugs Bill, which is a consolidating and amending Bill dealing with the food and drugs law. In the Schedule to that Bill it is proposed to repeal the whole of the Bread Act, 1836, and we have already, I think, dealt with Section 16 of the Bread Act, 1822. I wish, therefore, to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is necessary in this Bill to repeal Sections in those Acts when it is being done already in that other Bill.

12.47 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

I have been in touch with the Ministry of Health and with the Parliamentary draftsman on this matter, and I wish to point out that the Food and Drug Bill, although it is a Government Bill, is only a Bill at the present time, and we cannot treat it as an Act, even though it has the powerful support of His Majesty's Government. I am advised by the draftsman that from a technical, legal point of view it is more tidy to deal with the matter in this Bill itself.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

CLAUSE 2.—(First special exception.)

12.48 p.m.

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 12 to 16.

This is to omit the sentence which prohibits work in bakehouses altogether on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Dr. Guest

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 3.—(Second special exception.)

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 2, line 29, to leave out "except Sunday."

This is a consequential Amendment.

Dr. Guest

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 4.—(Third special exception.)

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 3, line 2, to leave out "six," and to insert "five."

It has been pointed out that under the Bill as it stands a man could work a night shift four weeks out of every seven, and that was not intended. It was intended that he should work a night shift only on half the number of weeks in a year, and this Amendment is to meet that point.

Dr. Guest

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether we can understand that what is being done is to abolish every restriction upon Sunday baking?

Mr. Lloyd

The Sunday Trading Restriction Act alters the position with regard to Sunday baking materially, because baking is only permitted in a very small number of cases on Sundays.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, leave out lines 3 to 7.—[Mr. McCorquodale].

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, to leave out "any."

I cannot make out how the word any "got into the Bill.

Dr. Guest

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 11, leave out "six," and insert "five."—[Mr. McCorquodale].

CLAUSE 12.—(Interpretation).

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 7, line 15, at the end, to insert: (b) "chief inspector "means the chief inspector appointed under the Factories Act, 1937. This and the next Amendment hang together. Under the Bill the unit dealt with is the factory. It has been represented that there might be cases in which the employer might wish to work one system in one part of his premises and another system in another part, even though in law both parts constituted a single factory. It is an important point, because apparently it affects considerably the question of the wrapping of bread, and I am sure that no one would wish to do anything which would place difficulties in the way of bakers wrapping their bread. The object of the Amendment is to enable the Chief Inspector to authorise a factory to be divided into two parts and each part to have which system is desired.

Dr. Guest

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 7, line 30, at the end, insert: (2) The chief inspector may direct that for the purposes of this Act

  1. (a) a part of a factory shall be deemed to be a separate factory; or
  2. (b) two or more factories shall, whilst in the occupation of the same person, be deemed to be a single factory;

and may revoke any such direction at any time.

(3) Any such direction or revocation as aforesaid shall take effect after the expiration of seven days from the date upon which notice in writing thereof is given by the chief inspector to the occupier of the factory or factories to which the direction or revocation relates." —[Mr. McCorquodale.]

12.52 p.m.

Dr. Guest

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

On the Second Reading, I asked the House to give the Measure a Second Reading in order that the complexities of the Bill might be gone into in Committee. I was told by hon. Members on this side of the House that I should never get the Bill through, but the case was presented on the ground of conditions in the trade and of the complexity of those conditions. The Motion for Second Reading was seconded by my hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside division (Mr. Marshall), and in the discussion the hon. Member for Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall) opposed the Bill, his Amendment against it being seconded by the hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming). The Under-Secretary of State explained the extraordinary complication of the baking trade, took up a judicial position between the two sides, and made some very interesting comments on the complications in the trade, which I venture to quote to the House now. The hon. Gentleman said: I thought I had plumbed the depths of industrial complications in the Factories Bill and the silicosis problem, but I think the baking trade is a rival to them, because you get at the present time in the baking trade a whole range of different types of production, which you might even say run the gamut from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. You have still, at one end of the range, the small, one-man, underground bakehouse, and, at the other end of the range, running through the medium and large retail bakeries, you have the great modern, factory plant bakehouses that are worth thousands of pounds. But we have to remember that three-quarters of the bakers employ four men or fewer. He added: The baking trade is in an unsatisfactory state of organisation ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, r8th February, 1938; cols. 2279–80, Vol. 331.] That was a very striking comment on the organisation of the baking trade, borne out by everyone who spoke in the Debate with a personal knowledge of the trade and borne out too in the masterly speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) when he spoke in support of the Second Reading. We were given a Second Reading, and I venture to think that that was a real example of the influence of argument on a matter which was not one of acute party controversy. The Second Reading was agreed to by 147 votes to 126, and it was a real expression of the opinion of the House which we then proceeded to discuss in the Standing Committee. The views expressed in the House had been very divergent, but practically everyone agreed that something must be done in the baking trade. After meetings of the Committee, meetings of those concerned in the practical conduct of the baking trade, both employers and operatives, and numerous consultations, a large measure of agreement was reached. That agreement was embodied in a series of Amendments to the Bill which, for practical purposes, make it almost a new Bill. These Amendments were carried without discussion in Committee, not because the Committee did not wish to discuss them, but because the Committee had been engaged outside the Committee room in full and complete discussions. The proceedings on this Bill appear to me to be a good example of the capacity of this House and of our system for making reasonable compromise Amendments.

What does this Bill do? It embodies a proposal for a trade board and proposals for the limitation of night baking in one Bill. In a trade which, everyone agrees, is insufficiently organised it provides the basis for a sound organisation. There is nothing fixed or cut-and-dried about this organisation. It depends on the mutual relations of employers and employed and on the development of the organisation between these two parties. What is provided in this Bill is, in fact, what one may call a constitution for the baking trade. In framing this constitution we have gone into great detail, we have provided for exceptions, we have tried to be fair and reasonable to all concerned, and we have opened up to the baking trade the prospect of a new stage of development. The Bill, apart from the trade board, does not provide one solution of the problem of night baking, but three alternative solutions—the possibility of day baking, and the possibility of a shift of five nights a week, and the possibility of a system of alternate shifts in which men will work half the year on night work and half the year on day work. The coming into operation of this plan of alternative solutions depends on a motion by the trade board to be implemented by a Resolution of both Houses of Parliament. There are many safeguards against hasty action.

The Bill will help the trade to organise itself. It will at once begin to improve conditions in the baking trade, and it opens up to men who have been living a life of what they and their wives call "night slavery" the prospect of a great relief. If they are to be in future on day work, they will get that for which they asked in the beginning. If they are on night shift for five nights a week, instead of six, they will get at least an extra night, which is a great benefit to men who have worked six nights a week, sometimes for 10, 15, 20 and more years of their lives. If they are put on to a system of alternate shifts, they will be put in the same position as many other trades where night work is required. Above all, the Bill puts into the hands of the trade itself the power to use the opportunities provided according to agreement come to between employers and employed. I hope the House will regard this as a satisfactory and useful piece of legislation and will give the Third Reading to the Bill and a constitution to the baking trade.

1 p.m.

Mr. Banfield

I beg to second the Motion.

It is with somewhat mixed feelings that I rise to-day to support the Third Reading of this Bill. The House will remember that when the Bill was introduced it proposed to abolish night baking. I have expressed the opinion on many occasions that the baking industry could be carried on under a system of day work, and I do not depart from that statement. In the course of the Committee stage of the Bill, however, it was obvious that if something were to be done for the men employed on continuous night work year after year it would be impossible for me to carry the Bill as it was drafted, and that some compromise might be effected. When we came 'to discuss this matter with the employers and the Department, the question I had to ask myself was what I should do if I were working in the baking trade six nights a week 52 weeks in the year, and someone came to me and said, "We cannot abolish night baking altogether, but we offer you three alternatives." The first was a shift system in which a man would not work more than 26 weeks on night work in any one year. I realised that that was a big advance and a substantial improvement.

Then I had to look at the matter from the point of view of the smaller employer who is not in a position to employ two shifts. There, again, I put myself in the position of the man working in the industry six nights a week who was told "We cannot abolish night baking altogether. but we will assure you that you shall have one night in bed out of six Instead of Saturday night being your only night at home with your wife and family, you will have another night in the week at home." I thought that if I were still working in the industry and an offer were made to me like that, involving no reduction of wages, I should be foolish to refuse it because I was unable to get all that I wanted. Then I had to take into consideration the question of a trade board for the baking industry. I do not want to enter again into the bad conditions in the industry. It is now acknowledged by everyone in the industry that those conditions are bad and must be altered. I was the first to recognise on consideration that before this Bill came into operation the trade board should have the chance to work. Indeed, it is necessary that the money should be provided under the trade board regulations so that the men could be assured of receiving six nights' money for five nights' work.

I agreed, therefore, that the operation of the Bill should be deferred, I further hoped that when this matter was seriously considered, as it must be—because the employers agree with me that six nights a week all the year is an intolerable burden on the men—we would agree that something should be done to alleviate the position. I hope in due course that the employers and ourselves, meeting round the table, will evolve some plan whereby we can get pretty well all-day baking in the industry by general consent. I know that that seems an impossibility, but the fact that we are having the Third Reading of this Bill to-day is nothing short of a miracle. Consequently, I am not without hope that all the difficulties will eventually be removed.

It has been suggested that the Bill as amended will operate harshly against the smaller employers in the baking industry. I want to make it clear to them that I would not have agreed to a Bill which did not, in fact, give equity as between one class of employer and another. Under its terms the small employer is on precisely the same footing as the larger employer, with this difference, that the small employer can no longer hope to fetch a man out of his bed night after night and not expect to have to pay him extra for the inconvenience and trouble of being separated from his wife and family and working during hours when other people are sleeping. It is not an unreasonable thing to ask that the smaller employers must at last realise if they want this work done, that the labourer is worthy of his hire.

There is this further point, that it is true that the Bill does not abolish night baking and that it is full, almost necessarily so, of exemptions, but while I am not expecting too much from the Bill I look upon it as the first step towards the emancipation of the operative bakers from the curse of night baking, and I have very good reason to be grateful to a great many of my Friends on all sides of the House who have helped me to do something for the welfare of operative bakers. It will be easy for people to say, "You have got only a compromise; and it does not suit everybody." If this House were to wait until it could pass Bills which pleased everybody we should never pass Bills at all. We do our best to hold the scales fairly as between all classes concerned, doing the best we can for the greatest possible number of those for whom we are legislating. I may conclude on this point. A committee of inquiry under Lord Alness reported against this change, and when the Bill came to the House the Government quite naturally supported their view. My good Friend the Minister of Labour was greatly troubled when the Bill got a Second Reading, and I want him to remember that I had faith, when he had not, that the difficulties would be overcome.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I have works.

Mr. Banfield

I know all about the works. I have endeavoured to do what I could to ensure that, great as the difficulties of the baking industry are, and they are great, this Bill, in conjunction with the Trade Board to be set up by the Minister of Labour, opens up a new era, a new vista, for those engaged in the baking industry. No class of men at work in this country more deserve a betterment of their conditions than the operative bakers. For long their lot has been one of semi-slavery, of long hours, long wages and bad conditions generally, but this Bill and the Trade Board will accomplish a real piece of social service which will, I believe, in future call down upon that the blessings of every operative in the baking trade.

1.10 p.m.

Mr. Markham

I was one of those who opposed this Bill when it was introduced, not because I am against the abolition of night baking—I am very much in favour of its abolition—but because the Bill was so full of exemptions that it would have been very difficult to secure the abolition of night baking in more than a small percentage of the bakehouses in the country. Further, we had a promise in the course of the debate on Second Reading that the Government would set up a Trade Board and go thoroughly into the whole question, following upon the report of the Alness Committee. But the Bill which is now before us, after it has been revised and improved in Committee, is so different from the original Bill that I have not the slightest hesitation in supporting it. I should like to congratulate the promoters of the Bill and the Ministry upon having so improved it as to make it a magnificent step forward towards one of the greatest improvements in conditions of employment in a given industry in this country which has been brought about for a long time. Though I still cannot help feeling that there are still too many exceptions, I shall not attempt even to jeopardise the Bill by reason of the fact that I am not satisfied that it is still as perfect as it might be. It is a great improvement upon what it was in its original form, and I hope that there will be no undue delay in setting up the Trade Board. Finally, I should like to repeat my congratulations to the Ministry and to the promoters for making a thoroughly. good Bill out of what was originally a thoroughly bad Bill.

1.12 p.m.

Sir Assheton Pownall

My reason for saying a few words is that I served on the Alness Committee last year. We went exhaustively into the conditions in this very difficult trade. Having served on that Committee it was my duty some three months ago to move a reasoned Amendment to the Second Reading of the Bill. I made on that occasion the longest speech which I have ever ventured to address to this House, so complicated was the question. I spoke for nearly half an hour. Whether on account of the length of my speech, or the matter it contained, or whether it was due to the better judgment of my hon. Friends—I hope the latter was the case—that Amendment was defeated, and I am very glad now that it was, because I feel that we are in the position of seeing that good has come out of what at the time we regarded as evil. I did not think that the original Bill was practicable and the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) admits that it was not, but the present Bill is an immense step forward in dealing with what, when we went to the Home Office in February last year, we were told by Home Office inspectors was by far the most difficult and technical trade in the whole country. We did three months work upon the question and came to the conclusion that total abolition as suggested in the Bill was not practicable. One great difficulty was that masters and men have not come together in this industry as they have in so many other industries but I hope that the round table conferences which have been held on the Bill will be continued, and if that be so there is hope that conditions in the future may become even better. A great deal of credit is due to the Home Office authorities, who have got both sides in the trade together, to my hon. Friend who sponsored the Amendments, and made them clear to us, and, also especially, to the hon. Member for Wednesbury for all the trouble he has taken in the matter. But if bouquets are being thrown about, or if buns are being distributed, which would perhaps be more appropriate in the case of the baking trade, I hope that a few may go to the Alness Committee, out of whose work we have now reached the Third Reading of this Measure.

1.15 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

I wish to express on behalf of myself and hon. Friends on this Bench our congratulations to the promoters of the Bill and to the hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), to whose speech I listened with very great interest. He was wise to accept this moderate Amendment of what he desires in this matter. When I first came into Parliament in 1922 this question was put very strongly to us by the operative bakers, and during all the years in which we have been in Parliament the fight has gone on. I hope that the amount of progress made manifest by this Bill is only one step towards securing for the operative bakers all that they desire in this respect. The hon. Member for Wednesbury is certainly to be congratulated upon his patience and his industry in pressing the matter upon the attention of the House. It is only fair to say that the presence of the hon. Member in this House is largely responsible for the fact that this Measure of advance has taken place. The statement he made to-day was very clear and cogent. The way in which he approached the question of whether to accept these modified proposals was the right way. I hope that a bigger step forward may be made at no distant date, that the hon. Member for Wednesbury will yet have the joy of seeing all his ideals in connection with this industry realised and that the operative bakers will secure the opportunities which they desire for a fuller life.

1.18 p.m.

Sir Percy Harris

I should like to be allowed to add my tribute to the work done by the promoter of the Bill and by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) who has been a colleague of mine for many years and whose devotion to the cause of this industry is being rewarded by the passage of the Bill. I want to congratulate also the House of Commons and the private Member in general. The private Member is too often discredited. There are people who say that the rights of the private Member should be curtailed because they rarely result in any practical achievement, but here is a case in which the House of Commons, in co-operation with the private Member, has triumphed over the Government and over the official point of view. The Bill has been carried through in spite of terrific opposition by a small majority of Members.

Mr. E. Brown

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Baronet, but I must point out that but for the steps taken by the Government in connection with the trade board, this Bill would not have come forward.

Sir P. Harris

The right hon. Gentleman must not become so supersensitive. He has thrown out a challenge. I say that the Bill would not have gone to Committee if the powers-that-be had had their way. It is one of the cases in which the House of Commons was on the whole wiser than the official influences, which saw all sorts of difficulties against the Bill becoming an Act of Parliament. When the right hon. Gentleman interrupted I was about to add my tribute to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, of whom I have had some experience in connection with the passing of a Bill. I know his sweet reasonableness and his tact in facing facts. When the Government decided that the Bill should go to a Committee he did his best to help to make it into a practical working Measure and he showed himself prepared to give every help that can be given by an Under-Secretary and his Department. I repeat that here is a case in which Parliament has triumphed and the private Member has won in the end. The Home Office and the Under-Secretary of State, recognising the will of Parliament, made into a practical Measure a Bill which, to some extent at any rate, was not that in the beginning.

1.21 p.m.

Mr. McCorquodale

The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) might be described as the parent of this Measure and I as the nurse attendant upon its birth. The need for some amelioration of night baking and of the lot of men who work throughout their lives during the night was present in everybody's mind, but total prohibition of night work was held, I think rightly, to be far too drastic a step. It would seriously interfere with the supply of bread to the general public. I am proud to have been able to play some small part in the negotiations between the two points of view, and which resulted in a Bill which will not interfere with the baking industry, and will nevertheless give better conditions to the workers who have to carry out those difficult and arduous duties. I add my tribute to those which have been paid to the hon. Member for Wednesbury for the high skill, wisdom and tact he has shown in the negotiations, without which it would not have been possible to obtain this Measure. I would add a word with regard to the trade boards. I am glad that they are mentioned specifically in the Bill, and I hope they will be speedily set up. I was privileged to-day to move Amendments which allowed men to work on Sundays. It was necessary in certain instances that bread should be baked on Sundays. I hope when the trade boards get going they will see that those men who work on Sundays are adequately remunerated for their extra services. I hope that the hon. Member for Wednesbury also will see that that is done.

Mr. Banfield

Of course we will.

Mr. McCorquodale

I would also pay a tribute to the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) for promoting the Measure. I do not think it has been mentioned to-day that but for his luck in the Ballot and his wisdom in choosing this subject the Bill would not have come before the House.

1.24 p.m.

Mr. Marshall

I would join in the chorus of appreciation and congratulation that the Bill should have reached its Third Reading and that there should be every likelihood that it will pass this stage to-day. As a member of the committee of inquiry which put a great deal of arduous work into this matter, I have a peculiar pleasure in expressing those thanks. I had the privilege of introducing a few minority remarks into the committee's report, in which I advocated the zoo per cent. abolition of night work. I appreciate, of course, that that would have involved certain difficulties, but I think that with good will it could in a great measure have been brought about. I also advocated that the prohibition should apply to the process, a very important matter, but the Bill does not give us that. We should be making a very grave mistake if we thought that this Bill abolishes night baking. It limits it. It is a compromise in the best style of the House of Commons, and this compromise will, I feel sure, bring great benefits to the workmen in the baking industry.

There is another thing that it will do. It will advance the possibility of collective bargaining in the industry. One thing that struck me about the baking industry was that it was probably one of the worst organised industries in the kingdom, in which the beneficent influence of collective bargaining had not made much headway. I think that this Bill is going to influence and encourage collective bargaining in the industry, and better results may possibly ensue than would have been produced by prohibition if the men and the employers can get together and make mutual agreements about conditions and wages in the baking industry. I do not forget the very fine tribute that the Minister of Labour paid to collective bargaining when he was introducing a Bill this week. It was a well deserved tribute, and, if this Bill influences and encourages collective bargaining in the baking industry, it will be worth all the labour and thought that has been put into it.

I should also like to pay a tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest), who in a very short time acquired an amazing grasp of the intricacies of a complicated industry, for the manner in which he was contributed to the passage of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) we all know. He has moved the House on many occasions by his advocacy of the case of the operatives in the baking industry. I think it can be said of him that, in connection with all the Amendments which were made to the Bill in Committee, he virtually cast his bread upon the waters, and it has ultimately brought him benefit. I can only hope that what we are doing to-day will be a landmark in the history of the baking industry.

1.29 p.m.

Mr. H. G. Williams

It is significant that on two successive Fridays the House should have carried with unanimity and amiability two Bills introduced by Members belonging to the Opposition. Both of those Bills deal with important subjects, and both of them underwent a complete reconstruction in Committee; but, as the result of a compromise, one has already received the assent of the House, and the present Bill will, I am certain, receive that assent in a few minutes. This is an example of good friendly team work, and illustrates the pleasant personal relationship which exists between hon. Members of opposite political thought.

In the course of the first day's proceedings of the Standing Committee I made, I think, the longest speech I have ever made in a Committee upstairs. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It must have been a long one."] It was, and a very interesting one. Perhaps that may encourage the hon. Member to read it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am afraid that the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) rather looked upon me as an opponent of the whole idea of the Bill, and when we carried the first group of Amendments, the effect of which was the same as inserting the words "Subject to the provisions of this Act," I am afraid his hopes fell. Then we had the aid of my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale), who achieved a very remarkable thing, because I think that, after the first Amendment, every other Amendment to the Bill—and their number was legion—was in his name and was supported by everyone. My hon. Friend's Amendments included the striking out of two Clauses from the Bill and the insertion of II new Clauses—a very remarkable achievement, for which I think a tribute ought to be paid to him. Then I think the greatest possible praise is due to the Under-Secretary of State, and, although we do not always refer to them, to the very able staff who advised him.

This is a Bill which, I am certain, will work, and which gives very varying opportunities of dealing with a very difficult problem. The great problem is that the process of baking in the complete sense is a process which takes longer than a normal working day. The difficulties all arise out of that curious fact, that the process cannot be completed in the normal working day, and it is necessary to trespass into the night. I think the Bill affords a very ingenious solution of the problem, and I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Sowerby on the ingenuity with which he took two ideas from me. I proposed that the Bill should not come into operation until there was a trade board, or, as an alternative, unless there was an Order approved by both Houses of Parliament. My hon. Friend took both of those proposals and incorporated them in a most ingenious way in the last Clause of the Bill. This last Clause is the stimulus which forces the industry to get together in the proper way, and in some respects it is more important than the whole of the rest of the Bill, because it forces those in the industry to regulate their business properly among themselves.

I should like in particular to congratulate the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), because he has the honour of representing a constituency which twice rejected me. Naturally, I shall always do my best to turn him out, but, nevertheless, there is no reason why I should not pay this tribute to him for the great diplomacy, moderation and sweet reasonableness with which he approached the problem. After all, he is the fundamental originator of the Bill, although it fell to the good fortune of the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) to introduce it. It represents an important part of his life's work, something which he has been struggling for a long time to achieve. This must be a happy day for him, because I know that the Bill will go through this House with unanimity, and I feel sure that the other House will be equally friendly towards it. I hope it will not be very long before the hon. Member will have the pleasure of knowing that the Royal Assent has been given to it. I join in the tributes which have been paid to him for the way in which he has worked for the Bill, and the obvious friendly relationship which exists between him and the representatives of the employers of labour in the industry. I hope that the Bill will receive a unanimous Third Reading.

1.33 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I, also, would like to join in the chorus of congratulation, first to the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest), who has piloted the Bill; next to my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale), who has done so much to bring it into its present form; and also to one whose labours in the matter everyone in the House will appreciate, namely, the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield). It must be to many of us a source of great personal satisfaction that the hon. Member for Wednesbury has been successful in getting a Bill of this kind on to the Statute Book. Further, although it is perhaps a somewhat unusual course for anyone in my position to take, I should like to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour on the work he has done in regard to trade boards. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Wednesbury nods his head, in spite of the dissent of the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite. The trade board is one of the crucial points in this whole question. [Interruption.] I think the right hon. Gentleman was not here earlier. I am only—

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

I was merely calling attention to the Parliamentary distribution of bouquets inter se by Members of the Government.

Mr. Lloyd

I was about to call attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was not here previously, when some remarks were made about faith and works, and, although I took the course of excusing myself in advance for a slight technical breach of a convention, I think that hon. Members who were in the House will appreciate that I am making a perfectly legitimate point, which is, that the Government have good reason to congratulate themselves on the good work they have done for the baking industry in setting up the trade board. I was not going to put it so pointedly, if the right hon. Gentleman had not compelled me to do so, because I thought that this was not an occasion on which we wanted to make any party points. I might say that the Bill has been changed very considerably, and in Standing Committee I said 'that the Government would have to reconsider their attitude to the Bill in the light of the changes that had been made. I am now able to say that the Government will not offer any further opposition to the passage of this Bill.

Turning again to the question of trade boards, the House will be interested to know that my right hon. Friend has pressed forward with the setting up of a trade board. He has laid the draft Order, the period for objection to the Order ended on Wednesday, and, no objection having being received, the Order will come forward in accordance with the usual Parliamentary procedure. In those circumstances, all I have to say, in conclusion, is that I very much hope that this Bill and the setting up of the trade board will really improve the circumstances of this trade and the lot of the working man.

Mr. Alexander

As the really important Clause is now Clause 13, will the hon. Gentleman please explain how the Government propose to work it? Does the existence of the word "or" between the two paragraphs mean that if a trade board is set up, whether there is an affirmative resolution or not, the provisions will come into operation as laid down in paragraph (a)?

Mr. Lloyd

If a trade board is not set up and if the Secretary of State does not lay a certificate before Parliament, the provisions will come into effect as in paragraph (b), but if a trade board is set up the provision will come into operation after an affirmative Resolution has been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

1.39 P.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I do not like to see roses and lilies falling over the Floor of the House from the many bouquets that are being thrown about to-day; but I, too, must congratulate the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) and the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) on the excellent work they have done on the Bill. But really the House must not be under any illusions about this Measure. The fact is that the hon. Gentlemen responsible for bringing the Bill forward have been compelled to accept these compromises. When they produced the Bill in the first instance it was a simple proposal to abolish night baking, on the lines of the law which already prevails in several European countries. Then they were asked to accept a trade board as an alternative, and the House of Commons, in its wisdom, decided against it; some Members of the Tory party helping to defeat their own Minister. There was a speech made to-day for illustration by the hon. Member for one of the Nottingham Divisions. It is remarkable how he has changed his mind on this Bill. I saw a Press report from Nottingham a little time ago that he had received a thundering deputation from the bakers there, and I wondered whether that had had any influence in inducing the hon. Member to change his mind.

In my view, the one redeeming feature of the Bill is the establishment of a trade Board. In spite of all that has been said in its favour, this Bill is very cumbersome. I hope it can prove one thing above all others, when it is in operation, namely, that the provisions of the Measure when applied are such that they will compel the industry to bring pressure to bear on the Government to have a clean sweep in due course in favour of the abolition of night baking. Under this new Bill—for it is quite different from the one that was introduced—the small, one-man bakery is not affected, and we have been told by the promoter of the Bill that there are thousands of such bakeries.

Mr. McCorquodale

They are affected by the provision regarding regulations.

Mr. Davies

Yes, a lot of this work is to be done by regulation, but according to the sense of duty of the Home Office. Who can trust this Government to do the right thing?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member, who took part in the discussion on the Factories Bill, will remember that on many occasions it was the sense of the Committee which considered that Bill that there are many things that can be better done by regulation of the Secretary of State than otherwise.

Mr. Davies

That Bill was quite a different proposition from this. It was an accepted Measure, and emanated from the Home Office. This is a Private Bill, passed in the teeth of the opposition of the Government.

Mr. Lloyd

I have expressly stated that the Government are not now offering any opposition.

Mr. Davies

On Second Reading, the hon. Gentleman asked the House of Commons to defeat this Bill, and offered a trade board as an alternative. Now we come to this Bill as it stands at the moment, and the Under-Secretary congratulates the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale) on his skill and intelligence in bringing compromising Amendments forward knowing full well that the Amendments the hon. Gentleman put on the Order Paper were instigated by the Under-Secretary himself. Then they proceed to congratulate each other on their skill.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present,' House counted, and 40 Members being present—

Mr. Davies

Having delivered myself of the speech which I would have made more appropriately on another occasion I will conclude by saying that out of this struggle there is just something of value for the operative bakers. The Bill contains some few provisions which will help them. I sincerely trust that this Bill will prove to the bakery trade one thing above all others, that Parliament in this case has come to its aid because both employers and employed are not adequately organised. One of the greatest benefits of this Measure will be that it will induce better organisation on both sides. The most pleasing feature of all in connection with this Measure—and I have been here for some time—is to see Parliament in the last few years devoting more and more attention to abuses in the industrial sphere connected with the domestic trades of the country. Coalmining, textiles, transport and engineering issues have often been debated on the Floor of the House of Commons. Very considerable time has been devoted to improving the conditions in the heavy industries, but at long last Parliament is devoting more attention to abuses in the domestic trades and that is one of the most redeeming features of the present Measure, the Third Reading of which, I hope, will be carried unanimously.

Mr. Markham

I rise only by permission of the House, but I wish to make a personal explanation. The hon Gentleman suggested that I had changed my mind because of pressure put upon me by deputations from outside sources. That is totally and completely false. My opinion on this Bill has been formed on its merits, and I ask the House to accept my explanation.

1.47 p.m.

Sir John Haslam

I wish to add my congratulations to the promoters of this Bill upon their common sense in agreeing with their opponents to make some sort of headway on this question. As one who has been interested in this subject for many years I feel that they have been very wise in meeting their opponents and accepting half a loaf, which is better than no bread [Interruption]. It depends upon the size of the loaf we are discussing. I also want to congratulate, above anyone else, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield). Although we have been political opponents for many years, we have been very close, and, I will add, dear friends. We sit on opposite sides of the House and have opposite points of view with regard to the bakery trade, but we have learnt to respect each other highly during that period. It must be a consolation to him to know that at least a step has been taken to alleviate the trouble in the bakery trade. I am delighted, along with the hon. Gentleman for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), that something is being done for the domestic trades of this country. I have always been surprised since I came to this House to find how much time is spent upon foreign affairs when so much needs to be done in domestic affairs. I am glad that something is being done to-day for this suffering section of the community, of whom I know so much. I have pleasure in supporting this Measure, and I thank the Home Office for adopting the attitude they have in supporting the Third Reading.