HC Deb 26 October 1939 vol 352 cc1565-6
84. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Home Secretary what representations he has received from the small traders and shopkeepers of Birmingham on the inconvenience and loss of trade which will ensue from the operation of Order No. 1464 of 1939, which will have effect at the end of the present month, closing shops under the Shops (Hours of Closing) Act, 1928; and whether having due regard to recreation facilities of shop assistants, he will consider so modifying this Order as to enable traders to keep their shops open as heretofore, subject to such reasonable restrictions as the Home Office may impose?

Sir J. Anderson

I have received and considered the letter to which my hon. Friend refers. Before the recent Order in Council was made, I satisfied myself by careful inquiry that some curtailment of shop hours is justified in the public interest; but the Order provides a measure of elasticity to meet local conditions, and I am informed that the Birmingham City Council has already exercised the power conferred on it by the Order to allow all shops in the city to remain open until 7 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

Sir P. Hannon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that very strong feeling has been aroused, not merely in Birmingham but among small shopkeepers throughout the country; and would he not consider whether some flexibility might be given to the local authorities?

Sir J. Anderson

I am aware that there is some conflict of interest in this matter, but I have done my best to arrive at a reasonable compromise, and to introduce into the arrangements that element of elasticity to which my hon. Friend refers. I am prepared to review the matter later on.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to allow hairdressers a rather longer period, so that other shop assistants can get their hair cut?

Mr. Leslie

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that it is agreed by shopkeepers that when all close at the same time no one is the loser?