HC Deb 14 March 1940 vol 358 cc1355-6
60. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered resolutions of protest against the announcement of his intention to revoke the Order-in-Council of October last providing for the earlier closing of shops; and whether he proposes to take any action on the lines of the proposals of the shop assistants, warehousemen and clerks that their working hours should be reduced to 48 per week?

62. Mrs. Hardie

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the appeal made to the public by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to avoid all unnecessary spending, he will continue the regulation for the earlier closing of shops after 17th March, and so prevent people being tempted to buy goods; and whether he will extend the regulations to include confectioners, tobacconists and public-houses?

Sir J. Anderson

As I explained in the Debate on 24th January, and in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Ritson) on 29th February, the regulation for the earlier closing of shops was made in view of the special conditions arising out of the black-out, and I am advised that there is no power to continue it during the summer when day light lasts until 8 p.m. or later. The general question of the regulation of wages, hours and conditions of employment in the distributive trades is a separate matter which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is considering in consultation with organisations representing employers and workpeople in those trades.

Miss Wilkinson

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that it is no use trade unions securing decent weekly hours for our men if at the same time the Government are encouraging later hours?

Sir J. Anderson

I think the hon. Lady must know that what is being asked for will require legislation, and I think it is pretty clear that such legislation would be acutely controversial.

Mr. Kirkwood

Would it be in order for me now to ask my question regarding the black-out?

Mr. Speaker

Not on these Questions.

Mrs. Hardie

May I ask if there is any demand from the general public that those regulations should be enforced?

Sir J. Anderson

As I have explained to the House on previous occasions, the point is that it would be ultra vires of the Emergency Powers Act to continue the regulations in force after the period of short days.

Mr. Leslie

Is it not possible to issue an order under the Defence of the Realm Act for early closing, as was done in the last war?

Sir J. Anderson

What was done in the last war was to fix hours which are the hours provided for now under the ordinary law.

Mr. Paling

Does not this experiment show that people do not want to shop late, that the late hours have not been made use of, and in view of that fact, will the right hon. Gentleman consult with the Minister of Labour in order to get this legislation through?

Sir J. Anderson

That is another question altogether.