HC Deb 20 February 1941 vol 369 cc289-91
60. Colonel Sandeman Allen

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the special war-time need experienced in many districts of opportunities for recreation and amusement on Sundays, not only for members of the Fighting Forces but also for industrial workers, consideration has been given to the question of empowering local authorities in such districts to allow the Sunday opening of cinemas and theatres?

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. As a result of war conditions, special considerations arise, affecting not only members of the Fighting Services but also industrial workers, of whom many have little or no chance in present circumstances of going to places of amusement during the week, and many are living away from their homes and their friends and, therefore, are in special need of places to go to during their Sunday leisure. By Defence Regulation 42B, local authorities have already been empowered to adopt a simplified procedure for authorising the Sunday opening of cinemas in areas where large numbers of troops are concentrated; and it is proposed to amend the Regulation so as to give similar powers to local authorities in districts where the conditions in which industrial work is carried on create a similar need. Moreover, the war-time reasons for facilitating Sunday cinematograph entertainments apply equally to theatrical entertainments: and it seems right to give to local authorities in districts where these war-time reasons obtain the same discretion with regard to theatres and music halls as with regard to cinemas. Accordingly, the view of the Government is that a Defence Regulation should be made enabling licensing authorities, on the representation of the local authority in places where the presence of troops or changed industrial conditions create a special need, to authorise the opening of theatres and music halls. The condition will apply which already applies to cinemas, that all employés must be given one day's rest in seven, but it is not proposed to apply to theatres or music halls the condition that a proportion of the profits must be devoted to a charitable purpose. The Defence Regulation will contain a provision so dating its operation that the House may, if that be its desire, have an opportunity of debating the Regulation before it takes effect.

Colonel Sandeman Allen

Would my right hon. Friend recommend that such amusement times should not clash with the morning church services?

Mr. Morrison

No doubt the local authorities will keep that in mind. I will take it into account. Perhaps I ought to have added that, owing to the particular circumstances and legal provisions applying to Scotland, this will not apply to Scotland.

Sir Percy Harris

Will it apply to the London area?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that only recently the Middlesex County Council decided not to allow cinemas to open on Good Friday? Will he take action?

Mr. H. Morrison

I hardly think I ought to be pressed to take action about that.