HC Deb 16 October 1941 vol 374 cc1487-8
35. Mr. James Hall

asked the Home Secretary whether he can make any statement as to the rules for the hours of closing of places of public entertainment during the coming winter?

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government attach importance to giving the public reasonable opportunity for recreation after the day's work is done and their aim is to keep interference with public recreation to such a minimum as is consistent with the war effort. The hour of closing of places of public entertainment was fixed by Order under the Defence Regulations at 11 p.m., except in the West End of London, where the closing hour is 6 p.m. There the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis can, and in practice does, allow entertainments to continue to a later hour. Chief officers of police outside London are also empowered to fix an earlier closing hour than 11 p.m. where they think this is necessary to minimise risk from enemy action.

The Government have reviewed the position, and with a view to securing some measure of uniformity in administration I am taking steps to advise chief officers of police that unless heavy raiding calls for special measures in any area, the closing hour should not be fixed earlier than 10 p.m. and that wherever possible they should not fix a closing hour, thereby securing the 11 p.m. closing under the Order. Chief officers of police will also be advised to have regard to existing arrangements for staggering closing hours for the purpose, so far as possible, of flattening the transport peak.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Will my right hon. Friend consult with the Minister of War Transport and advise him of the sentiments contained in his reply, especially having regard to those towns which have decided to take off buses and other forms of public transport at 9.30 p.m. even though public-houses are open until 10 o'clock and other places of amusement even until midnight?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot express an opinion on the merits of the points my hon. Friend has put, but he will no doubt be glad to know that this reply has been given as a result of consultation between my Department and the Ministry of War Transport.

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