HC Deb 20 January 1944 vol 396 cc352-4
37. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now had an opportunity of looking into the whole question of the common informer and recent abuses in connection with the provision of Sunday entertainments for the troops; whether he has consulted with the Secretary of State for War in the matter; and has any decision been arrived at.

77. Mr. Hewlett

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the resentment felt in connection with the common informers' work under the Sunday Observance Act, he will consider legislation to eliminate this activity.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I fully sympathise with my hon. Friend's objection to the antiquated provision as to suing for penalties, which can be abused by individuals who are not interested in any public purpose, but in a chance of making money. It would, however, be impossible to introduce legislation for the purpose of amending this provision without raising the whole question of Sunday entertainments as to which and the other points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington I would refer to the answer which I gave my hon. Friend the Member for West Leyton on the 16th December.

Sir W. Davison

Since this matter was brought up before a great deal of water has flowed under London Bridge, and does not my right hon. Friend think that it should now be further considered? Will he inform the House why it should be illegal for a performance in costume to be given on Sunday and not illegal for one to be given in ordinary clothes?

Mr. Morrison

The last point had better be dealt with in Debate if one takes place. I am aware that a lot of water has flowed under London Bridge, but one must not take the opinion of London on this matter as being representative of that of the country generally.

Mr. Mathers

How many common informer actions have been taken since the passing of the Sunday Entertainments Act in 1932?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know, but I do not think very many. There is, however, evidence which leads me to believe that some people without actually bringing actions are making money out of the provision by a process which is not far removed from blackmail.

Captain Crowder

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that E.N.S.A., which is run by the War Office, is quite capable of providing all the entertainment necessary for the troops on Sundays?

Mr. Buchanan

Will not the right hon. Gentleman consider making the law in England in regard to Sunday entertainment the same as the law in Scotland, which is much more enlightened?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know what the law in Scotland is.

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