HC Deb 20 March 1947 vol 435 cc565-9
9. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether provision will be made in connection with the cessation of mid-week sport to deal with the case of areas in which an appreciable proportion of the working population habitually take their weekly half holiday on days other than Saturday.

12. Mr. Walkden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the effect of the prohibition of mid week sport on the pleasure of thousands of shop workers whose weekly half-day holiday occurs on Wednesday or Thursday; whether he will call for information as to the effectiveness of the compulsory closing of shops on Saturday afternoon in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and consider the practicability of an emergency order to institute the same scheme in this country and thus provide for equity of opportunity between industrial and distributive workers.

13. Mr. Leslie

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that shop workers have football clubs whose matches take place on Wednesday and Thursday, their weekly half holiday; and if he will agree that these matches will not be prohibited.

Mr. Ede

In the statement which I made on 13th March I said that the restrictions on football applied to the League and Cup games and similar fixtures, and that it was not the intention of His Majesty's Government to deprive players who met for recreation of their mid week sport. Games between shop workers' clubs are therefore unaffected by the restrictions. As regards matches which come within the restrictions, it is clearly impracticable to distinguish between areas where shops usually close early on Saturdays, and those in which they close on other days of the week. I have no power to make an order requiring shops to close on Saturday afternoons, nor am I satisfied that such an arrangement would be desirable in all places. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the Government's appreciation of the public spirit shown by the National Chamber of Trade in impressing upon shopkeepers and their assistants the paramount necessity for placing the needs of production above all other considerations.

Mr. Walkden

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that 2,000,000 shop workers are practically debarred by his Order from watching any sport at all at the present moment? As this issue of Saturday afternoons has been settled in other democratic countries, can this be considered a progressive move in this country?

Mr. Ede

There is no Order in this matter. As I said in answer to a supplementary question by the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) last week, the organisations controlling the various sports met some of my colleagues and myself, and agreed to make certain recommendations to their affiliated organisations. I thought that the statement made by the secretary of the Football Association last Sunday night over the wireless very fully carried out the spirit in which they had responded to the Government's invitation.

Mr. Leslie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this decision on the part of the shop workers will be received with a sigh of relief, especially in many towns where they have, besides football, competitions that last for several weeks?

Mr. Ede

As long as they have relief. I hope they will not sigh about it.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the representatives of the Football Association placed before him the case of school football matches played on Saturdays, which games sometimes attract adult spectators?

Mr. Ede

We did not ask them to suspend matches of that kind. It was discussed between us, but, on both sides of the table, it was agreed that the number of spectators was usually so small as to make it unwise to interfere.

Captain Crookshank

Is it clear that all these restrictions on mid-week sport are entirely voluntary and that there is no force of law behind them at all?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. I remember speeches from the opposite Benches urging that we should put people on their honour and appeal to them in this manner. We have done so through the recognised authorities in the various sports, and I think the response has shown that they are willing to accept the responsibility.

11. Captain John Crowder

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the T.U.C. and the Employers' Federations were consulted before he made his statement regarding the limitation of mid-week sport.

Mr. Ede

Time did not permit of the Government having full consultation with the T.U.C. and the Employers' Federation, but at the earliest possible moment on the day on which I made my recent statement in the House, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service informed the two sides of the Joint Consultative Committee of the position.

Captain Crowder

Can the Home Secretary say if the T.U.C. advised the Government that they would be unable to stop absenteeism if mid-week sport was allowed to continue?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. They never made any such statement.

18. Wing-Commander Roland Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in formulating his plans for the restriction of mid-week sporting events, he will give special consideration to the position of holiday resorts during the summer season, in view of the fact that such events are part of the attractions offered by these towns to holidaymakers and are not in competition with the nation's basic industries for their support.

Mr. Ede

The restrictions to which the various sports associations have agreed should not adversely affect the position of holiday resorts as such.

Wing-Commander Robinson

In view of the fact that workers' holidays are necessary to our industrial efficiency, would the right hon. Gentleman undertake not to place any objection to the provision of sporting facilities in mid-week at seaside resorts?

Mr. Ede

If any such difficulty should occur, and the holiday resorts were unable to make the necessary arrangements with the association controlling that particular sport, I should be very happy to do what I could to see that matters were sorted out properly.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of allowing greyhound racing to continue at seaside resorts, because people generally go to seaside resorts to enjoy themselves?

Mr. Ede

That appears to be anticipating tomorrow's Debate.