HC Deb 21 March 1947 vol 435 cc809-11

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

This Clause enables the Home Secretary, by Order in Council, to bring the Act to an end at an earlier date than June, 1948. The main issue before us today has, I think, been a practical one, whether this Bill will prove efficacious. Has mid-week sport decreased production? The converse question therefore arises: will this Bill tend to increase production? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who has satisfied himself—although not me—that midweek sport has decreased production, will undertake to keep a careful watch on the effects of this Measure. I hope he will give us an undertaking that he will examine the returns which he may get from different parts of the country—and I hope he will ask for such returns—as to the effect of this Bill on production. If he finds that it is not doing what it sets out to do, then I hope he will make an Order in Council to bring it to an end. If we could be given an assurance that he will keep his eye on the effects of this Measure, and withdraw it immediately if it is found to be inefficacious for the purpose for which it is designed, then I am sure that the further stages of the Bill will be acceptable.

Mr. Ede

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the promise he has just given in his last few words. I intend to watch this matter carefully, and I think I can go even a little further than he pressed me to go. If I find that the time has come when we need no longer ask those people who can rearrange their sports voluntarily to bring pressure to bear on their supporters to restrict their sports to Saturdays, then I think it would be incumbent upon me to make an Order repealing the further administration of this Measure. I am very anxious that it should not be thought that greyhound racing has been singled out in any particular way, because of the feelings which some people may have in regard to it. After all, opinions change quite rapidly on this kind of thing. My grandfather was expelled from the Congregational Church because he secured the contract for painting the racecourse on Epsom Downs.

Mr. Nicholson

Did he paint it red?

Mr. Ede

No, white. He was born in the constituency of the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). There are very deep and bitter feelings occasionally on matters of this kind, and I would make it quite clear that the Government in promoting this Measure have not taken sides one way or the other on the issues that so disturb some people about this particular pastime.

Mr. Nicholson

I do not think that anyone will accuse the Government of persecuting greyhound racing interests, as distinct from any other sporting interests. No one, I am sure, on this side of the House will try to make that a party point against the Government. I was, however, very much disturbed the other day, when the Prime Minister used the words, "if and when", when referring to concessions and restorations with regard to electricity cuts. He showed an attitude of mind rather different from that of the right hon. Gentleman today, and we are seriously concerned with what we consider is a wrong psychological approach to these matters. We believe that this is a hardship Bill, and that the sooner these restrictions are lifted the better. The right hon. Gentleman has made up his mind as to the minimum time he thinks these restrictions ought to endure, and has extended the time limit to the date mentioned in the Clause by Order in Council. I hope that this Clause goes through as drafted, and that the Home Secretary will keep a watchful eye on the whole question.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.