HC Deb 21 March 1947 vol 435 cc811-6

Provided that His Majesty may by Order in Council exempt from the provisions of this Act, or any part thereof, any area which can be mainly classified as a holiday resort.—[Mr. Carson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Carson

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This new Clause stands in the name of myself, the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson), the hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson) and other hon. Members. I hope that the Home Secretary will see his way to accept it, or, at any rate, to give it his sympathetic consideration. As I have already said, the object of the Bill is to persuade people to work; but people who work and work hard need a good and decent holiday at least once a year. They need a holiday which they can wholly enjoy, and I submit that they have a right to the sort of holiday they want. What sort of holiday do they want? The sort of holiday that they want may be very diverse as applied to different people. For instance, holidays at the seaside have many attractions. First—somewhat naturally—there is the sea and the seashore; secondly, seaside resorts usually have good cinemas and very often amusement parks; and, thirdly, they often have greyhound tracks. These, may I say, are all part of the stock in trade of seaside resorts. Holidays provide the bread and butter of the holiday resorts. If we cannot attract the holidaymakers to our area, we simply do not exist at all, and, therefore, we do not want anything to be done that can detract from the amenities offered by holiday resorts.

I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman cannot remove the sea and the seashore. We are beginning to wonder whether he could not possibly put back the barbed wire which we saw during the war on the seashore, and thus prevent people from using it. But, being reasonable people, we imagine that he will not. We understand that he is going to allow cinemas in those parts of the country, and in other parts, to continue, and we also understand that he is going to allow amusement parks, including scenic railways, and the like, to continue. I have heard no mention from the Government that Dreamland or Merrie England, to quote two places in my own constituency, are going to be banned. If the right hon. Gentleman allows these places to continue—and I may say that people do enjoy them once a year; indeed, I go to these places, and enjoy going down those horrible dives on the scenic railway—

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

The hon. Member is getting completely out of Order. I really do not think that the dogs would be able to use the scenic railway.

Mr. Carson

I apologise, Mr. Beaumont. I should have thought that the dogs might enjoy these amenities, knowing how they go over the hurdles in their own particular sport. But, nevertheless, I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman should consider shutting down the greyhound tracks in coastal resorts except on Saturdays. There are a great many people in this country who like what I believe is known as "a greyhound holiday." They tick off on their fingers what amenities they can get at the various resorts, at, say, Margate or Ramsgate, and, among them, they include greyhound racing. But now, if they go to Margate or Ramsgate, or anywhere else, they will find that they can only go to a greyhound meeting on Saturdays.

I would assure the right hon. Gentleman that, if he accepts this new Clause, there will be no danger of industry being affected in any way. In my own area we have no industries to speak of. We wish we had more, and I have on several occasions in the past endeavoured in this House to get industries set up in the Isle of Thanet. It is true that there are a few miners living in my constituency, but they number less than a thousand, while, on the other hand, the holidaymakers who come to the area number many thousands. I cannot see why the holidaymakers should be penalised in order to make certain that no miner leaves his employment on a day when he should be working.

I would also say that there is no question of greyhound tracks attracting vital labour in this connection. There are 4,000 unemployed people in my area, and, while we have that number of unemployed, and when, apparently the Government are unable to employ these people elsewhere, I cannot see that this suggestion can be defended. This new Clause has been drawn in very wide terms and is what I would call an enabling Clause. It enables the Home Secretary to do certain things; it forces him to do nothing, but it allows him, if he sees fit, to continue greyhound racing in certain areas of the country at certain times of the year, entirely at his own discretion. I hope that he will give consideration to the Clause, and will see his way to accepting it.

Wing-Commander Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)

I raised this point on the Second Reading of the Bill and set out what I thought were the arguments for the seaside resorts. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not allow this opportunity to pass without giving us a, reasonable reply. I would draw his attention to the point which I raised yesterday about these facilities when he said: If … 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 "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th March, 1947; Vol. 435, c. 568.] The proposed new Clause is purely permissive. We are proposing to give the right hon. Gentleman power to use it if he thinks he should have it.

Mr. Ede

The Bill does not reduce the capacity of any area to supply greyhound racing. All it does is to alter the days on which greyhound racing can take place. Therefore, a person sitting down and ticking off the amusements in the way suggested by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson) will not say: "Margate, greyhound racing, Thursday; Blackpool, greyhound racing, Friday. As I believe that Friday should be a day of fast I will, therefore, give it to Margate." We are not giving any preference as between one holiday resort and another.

The difficulty is that most holiday resorts are within very reasonable distance of some highly industrial areas. I do not know whether my constituency is a holiday resort or an industrial area. It has the best free pier in the country. I very much doubt whether anyone can say whether it is an area in which industry is not also being carried on to a very highly specialised extent. I very much regret, much as I would like to do what I can to ease the difficulties confronting hon. Members, that I cannot accept the proposed new clause.

Mr. Peake

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was unable to accept the Clause. I see his difficulty about the definition of "mainly holiday resorts," but would he please consider before the Bill goes to another place whether it is not desirable to insert a proviso to bring the operation of the Bill to an end, not generally, but in particular areas? Customs as regards holidays and half-holidays vary all over the country. The right hon. Gentleman may well find that there will be areas where two meetings on a Saturday will do more to stop production than a meeting in mid-week. If the right hon. Gentleman takes power to terminate the Act, and then goes on to terminate any section of it, he might also consider having power to terminate its operation as regards specified areas.

Mr. Ede

I considered that point upon the draft of the Bill. In response to the appeal by the right hon. Gentleman, I undertake to have another look at it before the Bill is examined in another place.

Mr. Challen (Hampstead)

The proposed new Clause is very reasonable and I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept it. Did it occur to him in considering the draft of the Bill that it might be a very elegant ornament to this Measure? It gives the Home Secretary complete power to do what he likes. If it is considered desirable and necessary in any particular area to make an exemption in certain cases, he can do so. It gives him power to meet all the criticisms which have been made on both sides of the House during Second Reading. It has been pointed out that in the case of the Greyhound Racing Association, we cannot act as in the case of other sports. No doubt that is true, but this Clause gives the Home Secretary the same liberty as he would have had if this had been a case where there was no necessity for legislation. The Home Secretary should consider modifying the Bill at some suitable stage to this extent. There is hardly a Member who has confessed to having been to a greyhound racing meeting. I have not been to a meeting, and I do not think I ever shall. I have no interest in greyhound racing, and it is not a sport which appeals to me. I have had a good deal of correspondence from people who feel they are being treated very hardly in this matter. This is a Clause which enables the Home Secretary to mitigate that hardship very substantially if he wishes.

Mr. Carson

In view of what the Home Secretary has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

3.59 p.m.

Mr. Nicholson

The Home Secretary must realise that we now have him at our mercy. If he will get up in his place and say he considers this Bill a major contribution to the solution of our industrial difficulties, I will resume my seat.

Mr. Ede

I have never suggested that it is a major solution. It is a proper and appropriate step.

Mr. Nicholson

Such is my esteem for the right hon. Gentleman, that I will resume my Seat in the hope that he will now get his Bill.

Captain John Crowder (Finchley)

In view of the fact that people will in future be attending meetings in large numbers on Saturdays, will the Home Secretary see that there are sufficient police to control the crowds, and that the stands are sufficient to take the extra people?

Mr. Ede

I have already consulted the Commissioner of Police in regard to that. I thank the House for the courtesy they have shown me this afternoon.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.