HC Deb 19 May 1949 vol 465 cc683-6

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Challen (Hampstead)

I desire to voice a certain number of arguments with regard to this Bill, though I do not propose to take up very much time. The points I wish to make relate to three different types of Clauses. The first of these is Clause 86, which deals with the sterilisation of meat for feeding animals. and this Clause, as well as other Clauses on which I desire to comment, really involves the point that these matters ought to be dealt with nationally and not by a Private Bill at all. It surely should be a principle of Private Bill legislation that any subject matter which is one of national concern should not be a matter of local business. This question of the sterilisation of meat for animal feeding is a controversial subject. Sterilisation does not prevent the meat from subsequently becoming contaminated and it gives a false sense of security, because anybody in the neighbouring district which is not covered by this legislation, can sell meat unsterilised. If the matter is to be dealt with at all, it should be dealt with nationally by Statutory Instrument or legislation, and not by means of a local Bill.

The next Clauses to which I want to refer are Clauses 91 to 101, which make it necessary for masseurs, chiropodists and manicurists to be licensed. Again, if it is desirable to license manicurists and to restrict their operation, it ought to be done by national legislation. The Corporation will probably get funds from the licensing of these people, hut, apart from that, I cannot see that any resulting good will come from this piecemeal type of legislation.

The third Clause to which I take exception is Clause 101, which deals with the registration of entertainment proprietors. This Clause makes it compulsory on all entertainment proprietors, including theatre and cinema owners, to be registered, and it covers punch-and-judy shows, pin-table saloons and any form of amusement and entertainment. Why this particular corporation should receive these compulsory powers on this subject I quite fail to understand. They say that they want to control travelling fairs and circuses, but why should they say that? "They say—let them say." Why should the Corporation of West Bromwich want of its own volition, to control travelling fairs and circuses? It is merely a question of control for control's sake, and of making a little money by licences out of controlling other people. It is on those grounds that I venture to voice a serious objection to this Bill.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. Mellish (Rotherhithe)

The House will agree that in the speech which he has just made, the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Challen) was endeavouring to make honest and constructive criticisms of the Bill, but it is important that the West Bromwich Corporation should secure the Third Reading of this Measure. This is the first time for 18 years that this corporation has applied to this House for special powers. The speech which we have just heard is a repetition of the remarks made on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll), and, at the time when this Bill was going through its Second Reading here and was before a Select Committee of the House upstairs, these points were very adequately dealt with. However, in order that it may be placed on record for the benefit of the corporation, it ought to be explained what their point of view is in regard to the criticisms which the hon. Gentleman has made.

First, in regard to the sterilisation of meat for feeding to animals, the corporation entirely agree that this ought to be a national responsibility, and we do not argue with the hon. Gentleman on that point at all. I would merely point out to him that at the moment it is not a national responsibility. The power is exercised at the moment only by the Birmingham Corporation, and the West Bromwich Corporation is anxious to have similar powers. We have no quarrel with the idea that it should be a national responsibility, but after all, local authorities have often been pioneers in ventures of this kind, and it may be that as a result of this development by Birmingham and later by West Bromwich, the sterilisation of meat for feeding animals will become a national responsibility. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman is really not so definite on this point as to insist that this Clause should be wiped out of the Bill, only because the matter should be dealt with nationally.

The next point raised by the hon. Gentleman to which there should be an answer, concerned establishments for massage or special treatment. This is dealt with in Part VII of the Bill and the answer is that the hon. Gentleman and his supporters should realise when talking of this Clause that time has marched on since the day when massage simply meant somebody having his back rubbed by an unorthodox person. The position today is illustrated in a quotation which I would like to make from the minutes of the Select Committee: It is a question today of physio-therapy, radiant heat treatment, ultra-violet rays, chiropody and massage. Surely, the hon. Gentleman would agree that, in an area where there are a large number of industrial accidents of one kind and another, after which people require these various treatments, the local authority should be in a position to control anybody starting an establishment of this kind in order to make sure that it is legitimate.

The third and final point concerns the question of control of entertainment proprietors. This relates to the permanent registration of proprietors in those cases where these people have established permanent forms of entertainment. I would say again to the hon. Gentleman that if he would read the minutes of the Select Committee, he would know that, in fact, the people engaged in this busi- ness are anxious that this form of control should be established. I do not want to go into the question of pin-table saloons and that sort of thing and whether they ought to be controlled, but I think these places tend towards creating a great deal of trouble for our youth. Recently, we have heard quite a lot about bottle parties, and I think we should also think about some of these so-called entertainments when they become permanent in this country. This progressive corporation are to be commended for having brought forward this very fine Bill. I support their point of view, and I trust that, in view of the explanation I have given, the hon. Member will not carry his objection to a Division.

7.10 p.m.

Captain John Crowder (Finchley)

I want to make two points. The first is that I cannot see that, when this corporation takes these powers, they are really safeguarding the interests of the public, because the Bill does not make any provision for tests as regards masseurs. There are plenty of unqualified people practising in London nowadays—unqualified doctors, for instance—who do a tremendous amount of good. I cannot see what benefit it is giving to the public, to make them put their names on a register and pay, perhaps, a small fee, or how much more control the corporation will have over people who run fun fairs and pin tables. The only point we wish to make is that registration for the sake of registration, is not going to safeguard the public.

There are Clauses in other Bills suggesting that people such as, for instance, window-cleaners, should register. It was pointed out that if they did, the public would derive no benefit from such registration because it would be no safeguard to them. Therefore, I hope that the hon. Member will bring these matters to the attention of the corporation. We have no objection to safeguarding the public, but, as I say, we see no object in having registration for its own sake. Having had an explanation from the hon. Gentleman, we do not wish to pursue the matter any further.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

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