§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
On a point of order. I notice Major Milner that you have not selected the Amendment standing in my name and that of my hon. Friends, in page 1, line 11, after "amusements" to insert:on the second, third, fourth and fifth Sundays in any month, and with the amusements on the first Sunday of any month.I appreciate that I cannot ask you to give the reason for that decision but I should like to say that, in so far as it is thought that the Committee has already decided the principle of that Amendment, to the extent to which hon. Members who supported the majority view said it was important to respect the rights of minorities, I hoped that an opportunity might be given for the majority to show whether they would put that principle into practice by respecting the rights of what has become a minority.
§ The Chairman
I am afraid that I cannot allow that argument to affect my selection. I am sorry I have not been able to select the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Baronet, but it will of course be open to him to put it down again at a later stage of the Bill.
§ Miss Bacon (Leeds, North-East)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, at the end, to insert:(e) the Land Travelling Exhibition (that is to say the travelling exhibition being held in the cities of Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham).This Amendment is supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House representing the four cities named. We have now spent two days discussing the Festival of Britain, but up to now we have discussed only what will happen in London. I would remind the Committee that London is not the only city in which there will be something in the nature of 36 an exhibition. There will be provincial exhibitions, one of which is the Land Travelling Exhibition, which is to visit the cities of Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham. We are told that it will be the world's biggest transported exhibition; it will be transported in lorries and will contain 5,000 exhibits.
Since a charge of 2s. is to be made to enter this Exhibition, I assume that if we in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham or Nottingham open the Exhibition on Sundays we shall be liable to have action taken against us by the Lord's Day Observance Society. This Amendment is designed to prevent such action being taken by giving to the four cities in question the immunity that has already been given to London by reading this Bill a Second time. I believe that we in these four cities should have the same immunity as that given to London.
I should like to make clear that this Land Travelling Exhibition is not in any way a fun fair. I understand it is an educational exhibition, the same as that to be found on the South Bank. Whereas the Exhibition in London is to be open for five months, the Exhibition in the provinces will be in only one place at a time for periods varying from 10 days to three weeks, so that the people of these provincial cities will have only a very short time in which to see it. The effect of this Amendment will not be to make opening obligatory in these cities, but to make opening permissive if the cities wish the Exhibition to be opened on Sundays. We cannot say at this time whether or not there will be a great demand to see the Exhibition. It may be that there will not be. On the other hand, there may be a great demand, on the part not only of the people living in these cities but of people living in the surrounding areas.
Everybody knows that the City of Leeds is a centre for the West Riding of Yorkshire, just as Manchester is a centre for the industrial area of Lancashire. People get home from work late at night, and it may not be possible for all those who wish to see the Exhibition to see it during the evenings. If this Amendment is not accepted, the majority of those who wish to see the Exhibitions will be able to do so only on Saturdays, and anybody who knows conditions in our 37 provincial cities on Saturdays will appreciate that we have to contend with very great crowds, coupled with the added difficulty of transport on Saturday afternoons, when work-people and shoppers all want to get home at the same time. I, therefore, suggest that the Committee accept this Amendment in order to make it permissive for those cities who wish to do so, to open the Land Travelling Exhibition on Sundays.
I do not think that this Amendment will cause any controversy. Indeed, when it was made known in Leeds a reporter of the "Yorkshire Evening Post" interviewed the leaders of the various religious denominations. In answer to a question whether or not he objected to this Amendment, a vicar of Leeds said:To that part of the Exhibition which is definitely educational and on a par with other serious exhibitions I would have no objection on principle. If there were any suggestion of an amusement park being opened on Sunday I would strongly object.A Nonconformist minister said that he would have no objection to this; that he would only object to a fun fair. A Roman Catholic priest said, when asked the question:Provided people fulfil their Sunday obligations I feel that the rest of the time may he used for relaxation, but I do not think I would he in favour of anything like Coney Island opening on Sundays.I am told that this Land Travelling Exhibition has nothing in common with Coney Island, but is completely educational.
I understand that there is some reluctance on the part of the Government to accept the Amendment because they are rather timid about legislating for what is to happen on Sundays north of London. I ask them not to be so timid about this. I believe that the people of these cities would like to see this educational Exhibition, and, for many, Sunday will be the only day on which they can see it. Many people who could see it on Saturdays will, I am quite sure, be deterred by the great crowds who are about on Saturdays. In moving this Amendment, I am asking only for the same privileges and the same immunities to be given to our provincial cities as this Committee has already given to London.
Mr. Ian L. On-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I think we should be given rather 38 more information than has yet been made available as to what is to be contained in this Land Travelling Exhibition, because it is difficult to arrive at a fair decision without knowing whether it will contain side shows, and all sorts of things like that. At an earlier stage of the Bill it may have been taken for granted—though I am not in a position to refute it—that the Exhibition on the South Bank, for instance, would only constitute something similar to exhibitions which are already open on Sundays, in museums and like places.
Some of us were a little surprised to realise that if these exhibitions were the same as or similar to those in museums on Sundays, so many people would be involved in the showing of them. As I said at an earlier date, I was quite prepared to consider the question of the South Bank Exhibition separately, if one had been allowed to do so on the Second Reading of the Bill. Equally, on the Committee stage of the Bill, I am perfectly open-minded as to whether I should vote in support of the Amendment or against it, but I cannot possibly exercise that vote until I know what is to be thrown open for exhibition on Sundays in the provinces.
If the Travelling Exibitions are similar to those which are to be opened on Sundays on the South Bank, and go no further, I cannot see how in principle one can vote against that, as the House as a whole has already granted that privilege. I should like to hear more particulars of those exhibitions from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)
I should also like to know a little more about it, because all Members of Parliament these days receive a great quantity of paper and they are not able to read all of it. I take it that this is not a travelling, exhibition but an exhibition in a fixed building of goods brought by rail or road from other places where they have been exhibited in fixed buildings. I do not know what is to be the character of the Exhibition. Is it going to be an exhibition in caravans or is a great public hall in Leeds to be placed at its disposal? Is it to consist of pictures, mammoth skeletons or what? We ought to be told more precisely what is the standard of this Exhibition. My general view on this matter is 39 exactly the same as that of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. I. L. Orr-Ewing). We ought to be given a little more precise information about it.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I think that it would be as well if I intervened at this stage to say a few words about this exhibition. It will be held in Manchester from 3rd to 26th May in the City Exhibition Hall in Deansgate. From 23rd June to 14th July it will be held in Leeds in a place called the tented structure, Woodhouse Moor. It will be held in Birmingham from 4th August to 25th August in Bingley Hall, and in Nottingham in the tented structure at Broadmarsh from 15th September to 6th October. That, I think, describes the places in which the Exhibition will be held. It will be moved by convoys of lorries from one centre to another and it will contain some 5,000 exhibits selected chiefly as outstanding examples of industrial design.
It will not include anything in the nature of an amusements park. I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) said, and I am bound to say that there would be very great administrative difficulties in the way of carrying out the Amendment which she moved, if it were to be incorporated in the Bill. The Festival authorities report that it would present difficult administrative problems. There would have to be an increase in the locally engaged staff of approximately 100 at each centre, and no financial provision has been made for such a possibility.
§ Mr. Ede
I am told that it would be so. I do not imagine that my hon. Friend, in view of the two speeches which he made last week on two separate days, wants to impose a seven-day week on anybody. Let us face up to this. If these places are open on a Sunday it will involve—if people are to have a six-day week—the employment of additional people not necessarily for the seventh day but during the week so that no one shall work more than a six-day week.
§ Mr. Hale
I gathered from the opening speech that it was not the desire to open on an additional day but merely to 40 protect the opening on an additional day. The Chairman of Festival Gardens Limited gave an undertaking in the debate in which I did not speak, that he would so arrange the rota that no one would be compelled to work on a Sunday against his will, but everyone would have his week's work.
§ Mr. Ede
That was in regard to the Festival Gardens in Battersea, where all the arrangements have been on the basis of a six-day week. I am trying to put the House into possession of the facts. I have not heard anything that indicated that there was a desire that the Exhibition should be closed for one week day or that it should be open on a Sunday. That, I think, is something which has only occurred to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale). I am informed that if we are to open this Exhibition on a Sunday and have normal working arrangements, it will involve an additional staff of 100 persons. The estimate of 100 may be subject to some analysis. I understand that it is the unanimous wish of the House that no one should be compelled to work seven days a week but that there should be a six-day week. If it is to be open on the seventh day, there must be some additional labour employed, and our estimate is that it will be 100 persons.
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
I take it that it is not suggested that it would be impossible to engage 100 persons. If that is so, why should the provinces be discriminated against when London is not being discriminated against?
§ Mr. Ede
The whole idea of the provincial Exhibition was based on the understanding we have had from the Festival authorities that there would be no opening in the provinces on Sundays. I am informed also that an increased strain would be placed on the headquarters staff appointed to the Exhibition. We have already in the provinces made one concession with regard to opening which, I am quite certain, has the support of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East. We have already agreed to special opening hours for school parties from 9.30 to 11 o'clock in the morning on Mondays to Fridays. I am also informed by the Festival authorities that this would have been less readily agreed to had it been 41 thought that there was any likelihood of this additional strain of Sunday opening being put on the organisation.
In addition to the Travelling Exhibition, there is the Ship Exhibition. I am told that it was proposed to extend this to the ship Exhibition, and if we agreed to this on the Committee stage we should be involved in it on the Report stage. The staff difficulty would be much more acute in that case. Therefore, the Government do not feel, in view of the reasons which I have given, and the fact that this is now a very late stage in which to attempt to alter the arrangements, that they can accept the Amendment.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us where else the Travelling Exhibition is visiting, other than the four cities he has mentioned, and also what places the ship exhibition will be visiting?
§ Mr. Ede
I understand that these are the only place where the land exhibition will go. I do not think a ship can go to those places. The Ship Exhibition will be confined to the seaports. I cannot at this stage say which towns they are, but I will try to find out and let the right hon. Gentleman know.
§ Mr. Pannell (Leeds, West)
Some one asked me after the Division on Tuesday whether I had voted for the superior humbugs or the united hypocrites, and now I am wondering for whom I did vote after the specious argument we have heard from my right hon. Friend. What did the Government try to get us to do last week? They tried to get us to vote for the fun fair.
§ Mr. Ede
The Government left it entirely to a free vote of the House. It was agreed, as a matter of fact, that there should be no disclosure as to which side individual Ministers were taking. My right hon. Friend put both arguments in his speech, and we then voted according to our consciences. The Lord President voted one way, and I voted the other.
§ Mr. Pannell
I accept what my right hon. Friend has said. Let us follow this up. Let us assume that the point of view of the Lord President had prevailed. In 42 that case, we should have had a fun fair opening on Sundays in London. Would the right hon. Gentleman then have got up today and used these arguments? Would he have said that what London was to have was not to be extended to these four cities? Does this not show that the people who said that this was a stunt that applied to London but not to the provinces were right?
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
Which way did my hon. Friend vote?
§ Mr. Pannell
I voted against the Lord President. I made it perfectly clear that whatever was done for London should be extended throughout the provinces. There should not be one law for London and one for the provinces. This argument about a few extra people having to be employed did not seem to have a great deal of force when we were discussing this matter before. If it is reasonable for London to have an exhibition on the South Bank, it is also reasonable that the provinces should have this miniature exhibition.
§ Mr. Summers (Aylesbury)
Are we to understand from this argument that, because London is not to have the fun fair in Battersea Park on Sunday, the fun fair which is normally opened on Sundays in Manchester should be closed?
§ Mr. Pannell
I know why I voted. It is perfectly reasonable that if the Exhibition to be held in London is to be open on Sundays, the Exhibition in the provinces should also be open on Sundays. I fail to understand Members who want to use this as an opportunity for obstruction. What we are asking for is very different from what happens in Weston-super-Mare. This is almost a ladylike exhibition compared with what happens in the constituency of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing).
Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing
I entirely agree, but I understood that we were discussing a travelling exhibition. I made it clear that I had an open mind whether it should be included in this Bill or not. I cannot see how Weston-super-Mare comes into the argument.
§ Mr. Pannell
The hon. Member had a very closed mind on the previous occasion, and he cannot open it at this stage. I ask the Committee to be reasonably consistent on this matter, and to say that what is good for London is equally good for the provinces, bearing in mind that the mayors, town clerks, religious leaders and others of these provincial towns have asked for this. If Members believe in local democracy, they will vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. Shepherd (Cheadle)
I am very disappointed with the reply the Home Secretary has made to the Amendment. I object to Members talking about concessions for the provinces, as if the provinces were an inferior appendage of London and deserving to be patronised by the Treasury Bench. It is absolutely right that if the Exhibition in London is to be open on Sundays, the same privilege should be accorded to the provinces with their Exhibition. By that I do not mean that the Exhibition should necessarily be open on Sundays, but that the provinces should have the right to open it if they so desire.
All this Amendment seeks to do is to give the provinces the right to open the Travelling Exhibition. We are not saying that every Exhibition should be open on every Sunday in all provincial towns. All we are seeking to do is to remove the hindrance to opening the Exhibition, namely, the activities of the common informer. There is no conceivable reason why the right hon. Gentleman should deny to the provinces what is rightly accorded to London. He made no attempt to establish the particular right of London, but merely trotted out these administrative difficulties in the case of the provinces. I do not know how many people are involved, but I cannot think that this is an insuperable obstacle and a reason for not accepting the Amendment.
I am convinced that there are many people to be found in the local authorities, people with good will and civic conscience, who will voluntarily give their services to enable a rota system to be worked so that the Exhibition may be open on Sundays.
§ Mr. Shepherd
That is so. This is a question of the provinces being able to decide what they should do and of safeguarding the interest of the workers. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will think again about this Amendment, because the people in the provinces will take the view that there is one law for London and another for them. I see no justification, from the point of view of principle or anything else, for preventing the provinces from doing what is properly allowed to London.
§ Mr. Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
I do not want to take up much time, but since Birmingham has been mentioned, I want to say a word. If there were any question of the opening of an amusement park I am confident that Birmingham would not agree to it. I agree with the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), who said that there should not be one law for London and one for the provinces. What is the position? It has already been said by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), that there are many thousands of people in the provinces who would be unable to travel down to London to see the Exhibition. Birmingham is the centre for the Black Country and caters for three or four million people. It would be impossible for all those people to see the Travelling Exhibition if it were open only on six days a week. The small number of men and women who will be required to do an extra day's work if this Exhibition is open on Sunday would be easily found. I feel confident that the religious bodies of the City of Birmingham would have no objection to the opening of the Travelling Exhibition from lunchtime onwards on Sundays, and I hope the House will support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)
As one of the representatives of the City of Leeds which is mentioned in the Amendment, I should like to intervene for a few moments. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), invited me at an early stage to add my name to this Amendment. I told her I was favourable, but my native caution compelled me to wait longer to see what the Travelling Exhibition comprised before I came to a final conclusion about the Amendment. We have now been told by the Home Secretary that the Exhibi- 45 tion is to contain, as its main feature, 5,000 examples of industrial design.
It certainly crossed my mind that this Travelling Exhibition might comprise fashion exhibits, which would include one of those competitions entered for by young ladies in exiguous bathing costumes in order to win such a title as "Miss Festival 1951." I hardly think that young ladies attired for such a competition would come within the definition of the term used by the Home Secretary, "all outstanding examples of industrial design." It would appear, therefore, that the Exhibition is not to contain anything which might be in any way offensive to any of my constituents.
The Home Secretary's case against the Amendment was singularly poor. The first point was that there would have to be 100 additional persons employed upon the staff. I personally would far rather see the Travelling Exhibition closed on a weekday, say a Monday, when people ought to be going to their work and to be opened on Sunday when people are off their work and want something amusing to go and see. Leeds on a Sunday is a singularly dull place. There is a great deal to be said, in my view, for encouraging people to go to their work on five or six days of the week and to see this Travelling Exhibition on Sunday afternoons. I do not think that any case can be made against this Amendment.
I very much hope that the spokesmen from the Government Bench are going to allow a free vote upon this matter. There will be a free vote on this side of the Committee. I could not make out during the Home Secretary's speech whether he was speaking for the Government, for himself or for the Festival authorities. In my opinion we should have a free vote upon this matter, and I hope the Lord President of the Council will concede what is evidently the general desire of all parts of the Committee.
§ Sir R. Acland
I should like to support the main argument offered by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), namely, that if this Amendment is carried it does not compel the Festival authorities to open on Sundays, whereas if it is not carried they will be absolutely prevented from doing so by fear of the common 46 informer, whose activities we are all agreed are deplorable. If the Amendment is passed it will be open to the Festival authorities to negotiate with the municipal authorities of the great cities mentioned and see if an arrangement can be come to.
I am a little bit suspicious of the figure of 100 extra workers required for Sundays if this Travelling Exhibition is opened. No doubt somebody supplied my right hon. Friend with the figures, but it seems to me that for one extra day there would be something like 16⅔ per cent. of the numbers involved if a seventh day were worked. Calculating from this it would appear that 600 is the number of people required to keep this exhibition open in these cities. I can hardly believe it would be so many as that. I therefore hope that there will be an opportunity for the municipal authorities and the Exhibition authorities to examine this matter.
I hope that this Exhibition is going to be extremely popular, and that gives me an opportunity of saying something which I was not able to say at Question time when the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) and the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) were taking sniping shots at the Exhibition. If they continue to take these sniping shots some of us on this side of the Committee will be tempted—I do not say we shall yield—to take credit for the Exhibition if it turns out to be popular.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Is the hon. Gentleman now suggesting as part of his argument that 750 standards of soft wood are going to be used in the provincial parts of this exhibition, namely, Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham.
§ Sir R. Acland
I was making a perfectly proper point, that if any hon. Member opposite wishes to take sniping shots at this Exhibition week after week at Question time in this House, then some of us on this side may be tempted to take some credit for the Exhibition as a whole if it turns out to he extraordinarily popular. That is only a fair warning to those weekly snipers, who have been at it for long enough. The relevance of this Amendment is that that part of the Exhibition, like all other parts, will be extremely popular and that we ought at least to open the door to the possibility of its being 47 available, either on Sunday instead of on some other weekday, or on Sunday as well as on some other weekday.
§ Mr. Ede
I have listened to the course of this debate. When I spoke previously, I was mainly engaged in trying to give the Committee the information for which two hon. Members had asked, so that they could direct their minds to what was actually involved. I, for one, am certainly not in favour of including anything which would appear to indicate one law for London and another law for the rest of the country, although I am not, and never have been, a Londoner.
I was a little surprised at the line adopted by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North (Mr. Peake). I should have thought that while the young lady who excited his wrath and perturbation might perhaps not be a suitable exhibit for Sunday, such articles as she might wear, scanty as they are, would be an example of industrial design in the textile world, and that while the right hon. Gentleman might not see the lady he might see those articles that obscured the lady.
My right hon. Friends and myself have listened to the debate. We recognise that there is a strong desire in many parts of the Committee that this Amendment should be carried and that arrangements should be made for operating it, if possible. While we are willing to accept the Amendment, we cannot undertake that in all or in any of the places concerned it might be possible to operate it. We do not accept the Amendment and, at the same time, say, "We will accept it, but nothing is going to happen." There will have to be a bona fide attempt made to see whether in some at least of these places, if not in all, it can be operated. It can be accepted in the spirit of the speech which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), who said that if it were put into the Bill it would permit us to do it but would not compel us. We shall be willing to accept the Amendment and we shall do our best to meet the spirit which exists in the Committee, although it may be that, owing to administrative difficulties in one or more of the places concerned, it might not be possible to carry it into full effect.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
The Home Secretary has shown remarkable understanding of the feelings of the Committee and has 48 given way to what amounts to considerable pressure from his own benches and from those of His Majesty's Opposition. His acceptance of the Amendment raises certain very definite questions. Do I understand from him that if this concession is made by the Government—as we desire equity betwen London and the provinces—the same concession will be made to the Ship Exhibition? If that be not the case, if we were to put down an Amendment at a later stage concerning the Ship Exhibition would hon. and right hon. Gentlemen give us an assurance that the same principle would apply as much to the great cities, presumably Edinburgh being among them, which are to be visited by the Ship Exhibition, as to those cities that we have been discussing? Otherwise, there will be a great lack of equity and great discrepancy between the cities visited by the Ship Exhibition and the cities visited by the Land Travelling Exhibition.
The purpose of my rising is to prove whether the Government have given way on this Amendment in panic without having thought of all the principles involved, or whether they have a concerted policy for dealing not only with the inland cities but with the cities to be visited by the Ship Exhibition. We shall naturally want to pursue at a later stage this matter of the cities to be visited by the Ship Exhibition.
Another point is that the Amendment deals only with certain major cities in England and not with other parts of the country represented by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. For example, I represent a remote rural constituency in North Essex where there is as much local fervour as there is in the great cities of Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham. We have devoted our minds in local committees to furthering the interests of the Festival of Britain. I want to know whether towns like Colchester, which is to be the centre of our part of the world, will be able, if they so desire, to open this form of exhibition on Sunday. There will be small examples of the main Exhibition up and down the country. Will facilities be given by the Government, by putting down Amendments at a later stage to this effect?
If they are conceding this principle for four cities, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, and not for other places, I fail to see on what principle the 49 Government are proceeding. They have had ample time to consider this matter. Why should they not concede this principle for places like Colchester, Saffron Walden and Chelmsford, which are making local efforts? It is true that the small efforts that we are making in the County of Essex may be very limited. They may not have the grandeur and splendour of 5,000 exhibits of industrial design, because our resources would not run to it, but it may be convenient to open such small local exhibits on Sunday.
I should very much value the views of the Home Secretary in order to know whether, if we agree to this Amendment now we are prejudicing the same principle in connection with the Ship Exhibition and with local exhibitions organised under the aegis of the Festival of Britain in provincial centres.
§ Mr. Norman Smith (Nottingham, South)
While I welcome the Home Secretary's concession, I could have wished that his warning had not been quite so emphatic. I should like to go back to one thing that he said earlier in the debate, which was that it was rather late in the day to raise these matters because they had all been worked out. My right hon. Friend cannot treat the House of Commons like that. The concession having been made, we do hope that it will be carried out wholeheartedly in the spirit in which it was asked for, even if it is late in the day and if everything has been worked out. We hope that effect will be given not only to the concession but to the spirit of the concession.
§ Mr. Ede
I thought I said in my first speech that if we conceded this Amendment we should be in great difficulties about the Ship Exhibition, where I understand the administrative and staff difficulties are much more acute than with the Exhibition in the four cities that have been named. I am told that the staff are recruited on a permanent basis, and will travel aboard ship in cabin and lifeboat accommodation which will not permit any increase in the permanent staff. [Interruption.] The Exhibition will be on the ship. The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing) was one of the most strong opponents of the whole business in the Second Reading debate. He must forgive me if I say that I am rather suspicious of his desire to extend generally the principle to which it was under- 50 stood he was totally opposed on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing rose—
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I am trying to reply to what was put forward by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). I rather share the view expressed by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) that as far as we have gone this is not a concession but is placing these four provincial cities in the same position as London, but the right hon. Gentleman himself referred continuously to it as a concession. We are getting a very long way when we are asked to extend it to every exhibition which may be opened and said to be in connection with the Festival of Britain. While I have no doubt that in Essex, with its strong Puritan tradition, nothing objectionable would be done, I could think of some other parts of the country where a general approval given by this House in the way suggested might lead to some things which even the right hon. Gentleman would not think quite fitting for Sunday.
As to the Ship Exhibition, I am advised by those who are responsible that the administrative difficulties are very great indeed. I do not want to do anything which might still further arouse the suspicion of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. N. Smith). What I said with regard to our effort to meet the Amendment if it was carried was said with an intention of carrying it out, and I should not like to get out of a difficulty merely by saying "Add the ship, add Colchester, add Saffron Walden and add things generally" and then find in a few weeks' time that it was quite impossible to carry out what might be the wish of the House. There will be further stages of the Bill and if the matter is raised again we shall then have to meet it, but I have agreed to accept the Amendment in the spirit of the Debate, and I hope that the Committee will feel that that is sufficient for this afternoon.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman something for clarification? I understood his argument about the provinces to be that so far as the four cities are concerned, the Government can control the nature of the Exhibition and that so far as that is possible, the Government would therefore be sure of 51 the nature of what is shown, whereas in the case of the other provincial centres it would not be possible so to be certain. In those circumstances the point I made in regard to the provincial centres is met by the right hon. Gentleman's observation.
Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing
In regard to the shipborne Exhibition, surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise means of communication between ship and shore. I imagine that this must have been worked out, otherwise there would be no visitors to the Exhibition on the ship. If visitors are able to visit the ship to see the Exhibition, surely it would be possible for additional staff to be carried between the shore and the ship and these need not be ship-borne like the original staff. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider this matter because it is entirely a matter of an Exhibition under the direct control of the Government and the Festival authorities.
As regards any inconsistency on the part of any hon. Member, I made it quite clear on Second Reading that if I could remove the obnoxious element of the fun fair from the Bill I would give fair consideration to the Exhibition itself on the South Bank.
§ Mr. H. Morrison indicated dissent.
Yes, it is in HANSARD. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head, for it is clearly stated in HANSARD, and I am applying exactly the same principle this afternoon in considering these other exhibitions.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
With regard to what the hon. Member has just said, we have taken note of it and we shall keep it in mind, but I am bound to say that the more I listen to the hon. Gentleman the less I can understand him. He moved the complete rejection of the Bill on Second Reading in a 40-minute speech, which was longer than I took in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. He really cannot have the best of both worlds. The House of Commons is always interesting because it reserves the right to do the lay after tomorrow the very opposite of what it did the day before yesterday, but the hon. Gentleman really is the limit. If his view was that he wanted to stop the amusement part he could have voted for the Second Read- 52 ing and voted against the amusement part during the Committee stage. If I described the hon. Gentleman in the words that are in my mind I should be out of order.
I should most certainly not have been following the procedure advised by the right hon. Gentleman if, thinking as I did that the Bill contained an obnoxious principle, I had not attacked it on the first occasion. That I proceeded to do, namely, on Second Reading.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir H. Williams
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out from "dancing," to the end of line 30.
I believe that this Amendment is necessary in order to make the Bill read intelligibly. It is entirely a drafting Amendment.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
There is, I think, a good deal of misunderstanding about subsection (4) and the effects of the decision which the Committee took last week. I am not quite sure what view the Committee will wish to take about the Amendment which the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), has described as purely a drafting Amendment. It is possible that the Committee may take the view that there is something a little more than drafting in it. We should like to take the opinion of the Committee on this matter.
Except for the Exhibition and the Festival Gardens, the Festival of Britain was thrown back upon the ordinary law in regard to Sunday observance by the vote which we took last week. The ordinary law in regard to Sunday observance permits cinemas, concerts, botanical gardens, museums and matters of that kind, but, broadly speaking, nothing beyond that which is expressly permitted under one statute or another.
The purpose of including subsection (4) in the Bill was to restrict the nature of the amusements which would have been permissible had the fair ground been left in as part of the Bill and part of the Festival Gardens. It was to have been—as I ventured to say, and I have been very much taken to task for it since—an austerity fair ground, one without any of these other things which it might have been thought on one view of what the Bill 53 enacted would have been permitted once the fair ground was permitted. Now that the fairground is out of the Bill much of the point of subsection (4) has really gone. The things which it purports to prohibit are already prohibited under the existing law and there is really no advantage in saying so twice.
All the first part of the subsection, referring to theatres, dancing and so on, is innocuous. It bites on something which is already illegal, apart from the permissive effect of Clause 1 (1, b), and there is no harm in biting twice on something which is illegal. The words which the Amendment proposes to leave out are a little different. As they stand, the words after "dancing" in line 27 are not very inapt. They apply only to the Festival Gardens, and as amusements are to be prohibited in the Festival Gardens it would at first sight be quite inapt to refer to amusements being authorised by Festival Gardens Limited, the Lord President of the Council, or anyone else, because they are all to be illegal.
This is the point I want to put to the Committee in order that hon. Members may have the opportunity of deciding what they really want to do about this. It is becoming apparent that some hon. Members feel they have perhaps gone a little far in throwing the Festival right back on to strict observance of the law as laid down under the Sunday Observance Act, 1780. Some hon. Members may think there is no particular harm in having such a thing as a boating lake at the Exhibition even on a Sunday afternoon. As a matter of fact there is a boating lake in Battersea Park now, there is one on the Serpentine, and all over the country boating lakes are operated perfectly legally because, in the ordinary case, the charge is made for the use of the boat and not for admission to the place where the boat is used. Now under the arrangements for the Festival Gardens, strictly speaking the boating lake would be illegal—
§ The Attorney-General
I do not know whether the proposal boating lake is the existing one. Some hon. Members may think there is no harm in a boating lake. Other hon. Members may think there is 54 no harm in having a Punch and Judy show—with the script, no doubt, carefully vetted and suitable for children on a Sunday afternoon; or that there would be no harm in having a children's corner or a grotto or the illuminations and decorations that are part of the Festival Gardens. But on a strict interpretation of the Sunday Observance Act all these would probably have to be closed down because, as amusements, they would be infringing that Act. If the present view of the Committee is that it might be appropriate to have that kind of thing—a boating lake, a Punch and Judy show, and so on—left available, I would suggest to the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) that he should withdraw his Amendment, or to the Committee that it should negative the Amendment.
It is for the Committee to decide what attitude it wants to take up. Does it want to close down on everything, or does it want to leave the obviously innocent things, which are sometimes a normal feature of any park, but to close down the swings and the roundabouts and that kind of entertainment? If that is what the Committee wants to do, then by adopting a subsequent Amendment on the Order Paper substituting the Minister for Festival Gardens Limited, the Minister would accept responsibility to the House for authorising a few obviously innocent attractions. We should have to consider the matter further on Report in order to see whether anything more would have to be put into the Bill in order to permit the exercise by the Minister of the authorisation that the Bill previously contained with reference to the fair ground.
If, however, the view of the Committee is that we should, so to speak, save something out of the wreck—the boating lake, the children's corner and conceivably the Punch and Judy show, though I do not know what view will be taken of this last by the Sabbatarians—then I suggest that the words be left in the Clause on that basis and that we should consider the matter further on Report. If, on the other hand, the Committee feels that everything ought to be stopped—the children's corner, the Punch and Judy show, the boating lake and all these incidental amusements—the logical thing is to accept the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Croydon, East.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Air Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the goldfish have been removed from Battersea Park, and can he give an assurance that they will be returned?
§ Sir H. Williams
I think we are in rather a mess on this, if I may put it that way. It is obvious that those words do not make any sense in the light of the decision taken last week. As far as I can make out, as Clause 1 now stands it could not authorise any amusement at all. The Lord President could not, the Festival Gardens Ltd. could not. Therefore, the words having ceased to have any meaning, I moved that they should be left out. However, if it is desired to recast the Bill to some extent in view of what the Attorney-General has said about certain minor things, which no one can object to, not being possible without alteration to earlier parts of this Clause, I am quite willing to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ The Attorney-General
As far as we are concerned on this side of the Committee, we are quite prepared to reconsider the matter if it is the view of the Committee that some of the more innocent things should be allowed. The hon. Member for Croydon, East said there were some things to which no person could object. I am not at all certain about that in this context, but it may be that there are, and if that is the sense of the Committee I suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn and that we should put down something on Report, if we can find a suitable form of words, which would authorise, apart from the swings and roundabouts, the kind of things I have mentioned.
However, we must have some indication from the Committee whether that is the wish of hon. Members. If the Committee wants to go the whole hog and exclude everything, then the Amendment is the logical course to take. If, on the other hand, the Committee wants to retain some things which are technically amusements or entertainments, and so forbidden by the Sunday Observance Act, but which are relatively innocent, like the boating lake and the Punch and Judy show, then we will do our best to implement the sense of the Committee. 56 But we should like to have the view of the Committee about it.
The Amendment is the logical consequence of the decision we took last week, and if the hon. Member for Croydon, East, had not put down his Amendment on the Order Paper, I would have suggested it myself in order to carry our conclusion to its logical consequence. But logical consequences are often things to be avoided like the plague, and it may be that it would be the sense of the Committee that some things should be capable of being retained subject to the approval of the Minister responsible and answerable to the House.
§ Mr. Summers
On a point of order, Major Milner. May I ask your guidance in regard to the immediate procedure? If the Amendment standing in my name to line 29 is not called, there may be no opportunity for some of us to make comments unless we make them on this Amendment before it is withdrawn. May we assume, therefore, that the subsequent Amendment will be called and thus allow the withdrawal of this Amendment to be made so much quicker?
§ The Chairman
If the words which have been moved to be left out remain in the Bill, I should propose to call the Amendment of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers).
§ Mr. Summers
But I understand that there is a possibility of this Amendment being withdrawn, Major Milner.
§ The Chairman
In that event, as I have indicated, the words proposed to be left out would remain and I should call the hon. Member for Aylesbury.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I have had no warning of this problem and should not like to give any final answer today. We must make it clear, first, that the Committee decided by a very large majority not to have what may be described as an amusement park or fun fair open on Sunday. It is quite clear, therefore, that at later stages of the Bill, in any decisions reached by the Government, we must adhere to that decision of the Committee; otherwise we should not only do violence to the decision that has been reached, but we should also cause immense ripples again to spread throughout the country—and that would be very undesirable. So we may take it, then, that if the Amend- 57 ment is withdrawn nothing which the Government may propose at a later stage will do violence to the definite decision already taken by the Committee in regard to an amusement park or fun fair.
Now the Attorney-General raises another issue. He asks whether we want the Bill looked at again between now and the next stage, and for the Government then to come forward and make a statement and suggest any recasting of the Bill that is necessary to enable the Government to propose that certain amenities may be included in the gardens as apart from the fun fair. It would certainly be reasonable to allow the Government to look at the Bill again in the light of the decision taken by the Committee which alters the exact form of the Bill, and to come before us and make a further statement at the next stage, which, we understand, will be on Thursday next.
I should not like to give any final assurance to the right hon. Gentleman today. I would only go as far as this. I realise from my connection with the Council that those who are responsible are anxious about the gardens being open and payment having to be made for entrance into the gardens, whereas people who sit on the other side of the fence in Battersea Park can glance over the gardens or the river without making any payment at all, and would probably feel very nearly as happy as those who pay for admission. I can therefore say that on a Sunday afternoon it is very tempting for what I have previously described as the promoters to rack their brains as to how they can make the gardens attractive enough to justify the expense of going in, now that by decision of the Committee there is to be no fun fair.
Any attraction in these gardens which made them more worth while going into than sitting in Battersea Park outside would, naturally, be reasonable, but any attraction which drew upon it the sort of criticism which the fun fair or amusement park drew upon itself would be illegitimate. Quite apart from the illegality which the Lord President has mentioned, the right hon. and learned Gentleman also suggested that the Bill might take a form which might bring certain other attractions out of the danger of the Sunday Observance Acts.
It is there that we begin to be a little alarmed, because if we are to have attrac- 58 tions in these gardens which are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Sunday Observance Acts, it seems to me that we are doing violence to the decision which we have already taken not to have a fun fair. That is why the Government should be extremely careful in re-examining this matter. Although this is entirely a free matter on this side, if my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) desires to withdraw his Amendment, I would personally advise him to do so, provided that the Government understand that if they go so far in proposing amenities in the new gardens as to upset the conscience of the Committee, which has already taken a decision, they will find themselves faced with opposition. If, on the other hand, they simply make proposals which we think, on consideration, are reasonable, we shall be as sweet-minded and reasonable as possible.
If the Government think that this is a sufficient indication to them, I should be ready to let the matter go like this, but I really cannot take the question any further because I cannot here and now, without consideration, without a plan, without a map, draw a line between what amusement is covered by the Sunday Observance Acts and is regarded as a fun or amusement, and what diversion would be regarded as normal by public opinion outside. I therefore advise the Government to go very cautiously, yet to make the gardens as attractive as possible without causing anybody to err over the line and towards too much fun.
§ The Attorney-General
May I intervene again? The alternatives before the Committee are first a rigid application of the Sunday Observance Acts, and second either some catalogue of exceptions such as we have already included in the Bill—the Bill embodies exceptions both to the letter and, as some people think, to the spirit of the Sunday Observance Acts—or a discretion in a Minister answerable to Parliament.
What might be done—we have no desire to do it unless the Committee wishes it; it only increases in some ways the administrative difficulty—would be to say in Clause 1 (1. b)of the Festival Gardens, with such amenities as may he authorised by the Lord President of the Council but without the amusements"The amusements," as already defined in the Bill, means: 59any swings or roundabouts or other fairground amusements.That would leave the Lord President free to say that the boating lake was all right, and that the Punch and Judy show and the children's playground were all right. If that is what the Committee desires, I suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn and we would insert some form of words like that, although, obviously, I am not now tying myself down to the exact form. If the Committee wants to apply the Sunday observance law without any further exceptions beyond those which the Bill already makes, then the Amendment should be carried.
§ Sir H. Williams
My knowledge of the law is only as I have learnt it from some years in this place, but it seems to me that if these words stay in, they would not make sense and would have no operative effect—that is why I proposed to leave them out; but if leaving them in pro tem will facilitate the researches of the Attorney-General, I am quite glad once again to ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
Before a decision is taken about leaving these words out, I cannot refrain from making a comment upon the gigantic humbug in which the Committee is now engaged in deciding what shall be the innocent amusements to be allowed, and those that ought not to be allowed on Sundays. Perhaps those who engaged in the majority decision last Tuesday might consult Mr. Martin for example, as to whether the new set of proposals which apparently we are willing to accept as doing no violence to our decision last Tuesday, and as doing no violence to our Sabbatarian conscience, would be within the general will and desire of the organisation that has had so much to do with pushing us into the decision that we took last week. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Hon. Members may call out "Rubbish," but we are all very well aware of the nature of the pressure that has been exercised—[An HON. MEMBER: "When?"]—on this occasion, and it would be a very good idea for those who have exercised the pressure, to look in close detail at the discussions in which we are now engaged.
60 If the Attorney-General is explaining that it would be all right to have Punch and Judy Shows on Sundays under the new arrangement, and perhaps a small zoological garden for the youngsters, or a boating lake and, maybe, a children's boat race—and these are the points under discussion—I want to make the strongest protest. Although I know as clearly as anyone else what was done last Tuesday, I want to make a strong protest against those who apparently, for good Sabbatarian reasons, pushed us one way so completely last Tuesday and have engaged all this time of the Committee in asking us to travel back and accept this and that proposal.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. James Stuart (Moray and Nairn)
Before the Amendment is withdrawn, I wish to say a word. I am not going into the controversy whether it is humbug or not, but the fact is that this was a decision of the Committee. What I suggest perfectly amicably to the Government is that, as the Home Secretary voted with the great majority, while the Lord President of the Council voted with the minority, it is perhaps worth the consideration of the Attorney-General whether "the Home Secretary" should be inserted, instead of "the Lord President of the Council."
§ Mr. H. Morrison
That either is a perfectly legitimate leg pull, or it is a reflection upon my quasi-judicial capacity. If it is a reflection upon my capacity to be quasi-judicial I resent it, and I repudiate it, because, if ever a man took trouble on the Second Reading of a Bill to make an impartial speech, I did so on this Bill. I had a tribute on that when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was speaking on the Fraudulent Mediums Bill on Friday. I think it very rough luck on me that this aspersion should be made by a former Chief Whip with whom I worked in the Coalition Government and for whom I have great respect.
On this Amendment I am frankly in this difficulty. On Tuesday I voted the other way—I am not going to whine about it at all, one must take defeat as well as victory. The House did decide by a distinct majority against any amusements in the Festival Gardens during the Festival of Britain. The Labour Party was split right down the middle on the issue with a majority against me, not a very big one but a very slight one. The Conservative Party, with the Whips off, 61 was almost absolutely solid—a remarkable achievement—almost absolutely solid against any amusements on Sundays in the Festival Gardens. Consequently, the majority against this was very big. I do not want to defy the House of Commons. The House of Commons made its decision and I am disposed to observe the result and, in view of that disposition—
§ Mr. Morrison
I have to. I know that, but there are such things as walking round a decision of the House. The right hon. Lady should know that from our joint experience in the Coalition Government.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
That is why I was very uncertain when I heard the suggestion. I thought the right hon. Gentleman was trying to walk round the decision come to last week.
§ Mr. Morrison
That was once done by a Coalition Government when the House decided for equal pay and two days later was compelled to reverse its decision. I was a party to that. But I must say that in this House I would not like to try that at all. I have too great a respect for the House of Commons and I would not in any way try to evade the decision the Committee reached last week. The House, as a Committee, reached a decision and knew what it was doing, and it is no good today trying to wriggle out of the decision reached last week.
The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), speaking for a party almost solidly united on the issue last week, now says he does not know what the view of his party is and warns us to be very careful. The alternatives are either to accept the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) which, I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend, is the logical consequence of what the House as a Committee did last week; and the alternative is to leave me and the Festival Board a clean discretion to act within certain understood limits.
§ Mr. Morrison
Outside the fair ground, within understood limits, which cannot 62 easily he defined in an Act of Parliament. I am prepared for it either way, but what I do not want is a situation in which I am to be shot at day by day as to whether I am evading the decision the House reached in Committee last week. I have had enough sharp shooting on this venture, and on this matter I shall be sensitive if I am to be accused day by day and week by week of evading a decision of the House of Commons.
Therefore, whilst I do not want to be dogmatic or harsh, I suggest that the best thing and the cleanest thing, in the light of what the Committee did last week, is for the Committee to implement what the Committee did last week and to carry this Amendment. I beg of the Committee not to try to have the best of both worlds or to sit on both sides of the fence. The House made a decision in Committee last week and on the whole I would sooner be relieved of the embarrassing situation of trying to balance the matter this way and the other.
§ Mr. Summers
The comments we have just heard from the Lord President of the Council prompt me to say what I have in mind which has not yet been referred to in this connection. As I understand it from a letter in "The Times" from Festival Gardens Limited, they made it clear that if the gardens as such were to be opened, they would have to charge some form of admission and they doubted whether they would get enough people if they did so because of the limited attractions—in their view—which would be available without opening the amusements park. I believe it would be most undesirable if it could be said that the only Sundays on which Battersea Park is closed were the Sundays during the course of the Festival of Britain. But it appears quite likely that one of the consequences of all this pother is that the gardens in Battersea Park may be closed on those Sundays when the Festival of Britain is being held.
I would regard that as a most unfortunate consequence. The suggestion is made that we should accept this Amendment and virtually forget the gardens altogether. I see no reason why people should be deprived of the opportunity of going into those gardens to enjoy the quite splendid improvements that have been made particularly for this Festival. More- 63 over, I see no reason why there should not be a concert in the gardens on Sundays—
§ The Attorney-General
If I can help the hon. Gentleman, I would point out that concerts are perfectly legal anyway.
§ Mr. Summers
Do I understand that the Attorney-General tells us that if a charge is made for admission to a place—and by a place I mean the Festival Gardens—and there was there held a concert, that would be a perfectly legal affair?
§ The Attorney-General
As I understand the law, certainly. I thought I made it perfectly clear. I tried to, but the hon. Member did not appreciate it in the two speeches I made before. Concerts are perfectly legal.
§ Mr. Summers
I am very glad to hear that. As far as the Lord President of the Council is concerned, he says there are only two ways of dealing with this business; either to shut up the gardens, or to give him discretion—
§ Mr. Morrison
I did not say that. Is the hon. Member capable of being impartial about this? I did not say "shut up the gardens." I do not know whether the gardens will be shut up or not and I am not uttering about that. I said that it is either to stand where the Committee stood last week, or to give me discretion.
§ Mr. Summers
I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman is so touchy about this. I am not attempting to be partial in any shape or form. All I am concerned with is to try to get a clear understanding of a position which is becoming increasingly complicated with every speech that is made. The right hon. Gentleman says he is frightened of the discretion which might be given to him, which, indeed, was given to him under his own Amendment—
§ Mr. Morrison
Really the hon. Member should listen and not put into my mouth adjectives and things I did not use. I did not say that. I did not say that I was incapable of being impartial. I am very capable of being impartial.
§ Mr. Summers
It is the Lord President of the Council who is not listening in this case. He made it quite clear with- 64 out a shadow of doubt that he did not wish to be accorded the discretion which his own Amendment on the Order Paper might result in him getting. He is being very touchy about this matter, as he has already shown us. He said "I have been sniped at; please do not put me in a position to be sniped at any more."
There is a very simple way out, and it is not necessary to adopt the other alternative which the Lord President mentioned. That simple way is to come to this House, as I believe should have been done in the first instance, and say, "We wish to do certain things in the Festival Gardens on Sunday, and we ask the permission of Parliament to do them." May I have the attention of the Lord President, and he will then perhaps know clearly what I am saying? The Attorney-General told us in one of the earlier debates that the difficulty was to make a sufficiently elaborate catalogue of objectionable features as to ensure that nothing was missed out, and that therefore a few were mentioned and the balance were to be dealt with in the form of discretion. I readily agree that it is quite an impossible task to make such a catalogue.
On the other hand, I do not see why it is not possible to make a positive catalogue of what is wanted. The time between now and when the Festival is to be opened is relatively short. Surely those responsible for what is to be done at Battersea next May already know what they would like to have the authority of this House to do? That would avoid entirely the question of discretion and the question of impracticable catalogues of objectionable features. That appears to me to be by far the most satisfactory way in which to proceed. I hope that this Amendment will be withdrawn—I hope that the right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of this Bill will read HANSARD tomorrow; they will not have any notion of what I am saying unless they do—and that the effect of this discussion will be that the Government will find a form of words which will enable the Gardens themselves to be opened without in any way, as my right hon. Friend has already said, offending the decision of this House in respect of the amusement park.
§ Mr. MacColl (Widnes)
I entirely agree that it would be wrong if those of us who 65 voted in the minority on the previous occasion were, in a fit of "sour grapes," so to speak, to try to taunt hon. Members who were in the majority on that occasion into spoiling the value of the Festival Gardens. But I think that they are being a little unfair to my right hon. Friend. They told us a great deal about the essential characteristics of the British way of life, which they were interpreting for us. They are now proposing to leave it to my right hon. Friend to decide what is in accordance with the British way of life and what is not.
One of them, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North (Mr. Peake), mentioned, when we were discussing a previous Amendment, that Leeds on a Sunday was a very dull place. He seemed to think that that was an argument for having further additions to the amenities on a Sunday. But surely the whole point about the British way of life on a Sunday is that it does not matter how dull it is, that one ought to be enjoying the amenities of one's home life, and that one should, therefore, not need any kind of external entertainment.
If we are so anxious, as is the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers), to keep the Festival Gardens open on Sunday, I cannot see how that can be done without offending some people, which is one of the things that we were told not to do. We were told that we must not take for ourselves powers that were not available for anyone who wanted to break the Sunday observance laws, and that we must not introduce alien influences. We were told it was wrong to have the fun fair open because it would have foreign forms of amusements. We are now told that concerts can be given. I do not know if it is proposed to have in such concerts works by foreign composers or excerpts from foreign operas, because that would not be demonstrating to our visitors any essential characteristic of the British way of life.
It is astonishing to be told that it will be possible to have concerts, because nothing could be more disturbing, I should have thought, than a concert. I find it rather disturbing to be told by people like the hon. Member for Aylesbury, who hold themselves out as interpreters of what is right and what is not right for a Christian to do on a Sunday, 66 that it is perfectly all right and in accordance with the British way of life on a Sunday for someone to go and hear at a concert an exceedingly bawdy comedian who has slipped pass the censorship—it is a problem which sometimes arises at so-called sacred concerts at public resorts; whereas if I, not being particularly musical, want to ride on a roundabout after going to church, I shall be doing something which would ravage the feelings of the British public—
§ Mr. Summers
I ask the hon. Member to read what I said last week—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why should he?"]—because he has made a false accusation in what he has just said, namely, that I have any desire to teach people what they should or should not do on a Sunday. Will the hon. Member bear in mind, in connection with the last point he has made, that we have been told that a concert in these Gardens on Sunday is legal, and that if that is so, no privileges will be accorded to the Government in that matter?
§ Mr. MacColl
But the hon. Gentleman was helped by a little free legal advice by the Attorney-General. Prior to that he was arguing that he would be happy to have concerts because he apparently regarded Sunday concerts as respectable.
My point is that there are some of us, who regard ourselves as perfectly good churchmen, and as sound Christians as any, with our defects, can hope to be, who regard it as perfectly legitimate that after going to church on a Sunday morning, we should go and ride on a roundabout. Other Members take an entirely different view. We should not leave it to my right hon. Friend to have to interpret whether or not a body of religious feeling will or will not be shocked by a Punch and Judy show, which attacks the sacred British institution of matrimony, which encourages recourse to violence at a time—[Laughter.]—it is all very well for hon. Gentlemen to laugh; we have often been told about the disquieting increase in crimes of violence, and that we ought to introduce corporal punishment because of it. If the criminal statistics rise, my right hon. Friend will be held responsible because he has allowed this pagan entertainment of Punch and Judy.
We must recognise the fact that, after what I can only regard as extravagant emotion, the Committee last Tuesday 67 came to a decision which I regard as wholly illogical and wholly wrong. But it has been taken, and for Members like the hon. Member for Aylesbury, who must take responsibility for that decision, to try to get out of the position they have created and say, "We will leave it to the Lord President to try to bring in one or two things by a side road and to damp down the effect of that decision," is to endeavour to place on my right hon. Friend an intolerable burden. It would be much better to leave the position as it is at the moment, in all its stark horror.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I adhere to what I said before. There is great force in what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). It would be undesirable for the Amendment to be withdrawn. I think that it would be better for the Committee to vote in the spirit of the free vote of last week, especially in view of the grave doubts of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). It is far better to settle this matter. If I might advise the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), and other hon. Members, I suggest that the Amendment should not be withdrawn and that the Committee should have a completely free vote.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman referred to me. I am not speaking for any party. There has never been any question of us having the party Whips on, nor have I been able to consult my hon. Friends in order to express a joint view. The right hon. Gentleman shows considerable sense in taking this line, because it would be impossible for him or any other Minister to be in the position of having to define, in front of a series of religious bodies and others, whether or not a Punch and Judy show on Sunday was suitable. I certainly would not allow myself to be put in that position.
If we let this Amendment pass, as I am disposed to do, we cut out of the Bill the words referred to in the Amendment. We want to be sure that when the Government look through the Bill again in the time between now and the Report stage they will consider whether it is in the correct legal form to avoid the two dangers either of leaving a complete discretion to the right hon. Gentleman or of landing us in a position which some 68 of us would regret. I should like further guidance on that.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich, South)
I suggest that the advice given by the Lord President is sound advice, though not perhaps exactly for the reason that he gave. In this matter I have a very considerable sympathy both with the Lord President and the Attorney-General who have sought to advise the Committee very fairly to the best of their ability. The only matter that puzzles me in the discussion we have had is the advice of the Attorney-General that this Amendment might be withdrawn. I cannot see that that would have any advantage for anybody, whatever his view of this matter.
The words that it is proposed by this Amendment to omit cannot make sense in the Bill as it now stands. They can only be made to make sense if a subsequent Amendment is moved on Report stage. As far as I can see, while I sympathise very much with the right hon. and learned Gentleman in his desire that the Committee should express an opinion on the point he put before us, it cannot express that opinion on this Amendment. That opinion can only be expressed when we see on the Order Paper the Amendment, if any, which some hon. or right hon. Gentleman will put down on Report stage.
The only argument I can see in favour of withdrawing the Amendment is that, if it is withdrawn, then we leave in the Bill what is at present complete nonsense, and that that will compel the Government to put down some Amendment on Report stage. I do not wish to compel the Government to do that. I wish the Government, their supporters, or any hon. Members who wish, to put down any Amendment they think fit on Report stage. Then it can be considered on its merits. It would be a great pity if we left in the Bill at the conclusion of the Committee stage words which, on the admission of everybody, make nonsense. For that reason, I hope that the view of the Lord President of the Council will be accepted and that the Amendment will not be withdrawn.
§ Sir R. Acland
I apologise for delaying the proceedings, but I have a serious point to put. I feel very strongly for the Lord President. I see his reason for wanting to get a decision from the Committee now, and I am glad to think that this Amendment will be put to a vote. But I hope that it will be defeated, for the reasons indicated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. I take it that the defeat of this Amendment would be an indication to the Government that we want them to consider how the Bill could be amended on Report stage so as to allow the Festival Gardens to be as attractive as possible, and to draw as many people as possible without offending against the spirit of the decision which the majority took last week.
Some of those who voted with the majority would like to see the boating lake open, the children's pets corner open and other facilities like that. I understand the Lord President's feeling that he would like the overwhelming majority of the Conservative Party, and such of my hon. Friends as the hon. Member for Cardiff. West (Mr. G. Thomas) and the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and others, to be faced next year with the full rigorous consequences of what I and the Lord President still regard as the rather misguided decision which they took last week.
I see the attractiveness of that proposition, but there is something else which impressed itself on my mind. I want to see the Festival Gardens become as near to a total success as can be made. I have seen the Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen. I regard it as being, morally and
§ physically, the healthiest form in which large numbers of people can get decent recreation on a small space that there is anywhere in Europe. If we could see something like that developing in our own country, we should want to see it not only in Battersea Park next year but in all our cities in other years.
§ I believe that there are many hon. Members who voted with the majority last week who would be willing and happy to see many different kinds of amenities developed in the Festival Gardens next summer, provided that those amenities were such as clearly catered for the choice of children. There is in my constituency a tiny railway with a little model train which runs up and down on lines and which is so constructed that only children can ride on it. I believe that large numbers who voted with the majority last week would be happy to see that kind of children's amusement. I suggest that this Amendment, if put to the vote, should be defeated in order to give the Government an indication that the Committee would like them to think again on those sort of lines.
§ The Chairman
I think the Committee is ready to come to a decision, but I would call attention to the fact that I am proposing to put the Question in a form slightly different from the original proposal, in order that, if the Amendment is lost, I may save the following Amendments. I hope that is clear.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to 'not' in line 29, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 97, Noes, 207.71
|Division No. 9.]||AYES||[5.30 p.m.|
|Albu, A. H.||Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)|
|Balfour, A.||Deer, G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Bartley, P.||Delargy, H. J.||Janner, B.|
|Benn, Hon. A. N. Wedgwood||Dodds, N. N.||Jay, D. P. T|
|Beswick, F.||Donnelly, D.||Jeger, G. (Goole)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Driberg, T. E. N.||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Dye, S.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bower, N.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||King, H. M.|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Ewart, R.||Lindsay, Martin|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fernyhough, E.||Longden, F. (Small Heath)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Field, Capt. W. [...]||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wigh[...])|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McLeavy, F.|
|Coldrick, W.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Collick, P.||Gilzean, A.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Hudderfield, E.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. G.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Crawley, A.||Greenwood, Anthony W. J. (Rossendale)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Moeran, E. W.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hale, J. (Rochdale)||Morley, R.|
|Daines, P.||Hall, J. (Galeshead, W.)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Orbach, M.||Simmons, C. J.||While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Pannell, T. C.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Popplewell, E.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Witley, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Rankin, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Sylvester, G. O.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Yates. V. F.|
|Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Sir Richard Acland and|
|Royle, C.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Mr. Leslie Hale.|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tivarton)||Heald, L. F.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Heath, E. R.||Paton, J|
|Ayles, W. H.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Pearson, A.|
|Bell, R. M.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Perkins, W. R. O.|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)||Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Poole, Cecil|
|Black, C. W.||Hobson, C. R.||Porter, G.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wetis[...])||Holman, P.||Price, H. A (Lewisham, W.)|
|Booth, A.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Pursey, Comdr. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Braine, B.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hyde, H. M.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Burton, Miss E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roper, Sir H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Russell, R. S.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Champion, A. J.||Keenan, W.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Channon, H.||Kinley, J.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Clunie, J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Slater, J.|
|Clyde, J. L.||Leather, E. H. C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lee, F. (Newton)||Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)|
|Colegate, A.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)|
|Collindridge, F.||Llewellyn, D.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Longden, G. J. M. (Herts, S.W.)||Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Low, A. R. W||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||McAdden, S. J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||MacColl, J. E.||Storey, S.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Mack, J. D.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Mackeson, Brig [...]. R.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Crouch, R. F.||McKibbin, A.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip-Northwood)||Maclay, Hon J. S.||Summers, G. S.|
|Cundiff, F. W.||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling[...])||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Drewe, C.||Maitland, Comdr J. W.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir [...]. (Richmond)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Tilney, John|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mellor, Sir J.||Tomney, F.|
|Follick, M.||Molson, A. H. E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Fort, R.||Moody, A. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Foster, J. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Moyle, A.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Murray, J. D.||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Nabarro, G.||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Neal, H.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Nicholson, G.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Grey, C. F.||Noble, Comdr A. H. P.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Grimston, Hon. J. (St Albans)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Hannan, W.||Nutting, Anthony||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Oakshott, H. D.||Wigg, George|
|Hargreaves, A.||Odey, G. W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harris, R. R. (Heston)||Oliver, G. H.||Wills, G.|
|Harrison, J.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harvey, Air-Codre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Orr-Ewing Ian L. (Weston-super-Marr)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hay, John||Padley, W. E.||Sir Herbert Williams and|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Mr. Deedes.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Remaining words left out.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I should like to ask the Lord President whether he intends to bring forward any proposals in relation to subsection (1. b) such as were earlier suggested by the right hon. and learned Attorney-General, who indicated that a certain amount of recasting of Clause 1 might be necessary. I am inquiring whether he is intending to make any such recasting or not.
§ The Attorney-General
No, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is mistaken. What I said was that if the Amendment were rejected and it was the sense of the Committee that a boating lake or some similarly innocent amenity should be permitted, then we should have to have some recasting of the earlier part of the Clause because the words in subsection (4), standing alone, would be mere nonsense, as the hon. and learned Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) pointed out. If those words had been left in we could, on Report, have associated them in some recasting of the earlier part of the Bill permitting a children's corner and a boating lake. But the Committee have now, in effect, voted against these things, so we would not propose to introduce any further Amendment to the Bill in that regard. No doubt it would be possible for others to do so.
§ Mr. Higgs (Bromsgrove)
There is one other point on this Clause on which I would like to ask the Lord President a question. He said at an earlier stage that this might be the time for considering matters of detail. One of the parts of the Festival for the opening of which we have voted on Sundays is the Architectural Exhibition in the East End of London. In information which has been circulated to hon. Members, we are told that that will consist of 30 acres near the East India Docks and that in 1951 it will become a thriving community. It will consist of flats, houses, shops, schools, two churches—one Roman Catholic and one Congregational—an old people's home, a market place, and, last but not least, three public-houses.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the intention is there on Sundays, 74 because he told the House, in answer to a Question which I put down the other day, that those houses and flats are to be occupied. The tenants will be living in them when the time comes, and it follows that the schools and churches on the Sundays when the Festival is open will be used as Sunday schools and that people will be going to evening service. Indeed, it says in the literature that it is to be a live exhibition. I wish to know whether careful consideration has been given to the people who will be living in those houses and flats and to the people who will be going to those churches and Sunday schools and using those public houses on Sundays. Is it right that they should be a live exhibition seven days a week for six months in the year, and should not some consideration be given to limiting that part of the Festival on a Sunday, if not excluding it altogether?
Information which we have, and which has been circulated to us, gives us some idea of what will be going on there, but not perhaps sufficient to enable us to make a decision. Therefore, at this stage and in a probing spirit, I would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman and the Festival authorities have given any consideration to this, and whether they are satisfied that that part of the Festival will not, on Sundays, be a great intrusion upon the people who are living and have their being in those. 30 acres.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I do not think so. It may comfort the House if I say that this is in no way a part of the amusement park it is a totally different thing. It is an architectural exhibition to illustrate modern British town planning and what can be done in the way of town planning, housing, schools, and so on. I do not see why people should not have a look round on a Sunday. Obviously, they will not look into people's private apartments without their consent. But this is permitted under the Bill as it stands. There is nothing to prevent it on a Sunday at all. Indeed, the House has really authorised it. The only thing it has cut out is the amusement park. I do not think there is any need to be apprehensive about the nuisance to people in the neighbourhood; indeed, from what I know of the people of the East End of London they will be most happy for people to come and look at it.
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I wish to put a further question to the right hon. Gentleman. It is quite a short point and one about which I think he will be able to satisfy my doubts, at any rate. It is the consideration given to the time of opening, or what is the proposal with regard to it. The words of the Clause provide that the opening shall be on Sundays not earlier than 12.30 in the afternoon. It seems to me, particularly with regard to the latter point with which the right hon. Gentleman was dealing—the question of people going to the Architectural Exhibition on a Sunday—that that time is too early. It will be just about the time when the residents in that part of the Exhibition are having their dinner, and so forth. It is not nice to be a part of a show when one is having one's Sunday dinner.
With regard to the rest of the Exhibition, which is also to be open on a Sunday, I think it would be helpful if the Lord President could tell us what were the considerations upon which the hour of 12.30 was arrived at as the earliest time of opening. Is it intended to open the Exhibition at that hour or is it intended, in all probability, to make the earliest possible time of opening after the normal dinner time? That hour is likely to conflict, to some extent, with attendance at church on a Sunday morning.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Lord President can answer between now and the Report Stage whether the result of carrying this last Amendment will be to close down the Festival Gardens altogether on a Sunday. We should be told, because if they are to be open some of us may want to table some appropriate Amendments on the Report stage.
Can my right hon. Friend tell us if chess would be permitted in the Gardens on Sunday, provided that "check" was given by dumb-show and that the traditional method of resigning by kicking over the table was not permitted? I feel that with these safeguards it could be sincerely said that if that were so no real offence would be given to residents 300 yards away. Can he also say whether we can have a childrens' paddling pool open, with boats of not more than six ounces tonnage? It is a difficult thing to put, but I think hon. Members will understand 76 the image I want to convey. If it were strictly laid down that smiling would be prohibited, that laughter would be punished by fines and that chortles of joy would be punished by fine and imprisonment under a by-law, I think we could save a little from the wreckage of this afternoon's work.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
No doubt these points will be considered, especially by the few of the Opposition who on the Amendment a few minutes ago were almost solidly anti-opening. I should not like to express an opinion about them on my own responsibility just now. With regard to whether the Festival Gardens will be open at all, I will consider the point my hon. Friend has raised, but it is a matter primarily for the Board of Festival Gardens Limited who, of course, have business responsibility for the management of the Gardens. I have no doubt they have to consider the managerial and financial repercussions of the decision of the Committee last week, and I should not like to say anything that would prejudice their point of view.
As regards the point raised by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks), the provisions in the Bill are that nothing can be opened before 12.30 on Sunday. It is not obligatory that everything should be opened at precisely 12.30 on Sunday, and I see his point with regard to this residential area. I do not want to give a ruling or a decision, but I will see that notice is taken of this point.
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks
Were the Churches' Advisory Council in agreement with the hour of 12.30 as the earliest?
§ Mr. Morrison
Yes, Sir. The Churches' Advisory Council were in agreement with the opening of everything at 12.30 and after, provided the amusement park was not open at all.
§ Mr. Summers
There Is one point I should like to raise with regard to the Pleasure Gardens, particularly in the hope that it will be taken up by Festival Gardens Limited before they come to make a decision. They suggested that they might find difficulty in keeping the gardens open because a charge would have to be made and because there is said to be so little to attract people there on Sunday that it might not be worth their keeping open at all. I think that point is worth a 77 moment's examination. If in fact all this planning and gardening in Battersea Park is to produce nothing exceptional, or nothing sufficient to attract people to pay an entrance fee to come in on a Sunday, then what right is there to charge an entrance fee on weekdays? Because the only difference between weekdays and Sundays is the existence of the amusement park.
§ The Chairman
This Clause relates solely to Sundays. I do not think the question of weekdays can arise.
§ Mr. Summers
With respect, Major Milner, it would be relevant surely to point out that if a charge is justified on a weekday, or if it can be shown that a charge is not justified on a weekday, then the same practice should be followed on a Sunday for precisely the same thing. My point relates purely to the threat to shut the Gardens on a Sunday owing to the alleged difficulty in charging for admission. I think that point is quite relevant and it will only take a moment for me to complete my argument.
If there is nothing to justify a charge to go into the Gardens as such then it becomes nothing but an ad hoc Purchase Tax conferring the right to go in and spend one's money subsequently in the Amusement Park. I suggest that is not the proper way to look at it and there is proper justification for the charge both during the week and Sundays. If the Festival is going to be as successful as we hope it will be, there is every reason why the Gardens should be kept open and I hope they will be.
§ Mr. Gibson (Clapham)
Some people seem to think that the Architectural Exhibition in Poplar is similar to the Battersea Park fun fair where one has to pay to go in. In fact, it will be a series of public streets and the public will have a right to go there at any time, day or night. As one who was concerned with this matter in its very early days, I must say that nobody in the London County Council, at any rate, envisages hordes of strangers from abroad invading the flats in which the dockers of Poplar live. They will have the right—and I hope they will exercise it—to wander about the streets and the wonderful market place which is being built there, to see the effects of London housing and architecture; and they will be able to go into flats and 78 houses which are not completed to study the method of construction and so on.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
Will they be able to visit the public houses and get a drink on Sundays?
§ Mr. Gibson
I have no doubt the brewers will watch that very carefully, and, of course, the dockers will want to know whether they are open or not. I hope it will be made clear that in the area in Poplar which is classified as an Architectural Exhibition, those parts which are completed and occupied by tenants are sacred to the tenants and that people can go along and look at the outside but not wander in and out of people's flats. I understand that there will be uncompleted buildings to show the style of construction, which can be visited by arrangement by those interested. I hope that the Lord President is not going to be credited with the intention to enclose an area where one would have to pay to go in. That is completely false. Any such plan would meet with the opposition of the people of Poplar and Stepney.
§ Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
In view of the very clear explanation given, will the Government consider, before the Report stage, whether subsection (2, d) ought to be in this Bill at all? All the arguments put forward have shown that there is really nothing to fear from the opening of the Architectural Exhibition in Poplar, because nothing is being charged for admission and people in the area will be free to wander the streets.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) will certainly be entitled to walk round the streets and even go into the public houses, which will be open during the ordinary permitted hours, in the course of his lawful occasions. My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) was also right that the ordinary community centre, as it were, would be open to everybody who wishes to go there without charge. Of course, nobody would be entitled to go into anybody's house in that part of Poplar, any more than in any other part of Poplar. On the other hand, there will be at least two enclosures, one of which, for instance, will show houses built to the accepted standards of jerrybuilding with which we were familiar before the war. The other will be built 79 in accordance with the modern and up-to-date standards and amenities for which in these last five years the Labour Government are so justly credited.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Will there also be a vacant piece of ground for the houses which have not been built by the Labour Government?
§ The Attorney-General
Yes, there will be pieces of ground on which provision will be made for the other amenities, including community centres, which have been built by the Labour Government as part of the general system of town and country planning, and we shall contrast in this way how houses can be built with proper amenities, built to last, with the old method of jerry building. That is going to be called the Building Research Pavilion; it will no doubt be of great historical and practical interest, and some small charge will be made for admission to it. In addition, there will be another pavilion or enclosure to which the charge for admission will also apply, which will deal with the history and development of town and country planning; but as to the community area as a whole, entrance for that is free, although, of course, nobody will be allowed to commit any trespass.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
How much of this ought to be charged to the party funds of the Government will provide a very interesting piece of research on which I have no doubt the legal pundits will begin immediately, in view of the declaration of the Attorney-General. No doubt, it will cause some interesting repercussions upon the election expenses of the London candidates.
1 think it is a slight pity that the Attorney-General should have dragged his coat so vigorously up and down the Floor of the Committee; no doubt, he expects it to be trodden on pretty heavily, as indeed it will be. I hope that in the town and country planning exhibition there will be exhibits of houses of perfectly respectable citizens being torn down in order that roads should be constructed to lead to houses which are not yet there. I trust that a graph will be given showing the number of people engaged upon housing in the new towns and the pathetic few people for whom houses may be expected to be completed. I trust also that a figure 80 will be given showing the number of houses which were intended to be built under the aegis of the Labour Government—500,000 or 600,000 a year—and the number which has actually been built.
The Attorney-General has opened up a very large vista for the Committee this afternoon, and I must say that he has departed very far from the attempts of his right hon. Friend the Lord President to keep the matter on a non-party and unbiased keel. Anything less unbiased than the remarks of the Attorney-General would be difficult to conceive. I trust that he will include those remarks in the category to which he drew the attention of the House last week—those unfortunate remarks made by himself in the heat of the moment, and which he subsequently withdrew, when he was greatly indebted to the good will of the House for the gracious way in which they accepted his apology. I am sure no one wishes to be hard on him, and if, after reflection, he wishes to withdraw these remarks I am sure the Committee will be most glad and willing to accept his withdrawal. Otherwise, I must say it will go down on the record as a very unfortunate example of party manners.
§ The Attorney-General
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman really does take himself a little too seriously. He is himself doing valuable service on the Council of the Festival of Britain, and I have no doubt that he will see that whatever is provided in the Poplar exhibition of architecture is suitably impartial and appropriate. I ought to have added for the information of the Committee that children under 15 will be admitted at half price; children under five will not be admitted at all.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I would not have intervened in this debate but for the observations of the Attorney-General. I hope that the Committee will not part from this Clause until some responsible member of the Government Front Bench gets up and indicates that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's observations are not to be taken seriously. We have been told again and again by the Lord President that this Festival is a national occasion. That has been repeated I think at least weekly, and now we have the right hon. And 81 learned Gentleman standing at that Box telling the Committee that one of the features of the Poplar exhibition is to be a deliberately conceived bit of party propaganda. [Laughter.] If hon. Members opposite do not regard a house of excellent construction, exhibited as one constructed by the Socialist Government, with a contrasting exhibit of poor construction, alleged to have been constructed—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
The hon. Member is going rather beyond the Clause.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
With great respect, Sir Charles, we are discussing among other things Clause 1 (2, d) which relates to the Exhibition of Architecture, Poplar. We have been told from the Government Front Bench that one of the main purposes of this part of the Exhibition is to further the political aims of the Socialist Party.
§ The Attorney-General rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am on a point of order. We have been told by the senior Minister present that what we have so far believed to be part of a national Festival is a purely party exhibition. That being so, with respect, surely it is in order to submit that while Sunday opening may be perfectly permissible in respect of a national exhibition, it is infinitely less permissible if the whole obect of the thing is a party ramp. The right hon. and learned Gentleman apparently desires to intervene. Unless he is prepared to say that his remarks were an exhibition of an ill-timed sense of humour, I do not think we should allow this Clause to go forward. It should not go on record from a Minister of the Crown that the money voted by Parliament for this purpose as part of a national Festival is in part to be used in a crude attempt to secure votes for the Socialist Party.
§ Sir R. Acland
I think that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) is a little bit touchy. He and his colleagues must accept the fact that in these days a great many things such as the mining of coal, the running of railways and so on are done by the community. A great many other things, such as the building of houses, are done by private enterprise under the direction 82 of the community. When things are done by or under the direction of the community, and we have a Festival of Britain, it is right that we should show those things. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) says that if we show anything done by the Government, or under the Government's control, then, if we show what is good, we must, to be impartial, show side by side with it everything that anybody can say is bad. Would he apply that test to the things exhibited by private enterprise? I understand that a great many things are being exhibited at the Festival which have been made by private enterprise.
§ Sir R. Acland
That is quite an interesting suggestion. Could we apply the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's test to private enterprise, because I understand that, with the full concurrence of all those who are supporting it and of those who have Socialist opinions, we intend to exhibit British private enterprise at its best. We are to exhibit its best products. Would the Opposition want us to exhibit, for the sake of complete party impartiality, all its worst products and its worst consequences? If there is to be exhibited something which has been produced by the shipbuilding industry and which is to the credit of that industry—as I think should be the case—are we to exhibit, side by side with it, graphs and tables showing what the shipbuilding industry did to Jarrow? Surely not. Turning to the electrical industry, if we are to show its good products, should we also show, side by side—
§ Sir R. Acland
My argument is clear enough, and I will abandon it at this point.
While I am on my feet, however, there is another point I want to make in respect of what was said earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale), who asked that, in the next few days, a spokesman of the Government should consult with those responsible for the Festival and, at the 83 beginning of the Report stage, give a clear-cut statement on whether, as things now stand, the Festival Gardens will be opened on Sunday. That would be relevant to many decisions we have to make. I have a personal reason for asking for such a statement. I have just bought my 1951 diary and I want to know whether I am to keep an engagement which I have made to preach a sermon in the Battersea Park Festival Gardens on 8th July.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
I am extremely sorry that the Attorney-General made the remarks which he did make.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
It is not humbug at all. I am entitled to give my view. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is usually most fair in these matters and I think his remarks were most unfortunate. In time he will regret them, as he regretted one other remark he made a few years ago. If the present Government are in power—and they may not be—I suggest that they should also have at the Research Exhibition placards showing all the statements made by the Minister of Health—that the back of the housing programme would be broken, and so on. I suggest that pre-war rents and prices should be exhibited parallel with present prices. I hope that, on reflection, the Attorney-General will think better of what he said and will withdraw it.
§ The Attorney-General
I should be very sorry to occupy the time of the Committee, Sir James—[Laughter.] I apologise, Sir Charles; I am afraid I am always making these mistakes, although, when I do so, I am sure that it will not be long before I have the correct and noble title! I should be sorry to waste time longer on this matter. The Committee appeared to be in a slightly frivolous mood, but I realise now more than I did earlier how dangerous it is to make a joke in the presence of the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and I are quite familiar, as I thought was the whole Committee, with what is to be exhibited, and what is proposed at Poplar: the real point of our discussion was the question of payment for admission.
84 There will be two pavilions and I think every hon. Member has received from the Festival authorities rather detailed particulars of what is to be provided in those two pavilions. In one there is to be the exhibition of town planning and in the other—and I must say that I cannot see that this involves any political question at all—there is to be an exhibition of all the evils of jerrybuilding, which are condemned as much by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove, if not by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, as they are condemned upon this side of the Committee. There is to be an exhibition of all the developments and modern research which have resulted in better building methods being used. There is nothing political in that, and I did not intend to suggest that there was. I am very sorry that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames and the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield—of whom I really thought better—should have taken my rather obvious joke so seriously.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has sat down."]—may I suggest that the next time he intends to make a joke of this character he should recall the saying of one of his predecessors that a joke in his mouth is no laughing matter.
§ The Attorney-General
If it pleases the hon. Gentleman, I will give serious consideration to submitting anything which even verges upon flippancy to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames before I open my mouth about it.
§ Major H. Johnson (Brighton, Kemptown)
I will not detain the Committee for more than two minutes. The point I have to raise may be a false one and, if so, I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will interrupt me in order to save time. As I understand the position, certain parts of the Festival—what one might term the cultural things—are to be opened in London on Sundays. I am concerned about towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Liverpool and my own constituency, Brighton, and other towns which are having provincial festivals. I should like to have an explanation from the Attorney-General as to why—
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported with Amendments; as amended, to be considered on Wednesday next, and to be printed [Bill 45].