HC Deb 04 June 1951 vol 488 cc755-6

7.7 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas)

I beg to move, That the Order made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, extending Section I of the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, to the Borough of Bebington, a copy of which was laid before this House on 31st May, be approved. The purpose of this Order is to empower the Borough of Bebington to allow Sunday cinemas. The procedure is as laid down in the Ninth Schedule to the Local Government Act, 1933, and in the Sunday Cinematograph Entertainment (Polls) Order, 1932. In accordance with the procedure laid down, a public meeting was held in Bebington which voted against Sunday opening. More than 100 electors demanded a poll, which was duly held on 14th April. There were 3,047 votes for Sunday opening and 2,101 against. Thus there was a majority of just under 1,000 in favour of Sunday opening. This reversed a decision taken in 1946. The Home Secretary is satisfied that the statutory requirements have been complied with and he is under a duty to lay this Order before Parliament.

7.9 p.m.

Mr. Oakshott (Bebington)

As this Regulation affects my constituency, I wish to say a few words, particularly in view of the fact that, as the Under-Secretary of State has said, this reverses a previous decision. I am not concerned with the rights and wrongs of Sunday opening, but only to emphasise that the local authority has acted perfectly properly throughout. At a poll in 1946 the verdict was that the cinemas should not open on Sundays. On no less than five occasions between July, 1947, and November, 1949, the local authority refused to re-open the matter when requested to do so. It was only after a canvass by an interested section that they decided that there was such a change of opinion as would justify the holding of this poll.

In that canvass people were employed who were customarily employed by the local authority in elections, and they could not be said to have any bias. I am concerned only to emphasise, in view of things that have sometimes been said outside, that in this case there is no question but that the local authority acted absolutely properly and in full compliance with the statutory requirements placed upon them.

Question put, and agreed to.