HC Deb 20 June 1951 vol 489 cc663-4

10.43 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That the Order made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, extending Section 1 of the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, to the Borough of Batley, a copy of which Order was laid before this House on 15th June, be approved. The purpose of this Order is to extend the Act to the Borough of Batley, and to empower the licensing authority to allow Sunday cinemas. The procedure under the Act is well known to the House. I would not intervene, even for a minute, were it not for an unusual feature which I shall mention in a moment.

The procedure is laid down in the Schedule to the Act of 1932, in the Ninth Schedule to the Local Government Act of 1933, and in the Sunday Cinematograph Entertainments (Polls) Order of 1933. In accordance with this procedure, a public meeting was held on 9th April, and voted against Sunday opening. Again in accordance with this procedure, more than 100 voters having demanded a poll, this was held on 21st April, when 4,500 electors voted for Sunday opening, and 3,600 voted against. There was a majority of 900 in favour of Sunday opening. This reversed a decision taken in 1946, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is satisfied that the statutory requirements have been complied with, and that it is his duty to lay the Order before Parliament.

10.45 p.m.

Dr. Broughton (Batley and Morley)

As this Order affects the Borough of Batley, which is part of my constituency, as well as my native town, I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to say a few words on this subject tonight. This Order reverses a previous decision made in 1946. The Under-Secretary has given the House the figures at the recent poll and one of those votes was mine. But I am not disposed to disclose the way in which I voted. Nor have I any intention of discussing now the rights or wrongs of the Sunday opening of cinemas. All I wish to do is to draw attention further to the fact that the local authority acted in a perfectly proper way throughout.

In 1946 a verdict against Sunday opening of cinemas was given by the people of Batley, both at a public meeting and at a poll. Recently, when the question was again raised, the Borough Council sought to ascertain the wishes of the people on this non-political but highly controversial subject. A public meeting was held at which the majority voted against Sunday cinemas. Consequently, as explained by the Under-Secretary, the electorate was invited to register its votes on 21st April. By a majority of 900 the people decided in favour of Sunday opening. I have given this brief account of events in order to make it abundantly clear that the Batley Borough Council acted quite properly and in full compliance with the Statutory requirements.