HC Deb 07 March 1957 vol 566 cc515-6
17 and 18. Mr. J. Eden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what representations he has received from the National Union of Retail Confectioners in opposition to the Shops Bill; and what answer he returned.

(2) what percentage of the total trade of retail confectioners is done after 7 p.m.; and what he estimates will be the effect on this trade of compulsorily closing shops at 7 p.m.

Mr. Simon

The National Union of Retail Confectioners, while recording their appreciation that the Bill would continue to allow the sale of sweets and chocolates on Sundays and the afternoon of the early closing day, represented to me that some 15 per cent. of the confectionery trade is done after 7 p.m. and that a compulsory closing time of 7 p.m. would force a great many sweet shops out of business. My right hon. Friend informed the union on 19th February that, as stated by my noble Friend the Minister of Education during Committee stage of the Bill in another place, the Government intend to make provision in the Bill for the sale of confectionery outside the general closing hours.

Mr. Eden

While welcoming my hon. and learned Friend's reply, may I ask whether he will endeavour to persuade his right hon. Friend not to legislate specifically for the retail confectioners so that they have to alter in any way the present terms and conditions on which they are entitled to sell confectionery? Is it considered desirable even to contemplate shortening the hours during which they are able to sell their confectionery? Why, apart from the National Union of Retail Confectioners, is it necessary to consider making any alterations in the closing time for shops?

Mr. Simon

I would ask my hon. Friend to be good enough to await the terms of the Amendment that is proposed for the Report stage of the Bill in another place.

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