HC Deb 06 July 1960 vol 626 cc519-37

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Redhead

I beg to move, in page 3, line 38, at the end to insert: (2) Any such licence as is mentioned in the last foregoing subsection may be granted in Great Britain for the sale of tobacco by retail from a registered goods vehicle the property of and plying from the premises of the person authorised to sell tobacco at those premises and accordingly the said section one hundred and eighty-seven shall have effect from the end of September, nineteen hundred and sixty, with the addition immediately after subsection (3) of the said section of the following subsection:— (3A) Notwithstanding anything in the said subsection (2), a licence under this section may be granted in Great Britain, subject to such conditions as the Commissioners think fit to impose, so as to authorise the sale of tobacco by retail from a registered goods vehicle specified in the licence and being the property of and plying from the premises of the person authorised to sell tobacco at those premises; and this Act shall have effect accordingly as if the vehicle specified in a licence so granted were premises of the person authorised to sell tobacco there". The purpose of this Amendment is to give effect to a suggestion made during the Committee stage when we had under consideration the modest reform of the tobacco dealers' licences proposed by the Chancellor, a suggestion which the Economic Secretary promised to consider again having already had it under consideration in connection, I believe, with an informal approach to the Treasury.

The intention of the Amendment is to make it possible for a tobacco dealers' licence to be issued in respect of mobile shops and vehicles. As was explained in Committee, the tobacco dealers' licence duty was not orginally devised for revenue purposes as such but solely as a means of control to safeguard for the revenue the amount due on tobacco. It is and always has been a form of registration of legitimate traders in tobacco in order that Customs and Excise officials may be able to identify the legitimate outlets of tobacco and thus check on any illicit sales of uncustomed or stolen tobacco, and, in effect, to have some measure of control over the possibility of adulteration of tobacco which is itself an offence.

The original provision of the law in this regard—I believe it goes back for more than 100 years—stipulated that such licence should be issued only in respect of fixed premises. There was, I think, legitimate cause in those days for relating such licences to fixed premises when otherwise there was a considerable risk of the hawking of tobacco which, if the licence was not restricted to such premises, might well have gone undetected in the evasion of the main duty. With minor exceptions that restriction has been applied rigidly ever since and, indeed, interpreted by the Customs and Excise Department in a very rigid fashion. It is the submission of my hon. Friends and myself that that rigidity is no longer necessary, no longer called for, from any reasonable consideration of safeguarding the revenue.

Today in many parts of the country there exist mobile shops, a feature which was quite unknown when this law was first promulgated. The shops are operated from vehicles and vans over a wide area, even in urban areas, and fulfil a public need by carrying a considerable variety of goods. But as the law now stands they are not permitted to deal in tobacco and cigarettes because, as mobile vehicles, they cannot be licensed for this purpose.

The present position is clearly absurd. For example, it is perfectly permissible for me to place an order at the premises or the shop of a tobacco dealer duly and properly licensed, and for the tobacco and cigarettes which I have ordered to be delivered by van to my house. No offence is committed. But for the van man to make a casual sale in the course of selling other goods at my house would be to commit an offence because the transaction, technically, did not take place at the licensed premises. The van man would commit the heinous offence of what is known as tobacco hawking by engaging in any such practice. I suggest that there is already a considerable degree of evasion of this provision, and the absence of an ability to gain a licence because of the restrictions of the law only encourages a degree of connivance on the part of both the trader and the public.

It is perfectly possible to obtain tobacco, and cigarettes on a train, but it is quite illegal to obtain them by way of a mobile vehicle plying on the highway and calling at households. In order to preserve at least an adherence to the law and yet to make some degree of concession to common sense in this matter, the Customs and Excise Department has been compelled from time to time to connive at various queer devices to make it possible to issue a licence in respect of some traders who wish to deal perfectly legitimately in tobacco and cigarettes, devices which, frankly, make the average person look upon the present provisions as an extraordinary degree of fussy red tape.

I can give an example of a coffee stall which, because it was on wheels, was not permitted to have a tobacco dealer's licence. The Customs and Excise Department said to the owner, "You can put yourself right if you arrange for the wheels to be sunk in the earth, or remove the wheels, or lash the vehicle firmly to stakes driven into the ground. Then we shall be prepared to regard the coffee stall, although theoretically mobile, as constituting fixed premises for which a licence may be issued." Devices of that kind are really absurd. They ought not to be resorted to in order to remove what clearly are silly restrictions in these days.

During the course of our discussion of Clause 6 in Committee, the Economic Secretary made a point of the fact that there still exists today a degree of trafficking in uncustomed and stolen tobacco. I do not know to what extent that still obtains. He gave that reason, quite understandably, as one why we must still maintain the system of tobacco dealers' licences. I suggest that the risks in this particular respect would be in no wise rendered greater by allowing licences to be issued in respect of registered vehicles as proposed in this Amendment, particularly as under the Amendment this would be limited to registered goods vehicles plying from premises which are themselves duly licensed for tobacco retailing.

The Amendment contemplates that in order to ensure any further requisite safeguards, the Commissioners might lay down such conditions in attachment to such licences as they may feel necessary. That, I suggest, would ensure that it would he perfectly possible to have a cross-check and cross-reference of the stock carried by any licensed shop or mobile vehicle in relation to the records of the tobacco dealer's fixed premises. Therefore, any risks in this regard would be of the most minimal character. I submit that all the essentials of adequate control in this connection would be well maintained within the provisions contained in the Amendment.

In Clause 6 originally, the Chancellor introduced a very modest but very sensible administrative reform in regard to this ancient licence duty. I hope that he may be persuaded not to limit his reforming zeal to that but to be prepared to accept the Amendment, which I am certain would remove a very irksome restriction on legitimate and reputable traders. It would remove something which in the minds of the public is an impediment to good service to them and regarded as a piece of fussy and unnecessary red tape.

Mr. Barber

The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead) has, as usual, put his case in support of the Amendment with complete fairness. I can add that it also has the attraction that this proposed Amendment would involve a modest increase in revenue, which I have not the slightest doubt would be very valuable this year.

As the hon. Member said, the effect of the Amendment would be to authorise the issue of licences for the sale of tobacco by retail from registered goods vehicles specified in the licence and the property of and plying from the premises of the person authorised to sell tobacco on his premises.

Last year, the Co-operative Union Ltd. approached my right hon. Friend the then Economic Secretary with a request that the law should be amended to allow tobacco and cigarettes to be sold from its mobile shops. The outcome was that my right hon. Friend asked the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to inquire into the proposal and report back to him. The Commissioners saw representatives of the Co-operative Union and the National Union of Retail Tobacconists and, in due course, they reported. I saw that report in, I think, April of this year. I considered as carefully as I could the whole question. I came to the conclusion that a case had not been made for the extension which they had requested.

Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent. North)


Mr. Barber

May I be allowed to proceed with my speech? I did not interrupt the hon. Member who moved the Amendment.

The next thing which occurred was that, when we were discussing Clause 6 of the Bill in Committee, this matter was raised again. I promised to look into it, but explained to the Committee that, in view of the very recent examination, I could not hold out any great hope of the possibility of anything being done in this year's Finance Bill.

I have genuinely given this matter further consideration since that time. I have to tell the House that it involves very difficult considerations. It is not an easy matter to determine whether or not it would be right and proper, and safe, to allow the sale from goods vehicles in the manner provided for by this Amendment.

Those hon. Members who were here at the time will remember that, in 1951, the Labour Government introduced a modest extension of the law, which was debated at some length, to allow licences for mobile vehicles to meet an exceptional and temporary need. I have not the slightest doubt that at the time when this matter was being considered by that Government they naturally took into account the various considerations which were relevant in connection with a further extension of the kind which has now being suggested by the hon. Member.

From the point of view of the consumer, the first thing to bear in mind is that there are at present ample outlets for the sale of tobacco. It is true that in certain places they are limited in number and there is difficulty, but there are 420,000 tobacconists with shops, that is to say, there is about one licence for every 40 smokers. From the revenue point of view, to which the hon. Member referred—

Mrs. Slater

May I ask whether due consideration has been given to the consumer? These mobile shops operate mostly on large new housing estates, where the provision of ordinary shops is very inadequate. This means that the consumer on such a housing estate may get his groceries delivered to his door, but cannot get tobacco or cigarettes delivered. This seems to be an exceptional case in which the consumer has the right to be considered.

Mr. Barber

I entirely agree with the hon. Lady that the point of view of the consumer is of great importance in this context, but I would remind her again that the Labour Government, in 1951, took specific steps to try, so far as they thought reasonable and proper, to help in those circumstances by allowing licences to be issued to mobile shops to meet an exceptional and temporary need.

I realise that—not through any tough interpreation of the law by the Customs and Excise, but by a proper interpretation—because of the wording, the provision "exceptional and temporary need" does not help in every case. At any rate, it was thought in those days that this was as far as it was reasonable to go. There was a long debate, and the proposal was opposed by many of my hon. Friends who were then on the other side of the House, but in the end the House decided that this was right.

7.0 p.m.

I was dealing with the point raised by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West about the control of points of sale of tobacco. There is the definite interest from the point of view of Customs and Excise of knowing and controlling the points of sale of tobacco which, otherwise, could conceal dealing in uncustomed tobacco. If it were not so, then prior to this Finance Bill when we were reviewing the question of tobacco licences, dealt with in Clause 6, we should have reached the conclusion that licences were unnecessary; but we still believe them to be very necessary.

I realise that the present Amendment attempts to meet this point by restricting sales to registered goods vehicles operated by persons who are licensed to sell tobacco at their premises. But this would establish only the base from which the vehicle operated and would not impose any limitation on the vehicle operator's freedom to sell tobacco away from that base. In particular, it would not limit sales to particular points or particular routes. There could be, I should have thought, no satisfactory Revenue control over a vehicle which, like that of an itinerant ice cream vendor, was free to travel wherever the driver thought business was to be found.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

Is there not a reference—I had something to do with the preparation of the Amendment—to: … such conditions as the Commissioners think fit to impose … which would enable them to deal with that?

Mr. Barber

I was just coming to that point. I have also considered that aspect, but I think that as soon as one attempted to introduce some limit—which could be done by the Clause, I agree—prescribing routes or points of sale, for example, it would put the Customs and Excise in a very difficult position. In the first place, it would certainly be drawn into a conflict between trade interests, and I am sure—I feel that the House will agree with me on this whatever hon. Members may think of the merits of the proposal—that that is not the sort of task which it would be right to impose upon the Customs and Excise.

We have, as I have said, considered this again, and we have reached the conclusion that, although in particular cases it would be a limited advantage to a number of consumers, the need for a general extension in present circumstances is not made out. However, I must tell the House that, in my view, this is not a conclusion which must stand for all time. We made a thorough investigation as a result of the approach made to my predecessor as Economic Secretary not long ago, and we have considered the matter again. As I say, this is not a conclusion which must stand for all time. Circumstances may change and we will certainly keep the matter under review. However, I could not at this time advise the House to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Percy Holman (Bethnal Green)

How does the hon. Gentleman's argument about Customs and Excise control operate in respect of the thousands of automatic cigarette machines which are now to be found all over the country?

Mr. Barber

Sale from automatic machines takes place from a fixed point. It is in that respect that the difficulty arises with mobile shops.

Mr. Holman

But the automatic machines are outside the shops.

Mr. A. E. Oram (East Ham, South)

Having listened to the Economic Secretary's reply, I am still completely at a loss to know what is the Treasury's case against the very modest, sensible and commonsense proposal by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead).

Several references have been made to the debate during the Committee stage. I recall that the Economic Secretary then said that he thought that the arguments against the proposal were by no means overwhelming. I suggest that his speech today has borne out that the arguments are by no means overwhelming. I welcome what he has said about the case still being open and the possibility of its being reconsidered in the future, but in the absence of some adequate argument about present circumstances I cannot understand why the Government are taking this particularly unhelpful attitude.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) referred to the fact that mobile shops are necessary in country districts and large housing estates where, perhaps, fixed shops cannot provide an adequate service. It is particularly in those cases that we feel that tobacco licences should be granted for mobile shops. The present situation is, as has been explained, that mobile shops can be licensed if there is a special local need; but in such cases the licence is only temporary.

Let us take the case of a trader who, because he has not been able to obtain a fixed shop in the area which he wishes to serve, operates a mobile vehicle to meet the needs of his customers, being granted a temporary licence because it is recognised that there is a special local need. Along may come a competitor who secures a fixed shop and a licence. The operator of the mobile shop then loses his temporary licence. I suggest that that is an anomalous and unfair situation.

I said during the Committee stage debate that I suspected that the Government were misusing their powers in respect of the granting of tobacco licences to restrict competition. Some of the remarks of the Economic Secretary towards the end of his speech seemed rather to confirm that. I suggest that the tobacco licence was never intended, and ought not to be intended, as a means of restricting competition. It is not comparable with a liquor licence. It is merely —I think that the Economic Secretary will admit this—a means of identifying the trader who is to sell tobacco and cigarettes so that suitable control can be exercised over his trade.

The licence should be readily available to all who wish to sell tobacco. Under the Amendment a mobile shop would be very easily identifiable. These mobile shops are not just travelling vans. They are properly equipped mobile shops. There is a definition for Purchase Tax purposes of a mobile shop, and the provisions in the Amendment suggest that the mobile shops operate from a fixed shop which is itself licensed. Thus the possibility of identifying a mobile unit is perfectly clear.

I believe that there is something more behind this than the Economic Secretary was prepared to reveal. He referred to the fact that he had had representations from the National Union of Retail Tobacconists. I am wondering—I hope that he will be a little more forth-coming—

Mr. Barber

Perhaps I may correct the hon. Gentleman. What I said was that as a result of the approach by the Co-operative Union Ltd. the Customs and Excise discussed the matter with the Co-operative Union and also with the National Association of Retail Tobacconists. I certainly have had no representations from the Association at all.

Mr. Oram

I accept that, of course, but the Treasury obviously has the views of the National Union of Retail Tobacconists in mind in reaching this conclusion.

I believe—I should welcome a denial of this if it is untrue—that pressure has been brought to bear upon the Government to misuse the machinery of tobacco licensing to give a monopoly value or a quasi-monopoly value to certain existing traders with tobacco licences. If that is so, this is a complete misuse of tobacco licensing. It was never intended that tobacco licences should be used in this way. The Government should have further thoughts about their attitude to this Amendment.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I understood the Economic Secretary to say that he would like to do this, that there is a good deal in the proposition, that it is already done in part on a temporary basis, but the reason why the Government cannot accede to the request is that it would or might lead to fraud. The Government believe that people would sell tobacco and cigarettes from mobile vans not having been licensed to do so.

Vans of that type can be easily traced. The Customs and Excise authorities have their own inspectors and ways and means of finding whether people selling cigarettes and tobacco are properly licensed according to law. All that my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead) is asking in the Amendment is that those who already have licences and are operating from a definite shop or shops, whose vans are properly marked with their names, should be allowed when they are visiting housing estates and other outlying districts to sell articles which they can sell in their shops in the town, namely, tobacco and cigarettes.

Perhaps there is a loophole here? I should like to know if there is. How could there possibly be any fraud when the regulations will be as tight as that? I am not a Co-operative Member, but I cannot but agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram). If co-operative societies were allowed to sell from their vans in this way, other traders would have the same facilities. Why not? If those who have shops have protested—I can understand their protests—I do not think that that is a sufficient reason for refusing to accept the Amendment, which strikes me as being eminently reasonable.

Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)

I want to intervene very briefly to reinforce the arguments which have been advanced by my hon. Friends. The Economic Secretary's case for refusing this very limited proposal does not carry a great deal of weight. The main burden of his contention seemed to be the difficulty of maintaining a satisfactory check. The Amendment is worded in such a way as to provide adequate safeguards to deal with any difficulties which might arise.

I ask the House to get away from the London mind on this matter. We always seem to approach these subjects as though there is a tobacconist's shop at every corner and a kiosk at every railway station. We should try to approach this subject from the consumer's point of view. There are still many areas in this country in which selling points are long distances apart. Some of my hon. Friends representing Scottish constituencies could make a strong plea on this question of mere geographical situation.

By stating an average the Economic Secretary gave no answer, because, as everyone knows, an average means nothing. It may be true that the average is one selling point for every 40 smokers, but we must remember that densities vary. Before I entered the House I spent some little time trying to find what the average doctor received as average pay. After three years I found that there was no such animal as the average doctor. I suspect that there is no real way to define the average number of selling points if the question is looked at from the point of view of the consumer.

7.15 p.m.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram), with due respect to the Co-operative Union, I feel that the approach has been rather from the point of view of retailers and not sufficiently from the point of view of the consumers. The Amendment states quite clearly that a licence would be subject to such conditions as the Commissioners think fit to impose …". It would be quite easy to devise a way in which the ordinary vehicle which the Economic Secretary is scared of—a van or cart being driven round an area for the purpose of hawking—could be clearly distinguished from a mobile shop. A mobile shop has a proper entrance, internal lighting, display and a cash register. It is actually a shop on wheels. It would not be beyond the wit of man to draw up a short summary of the conditions which a mobile shop should fulfil. It would certainly be just as easy to do that as to direct that a coffee stall should have stakes in the ground or employ some other method by which it is no longer a coffee stall but is a fixed place.

I hope that the Economic Secretary will consider the economic straits of the country. He said that one great asset in the Amendment was that it would bring in more revenue. In spite of the 6 per cent. Bank Rate, the economic stringency and everything else perpetrated by this Government, perhaps on this occasion we on this side can give him a little help. If the country's economic situation is so straitened, let the hon. Gentleman accept the Amendment and have a little more in the till from tobacco licences for mobile shops.

Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)

I had not the slightest intention of intervening in the debate. It is not usual for me to talk about finance and budgetary matters, but when I heard the feeble defence put forward by the Economic Secretary it prompted me to tell him a few home-truths.

I am a non-smoker. I have never touched a cigarette in my life, nor do I intend to do so as long as I live. As I do not smoke, I do not have a vested interest in this matter, but my wife likes a cigarette. I live in a part of the country which is developing. Why should not the newsagent with a licence who lives two miles away from where I live be able to bring a packet of "fags" along with the morning paper? The Government will not allow him to. It gives me a curious feeling. The notion of Tory freedom is an anachronism. Our grocer delivers groceries to our door, thereby helping my wife, because she does not have to spend money on petrol and waste her time by going to collect them. Why cannot my grocer deliver a packet of cigarettes?

The Economic Secretary said that it would have an effect upon retailers. Retailers sell an enormous amount of cigarettes. Why should not a retailer be able to deliver them to consumers' doors, thereby keeping queues away from his shop when he is busy? If he were allowed to do so he would prevent chaos inside his shop on a Saturday morning. In other words, if a retailer can get rid of his stock without crowding his shop on a Saturday, so much the better for him and for the consumer.

It is ridiculous to say that there will be jiggery-pokery and non-payment of revenue. If a licence to sell cigarettes and tobacco is granted to a local newsagent or grocer, who already delivers newspapers or groceries, he should be entitled to sell them and deliver them if he feels inclined to or if his customers request him to do so. It is fantastic that the Government should refuse this freedom to our people, who want to be given the opportunity to purchase what they wish, as they wish, where they wish, at any point they wish. It is wrong that they should be denied this opportunity simply because the Government have decided that, because they are refusing other things, they cannot accept this Amendment.

I am speaking as an ex-junior Minister. The Economic Secretary has been told by somebody else, "Do not bother. It does not matter. Take no notice. They cannot have it". That is not the way for the Government to conduct the country's affairs.

Mr. Dempsey

I ask the Economic Secretary to consider this problem from the national viewpoint rather than from a City complex. To say that there is one tobacco licence to every forty smokers is a most misleading application of the law of averages. After all, some parts of the country are very sparsely populated. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I could take him to areas which have several square miles of land and buildings, but there is not a single tobacco licence available in such a huge area with a fairly large rural community.

I hope that the Economic Secretary realises that he is doing the general public a disservice by not allowing an extension of tobacco licences in respect of mobile trading vans. These vans are most up-to-date shopping centres. Some of them are obviously among the finest in Europe. Indeed, I can say, speaking from my own experience, that many of them are far more hygienic places from which to sell goods than are some of the existing obsolete shops. I cannot understand the argument of the Minister. Has he forgotten that there is such an important right in this country as freedom of consumer choice?

Does the Economic Secretary not realise that consumers in many parts of the country have shopping facilities only once a week and that if they cannot purchase tobacco and cigarettes from mobile vans they are restricted to using the shops in perhaps some remote area, where they experience difficulty in obtaining their choice of brands. Surely if vans can go to little crofts and farms and small hamlets to supply goods and hardware, which, incidentally, is a costly service, there is no legitimate reason for denying traders the right also to sell tobacco and cigarettes.

I am very interested in the Economic Secretary's remarks. He as offered only one argument why this provision should not be extended to mobile vans. His argument is that it is very difficult to locate and supervise unfixed selling points. If a tobacco licence is in respect of fixed promises then, obviously, it is easier to supervise. I should like to draw his attention to the fact that some of us have been members of local authority licensing committees for many years and that they have to send out inspectors and supervisors to see that the laws of this country are enforced on mobile trading premises. Has he forgotten that often coal is not sold from fixed premises? It is sold from mobile vans. Inspectors or weights and measures officers have to locate those mobile premises at various selling points throughout large counties in order to enforce the law, and they do it very efficiently indeed.

Does the Economic Secretary realise that a recent Act of Parliament was passed whereby mobile trading vans are controlled from a health and hygienic point of view. Here again, health officers have no difficulty in enforcing the law on these mobile trading vans. Why, then, is there a difficulty in ensuring that the Customs and Excise laws are enforced in respect of the sale of tobacco and cigarettes from unfixed premises? There is obviously no difficulty. Where there is a will there is a way, but I believe that the Minister has not the will to extend this concession.

I beg the Economic Secretary to realise that we are dealing with this problem in 1960 and not during the period of the Labour Government from 1945 to 1951. We are dealing with a new problem in a period when neighbourhood units have been added to existing townships and when private enterprise has refused to provide shopping centres for many parts of those areas and failed, therefore, to meet consumer demand. I could take the Minister to my own county and show him several derelict shopping sites where we cannot induce private enterprise to build. If other traders are willing to serve an area and to provide customers with an efficient service of goods and commodities, the House of Commons should be the very last institution to stand in the way of the provision of such a full and efficient service, yet the Government are doing so by restricting the sale of tobacco and cigarettes from mobile vans.

Does not the Economic Secretary agree that the present tendency is to develop a distributive service on the basis of mobility? All sorts of services for the supply of all sorts of goods and perishable commodities are being provided by mobile trading vans, and if the various enactments to which I have referred can be enforced, there should be no difficulty in introducing a provision by which we could extend the tobacco licence from fixed to unfixed premises—as these mobile trading vans are described.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that by increasing sales one increases the Revenue, but he will realise that one also increases the tax yield. Therefore, if we are to continue our efforts to provide efficient services of this kind for the community, we are entitled to eliminate as many restictions as possible, and this is one restriction that the distributive trade could very well do without.

It must be remembered that these vans operate not only from premises that are already licensed but from premises that are already rated. In addition to that, they pay a fair share of motor taxation consequential on the service operated. There is no valid reason, therefore, for restricting their use for the sale of tobacco, etc. The existing law is unquestionably archaic and should be repealed at once. I ask the Economic Secretary to consider this matter and to realise that thousands of our fellow citizens depend on these door-to-door services and ought to be able to purchase their tobacco and cigarettes by this means if they so wish.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Snow

I wonder whether the Economic Secretary has considered the distributive problems that have arisen in the Midlands as a result of the enormous transfer of population in connection with

the overspill scheme, where population is going out to the Staffordshire areas from Birmingham. I doubt very much whether the Commissioners have analysed the ratio of distributive points, not only as to the number of residences, but to the geographical location and density of those residences.

While I do not at this point speak for the co-operative societies, the impression I get in my part of the world is that those societies have not only taken a good business advantage of the problems of distribution but have, in fact, fulfilled their real function, which is to provide a service for the consumer. Since the Economic Secretary has mentioned the Labour Government's provisions in 1951 to deal with what was then considered a temporary emergency, I would ask him whether the factors that led that Government to introduce those provisions do not still exist because of subsequent transfers of population.

I know that it exists in an extremely urgent form in my part of Staffordshire, and I believe that if the position is examined carefully there will be found to be a perfectly justifiable case for giving what has been called this freedom to be able to purchase conveniently. Many of my constituents, both husband and wife, are at work, because the Midlands is, with great respect to my hon. Friends from Scotland, very hardworking and there is a lot of work there for all, I am glad to say.

The fact is that the shopping facilities are not always convenient. They are particularly inconvenient in these small townships which are absorbing population well beyond their original distributive capacity and which would normally expect to benefit by the sort of mobile distribution that is the subject of the Amendment.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill: —

The House divided: Ayes 172, Noes 234.

Division No. 134.] AYES [7.31 p.m.
Abse, Leo Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Chapman, Donald
Ainsley, William Bowles, Frank Chetwynd, George
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Boyden, James Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Bacon, Miss Allce Brockway, A. Fenner Craddook, George (Bradford, S.)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Crosland, Anthony
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Brown, Thomas (Ince) Cullen, Mrs. Alice
Benson, Sir George Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Blackburn, F. Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Boardman, H. Castle, Mrs. Barbara Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Ross, William
Deer, George Kelley, Richard Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Dempsey, James Kenyon, Clifford Short, Edward
Diamond, John Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Dodds, Norman King, Dr. Horace Skeffington, Arthur
Driberg, Tom Lawson, George Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Small, William
Edelman, Maurice Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Lipton, Marcus Snow, Julian
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Logan, David Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Spriggs, Leslie
Evans, Albert McCann, John Steele, Thomas
Fitch, Alan McInnes, James Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Fletcher, Eric McKay, John (Wallsend) Stones, William
Foot, Dingle Mahon, Simon Stress, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-T rent, C.)
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Swingler, Stephen
Ginsburg, David Manuel, A. C. Sylvester, George
Gourlay, Harry Mapp, Charles Symonds, J. B.
Grey, Charles Mason, Roy Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Grimond, J. Mendelson, J. J. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Gunter, Ray Millan, Bruce Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mitchison, G. R. Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Monslow, Walter Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Hannan, William Moody, A. S. Thornton, Ernest
Hayman, F. H. Mort, D. L. Timmons, John
Healey, Denis Moyle, Arthur Tomney, Frank
Herbison, Miss Margaret Mulley, Frederick Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Hill, J. (Midothian) Neal, Harold Wade, Donald
Hilton A. V. Oliver, G. H. Wainwright, Edwin
Holman, Percy Oram, A. E. Warbey, William
Holt, Arthur Owen, Will Watkins, Tudor
Houghton, Douglas Padley, W. E. Weitzman, David
Hoy, James H. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parker, John (Dagenham) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hughes, Emrys (S, Ayrshire) Pavitt, Laurence Wheeldon, W. E.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Whitlook, William
Hunter, A. E- Peart, Frederick Willey, Frederick
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pentland, Norman Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Plummer, Sir Leslie Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Janner, Barnett Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Randall, Harry Winterbottom, R. E.
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Rankin, John Woof, Robert
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Redhead, E. C. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Jones, Elwyn (west Ham, S.) Reid, William Zilliacus, K.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Reynolds, G. W.
Jones. J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Probert and Mr. Cronin.
Allason, James Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Fell, Anthony
Alport, Rt. Hon. C. J. M. Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Finlay, Graeme
Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn) Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Fisher, Nigel
Arbuthnot, John Cary, Sir Robert Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
Ashton Sir Hubert Channon, H. P. G. Freeth, Denzil
Atkins, Humphrey Chataway, Christopher Gammans, Lady
Balniel, Lord Cole, Norman Gardner, Edward
Barber, Anthony Collard, Richard George, J. C. (Pollok)
Barlow, Sir John Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Gibson-Watt, David
Barter, John Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Glover, Sir Douglas
Batsford, Brian Cordie, John Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)
Batter, Sir Beverley, Southgate) Corfield, F. V. Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Costain, A. P. Godber, J. B.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Goodhew, Victor
Berkeley, Humphry Craddock, Sir Beresford Gower, Raymond
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Critchley, Julian Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)
Bidgood, John C. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Green, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Cunningham, Knox Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bingham, R. M. Curran, Charles Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Bishop, F. P. Currie, C. B. H. Harris, Reader (Heston)
Bossom, Clive Dalkeith, Earl of Harrison, Brian (Maidon)
Bourne-Arton, A. Dance, James Harvie Anderson, Miss
Box, Donald d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Boyle, Sir Edward de Ferranti, Basil Hay, John
Brewis, John Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Drayson, G. B. Hendry, Forbes
Brooman-White, R. Duncan, Sir James Hicks Beach, Maj. W.
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Eden, John Hiley, Joseph
Bryan, Paul Elliott, R. W. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Bullard, Denys Emery, Peter Hirst, Geoffrey
Burden, F. A. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hobson, John
Butcher, Sir Herbert Farey-Jones, F. W. Hocking, Philip N.
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Farr, John Holland, Philip
Hopkins, Alan Marlowe, Anthony Smith, Dudley(Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Hornby, R. P. Marshall, Douglas Smithers, Peter
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Stevens, Geoffrey
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Mills, Stratton Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Hughes-Young, Michael Montgomery, Fergus Stodart, J. A.
Hulbert, Sir Norman Morgan, William Storey, Sir Samuel
Hutchison, Michael Clark Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Studholme, Sir Henry
Iremonger, T. L. Nabarro, Gerald Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Neave, Airey Talbot, John E.
Jackson, John Nicholls, Harmar Tapsell, peter
James, David Noble, Michael Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Nugent, Sir Richard Taylor, W.J. (Bradford, N.)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Oakshott, Sir Hendrle Teeling, William
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ormsby Gore, Rt. Hon. D. Temple, John M.
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Osborn, John (Hallam) Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Joseph, Sir Keith Osborne, Cyril (Louth) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Kerans, Cdr. J. S Page, Graham Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Kerby, Capt. Henry Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Partridge, E. Turner, Colin
Kimball, Marcus Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Kirk, Peter Peel, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Kitson, Timothy Percival, Ian Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Vickers, Miss Joan
Leather, E. H. C. Pike, Miss Mervyn Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Leavey, J. A. Pitman, I. J. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Pitt, Miss Edith Wall, Patrick
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Powell, J. Enoch Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Lilley, F. J. P. Price, David (Eastleigh) Watts, James
Lindsay, Martin Prior, J. M. L. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Linstead, Sir Hugh Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Whitelaw, William
Litchfield, Capt. John Proudfoot, Wilfred Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Longbottom, Charles Ramsden, James Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Loveys, Walter H. Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Rees, Hugh Wise, A. R.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Rees-Davies, W. R. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
MacArthur, Ian Renton, David Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
McLaren, Martin Rippon, Geoffrey Woodhouse, C. M.
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Woodnutt, Mark
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Worsley, Marcus
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Robson Brown, Sir William Yates, William (The Wrekin)
McMaster, Stanley R. Roots, William
Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold(Bromley) Scott-Hopkins, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Shaw, M. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Maddan, Martin Simon, Sir Jocelyn Mr. Sharples
Markham, Major Sir Frank Skeet, T, H. H.