HC Deb 02 April 1963 vol 675 cc263-5
Mrs. Corbet

I beg to move, in page 67, line 35, at beginning, to insert:

  1. (1) The Greater London Council shall be the local authority for Greater London for the purposes of the Young Persons (Employment) Act 1938 and the Shops Act 1950.
  2. (2) In accordance with the foregoing sub-section—
    1. (a) for section 6 (1) (a) of the Young Persons (Employment) Act 1938 there shall be substituted:—
      1. "(a) as respects Greater London, the Greater London Council;
      2. (b) in Section 73 (1) of the Shops Act 1950, for the words 'as respects the City of London, the common council' there shall be substituted 'as respects Greater London the Greater London Council'".
I believe that I am right, Mr. Speaker, in saying that it would be convenient to take the following five Amendments to Clause 51 and a further Amendment, in the names of some my hon. Friends, to the Seventeenth Schedule:

In page 67, line 38, leave out from first "and" to the "in line 39.

In line 40, leave out from first "the" to "and" in line 41, and insert "Greater London Council".

In line 42, after "to" insert:

the common council of the City of London and". In line 43, leave out "that borough council" and insert "the Greater London Council".

In page 68, line 1, leave out subsection (2) and insert: (2) Section 18 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1958 (which amends section 72 (2) of the Shops Act 1950) shall extend and apply to Greater London, and accordingly, in the said section 18—

  1. (a) references to "the county" and "the Council" shall be construed as references to Greater London and the Greater London Council respectively;
  2. (b) in the definition of a "place of public entertainment" in subsection (5) for the words "the Disorderly Houses Act 1751" there shall be substituted the words "section 52 and the Twelfth Schedule of the London Government Act 1962";
  3. (c) in the definition of a "sanitary authority" in subsection (5), for the words "a sanitary authority for the purposes of the Act of 1936 other than the common council "there shall be substituted the words" the Council of a London borough within the meaning of the London Government Act 1962 or the common council of the City of London, as the case may be".
(3) Subsection (4) of section 18 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1958 shall cease to have effect. In Schedule 17, page 218, line 12, after "18" insert "(3)".

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Lady. I trust that this serves the convenience of the House.

Mrs. Corbet

The Joint Under-Secretary of State has warned me not to take his last gracious act as a precedent and I am, of course, aware that the principle of this Amendment, which deals with the work of administering the Shops Act, is not acceptable to the Government. The arguments have been very carefully set out and supplied to the Government, and I do not think that at this stage I could be persuasive enough to get them to change their minds.

Again, this is a question of specialist staff. I think that the Government would do well to have another look at this matter and to discuss it once more with those people who know about what is at issue. Only a limited number of staff will be employed for this work over the whole area. At present, there are 12 inspectors for the L.C.C. area. Under the new arrangements, presumably each new borough will appoint an inspector.

A local inspector quickly becomes known to the people, and apart from that there will be boundary troubles, for there are different interpretations, standards and closing days as between one district and another. Trouble can be caused on the boundaries. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman were to look at this again he would come to the conclusion that he should repeat in this case the wise decision that he took on my last Amendment.

Mr. Woodhouse

I say unhesitatingly that I see the force of the arguments of the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet). This is another case in which one has to take a decision on balance with no completely decisive consideration one way or the other. I remind the hon. Lady that the Royal Commission considered these points in relation to the Shops Act. In paragraph 880 of its Report it concluded that responsibility for the Shops Act should be vested in the London boroughs. It argued that the London boroughs, even as it proposed to define them, would be big enough to eliminate in general the problem of varying shop hours in the centre of London and other problems which the hon. Lady referred to. The London boroughs will be still bigger under the Bill than as envisaged by the Royal Commission.

The Commission also pointed out that in those boroughs of Greater London which were outside the administrative County of London these powers were exercised not by county councils, but by borough and urban district councils, and that even in London many of the functions had been delegated by the L.C.C. to the metropolitan borough councils.

It is also worth pointing out that for reasons of convenience the Shops Act would be best administered in conjunction with legislation affecting weights and measures and food and drugs, although it is true that there is an Opposition Amendment relating to weights and measures. Both these types of administration were intended by the Royal Commission to be the responsibility of the London boroughs, and in this connection the Bill sets out to give effect to the Royal Commission's recommendations which we believe, on balance, to be the right solution.

Amendment negatived.