HC Deb 26 June 1964 vol 697 cc846-74

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

1.29 p.m.

Mr. Brian O'Malley (Rotherham)

The purpose of the Clause, as I understand it, is to extend the type of premises and employment which are listed in Section 7(1) of the Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1938, in which the conditions of employment laid down in Part 1 of that Act shall apply. As I understand this Clause of the Bill, it extends the provisions of Part I of the 1938 Act to premises which have what are described as "special hours" certificates for the sale of intoxicating liquor. I understand that the intention is to deal with a problem which has been constantly in the public eye during the past 12 or 18 months, the question of the employment of young girls under 18 years of age often in jobs which all of us would agree are undesirable and something which young people should not be doing. I gather that it is intended to deal with the problem raised by the employment of dance hostesses in premises which have special hours certificates. One assumes, therefore, that the effect of the Clause would apply most of all to the West End of London and the clubs in the London area.

I say at once that any Measure designed to deal with this kind of problem and the sort of undesirable elements which we have in our society today receives my unhesitating support. Nevertheless, I have several reservations about this Clause, which, of course, is the important Clause of the Bill.

First, will the Clause fully do the job for which it is intended? I can claim no intimate knowledge of the world of London night-clubs and clip joints, and I imagine that some of the events of the past 18 months would make any hon. Member wish to have no close knowledge of such places, but I have in mind certain points which give rise to questions which I must put to the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) and the Government. Is it not possible that there are premises in London and, perhaps, elsewhere where girls under 18 years of age are employed as dance hostesses or as hostesses for seamy purposes although the premises at which they work, or outside which they work, are not subject to a special hours certificate? If this is so, would it be possible at a later stage of the Bill to examine the question again? This Bill is limited in scope, but it should be possible to deal a little further with the employment and use of young girls in the kind of premises which the London evening newspapers are now describing as clip joints and which, I understand, have no licence for the sale of liquor.

My second question is whether in some of these undesirable premises—not all the premises we are considering are undesirable, though I believe that a good many of them are and should be firmly subject to this kind of Measure—the young girls who are being used or employed as hostesses or dance hostesses are, in fact, employed according to the strict letter of the law at all. I imagine that, immediately a Bill of this kind is passed; some of the sharp operators running such premises will immediately look for loopholes. We should press the hon. Lady and the Government to consider whether there are any loopholes and, if there are, what can be done to close them at a later stage of the Bill.

Sometimes, these girls who are used as hostesses, and who are sometimes, at best, on the verge of prostitution, are said not to be employed at all, it being argued that they are members of the clubs into which they go. The Bill cannot deal with the broad question of the entry of young people under 18 years of age into clubs and the whole range of premises subject to special hours certificates, but what we can do in this context is to apply the term "employment" sufficiently broadly so that, when these matters come before the courts, as one supposes they will, the proprietors of such premises will be caught by the law although they may not be paying wages to the girls.

I was particularly struck by the fact that Section 9(4) of the 1938 Act, which was passed for quite different purposes, provides that: For the purposes of this Part of this Act, a young person shall be deemed to be employed by the person for whom he works, notwithstanding that he receives no wages for his work. I should be glad if the Joint Under-Secretary of State would say something about this and advise the Committee whether the loophole to which I have referred can be closed at a later stage. It would be well worth doing so.

In general, I applaud the purpose of the Bill and I think that the hon. Lady is to be congratulated and thanked for having brought it forward. My first reservation, as I have explained, is that I feel that it will not produce the full results that she wants. My second reservation concerns people in an occupation in which I worked before I came to the House. What about young musicians, those whom we now call the "groups", the "pop" and "beat" groups, and other entertainers? How will the Clause as it stands affect them?

The first point to observe is that, although a relatively small number of people in this category would be affected at this time, the number of special hours certificates is growing and one now finds them applied to premises not only in London but also in the Provinces, in the North and, perhaps, in Scotland as well. I think I am right in saying that the number of premises of this kind is tending to grow. Although only a relatively small number of young musicians and entertainers are likely to be affected by the Bill, I am sure that the Committee will not think it right to allow their interests to be adversely affected merely because their number is small.

In a conventional dance band, for instance, there might be a young man of 16½ or 17 who was a particularly able musician. We have a crying need in this country today for people who can go to the top of the musical profession. We shall need them in the future if we are to maintain standards of the kind set nowadays by the B.B.C. orchestras and the major orchestras, dance orchestras, light orchestras and symphony orchestras.

We should look very carefully at the Bill to see that we do nothing to hinder the careers and progress of the bright young musicians who are good enough to go into first-class clubs or restaurants with licences of this type to gain experience and do the kind of job for which they are equipped and capable.

In other parts of the entertainment industry in the post-war period there has been a marked decline of employment opportunities. We are discussing this at a time when a number of variety theatres—30 in the London area since the war-have been closed and when employment opportunities for musicians on many instruments are also declining in dance-halls. I would not, therefore, like to see legitimate avenues of employment closed to them.

This is also a time when young entertainers and musicians are achieving fame at an extremely early age. The very popular young pop singer, Helen Shapiro, springs to mind. She was singing professionally at the age of 14, and I suppose that the mass market for entertainment means that we can also expect to see some pop groups seeking employment in the type of premises we are dealing with. One has only to see the average age of people playing in this kind of group to realise how the average age of entertainers has gone down.

That is my first reservation regarding the effect of this Clause on musicians and entertainers. I want also to ask about the position in residential hotels, clubs and places of public entertainment under Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act. We are told that the Bill seeks to extend Part I of the 1938 Act. Section 7(1,c) says: employment at a residential hotel or club in carrying messages or running errands, or in connection with the reception of guests or members thereat; Subsection (1,e) is the provision: employment at a place of public entertainment or amusement … in carrying messages or running errands, or in the reception of or attendance upon persons resorting thereto; If I am wrong perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary of State will tell me, but, from my reading of the 1938 Act, it appears that young musicians and entertainers under 18 in residential hotels, clubs and places of public entertainment are specifically omitted from the terms of Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act. If that is the case, perhaps the hon. Lady and the Joint Under-Secretary of State will consider whether, at a later stage, there is not a way round the difficulties. We should deal with these places with special hours certificates and make provisions reflecting the employment of young people in carrying messages or runnning errands or in connection with the reception of guests or members thereat; The difficulties regarding restrictions on entertainment by young musicians and entertainers could perhaps be got over by adding a provision at a later stage.

If the Clause reaches the Statute Book as it is, we shall create a rather anomalous situation. Under Section 37(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, a child—I believe that that is someone aged 16 or under—can take part in a performance, including a performance in licensed premises, provided that he has a licence from the local authority and that the local authority is satisfied that his welfare is not being neglected and subject to restrictions and conditions made by the Secretary of State.

In Section 9 of the Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1938, the term "young person" does not include children regulated by Section 18 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933. It therefore seems that, if this proposed new Clause were accepted, we should be in the position in which a child who came under the terms of the Children and Young Persons Act would be able to obtain a licence to perform or play in this type of premises, whereas once he became more than 16 years old, and until he became 18 years old, he would not be able to perform or play. I would be glad if the hon. Lady and the Joint Under-Secretary of State would consider that point.

1.45 p.m.

It also appears from Section 7(1) and (2,a) of the Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1938, that we are concerned only with people wholly or mainly in this type of employment. Section 7(1) says: Except as provided by subsection (3) of this section, this Part of this Act shall apply to a young person employed by an employer in any of the following employments, where his employment by that employer is wholly or mainly in that employment or in two or more of those employments taken together.… Similarly, subsection (2) says that we are dealing with people wholly or mainly employed in this kind of occupation. There seems to be perhaps a third anomaly here. Whereas people who are employed full time as musicians or entertainers would not be able to work in this kind of premises, it would appear that people who might be doing this kind of work semi-professionally would be able to do so.

I would appreciate an answer to these questions, which raise serious doubts on the way in which this Clause would operate. I want to see as many loopholes as possible plugged in order to prevent the exploitation of young girls in places of dubious reputation I am also particularly concerned with the situation in the music and entertainment industry. I therefore press the hon. Lady and the Government to see what they can do about the situation.

I have made one suggestion regarding the existing phraseology of Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act, and I also ask the hon. Lady and the Government to consult the local authorities, before the Bill goes through another place, to see whether it would be practicable—I do not see why it should not be—for the local authorities to license people under 18 on the lines of the licensing system laid down in the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, or make specific exemptions for performances or premises.

Although I do not oppose the Clause, because on the whole I applaud its underlying purpose, the hon. Lady may not have foreseen one effect. It is affecting the entertainment and music industry in which the hours of work are unusual. It is not a matter of a young person beginning work early in the morning or in the afternoon. Often employment in this work does not start until the evening or even quite late at night. I know that this was not the intention of the Bill and I will not oppose the Clause at this stage, but I must strongly request the hon. Lady and the Government to consider the situation of musicians and entertainers. If I can have an undertaking of that kind, I shall be satisfied.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

I support what the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley) has said on the two grounds on which he has commented on the Clause. For some years I have tried to achieve a similar objective, but without success, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) on her initiative in proceeding with the Bill, although we ought to be aware that it fails abysmally to deal with the main area of discontent. We must regret the fact that we are dealing only with those premises blessed with a special hours certificate. This is limited, and by no means all the unsavoury circumstances are to be found within the walls of such places.

We must also realise that we are dealing with this sort of unpleasantness only in respect of young persons between the ages of 16 and 18. The unsavouriness which applies to girls of 18½ and upwards continues. My anxiety, as the anxiety of the hon. Member for Rotherham, is that the Clause as drafted would enable this conduct to go on, even with girls between the ages of 16 and 18, because of the definition of what constitutes employment.

I know that the 1938 legislation, which the Clause amends, gives a fairly wide definition of employment, saying that if a person is employed without pay, he shall be deemed to be employed if other circumstances warrant it. But it is quite possible for the unscrupulous individual—and here we are dealing only with unscrupulous persons—so to arrange matters that under the terms of the Bill the hostess between 16 and 18 who is not in fact employed can continue in precisely the circumstances which now obtain.

I do not say this in any churlish spirit, because I appreciate that this is the most difficult of all spheres in which to legislate and to pin down the unscrupulous individual without harming legitimate interests. This is one of the most arduous forms of legislative work. However, I hope that before the Bill proceeds my hon. Friend and the Joint Under-Secretary will consider the possibility of getting a definition of employment which would prevent the situation in which people are employed without payment.

May I emphasise why I want the present situation to be altered? Dance hostesses may or may not be a necessity to civilised existence. I have no time for them myself, but there are others who do not share my view. It is possible to have a hostess system properly conducted so that it gives rise to little abuse and little offence, but the worst possible condition in which these girls can work is when they are not paid for what they do.

The effect of non-payment, to which the Bill may well drive many operators, is manifold. First, if one does not pay a girl, one is not very interested in the process of selection. Anybody will do if without expense she can pick up a few pounds for herself and the house, even though this brings in the sort of people who may not really be wanted.

Secondly, there is the question of control. If one does not pay a person, then the element of control exercised by the management, even assuming that the management wants to exercise control, is obviously limited. If one is paying a person a wage, one tries to see that he behaves properly and does the job properly, but if no payment is made, it is extremely difficult for the management to exercise any sort of control over the individual.

It also means, as one sees in these places, that very many girls are employed, a much greater number than would be employed in any one room or club if the proprietor had to pay them. This creates unseemly competition and unseemly appearance.

I therefore urge my hon. Friend and the Joint Under-Secretary to consider the necessity of strengthening the definition of employment so that even the most assiduous member of the fraternity which is very good at getting round the law cannot get these girls on its premises and not pay them, thus employing them in a way which would get round the Bill.

I should like the situation to be brought about in which the employment of girls of any age in this capacity could not take place without payment. The great mass of unsavoury conditions is not in respect of girls between 16 and 18, but in respect of girls over that age. Let us appreciate that the Clause does very little to deal with the situation to which so many of us object.

My second ground for anxiety is the extent to which the Clause will interfere with the legitimate aspirations of those engaged in the entertainments industry. In a sense, it is unfortunate that the Bill should have been introduced without prior consultation with those engaged. The sponsor of a Bill, or the Department concerned, has an obligation when a Bill affects the livelihoods of individuals to get in touch with those who will be affected. It is not right to introduce Bills which frustrate a man's aspirations without at least giving him a reasonable chance to discuss it in advance.

The Bill cuts across the interests of a number of people in the entertainments business in a manner which cannot be entirely justified by what the Bill will achieve. Let me take the example of musicians, about whom the hon. Member for Rotherham knows much more than I do. I cannot blow a note, but I understand that he is an accomplished performer. I am told that between 3,000 and 4,000 members of the Musicians' Union are under the age of 18 and that an increasing number are applying for membership of the union who are not much more than 14.

2.0 p.m.

Younger and younger people are becoming musicians, because at the moment there is a tremendous demand for a certain type of music which makes little appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham and none to me, but which is very popular among many sections of the community. Many of these young fellows will find it difficult to get jobs in those areas of employment where the conditions are more ordinary.

If someone is seeking to get his foot into the door of the entertainment world, he cannot always do it in the most ideal circumstances. He has to work late at night. He cannot find the right job on his doorstep. He has to travel 200 or 300 miles to get a job.

Mr. O'Malley

I think that it would help the hon. Gentleman's argument if I pointed out that the unions concerned, such as the Musicians' Union, regulate the hours of employment, intervals, and terms of employment very carefully. Most of these people, and in London all of them, are members of a union.

Mr. Shepherd

They have to be, and from what I hear the Musicians' Union regulates the conditions of employment too closely for most people, other than perhaps its own members. I think, however, that the hon. Gentleman makes a sound point when he says that the control exercised by the Musicians' Union is so rigid that undesirable employment of these young persons is almost impossible. I think that the break periods and the conditions enforced by the Musicians' Union ensure that musicians have reasonable conditions of employment.

These young aspiring musicians, and, for that matter, variety artistes, have to take advantage of whatever opportunities occur to them to get themselves on the way to being recognised and earning bigger money. During the last few years I have personally obtained jobs in clubs for young artistes who have established themselves in those jobs, and two of them are now earning big money in the United States. Without opportunities like that, these young people would never be able to get anywhere, because there are practically no theatres and variety halls left in this country.

I urge my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State, and my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport to have some regard to the interests of these young men and women, because, as the hon. Member for Rotherham rightly said, we now have the anomalous position that, under the exemption provided, a young person of 14 can take part in entertainment, while a young person between the ages of 16 and 18 cannot do so.

That objection applies not only to musicians, but to dancers. If a girl wants to become a dancer today, the field in which she can earn a living is extremely small if we rule out clubs. The variety stage has ceased to exist. It is true that there are some opportunities for employment with I.T.V. and with the B.B.C. and that in the summer they can perhaps get a job at a seaside resort, but few girls get such employment. When it comes to regular, all-the year-round employment, for a young girl who wants to be a dancer the opportunities are very few indeed, and by the Bill we shall reduce them still further.

I know that the intention behind the Bill is a good one, but is it right to put obstacles in the way of people who are artistes and who have to prove themselves? This is not employment in the sense that we know. We go into a place and we start performing a job which we have been told to do. These young people have to prove their ability in an artistic sphere, yet they are to be denied the opportunity of expressing themselves artistically. That is what we are doing here by preventing them from being employed in these places, and I do not regard that as wholly reasonable.

I hope that my hon. Friend will consider the matter to see whether some exemption procedure can be introduced between now and another stage. I should not like to see—and I am sure that my hon. Friend would not either—young persons employed in circumstances or in premises where the conditions are wholly unsatisfactory, but this applies equally to the employment of young persons of 14 in entertainment, and we have overcome that difficulty. It does not seem to me to be beyond the wit of the Parliamentary draftsmen, and the resources of my resourceful hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State, to devise a similar form of exemption which, while not frustrating the legitimate aspirations of those who wish to establish themselves in the artistic profession, will safeguard the interests, and the moral interests, of these boys and girls.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I have to begin by saying something which I very much dislike saying. I think that the problems raised by the Bill are beyond the resources of a private Member trying to get legislation through the House. I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) will not think that I am saying anything discouraging about her, because I know that she has had a notable series of successes in dealing with Private Members' legislation on social issues.

It was clear from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley)—and I congratulate him on the detailed knowledge he showed of the subject and of the various Acts of Parliament which impinge on the matters raised here—that this is a highly complicated business. If we want to do what the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) wants to do, it can only be done by the Bill being taken over by the Government, or by the Government introducing a Bill to deal with all the complications that arise in this matter.

The question of the extended hours arises from an arrangement that was made between the hon. Gentleman and myself during the passage of the Licensing Bill when these extended hours were granted. I got into considerable trouble with many of my right hon. and hon. Friends for having arranged to do that, but it seemed to me on the case that was submitted by the hon. Gentleman and finally accepted by the House that the need for this kind of provision in entertainment had been established. When those negotiations were being conducted I do not think that either of us dreamt that we should be involved in the kind of detailed inspection of other Acts of Parliament which my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham showed that we should have to be, and which the hon. Gentleman himself accepted in his speech.

I think, therefore, that we should ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State whether he can tell us the Government's views with regard to problems raised by this Measure. The Government might well find some difficulty in taking over this Bill now, but I hope that he will be able to say that in the next Session of Parliament the Government will be prepared to consider a Measure which will give the hon. Lady what she wants, and at the same time will deal with the issues raised by my hon. Friend. I am sure that, short of a Government Bill, it will be very difficult indeed to legislate on this matter. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will have received some instructions from his chief as to what the future of this matter should be. I sincerely trust that an effort will be made to deal with the matter on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham and by the hon. Member for Cheadle. I have no doubt that the Department would find that those whose businesses were affected would be willing to work with it in trying to find a satisfactory solution to the problems which have been raised today. I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport will get some assurance from the Government which will enable her to feel that her intervention in this matter has been justified and appreciated.

I do not think that we can expect a private Member, embarking upon a perfectly legitimate enterprise, to be able to grasp the various complications which have been mentioned today and to find solutions for them. Weaknesses in three or four Acts have been pointed out. I hope that the Government will feel that they can deal with this matter and will produce in the not too distant future a Measure which will enable the point raised by the hon. Lady to be dealt with in a way which earns the support of all parties in the House.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

I rise to put two points to my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State. I have listened very carefully to what has been said. The two points on which I should like my hon. Friend to enlarge are the question of exemptions and the definition of employment.

Will the Bill improve the conditions of employment of young people without unduly limiting their scope? Also, will the Bill fit any future legislation which the Government may have in mind? If so, I hope that the Committee will accept the Clause.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I am very honoured that the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) should have taken an interest in this Bill, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) and the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley) for the interest which they have taken in it, not only today but previously. I also thank my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for receiving a deputation to discuss this Bill.

The Bill was proposed under the Ten Minute Rule procedure on 13th May. It received a Second Reading on the nod on 6th June. We have, therefore, had considerable time to consider this matter. It was only in the last week that the important points which have been raised today were brought to light. I have certain sympathy with the point that Helen Shapiro could have been licensed under the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, had she been of a certain age at that time and not those aged 16–18. I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State will say something on this point on behalf of the Government.

2.15 p.m.

Our object is to keep as many of these young people as possible out of the types of clubs and night clubs which we are discussing. It is not just dance hostesses about whom I am worried. I am also worried about young boys. We know that homosexuality starts in these types of clubs and that this is where people pick up young boys. The Bill is not purely a feminine Measure for dance hostesses; it is a Bill to protect young people generally.

I was encouraged by what my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle said. He pointed out that the Bill did not go far enough and that the age was too young. We have had to deal with the matter under the Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1938. We may be able to do as Germany has done, namely, to make the age 21. The Germans found the Measure so successful with the age 18 years that they have raised the age to 21. Having followed the experiment in Germany, which has been very successful, I have been trying for over a year to get a similar Measure introduced here.

I agree with the hon. Member for Rotherham that we do not want to stop any young people earning their living. I was, however, depressed when my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle said that people coming into this type of work were getting younger and younger. We need to protect the very young from entering these kinds of clubs, which are not desirable places for them. The hon. Member for Rotherham was quite right when he said that this problem arises mostly in the London area, London is a magnet for many young people. However we must protect minorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle said that only a small number of the several thousands who were engaged in this sort of work went into these types of clubs. I agree with the hon. Member for Rotherham that we should plug all the loopholes, and I hope that the plea made today will not fail. However, it seems to me fairly logical that we should be able to license people up to the age of 16, but, as the Bill stands, we cannot do so from 16–18 years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle raised the problem of dance hostesses. I gather that he would like to know whether dance hostesses under the age of 18 are covered by the Bill. I think that every case has to be judged on its merits. A relationship between a hostess and a night club proprietor could be shown to be one of employment even if she were not paid. If she went to the club night after night, obviously she is getting some form of retainer even if the proprietor is not paying her directly. If she is not paid wages or has no form of agreement, it would be possible to prove that she was a dance hostess on his premises and, therefore, she could be stopped working there. I realise that it might be difficult to define this matter, but if the House gives leave for the Bill to go forward it would be for the courts to decide whether a person was employed or not. Should Members have difficulty in doing this, we can perhaps make a further Amendment to the law later.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clap-ham (Dr. Alan Glyn) asked about exemptions. There are certain exemptions, for instance, under Section 63(1) of the Licensing Act, 1964, regarding drinking-up time and under subsection (2) and (3) of the same Section relating to residents and their bona fide guests. There ' are also exemptions in respect of entertainment and sales on special occasions at functions in licensed premises, covered by a special order of exemption, particularly during holidays and festivals. This comes under Section 74(4) of the Licensing Act, 1964. Another exemption is in respect of sales at functions on premises not otherwise licensed except under Section 151 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1962, and also functions in canteens and messes.

One point which I did not mention when I was introducing the Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule procedure concerns licensed premises within the examination stations of international airports covered by an order of the Minister of Aviation under Section 87 of the Licensing Act. Everywhere people cannot be employed for more than five hours without an interval of at last half an hour for a meal or rest or a lunch break of 45 minutes.

Mr. O'Malley

That was not the point that I was making. I know that both under Part I of the 1938 Act and under the Bill there is a condition that, for example, if a person works for a certain number of hours he must have an interval. If, for example, a professional singer was doing a full-time job singing he would come under the terms of Part I of the 1938 Act, whereas someone who was not wholly or mainly employed in that capacity and who might be working in a shop or office during the day and was only doing entertainment work as a part-time job would not come under the Act.

Miss Vickers

Not later than 11 o'clock in the evening. They are tied by time and they cannot work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Mr. O'Malley

Surely under Section 7(1) and (2) of the 1938 Act we are apparently dealing with people who are wholly or mainly in that type of employment. If they are not wholly or mainly in that type of employment and are doing something else during the day, then, surely, according to Section 7 of the 1938 Act, of which this Clause is an extension, such people working part-time in this kind of occupation would not come under the terms of the 1938 Act or this Bill.

Miss Vickers

As I understand it, paragraphs (a) to (h) of Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act specify eight different kinds of operations which are covered by the Act. I am trying to cover the rest in my Bill, and that is one of the objects of this Clause.

Mr. O'Malley

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady again. I know that the intention of the Clause is to add to the number of places of employment and types of employment listed under paragraphs (a), (b), (c), etc. of Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act. The point I am making is that, as I see it, already in these types of premises and these types of occupations as laid down in the 1938 Act we are only concerned if the young people are wholly or mainly following that employment. If they are only in the type of employment listed here, and for the sake of our argument this morning, in, say, the entertainment or musical profession, then only if they are wholly or mainly employed will they be affected by the 1938 Act or by this Bill. If they are working part-time they will not be affected, and that is another anomaly.

Miss Vickers

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is referring to. Perhaps when my hon. Friend replies to the debate he will clear up that point.

The question of night clubs may be a little difficult, but I gather that we are concerned in the Bill with places that sell liquor at a late hour. That is what we are particularly interested in. The new Clause refers only in this respect to England and Wales and not to Scotland, because Scotland is not affected. Evidently the Scots are much better behaved than we are. Also there is the matter of the register of clubs approved by magistrates, and such clubs, which are licensed premises, have a supper certificate which extends the general licence for one hour.

A point raised previously in Committee by ray hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) was with reference to commis waiters. I gather that they are covered under another Act. I hope that I have answered the main point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle and perhaps my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with the others.

Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)

I had intended only to speak on Third Reading, but as I think that a great deal of what I would have to say may be out of order on Third Reading, I will say it on the Committee stage where I know that it will be in order.

I rise to support the hon. Lady's Bill. I think that as far as it goes it is a very excellent Bill, but it shows, perhaps, one of the weaknesses of the procedure of this House. When we get a ten-minute Bill it comes back in rather a hurry on to the Floor of the House. I say that because this is the last private Members' Friday this Session. I think that the Bill ought to have been considered more fully upstairs in Committee where suitable Amendments to it could have been put down. This, however, is no reason for rejecting it. It may be that later there will be an opportunity to introduce an amending or fresh Bill. But that is only a criticism of the procedure of the House and not of the Bill as a whole.

The point to which I listened with interest when the two hon. Members were discussing the question of employment was the weakness of the Bill. Employment has a definite legal meaning. An employer is one thing and an independent contractor another. A person who is permitted on premises though not in employment in them is another matter altogether. The Bill uses the word "employment".

I am afraid that I am ignorant of what goes on in night clubs and in what are called "clip joints", a matter which was dealt with a day or two ago in another Bill which was before the House. If it be that dance hostesses are in these establishments—and they are the sort of people to get out of these premises at a young age—it may be that they are there not for employment but because the manager thinks that they will attract more custom.

Mr. Shepherd

It is not only that. They can, of course, be members of these clubs. This, of course, makes their position more impregnable from the point of view of the law.

Mr. Doughty

Could the owner of the club be successfully prosecuted if he failed to stamp their cards? If a club owner were told, "You have to stamp the card", he has a defence to it by saying, "The girl is not an employee". Of course, I cannot anticipate what may happen in a particular case or circumstance, but I think it is very doubtful whether a prosecution would succeed against the owner on the grounds that he failed to stamp the card of this type of employee.

Then, again, I think that the hon. Member mentioned the matter of the singer. He or she goes to a club, presumably, to sing and is paid a fee. It is a temporary arrangement. If someone is employed in this capacity to sing in a hotel for an afternoon or evening and the hotel is told that it ought to stamp his card, it would be very surprised and could rightly say, "That type of person is not an employee at all".

Mr. O'Malley

This is rather a difficult subject, but I think the hon. and learned Member is under a misapprehension. As I understand the position, already under the National Insurance Regulations a person who might be contracted by or work for a number of persons in the week should see that the first employer in the week has the liability to stamp his card.

Mr. Doughty

He has to be an employee, of course, and a singer who may contract with four or five different clubs or hotels to sing at so much an evening is not an employee. Therefore, no one has the responsibility to stamp his card. I quite appreciate that the first employer in the week is responsible for seeing that the card is stamped, but he has an answer in saying, "I am not an employer at all". If a young person were to sing in a night club for, say, 5 guineas an evening and the night-club proprietor was told that he had failed to stamp the card, the first employer could say, "I did not employ this person. I had a written contract with him to sing for so much an hour". He is not an employer but an independent contractor. Indeed, in such circumstances, I should be happy to defend anyone who was prosecuted for not stamping the card.

2.30 p.m.

Again, we have to look carefully at the other question, namely, the case of a person employed on premises where liquor is sold at particular hours. Not all places where intoxicating liquor is sold are undesirable or in any way traps for the unwary. I will not mention any names, but many cater for respectability. If some young person is employed to assist in the cloakroom at such premises after hours and is told that in another part of these same premises someone is drinking a bottle of champagne it will be hard on the employer if he should be prosecuted for mistaking the age of the young person. We shall have to see how the provisions work out in practice.

London acts as a magnet for people from other parts of the country and from other parts of the world. People come south from the north of England believing that they will make their fortune in London overnight. If they are industrious, there is ample suitable employment available for them, but sometimes they are easily led astray and they drift to a low type of establishment where they see and hear things which they ought not to see and hear. Probably suggestions are made to them which ought not to be made.

If this Bill goes any way to preventing such things it is one that hon. Members should support. I think it is the case that in the not very distant future we shall have to consider the effect of this Measure and the way in which the provisions have worked, in order to ensure that the desired effect has been obtained. I visualise difficulty in achieving the end which this Bill has been designed to achieve. I appreciate and support the intention of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). Her ideas are quite right. I hope that she has utilised the right sequence of words. Had we discussed this Bill in a Standing Committee, we might have gone into the matter more carefully. We did not have an opportunity, and so we must do the best we can. I think that we should support my hon. Friend, and promise her support on occasions when necessary Amendments may be made because of the weaknesses of the Bill, or failure of its application.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

This has been a very important and serious debate. It has been notable among other things because of the reappearance of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) on the Opposition Front Bench and we are, indeed, happy to see him there.

The debate has been memorable because of the weighty contributions from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley). If I take a little more time than is usual in a Friday afternoon Committee stage to deal with the points which have been raised, and adding to the explanation given by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), who so skilfully presented the Bill, I must plead in excuse that it is because of the very weighty considerations which have been advanced.

There are differing opinions in the House about the desirability of Parliament intervening in moral questions. I think that there is no difference of opinion about the desirability of the House taking steps to protect young people against moral danger. For that reason any Bill which has such an object in view, even if the object is a difficult and complicated one—as this was described by the right hon. Member for South Shields—will always be regarded with sympathy by the House.

I do not think that at this stage I need elaborate on the explanation of the intention of Clause 1 given so clearly by my hon. Friend. She has described the exceptions provided for in the Clause, and apart from those exceptions it is the case that all other types of premises, including registered licensed clubs where intoxicating liquor is regularly sold or supplied after 11 p.m., will be covered by the provisions in the Bill.

The effect of adding to the categories already specified in Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act all forms of employment on the premises to which the new paragraph applies, is that the employer will be unable to employ young persons under 18 for more than five hours without an interval of at least half-an-hour for a meal or a rest, or alternatively a lunch break of 45 minutes; on one weekday each week after 1 p.m.; and in each period from noon to noon for eleven consecutive hours including the period from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. I am sorry if that sounds complicated, but it is right that I should make absolutely specific what the Bill will do regarding those premises.

A number of questions were raised about the implications of this new Measure, as it impinges on other legislation and these questions were asked particularly by the hon. Member for Rotherham. I shall return later to most of them. As we are dealing particularly with Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act this may be an appropriate moment to refer to the last intervention made by the hon. Member for Rotherham during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport.

The hon. Member for Rotherham raised a very interesting point turning on the construction of the words "wholly or mainly". I followed closely the point that he was making. I will not attempt to reinterpret it in my own words. Anyone who leads the first six lines of Section 7(1) of the 1938 Act will readily see exactly what the hon. Gentleman had in mind. Those first six lines will cover the addition which my hon. Friend proposes to make to the Section as they already cover all the existing paragraphs within the Section.

My understanding of the law a" it is in relation to the existing paragraphs, and, therefore, also in relation to the new paragraph which it is now proposed to add, is that there would be something in the point made by the hon. Gentleman if it were the case that more than one job was being held with a single employer. As I understand the law, his point would not have substance were it a case of more than one job with a different employer. That is my construction of the law. No doubt the hon. Member will reflect on it when rereading the passage in question and it is not, of course, impossible to return to this matter later. I will touch on his other interesting points later.

Apart from the points of interpretation raised by the hon. Member for Rotherham, two general points of substance were raised both by him and by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), in more or less the same form. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Rotherham has had a chance to see the Amendments which my hon. Friend put down, and which have not been called, but even if he might not support them verbally I am sure that he would agree that they are attempts to embody the points of substance which he and my hon. Friend put forward.

The suggestion behind them is that in one respect the Bill is a little too narrow and in another a little too wide. In both cases the number of people who might be affected by the widening or narrowing may be small, but I agree that the mere fact that they are few in number is not a reason for failing to take them seriously. The hon. Member for Rotherham and my hon. Friend argue that the Bill is too wide in that it opens the door for hostesses or girls who might be employed in night clubs, or, as my hon. Friend said, for boys becoming trapped in undesirable situations.

The purpose of the new Clause was, by a tighter definition of employment, to narrow that loophole, if not to close it altogether, and make it more difficult—

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Robert Grimston)

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but he must not go too far in his reference to the new Clause which has not been selected. He can make a reference to it, but he must not discuss it.

Mr. Woodhouse

I apologise, Sir Robert. I referred to it only because it embodied the principle that my hon. Friend was seeking to put forward in his speech. I will abstain from referring to it again.

Mr. O'Malley

I raised with the Under-Secretary the question whether the Government could consult local authorities before the Bill went to another place, with a view to seeing whether they could be brought within the terms of the Bill. I submit that it would be very useful if the Under-Secretary could discuss at this stage the question of local authorities and the suggestion that I made to him.

The Deputy-Chariman

I would not quarrel with an oblique reference being made to the matter, but we cannot have a discussion of the new Clause as such.

Mr. Woodhouse

I apologise again, Sir Robert.

I thank the hon. Member for Rotherham for trying to extricate me from my difficulty, but I think that we shall be all right from now on, because I do not intend to refer to the new Clause again. 1Ishall refer only to the principle underlying the points raised by my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Rotherham, and the suggestion that there should be consultations to see whether something more restrictive could be added to the Bill to deal with this problem.

2.45 p.m.

There are cases of young women regularly spending time in some night clubs for the purpose chiefly of contacting clients for prostitution. I can imagine that their presence is not unwelcome to the management, because it serves to attract to the club potential clients who might be expected to spend freely while on the premises. These young persons, whether or not they are called hostesses, may not be employed in the normal sense by the management. They may even be members of the club. My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle seemed to be under the impression that they could not be deemed to be employed if they were not receiving wages.

Mr. Shepherd

I understand that under the 1938 Act they would be regarded as being employed, irrespective of whether they were receiving wages, but that the circumstances of employment could be so arranged that they would not attract a penalty under the 1938 Act.

Mr. Woodhouse

I am glad to know that my hon. Friend does not misunderstand the position, because I wanted to make it clear that the mere fact that a person is not receiving wages does not prevent his being deemed to be employed. As my hon. Friend has pointed out, this case is covered by Section 9(4) of the principal Act. But notwithstanding that provision, there may be cases in which it would be difficult to pin down a young person as an employee.

Mr. Shepherd

And to pin down anybody as an employer. It is possible for a man to organise these girls and be their employer without being the person who is employing them on the premises, or for whom they are apparently working on the premises. It is very difficult to frame a legal definition.

Mr. Woodhouse

It is difficult to pin down who is the employee and who is the employer. We have had representations on this point, and we have studied the possibility of tightening the definition, but so far we have not been able to find an answer which would not run the risk of going too far. In a Bill which is designed to amplify an Act whose purpose is to regulate the conditions of employment as between employer and employee, it would not be right to insert a provision which, in effect, would say that self-employment, or even the mere presence of a person on premises, would be treated as though it were contractual employment, between an employer and an employee.

In practice, it may turn out that more of these cases would involve an employer-employee relationship than appears at first sight. If the courts find difficulty in applying the law in that sense, we may have to examine it again, but although the hon. Member for Rotherham urged that the Home Office should look for the loopholes in the existing law I would remind him that that is the function of the courts. It is our present impression that the law is sufficiently tightly drawn, but if cases occur in the courts which lead to a contrary impression we should certainly look at the matter again.

If we did do this, such a fresh look might very well involve, as the only possible means of producing a watertight provision, the prohibition of all persons under the age of 18 from visiting such premises. That might be the only available basis of control once we had abandoned the fairly well defined concept of employment.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Did I understand my hon. Friend's proposition to be that the responsibility to see that the law is so framed that it does what the House intends is that of the law courts and not the House itself?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression in what I said. No; it is for the law courts to interpret the law, and if they found that it was different from what Parliament intended when it passed the law, Parliament would have to look at the matter again.

I now turn to the other general point which was urged by my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Rotherham, namely, that in one respect the law is too restrictive and that we should try to relax it. Again, I will try not to commit the error of referring to an Amendment which has not been selected. The suggestion was that the Bill would operate unduly harshly in respect of persons under 18 years of age, and particularly those who are 16 or 17 years old, who are employed as entertainers, and the like.

It is said that night clubs and premises referred to in Clause 1 form one of the few remaining outlets for young entertainers to pursue and get experience of their chosen profession. There has been some reference to the fact that, under Section 37 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, the local authority has power to license a child under 16 taking part in public performances and that this procedure might well be adapted to where a 16 or 17 year old performs after 10 p.m. in one of the places described in Clause 1.

The premises described in Clause 1 are those authorised to sell or supply intoxicating liquor after 11 p.m. under a variety of supper hour certificates, extended hour certificates and special hours certificates, or registered clubs which, being registered, are so authorised.

Looking at this particular criticism of the Bill in the relatively narrow context of the type of premises to which it is to apply, I would not regard it as absolutely established that the opportunities for young entertainers would be seriously curtained by the provisions of the Bill as they stand, because such premises as it seeks to deal with are not by any means the only outlets for such entertainment. Nevertheless, I would at the same time like to make it clear that we have in the Home Office a good deal of sympathy with the aspirations of these young people and we would understand it if the House did not wish to see unduly restrictive legislation imposed on them in this way.

Mr. Shepherd

Does my hon. Friend also take the point that, while these restrictions are being placed on individuals working in these establishments, they are perfectly free to work, under the terms of the Bill, in an unsatisfactory, unsavoury near-beer establishment.

Mr. Woodhouse

I do take the point and I was in the process of making a concession in my hon. Friend's direction. However, the Bill is not concerned with near-beer establishments, but with night clubs and similar places selling intoxicating liquor. We are prepared to look sympathetically at the possibility of some kind of system providing for exemptions.

Exemptions would probably imply some system of licensing, either of the individual performer or of a certain type of performance or of the premises. Whichever form it took, it would have to be operated by the local authorities who are responsible for operating the 1938 Act. There has not yet, to the best of my knowledge, been any formal consultation with them about the contents of the Bill, although, from the approaches we have made in the last few days to the L.C.C. and the County Councils' Association, I understand that some concern has been expressed by the local authorities at the idea of being burdened with these exemption powers without any prior consultation.

I am sure that we all agree that consultation would be essential before any such new provisions for a licensing system were adopted. If my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport and other sponsors of the Bill are agreeable, it would be possible to assist in promoting discussions with the local authority associations concerned in order to obtain their views on this difficult question.

Subject to their views, of course, it would also be possible to consider in another place any Amendments which might be made to the Bill in order to ease the restrictions on the activities of entertainers in nightclubs, but naturally at this stage it is not possible for me to say whether a form of licensing would be a practical possibility. I know that the House would not construe me as making any firm commitment in that sense today. I will, however, gladly see that consultation to that end is undertaken.

I now want to deal with a number of interesting points raised in the debate. There was that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport concerning commis-waiters employed in these premises. Under Section 31(2) of the Shops Act, 1950, male persons aged 16 and 17 may be employed in connection with the serving of meals to customers up to midnight, but not afterwards. Everywhere the employer has adopted the relevant provisions of the 1950 Act as an alternative to those of the Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1938, which he is entitled to do, the exemption for commis-waiters up to midnight still applies. Therefore, in saying that they are covered by other legislation, my hon. Friend is right.

The hon. Member for Rotherham raised intricate and interesting points about the interpretation of existing law and I gladly undertake to look into them carefully. Perhaps I might have a shot at answering one or two now, subject to the reservation that I shall be studying them later. His first point concerned a specific exclusion of occupation in the entertainment industry under Section 7 (1,c) and (1,e) of the 1938 Act. It is true that the occupations therein defined do not include the entertainment industry so long as the entertainers are not employed in attendance on guests or members.

The hon. Member's second point was his suggestion that the local authorities would be able to license a performer under 16 to appear in a public performance after 10 p.m. in premises which sell liquor regularly after 11 p.m. but that, when he reached the age of 16, he perhaps could not so appear. The answer is that the hon. Member is mistaken on that point. If the Bill is passed into law, the power to license performers under 16 to appear in these circumstances will be lost. This is my understanding of the effect of the Bill.

The third point the hon. Gentleman made was concerned with the interpretation of "employment" and the distinction between "professional" and "semi-professional". I can assure the hon. Gentleman that under the law that distinction is without significance.

I shall now draw to a conclusion the necessarily rather extensive remarks I have made on the Clause by clarifying one final point. It may not be apparent from simply reading the rather intricate prose in which Statutes are phrased that the Bill does not touch at all premises in which no intoxicating liquor is sold or supplied. I alluded to this point just now in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle, who referred to near-beer establishments, which are establishments which apparently purport to sell intoxicating liquor but in fact do not do so. It is a fact that there are establishments in which no liquor is sold or supplied, which evade the need for a music and dancing licence, and which are outside any form of licensing. These are not touched by the Bill.

3.0 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle thought that we should go much further. Perhaps he is right, but let us for the moment stick to what my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport is seeking to do. Establishments of that kind are a very far cry from what is commonly regarded as a night club, which it is the purpose of the Bill to deal with. With the ordinary night club, I think that hon. Members, with their wide experience, would all agree that the availability of liquor until a late hour is almost of the essence. One can be sure of that, without even setting loot in a night club. Consequently, the Bill, in defining the premises to which it is applied, is drafted by reference to licensing law, and it would be very difficult to extend its provisions to deal with premises which require no licence and which have shown themselves rather resistant to effective control in other contexts.

We shall certainly continue to keep such places in mind. In so far as remedies are required, we shall seek to devise them. I remind the House that in the past, where the conduct of such places has become outrageous, successful prosecutions have been brought under the Disorderly Houses Act. It is true that the Bill does not attempt to tackle these more far-reaching problems or to go beyond the limited but I think very constructive purpose defined by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port. That is not to say that it is not still worth doing.

I listened to what the right hon. Member for South Shields had to say with all due attention that his long experience commands, but I myself do not take so pessimistic a view of the prospects of the Bill as he does. I do not think that it will be necessary in respect of this limited Measure to adopt the suggestions he made. I hope that the House will allow the Bill to go on its way on the basis of the understanding that I have tried to outline.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2.4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time and passed.