HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc1399-400
4. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in the interests of tourists and visitors on wet Sundays, he will introduce legislation to allow public houses, cinemas, museums, and other places of leisure to open on Sundays.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

For cinemas, museums and places of leisure generally no such legislation is required in Scotland since there is no general law prohibiting Sunday opening. The question of Sunday opening of public houses is within the terms of reference of the Clayson Committee on the licensing laws, and I propose to await its report.

Mr. Ashton

As hundreds of men are unemployed in Scotland and hundreds of tourists are willing to spend money on Sundays, could not the two factors be combined? Is it not a sham and hypocrisy that visitors can sit in a hotel and drink beer and watch television on a Sunday and yet they are prevented from going into pubs and cinemas? Would the hon. Gentleman look into this matter? If he had spent a wet Sunday night in Inverness, as I did a month ago, I am sure that he would take action to change the situation.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Before the hon. Gentleman makes wild statements about employment in Scotland, he should look at the history of legislation in Scotland on matters such as this. The compara- tive absence of restrictive legislation in Scotland allows the practice in Scotland to develop in accordance with public opinion. I do not think that the Government should intervene in this matter.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Will the hon. Gentleman accept the thanks of most people in Scotland for what he said at the end of his reply? They agree with the observance of Sunday. If any change were desirable, it should take into account the wishes of the people and not just those of someone who might have spent a wet Sunday night in Inverness.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I certainly assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall take into account the wishes of the people in Scotland. It is the people in Scotland who matter.

Mr. Gray

My hon. Friend will be glad to know that he has the support of many Scottish Members in what he said, but may I remind the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) that one of the main reasons why so many tourists go to the Highlands of Scotland is that the Highlands are so totally different from anything south of the Border?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I certainly endorse what my hon. Friend says, and, without having to introduce a whole lot of new legislation, it remains true that Scotland has for the tourist more to offer than any other part of the United Kingdom, or even overseas.

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