HC Deb 06 December 1973 vol 865 cc1434-5
11. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now introduce legislation in order to amend the Shop Hours Act so as to enable working women to shop in the hours of their choice.

Mr. Lane

My right hon. Friend cannot foresee an early opportunity for Government legislation to amend the Shops Acts.

Mr. King

Does not my hon. Friend agree that there are huge quantities of married women doing useful jobs who at present are compelled by circumstances to do their shopping in a single luncheon hour? Would it not be better if there were greater freedom under the law for shopping hours to vary, so that the times during which West End shops are open need not be the same for suburban or village shops? In such freedom, would not a more sensible shopping pattern emerge, as in many other countries? Is it not time that we caught up?

Mr. Lane

I agree that it would be good to get more scope, but it is not generally realised that there is a good deal more scope even under the present law than some people think, particularly for late opening, and we have had to give higher priorities to other areas in Government legislation.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman resist any such amendment to the Shops Acts? Although it might be more convenient for some working women, the majority of people who work in shops are women, who would resist such a change and would not want to work the long hours that shop workers do on the Continent and in America.

Mr. Lane

That shows how wise we are to go cautiously.

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