§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to Sunday trading.This has been a contentious subject in the House, but what I am about to introduce is not a particularly contentious measure. If it has any claim to remark-ability, it might well be the time of day at which this Ten-Minute Bill comes before the House.
I think that the whole House will agree that if we are to have legislation it should be good legislation, and that if we are to enforce laws, the laws that we enforce should be evenly enforced. My Bill would reform the Shops Acts of 1950 and 1965, specifically in respect of Schedule 7 dealing with Sunday trading. I want to do it predominantly because the Shops Act 1950 is a bad Act and is 472 desperately unevenly enforced, if it is enforced at all. It dates back to the Sunday Fairs Act 1448 and the Sunday Observance Act 1677, and has steadily tried to hold a delicate balance between religious observance and the problem of the little woman who needs a twist of sugar on a Sunday.
I shall give a few instances so that the House can decide just how bad is the law that we have at the moment. The state of play currently is that on a Sunday one may buy fresh milk but not powdered milk. One may buy fresh cream but not tinned cream. One may buy prophylactics only if they are on prescription. One cannot go to a chemist and buy one without a prescription. One may buy newspapers but not the Book of Common Prayer—unless one goes to a bookshop which is open on a Sunday; the only bookshops allowed to be open on a Sunday are those at an approved station. There is in the law nothing to tell one how to approve or disapprove of a station. In view of the rail cuts I disapprove of all stations, except for one or two which have remained open on a Sunday.
With regard to take-away food, almost any take-away food—[Interruption.] In the case of take-away food—[Interruption.] I can hardly hear myself speak—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the hon. Gentleman complains that he can hardly hear himself speak, it makes it much more difficult for the rest of us.
§ Mr. Freud
With regard to takeaway food, almost any take-away food may be sold on a Sunday, with the exception of fish and chips. One may not buy fish and chips on a Sunday. One may buy spares for motor cars, motor cycles and cycles on a Sunday. One may buy the wheels, the spokes, the tyres, the chassis, the engine and the windscreen wipers. The only thing one cannot buy is the whole car, the whole motor cycle or the whole cycle.
I do not think that I need to give any further instances of the fact that this is a plumb bad law. It is, of course, a law which is very hard to enforce, because I think that all of us, I say with respect, at some time have broken the Sunday trading laws. [Interruption.] I shall be interested to hear from anyone who has not.
There was a case, which received a fair amount of publicity, where a furniture shop opened on a Sunday, was prosecuted and then managed to get a change of usage certificate. It became a furniture and vegetable shop, and sold a carrot for £200, with a three-piece suite as a promotional gift. A law that allows people to bring the legislation of this country into such disrepute is a bad law and ought to be amended.
One of the great dangers of a bad law such as this is not only that it is unevenly enforced, if it is enforced at all, but that very frequently the police, who are unable to summon the shop in question under any other section of the law, use this outdated, outmoded and bad Schedule 7 to the Shops Act to prosecute a shop which is only doing what everyone else is doing, namely, selling things on a Sunday.
My Bill recognises Sunday as a day of worship and will not seek to have any more establishments opened on a Sunday. What it does is look at the general picture of the present law and rationalise it.
At the moment, there is a closing time for all shops, but there is no opening time. Shops may close at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., but there is no opening time laid down in the Shops Act, and, presumably, a shop-keeper could open his premises at one minute past midnight if he wished to.
My Bill would scrap all existing restrictions on what may or may not be sold 474 on Sundays. It is quite invidious to go into a shop on a Sunday only to find half the shelves covered because the goods on them may not be sold. My Bill would seek simply to allow all shops which are already open on Sundays to sell on Sundays those goods they normally sell on weekdays.
In the present law there are certain religious exemptions, especially those applying in the East End of London where markets are allowed to operate on Sundays because the Jews who live there worship on Saturdays and the shops round there do not open on Saturdays. My Bill seeks to extend the exemptions to other minorities, such as Indians, to people who have religious convictions which cause them to close their shops on other days of the week and thereby permit them to trade on Sundays.
The third object of my Bill is to give local authorities a greater say in authorising shops to open on Sundays. At the moment, a local authority may allow shops to open for 17 Sundays in the year provided that it is a holiday resort." It seems to me that it would be sensible to extend the principle of the referenda held in Wales about whether local authorities shall allow drinking on Sundays. If local authorities wish to hold a referendum, well and good, but it seems to me that they are the ultimate people who know and who should be able to decide whether a shop may open, whether there is a demand and whether people should be allowed to go to shops on Sundays.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the rights of employees would be protected. It would be made clear that no shopkeeper could give notice to an employee who did not want to work on Sundays. By the same token, it would control the wages which could be paid for Sunday working so that it would not be made so attractive financially that people found it irresistible to work on the seventh day.
Those are the very simple purposes of my Bill. I hope that the House will allow me to introduce it. It will not increase the incidence of Sunday trading, but it will regularise the absurdities and anomalies in the current law.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Torney (Bradford, South)
I do not propose to waste the time of 475 the House any further. A great deal of time has been wasted already by the forcing of Divisions. I wish merely to declare my opposition to the motion and my hope that the Bill will not see the light of day.
§ Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 93, Noes 197.477
|Division No. 388.]||AYES||[6.34 p.m.|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Hodgson, Robin||Reid, George|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Hooson, Emlyn||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Baker, Kenneth||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Body, Richard||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Kimball, Marcus||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Knox, David||Shersby, Michael|
|Brittan, Leon||Lawrence, Ivan||Sims, Roger|
|Brotherton, Michael||Lawson, Nigel||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)|
|Buck, Antony||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Speed, Keith|
|Budgen, Nick||Macfarlane, Neil||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Burden, F. A.||Marten, Neil||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Mates, Michael||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Miscampbell, Norman||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Thompson, George|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Montgomery, Fergus||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Cockcroft, John||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Trotter, Neville|
|Cormack, Patrick||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Viggers, Peter|
|Crawford, Douglas||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wainwright, Richard (Coine V)|
|Durant, Tony||Mudd, David||Wakenham, John|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Normanton, Tom||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Nott, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Onslow, Cranley||Weatherhill, Bernard|
|Goodhew, Victor||Page, Richard (Workington)||Weish, Andrew|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Pardoe, John||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Grist, Ian||Penhaligon, David||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Percival, Ian|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Price, C. (Lewisham W)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hicks, Robert||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Mr. Clement Freud and|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Prior, Rt Hon James||Mr. Geraint Howells.|
|Allaun, Frank||Corbett, Robin||Golding, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Graham, Ted|
|Archer, Peter||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Ashley, Jack||Cronin, John||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Ashton, Joe||Crowder, F. P.||Gray, Hamish|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Cryer, Bob||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Bates, Alf||Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Hardy, Peter|
|Bean, R. E.||Cowans, Harry||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Beith, A. J.||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Hatton, Frank|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Huckfield, Les|
|Boardman, H.||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Dormand, J. D.||Janner, Greville|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Dunn, James A.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Edge, Geoff||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||English, Michael||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Judd, Frank|
|Canavan, Dennis||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Kelley, Richard|
|Cant, R. B.||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Kerr, Russell|
|Carmichael, Neil||Farr, John||Kilfedder, James|
|Carson, John||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)||Lambie, David|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Flannery, Martin||Lamborn, Harry|
|Cartwright, John||Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)|
|Channon, Paul||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Forrester, John||Lee, John|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Cohen, Stanley||Freeson, Reginald||Litterick, Tom|
|Coleman, Donald||Fry, Peter||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Loyden, Eddie|
|Concannon, J. D.||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Luard, Evan|
|Conlan, Bernard||George, Bruce||Lyon, Alexander (York)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Ginsburg, David||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)|
|Mabon, Dr J. Dickson||Padley, Walter||Spriggs, Leslie|
|McCartney, Hugh||Paisley, Rev Ian||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|McCusker, H.||Palmer, Arthur||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|MacKenzie, Gregor||Park, George||Stoddart, David|
|Maclennan, Robert||Parker, John||Strang, Gavin|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Parry, Robert||Swain, Thomas|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Pavitt, Laurie||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|McNamara, Kevin||Pendry, Tom||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)||Perry, Ernest||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Price, William (Rugby)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Tierney, Sydney|
|Meacher, Michael||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Mendelson, John||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Robinson, Geoffrey||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)||Roderick, Caerwyn||Ward, Michael|
|Molloy, William||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||Watkins, David|
|Molyneaux, James||Rooker, J. W.||Watkinson, John|
|Moonman, Eric||Rose, Paul B.||Weitzman, David|
|Morgan, Geraint||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Ross, William (Londonderry)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Ryman, John||Whitlock, William|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Selby, Harry||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Sillars, James||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Newens, Stanley||Skinner, Dennis|
|Ogden, Eric||Small, William||TELLERS for THE NOES:|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Rt. Hon. E. Fernyhough and|
|Orbach, Maurice||Snape, Peter||Mr. Thomas Torney|
§ Question accordingly negatived.