HC Deb 14 April 1986 vol 95 cc669-94

Motion made, and Question put, That, at this day's sitting, the Shops Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with, though opposed, until Twelve o'clock.—[Mr. Neubert.]

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Donald Thompson were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, and Mr. Walter Harrison was appointed Teller for the Noes, but no Member being willing to act as a second Teller for the Noes, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Shops Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with, though opposed, until Twelve o'clock.

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Mr. Pike

The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross, who suggested that those of us who oppose the Bill do so because of weighty mail bags and the post that we have received, considerably insulted the integrity of many hon. Members who hold strong views against the proposals. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. Will hon. Members please leave the Chamber quietly?

Mr. Pike

I do not believe that Members of Parliament are delegates to the House and that they make up their minds according to the amount of mail—[Interruption.]

Mr. Sheerman

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Ministers are leading an organised talking shop to stop Labour Members from being heard.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) is entitled to be heard. I appeal for quietness in the Chamber.

Mr. Pike

I do not believe that Members of Parliament make their decisions on these issues according to the weight of mail in their postbags. Of course we have to pay due regard to the mail that we receive, but at the end of the day we must make up our own minds. One of the first issues on which I was lobbied when I came to the House in 1983 was Sunday trading. I was lobbied by a large retail group which supports the Government's proposals. I made it clear then that I opposed deregulation. I spoke against the Auld report and I have consistently opposed deregulation and will continue to do so.

One of the great weaknesses in the Government's case is shown by the fact that they need a three-line Whip to force the Bill through the House today. It is nonsense to say that there will be free voting in Committee and at later stages. It is today that Members have to decide on the principle of the Bill. Committee Chairmen always make it clear that the principle of the Bill has already been established. Members on both sides should have had a free vote today. Opposition Members will now be subject to a three-line Whip against the Bill, but we have been forced into that position by the Government's stance. I totally disagree with the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who said that he would have liked to support the Bill, but I believe that he should have had the opportunity to do so. There was nothing in the Government's election manifesto about 24-hour trading, 365 days of the year, as the Bill proposes, and it is quite wrong for them to put on a three-line Whip today.

It is also wrong for the Government to say that it is up to the opponents of the Bill to put forward alternative proposals. It is for the Government to find a solution acceptable to the House on a free vote, so that it can become the will of Parliament, and ultimately the law of the land. It is entirely wrong to say that because there is no agreement on the type of amendments needed to deal with the present anomalies the only course is to accept the Bill. If it is a bad Bill, it should be rejected today. I accept that there are anomalies in the present legislation and that changes may well be needed, but I do not accept that we have to agree to total deregulation.

As a number of my hon. Friends have said, the Bill will affect not only shop workers. Car park attendants, street cleaners, transport workers and many other people will be compelled to work on Sundays. Moreover, this measure cannot be divorced from the Wages Bill currently going through Parliament, which will considerably reduce protection for those workers, many of whom already receive very low wages and work in very poor conditions. Those people need all the protection that they can get, but the proposals before us today will further erode their working conditions.

Before I came to the House I worked in an industry in which, because of the nature of the process—making glass television tubes—I had to work on Sundays. I had only six Sundays a year at home, so I know how much one's wife and children and family life are affected, as well as the religious aspects that have been mentioned in the debate. We should not compel more people to work on Sundays. There may well be volunteers in the first instance, but there will undoubtedly be some arm twisting. Given the present level of unemployment, I am convinced that job applicants will be asked at interviews whether they are willing to work on Sundays. If they are not, it will not be surprising if they are not given the job.

The Bill will create no extra training. It is thoroughly bad. If it must go through, it is essential to protect the conditions of the employees in the industries affected.

The hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) should think carefully again about what he said. He should have the courage of his convictions and go into the "No" Lobby to vote against the Bill. He should tell the Government to come back with a more acceptable proposal to deal with the present anomalies. When the Government are able to obtain a majority on a free vote, we shall then have an acceptable proposal that will deal with the problem.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The winding-up speeches are expected to begin at 11 o'clock. I again appeal for very brief contributions.

10.11 pm
Mr. David Atkinson (Bournemouth, East)

The decision before us tonight is one that the House has run away from for far too long and on too many occasions. Last year the House faced up to it by approving the principle of new legislation based on the Auld recommendation of complete deregulation. The Bill proposes precisely that.

In my view, there is no compromise that will be credible, acceptable, workable or enforceable. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, none of the compromises suggested so far stands up to that analysis. The only realistic alternative to what the Bill proposes is the strictest possible enforcement of the existing criminal law by local authorities.

Indeed, it must be obvious that the existing law will need to be strengthened to eliminate all the anomalies and loopholes if it is to be workable and enforceable, which at present it clearly is not. Such enforcement may prove to be costly as well as time-consuming for the courts. It will undoubtedly prove to be unpopular.

I also accept that this entire issue involves personal and religious conviction. It is therefore a matter of conscience for many, if not most, hon. Members, including myself. As a regular churchgoer, I have given great thought to the three major private Members' Bills that have been introduced during my time in the House, which I have supported. In particular, I have given great thought to the arguments currently being used by the Keep Sunday Special campaign.

As a Roman Catholic, I fully appreciated what Cardinal Hume said in his letter to The Times on 1 March—that Sunday stands for the Creator's seventh day, His day of rest from His work, the day on which Christ rose from the dead, and the day of our re-creation. Those are the reasons why Christians have a personal duty to uphold Sunday as a day of rest for themselves and their families, and in so doing they offer a lead to others who are not so observant.

But I disagree with Cardinal Hume in that I do not believe that it is right to use the criminal law to constrain people's behaviour on a Sunday or to prevent them from doing what they could otherwise do on any other day of the week. I am convinced that a Christian state should not impose Sunday observance by compulsion and that it must be a matter of personal conviction. England's Christian heritage is more likely to survive in a way that is meaningful, rather than by myth alone, only if it is maintained by the freely expressed personal choice of its people rather than by the enforced protection of the state.

I appreciate that the Keep Sunday Special campaigners are not opposing the Bill to make it easier to go to Sunday services by ensuring that there is less temptation to do other things. If they did only that, as the Sabbatarians did in the last century when it certainly did not amuse Queen Victoria, they would only be exposing a failure on the part of many of our churches to inspire and enthuse and attract 90 per cent. of our population who do not go to church at all. Most churches offer services and masses at times which enable most people to go to church and to do other things on Sunday.

Their main argument is about the quality of life, the "traditional character" argument, and it is an argument that has been repeated in many of the letters sent to me and to other hon. Members. It has also been repeated in this debate. It is an argument that advocates the protection of Sunday as a day of rest, relaxation and reflection, during which the entire family can get together, free from the pressures of the rest of the week. That is desirable and Utopian and it is the sort of thing I should like for myself and my family, but I do not presume that it is what everybody wants for himself or for his family.

It is not the role of this House to impose that idea upon those who would otherwise opt for another day of rest, particularly those who do not have families or who live on their own. As Members of Parliament, we should not deny families the opportunity to shop together on Sunday, should shops be open, if that is their choice about how they should spend part of their Sunday. Nor are we here to suggest what goods people should be allowed to buy on Sunday. That is not my idea of Utopia or of a free society. Neither is it my idea of what my party stands for. I do not accept that the proposals in the Bill are contrary to what the majority of people want.

Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)

In the midst of all this freedom of choice, can my hon. Friend tell me what freedom of choice the shop workers will have?

Mr. Atkinson

I shall come to the matter of employee protection a little later and I hope I will be able to answer my hon. Friend. I have received hundreds of letters and as many have been in favour of the Bill as against it. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that he received two petitions and said they were roughly balanced, in favour and against. Opinion polls are similarly divided. There have been many predictions about what would happen following deregulation and they suggest the end of all civilised peace and quiet as we know it on Sunday. Those predictions will prove to be widely exaggerated.

We do not know and cannot accurately forecast what shopkeepers will do about Sunday opening. It will be their own free choice to open on Sunday, or during part of it, or not at all. We do not know whether consumers will choose to shop, if shops are open. One thing is clear, and it is that if all the retailers who have voiced their opposition to deregulation used their new freedom to opt to remain closed on Sunday, very little would change and few people would be required to work on Sunday even if they wanted to, as many do. Under the terms of this Bill, the buck stops with the retailers.

My hon. Friend asked about employee participation. I feel just as strongly about that as any vocal USDAW member. There must be adequate protection in law for employees who choose to put their family and religion first when facing any demand to work on Sunday. I could not support the Bill unless it contained such protection. My right hon. Friend has said that the Bill does contain such protection, including protection against any action short of dismissal. In the course of the debate we have heard it said that such protection will not be adequate. I shall be very worried if that proves to be the case. We must wait and see.

Mr. Sheerman


Mr. Atkinson

I may be answering the hon. Gentleman in a second. Few employers will attempt to force any employee to work on a Sunday if he does not want to, and fewer still will risk the glare of national publicity resulting from a test case.

What are trade unions for if they are not there to look after the working conditions of their members? Employee protection represents the real challenge of the Bill to the trade unions and the churches. They should not seek a criminal law to enforce Sunday observance but ensure that the new law is used to protect their members against unprincipled and heathen employers. I hope that the unions and churches will take on this constructive and positive role once the Bill is law.

10.20 pm
Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)

People north of the border are worried that, if companies are allowed Sunday opening on a nationwide basis, many London-based companies will open in Scotland. Therefore, it is nonsense to say that, because Sunday trading is allowed and retailers in Scotland behave themselves now, that state of affairs will continue if the Bill is passed.

Glasgow and Edinburgh have more tenements than any other cities in Europe. My constituency, which represents one tenth of Glasgow, has three main shopping areas—Duke street, Saracen street and Springburn road — in which almost every shop has at least eight families living above it. The only day that such people get peace and quiet is Sunday.

After Saturday trading, housewives have to clean up the dirt and filth in the mouth of the tenement, and they are ashamed to allow their friends to visit them. The dirt and filth that traders and sometimes customers can create is deplorable. We have Sunday openings for pubs as well, and that causes a great many problems where there is a concentration of families. It is ridiculous to suggest that people who live in the city centre should not at least have a chance of peace and quiet. The do-it-yourself stores, such as B and Q, are usually on industrial estates and do not cause any harm or create a nuisance.

It is shameful for hon. Members to deride those who write to Members of Parliament on this or any other issue. My constituency is 400 miles away from the House. The only opportunity that people have to make their views known to the House is through me. Therefore, they are entitled to write to me and to present petitions. If we deride those people, we are telling them that writing to Members of Parliament and making their views known is not good enough, but we should be encouraging such action not only on this but on every issue.

In the east end of Glasgow there is an institution known as the Barrows, which has been in existence for 60 years. People can set up stores and sell their goods on a Saturday or a Sunday. People from every part of Glasgow go there to buy produce. It is an exciting place to be because, even if one does not want to buy anything, one can listen to the patter of people selling their goods. Anything from cottons to a car can be bought. If the Government insist on high street Sunday trading, the people of Glasgow who will suffer will be the traders at the Barrows. The people whom the Government and Conservative Members support—the tradesman, the business man and woman; those who are conducting an honest, decent trade—will suffer.

I know from working in engineering that wherever men worked two nights and a Sunday it could be proved conclusively that absenteeism for the rest of the week was higher than in companies where the men did not work on a Sunday. If people are working seven days a week, something has to give. More often than not people will take a day off during the week, because they get double time on Sunday. Even if they do not intend to take time off, sometimes their body tells them that they must take some rest. It was said earlier that people will be put under pressure. If someone who objects to working on a Sunday is asked to work in place of someone who is ill, he or she will feel, if they refuse, they are letting down their employers as well as their fellow workers. There is no doubt that there will be pressure on people.

As a Scottish Member, I believe that the effect of the Bill north of the border will be just as profound as south of the border. I am against the legislation.

10.26 pm
Sir Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale)

The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who is not present, has been one of the strongest proponents of Sunday trading. He began his speech by saying that he believed in it, but at the end he said that he would vote against Second Reading. One begins to wonder just how much principle there is there.

The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) was strongly against the Bill. He lives in Scotland and represents a Scottish constituency. Every shop in his constituency is permitted to open on a Sunday if it wishes. Why should his constituency be allowed that right when we in England do not have such a right?

I am amazed that all these born again Christians should have suddenly discovered that there is something called Sunday and that there is something special about it. The Labour party holds political meetings and goes canvassing on Sundays, yet it talks about Sunday shopping being an affront to the Church. I have never heard such nonsense in all of my life.

The law as it stands is absurd and full of anomalies. My hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) enunciated a long list of those stupid anomalies. Why can some items be sold and others not? A few years ago in Sale an owner of a do-it-yourself shop kept opening on Sunday. He was reported, taken to court and fined. Many local people felt so sorry for him that they got together an enormous petition and gave it to me. If I have made a mistake, I shall apologise, but the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme), who lives near that do-it-yourself shop, was one of those who signed the petition. I have no doubt at all that many of the people who are opposed to the Bill signed that petition. All I can say is that if the Bill is not given a Second Reading tonight and if the law is enforced, many people will feel sorry for small shopkeepers who are then taken to court and fined for breaking the law.

Opponents of reform have kept changing their tactics. There have been various private Members' Bills over the years. Some just wanted to tidy up the list of exemptions. Others wanted to give responsibilities to the various local authorities. Some wanted total repeal, as the Bill envisages. The opponents of Sunday trading have kept changing their arguments. In the beginning they said that there was no need for reform. Then they said that partial reform was wrong for one reason or another. When my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) introduced his Bill, it was said that a committee of inquiry was needed. The result was the Auld committee, which was set up in July 1983 and reported in November 1984. A total of 300 organisations and 7,000 individuals submitted written evidence. Many organisations gave oral evidence. Yet we are told by the Bill's opponents that the measure has not been sufficiently thought through and that there has not been sufficient consultation. How much consultation is necessary to please the opponents of the legislation?

The Auld committee examined all the alternatives and concluded that the removal of restrictions on trading hours offered the best and only way. It said that if the Bill became law, it would not force any shop to open or compel people to work on a Sunday against their will.

Retail workers under the Bill would be offered a protection not offered to workers who now work on a Sunday such as those in the licensed trade, cinemas and restaurants. I cannot understand why a scheme which has worked satisfactorily for 40 years in Scotland should be denied to the people of England and Wales.

I cannot for the life of me understand how hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies can vote with ease against such a measure. If the law in Scotland is satisfactory, why should we not have the same facilities? The Scottish experience has not resulted in higher prices or increased costs for ratepayers, and it has not forced small shops out of business.

In New York city, shopkeepers have the freedom to open if they wish. The result is that, of the big department stores, Alexander's opens but the other three stay closed on Sunday. The experience in New York city is similar to that in Scotland. Some shops choose to open, but the majority do not.

Some may say that if that is so, why bother to change? Sunday in Scotland is not much different from Sunday in England and Wales. The reason for changing is that the criminal law can be used against shopkeepers in England and Wales who open on a Sunday and sell items on the restricted list.

The opponents of the Bill should carry their arguments to their logical conclusion. Will petrol stations, pubs, restaurants or cinemas stay open? Shall we have newspapers on a Sunday because they are delivered on a Sunday? Shall we have newspapers on a Monday because they are printed on Sunday? If we are to have them at all, why differentiate between shopkeepers who want to open and provide a service and other activities?

No shop will be forced to open on a Sunday. No one will be forced to shop. If people do not want Sunday trading, shops will not open. No shopkeeper will stand behind his counter all day Sunday to take nothing. If the demand is not there, the shops will not open.

I ask the Bill's opponents how many churches now break the law? On Sunday 6 April, at Coventry cathedral, imitation pearl necklaces, Mickey Mouse woven bookmarks, Winnie the Pooh jigsaw puzzles, a tea towel about wine, a Holy Bible with illustrated cover, a book called "100 Classic Pubs in the Heart of England", a pencil sharpener in the form of a toy vintage car, a miniature plastic sewing case, a Kermit the Frog key ring and a mounted thermometer marked "Coventry-Lady Godiva", were available for sale. None of those items may be sold legally on a Sunday.

I have received letters from various people saying that if I dare to vote for the Bill, they will not vote for me at the next election. That is a matter for their conscience. It is very sad that they apparently think that it is all right for them to have a conscience that I respect, but that I may not have a conscience that they respect. All of us are entitled to our views on this issue. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are trying to interrupt. Why should one of their strongest supporters of Sunday trading — the hon. Member for Great Grimsby—now turn turtle and vote against it? Perhaps the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) will answer that point in winding up the debate.

Mr. Sheerman

The hon. Gentleman has not read the Bill.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

I have read it. I hope that those who do not share my views on the Bill will at least respect my conscience when I vote for Second Reading this evening.

10.36 pm
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Croydon, North-West)

The law on Sunday trading is full of anomalies, eccentricities and inconsistencies, but I do not see that that alone is a compelling argument for changing it. If we were to change every law that was inconsistent, we would spend our whole time changing laws—there is far too much of it. If I had been in charge of the Government—which I am not, yet — I would have left this whole matter completely alone, because I believe we have brought on ourselves anguish and unpleasantness that we could have avoided by leaving it alone and concentrating on other matters.

If it is really necessary to change the law, deregulation is completely wrong. Deregulation is totally out of character for a Conservative Government and party. I have a feeling that if the Labour Government had introduced a Bill to deregulate Sunday trading the Conservatives to a man would have fought it. We would have been out in the country trying to protect the traditional English Sunday, and we would have got a great deal of support and votes as a result.

Like many of my hon. Friends, I have received hundreds of letters on this matter. They are not typical photocopied word-processed letters; they are not from professional lobbyists. These letters are from individuals. They are handwritten and carefully thought out by people who are concerned, who are working in this society and who are genuinely worried about the effects of total deregulation. One lady writes from Croydon: However, I think that in modern day society the family as such has taken a lot of devaluation, and traditional togetherness and companionship of families on a Sunday (the quiet, free day of the week) seems to be growing less. We really need to preserve this set of values to give children growing up a sense of security and everything that families can give each other to enable the whole community to live in peace together. These people are writing to me and saying not that they do not want any trading on Sundays, but that total deregulation is a mistake and we must adopt some compromise that will protect the essential character of Sunday.

I hope it does not sound pompous and trite if I say that the Government are the trustees of the British heritage and traditions. A Conservative Government bear a special responsibility in this respect. We have a traditional Sunday at present. The Auld committee has said that there is no doubt that the widespread opening of shops on Sunday would affect the traditional character of the day. Do we therefore want our traditional Sunday to be so greatly changed? At present, it is a day given over to worship, family reunion, contemplation, peace, and a little quiet —a day different from the rest. Do we want to continue to have a day different from the rest? How often have my hon. Friends heard people say, "It has been a terrible week. Thank God, Sunday is coming up."? If we have the total deregulation proposed, we shall end up in 20 years with it being impossible to make such a comment. I am the son and grandson of clergymen. Unfortunately, my father takes a view about this matter different from mine, so I cannot cite him in support of what I say. However, I am a great believer in the importance of family life.

Earlier, we were told about the absence of pressure in country areas, but in Croydon life is pretty rough Monday to Saturday. It is fairly hard going living near the A23. If Sunday trading is totally deregulated, the whole atmosphere of Sunday will be changed. Life will become difficult and miserable for some people. The strain of modern life is getting worse, and families are being divided. Youngsters today have an awful time compared with the situation when I was young. The pressures today are much greater. I sincerely believe that this Bill in its present form is an attack on family life and that it can only create long-term problems and cause damage to the British family. The present Bill would begin to destroy the English Sunday, and I would greatly regret that.

10.39 pm
Mr. George Park (Coventry, North-East)

As we have heard, it is all too easy to draw attention to the many anomalies in the law on Sunday trading, but to go to the other extreme and remove all restrictions is to compound the nonsenses. We are told that it would be too difficult to frame legislation to iron out the anomalies, but I think that that is merely an expression of the Government's feeling that the Bill is somehow another step along the road to the Tory concept of freedom.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Government have felt it necessary to apply a three-line Whip, not least because of the unhappy precedent that it will create for the handling of future issues of conscience. Sunday trading has always been treated as an issue of conscience. As recently as 1983 the Minister of State, Home Office said that the decision on Sunday trading must be left to the consciences of individual hon. Members. Values underpin many of the institutions on which our national life is built. They are under threat as it is, and removing all restrictions on Sunday trading will cut further into the roots that hold society together. From a social point of view, those concerns should be combined with the belief that one day of peace and quiet is a prerequisite to sane living in a modern society.

From the shop workers' point of view, complete derestriction will mean that their jobs will become even more part time. As for the assurance about the protection of jobs, shop workers who feel that they cannot work on Sunday will soon find that their services are dispensed with. There is no clear benefit to be derived from Sunday trading in terms of prices, jobs or economic growth, but there are deeply held convictions concerning the nation's values, and we should reject the Bill.

10.41 pm
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Yesterday almost encapsulated Sundays for me and my family. In the morning, together with the young French girl who is staying with us, we went to Canterbury cathedral. Unfortunately, because the bishops had found themselves in a somewhat ambivalent position when the Bill was in the other place, the bookshop and stalls in the cathedral had been closed, so we were unable to offer our young guest a guide book in French so that she could understand what she was seeing. That seems somewhat silly.

In the afternoon we went on to a nearby wildlife park, where we saw a number of people working hard, and apparently enthusiastically, to ensure that the visiting public had an enjoyable afternoon indulging in the type of family activity that undoubtedly makes Sunday special. Last evening, once again I became one of the 4 million people who regularly work on Sunday, for Sunday is an important day in my business routine.

I am delighted to have caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because unusually, although not uniquely among hon. Members, I still run a retail business which trades seven days a week—quite legally, I hasten to add—as I am a licensee of five London pubs, which open for 364½ days a year. For four years I was a manager of one of the pubs, and worked every Sunday except when I was on annual leave.

I still visit my various business premises regularly on a Sunday, as I did last evening, to talk to my managers, staff and customers. That experience is not shared by many of my hon. Friends, who have sought to dissociate themselves from the Government's attempt to deregulate Sunday trading. I must tell my hon. Friends that my experience leads me to support the Bill, with almost no reservations.

Sunday is one of the pleasantest days on which to work in the pub trade. Customers are at their most affable and amiable. Staff do not shy away from a Sunday duty. Furthermore, many of my managers and staff have been and are Irish Roman Catholics, who have no difficulty attending mass on Sundays, which we, as responsible employers, encourage and co-operate with.

On 14 February I met with the church folk in my constituency. It was a good-natured meeting, chaired by the archbishop, and, despite our substantial differences in attitude, each side listened to the other. I started by asking a series of questions. I asked how many of those present read Sunday newspapers and bought sweets, cigarettes, petrol and all the other goods available for sale on Sundays. I asked how many watched television, and had had recourse to emergency services on Sundays. Not unsurprisingly, I found that every hand in the hall was raised during my market research. That was not surprising, because we are all prepared to see others work on Sunday if it is for our convenience.

We talked about the ridiculous anomalies and some of the myths which have developed during the campaign, including the idea that there will be many lorries on our roads if Sunday opening becomes the law. In my trade we rarely see Saturday deliveries and, in 15 years of running a seven-day a week business, I have never had a Sunday delivery. Shops rarely receive and send out deliveries on Saturday—how many fewer will they receive or send out on Sunday?

We recognised between us that the law was in disrepute and that, although that was not a completely sound reason for deregulation—after all, we would hardly legalise murder or rape if they became commonplace—the present inability or unwillingness to enforce the law suggested the need for reform. We talked of people's undoubted enthusiasm to buy items on Sundays. I instanced the number of antique fairs held on Sunday and the enormous Sunday market close to the borders of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook), which is attended by thousands of people each week. Those people do not attend on an involuntary or compulsory basis—they go there because they want to be there.

I think that we agreed at that meeting that there was no purpose in substituting one set of anomalies for another, or in substituting one unenforceable situation for another. Clearly, we should try to deregulate completely or return to the austere constraints of strict Sabbatarianism.

We had a good discussion, and I found myself persuaded that the Government must include in their Bill adequate safeguards for shop workers who do not wish to work on Sundays. Several of my inquisitors conceded that I had presented a rational, logical and convincing case, but went on to puncture my ego by saying, "Of course, it is only human nature that we do some things that are irrational, such as preserving the status quo for Sundays."

I am persuaded that Sunday is and will remain special, irrespective of the proposed deregulation. For many people who find little to do on Sunday, Sunday may become a little more special. Overwhelmingly, Sunday will remain a family day, because offices will not open, representatives will not represent, industry will not operate, schools will not open and the local government services will be confined to those that now operate. Those are the reasons why I shall support the Government with no heavy heart when they seek a Second Reading.

10.48 pm
Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

I believe that the deep instinct of our people is to be against total deregulation of Sunday and the total free-for-all which is suggested by the Government. Wiser and more prudent Conservative Members recognise that and reflect the anxieties of those people whom they meet in their constituencies. Many of those people are traditional Conservative supporters who believe not in tidiness and rationality but in those traditions that the Conservative party claimed in its 1983 manifesto it would do its best to preserve. They recognise that there are anomalies in the present law but that the choice is not, as has been suggested, between the absolutes of total sabbatarianism and a free-for-all.

Obviously, we recognise that because of history, tradition and our way of life, when it comes to such things as newspapers, sweets and cigarettes some people work and should continue to work on Sundays. The question is whether, as a result of the Government making a bonfire of controls, we should move from that position to one where many more will be forced effectively to work against their will on Sunday. That would drastically increase the rhythm of life on Sunday. Ultimately, Sunday would be just like any other day.

It is naive in the extreme to think that the individual shop worker or small trader will be able to stand against the tide. The market forces which will be generated will ensure that, by and large, through this irreversible and inevitable process, Sunday will be just like any other shopping day. Our people do not want that. They recognise the effect on shop workers and their families. On any analysis, there will be greater pressures on family life as a result of the measure. Many Conservative Members realise that the disintegration of family life today is a major cause of the increase in crime.

There need not be the absolute of extreme Sabbatarianism, which no one could seriously suggest. There are enormous anomalies in the law, but there must be a middle way. It is shown by virtually all our continental competitors. They all have laws which, in different ways, add certain reasonable restrictions to Sunday trading. For example in certain holiday areas restrictions are lifted. As a patron of the Keep Sunday Special Campaign, with the right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), who has played a distinguished part in it, I believe that the law can be tidied up, for example by extending the list of permitted goods, to ensure that some of the more obvious anomalies are done away with. If the Government persist in this absolute free-for-all, they will do so at their peril because they will override the deep instincts of many of our people.

This is a bad Bill. I suspect that the Government's movement today on the free vote and the absence of a guillotine has been enough to lure the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) into the trap. The Government may now be seeking a way out, and may have begun to realise the forces that they have unleashed. This is not the way to proceed on a matter of such importance, which affects our people as it does. The Government should have sought a middle way. Such a way can be found. They ignore that possibility at their peril. This is a bad Bill in principle and should be stopped at this stage.

10.53 pm
Mr. Charles Irving (Cheltenham)

I have sat through all five hours of the debate and it is sometimes sad that one must reduce one's speech, which has taken a good deal of work, to a minute or two. One appreciates that most points have been made, but one thing comes from the patient listening and that is that there is no simple solution to this problem.

The Bill brings to the fore deeply held views of liberty, freedom, religion and conscience. Many hon. Members, including me, hold strong conflicting views. I regret having to say to my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster General that I think that considerable offence was caused by placing a three-line Whip on Second Reading. That offence was caused to millions outside the House who thought we—sensible people on matters of conscience at least it is to be hoped—should have been accorded at least the privilege of having a conscience vote and a free vote.

Everyone to whom I have spoken shares the view that the current hotch-potch of legislation governing Sunday trading is a total and complete mess and entirely inappropriate to modern-day life. However, over the years we have noticed a gradual growth in Sunday trading and the commercialisation of Sunday. By and large, this is happening outside the law and without the common consent of the people. Would it not be logical if this unhappy Bill went to Third Reading without any changes and that many groups, apart from those to which we have referred already, had to work on Sunday? Many groups have a responsibility for supervision — for example, county and borough council officers, environmental health officers and environmental health departments. There would have to be a considerable increase in policing.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

What about the House of Commons Refreshment Department?

Mr. Irving

Indeed, if the Bill is enacted, perhaps the House should sit on Sunday. After all, we accord to ourselves privileges and special facilities that are illegal outside the House. Why should we treat ourselves differently from anyone else?

I can enjoy the crowds and the bustle of town-centre shopping during the many opportunities that there are for late evening shopping, or on Saturday, and equally I enjoy the peace and quiet of Sunday, like millions of others. I shall be sad indeed if that day disappears. If that happens, our Sunday will be transformed into a Saturday.

Sunday is very special for religious reasons and many others. Whatever days or hours are freely available to the public to shop—I should explain that I have been in the licensed trade and the hotel trade all my life—we can be certain that there is only the same amount of money in most people's pockets which they can spend. The cost of Sunday opening with total deregulation would be high and someone would have to pay. The cost would fall on customers and unfortunately some of them do not seem to realise that at present.

I do not find it offensive that one or two of the supermarkets open on Sunday in the town where I live, and I do not think others do. We do not find it offensive that the local corner shop is open. The fact that it is open is a good thing, for it provides great help and service.

Some supporters of the Bill seem to draw conclusions that are rather ridiculous. What worries me and many others is that there will be enormous pressure on small business men, shops and those who work in them. When I read the Bill I was interested to see that there would be protection for those asked to work on Sunday. I do not think that that protection has been adequately displayed. Only one person in 25 under the present system of industrial tribunals has been enabled to regain his job after being unfairly dismissed, even though he has won his case. If that is the sort of protection that the Bill will give to those who will be forced to work on Sunday, that is not good enough. Let it be realised that if someone is asked, prior to commencing employment, to work on Sunday under the terms of his contract and he says no, he will not get the job, and that is that.

I have strong feelings about the effect of this proposed legislation on small shopkeepers. They form a section of the community which has been under pressure from the large hypermarkets and supermarkets for over 20 years. Sadly, many of the small personal shopkeepers have been forced out of business. I fear that such legislation will accelerate the decline. They already work extremely long hours. They cannot do more. They are already unpaid tax collectors and now we will impose yet further burdens upon them. I thought that the party I belong to was in favour of supporting small businesses and the small shopkeeper.

My concern is deep. I recognise that the small shopkeeper provides a range of services for our community far beyond that of providing just emergency top-up shopping. As a former chairman of social services I know the extraordinary things that happen in small communities. The small shopkeeper is a focal point in our lives. He provides a unique service to the old, infirm and disabled. He is often the first to express concern about the well-being of his customers and initiates action to bring support to the ill and disadvantaged. Ask any doctor, health worker or social worker about the value of that role. The possible decline of the small shopkeeper would be an incalculable loss to the country and perhaps sufficient reason to oppose the Bill as it now stands.

There is a strong feeling that the law should be amended to eliminate most of the anomolies to take into account the genuine needs of a modern consumer society. However, such revisions deemed necessary should take into account the religious and social conditions as well as the economic considerations of workers and consumers alike.

I would support, and I think that there is some feeling on this in the country, the licensing committees in local communities deciding matters for their own communities. The machinery is there. It would be easy for them to do that. Even although there is a three-line Whip, I shall be voting against the Bill.

11.2 pm

Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to acid instead thereof:

this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which fails to have regard to the principles and conscience of those who wish to preserve the special character of Sunday, and which fails to protect adequately the interests of those workers who will be detrimentally affected by it. It has been a good debate, with differences of opinion on both sides of the House. Before I turn to the main issues to which the Bill gives rise I should like to speak about the Government's approach to the Bill

The way in which the Government have handled the matter is, at the very least, novel, and, at the most, in one or two respects, breaking parliamentary precedents. The Home Secretary developed a new doctrine of what the Second Reading of a Bill is about. He said that the purpose of Second Reading is just to clear away the old legislation, that in effect we are not really voting on anything at all except to clear the ground, and then the Committee can get down to the work.

I know that the Home Secretary has been here much longer than I have, but I question whether he has the doctrine right. "Erskine May" says on page 528: The second reading is the most important stage through which the Bill is required to pass; for its whole principle is then at issue". The "whole principle" of total deregulation is before us today. I do not think that any fudge by the Home Secretary as to what Second Reading has traditionally been about will convince many hon. Members—in fact, I doubt whether it will convince any—that we should somehow ignore the fact that we are debating and voting on the key point of principle.

The second rather original approach is that there is to be a three-line Whip for Conservative Members, followed by a free vote on the later stages, up to, but probably not including, the Third Reading debate. As far as I can discover, there are no precedents for that approach. Of course, a great deal depends upon the composition of the Committee. We all know that if the Committee is to reflect fairly the speeches that have been made tonight it wall be balanced evenly, or perhaps slightly against the Bill. Therefore, it depends very much on how Conservative Members decide to vote. If tonight's votes are a reflection of the speeches, we shall genuinely have a Committee that will be able to act independently of the Government.

The third interesting and somewhat novel point is that the Home Secretary gave the House an absolute assurance that there would be no guillotine on the Bill. I welcome that, but I do not know whether there are any precedents for a Minister announcing at the beginning of a Second Reading debate that there will be no guillotine later. We certainly welcome that, and we look forward to free and full debate at all stages.

Mr. Stanbrook

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the statement on the tapes this evening that the Government have explained their position by saying that they will not introduce a guillotine, but, that they will not stop any Government Member from introducing it?

Mr. Dubs

I thank the hon. Gentleman. I had not seen the tapes. However, I doubt whether many hon. Members on either side of the House will let the Government get away with that. It seemed to me that we were given a clear commitment, and if that commitment means anything, the Government will have to stick by the words that they expressed.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

It was said explicitly on the BBC news this evening that, although the Home Secretary had given that undertaking, it did not prevent Government Whips from moving the closure.

Mr. Dubs

Perhaps the Home Secretary would care to clarify that—

Hon. Members

Come on.

Mr. Sheerman

The right hon. Gentleman made the promise.

Mr. Dubs

It seems that we are not to be told, at least not for some time yet. All I say is that it comes ill, at the end of a debate when there have been many speeches about deeply felt moral principles, that we should have such a statement on the tapes. I hope that the Paymaster General will deny what is said on the tapes and stick by the words of the Home Secretary.

The next point of curiosity is that we are offered the Special Standing Committee procedure. I welcome that, because hitherto we have asked for that procedure on other Bills and been told that it does not apply to matters of controversy. Nevertheless, that is welcome, although it has come in a curious way.

Another novel point is that many Ministers are against the Bill. Some are saying publicly that they will have to vote for the Bill, although privately and personally they are against it. The Home Secretary himself— it is no secret—is not at all enthusiastic about the Bill, as his speech made clear, and as we have all suspected for a long time.

The Bill has in it the seeds of fairly long debates in Committee, so it is surprising that the Government are proceeding fairly slowly so late in the parliamentary Session. I wonder whether the Government really want to get the Bill through at all, but no doubt they will deny that.

Who wants the Bill anyway? That is the main question that we should ask. There has been no outburst of feeling in favour of the Bill, and there is enormous strength of opinion up and down the country against what the Bill is about. I know that one of the Ministers talked about some petitions. I have not seen the evidence of those petitions, but I am pretty satisfied, and I think every hon. Member who reads his mail will be, that the overwhelming majority of the people who have a strong opinion are saying, "We do not want the Bill at all." That is the message that is coming through clearly to every one of us. If anybody has been to public meetings in his constituency, he will know the strength of feeling that there is against the measure.

We also know that most retailers—not all—do not want the Bill. Virtually all shop workers do not. The Churches do not. The trade unions do not. Of course we do not want to leave things as they are and we agree that there are anomalies in the legislation as it is stands at present, but that does not mean that we must have total deregulation. Indeed, not one hon. Member has tonight said that there must not be no changes. Those hon. Members who are most passionately opposed to deregulation have said that there will have to be reform of the existing legislation, but the Bill is not the way to go about that.

I should now like to consider the question of the free vote. It is clear that a majority of people in the country and, I am satisfied, a majority of hon. Members in the House, would have liked there to be a free vote. I should like to repeat the Labour party's attitude to this. We have said all along that if the Government Whips give their Members a free vote, we will give ours a free vote. It is too much to expect the Government to have a three-line Whip and for the Labour party to have a free vote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If the Government, who are introducing the Bill, insist on Whipping their Members on a three-liner, it is unreasonable to ask that we should not be Whipped in the same way.

I should now like to consider the substance of the arguments agaist the Bill. The first argument, which was mentioned by many people, is the belief that we do not want to turn our backs on a traditional Sunday — a Sunday that is not a wholly commercial day. For some it is a matter of individual and deeply felt religious views. Some people respect the religious views of others. Others do not want a Sunday that has been totally commercialised in the way that many hon. Members described Good Friday as having being commercialised in recent years.

Some hon. Members referred to the position in Scotland, and the Auld report mentioned the position there. In paragraph 243 it stated: The most frequently cited example is Scotland…But the pattern of Sunday opening in England and Wales under deregulation would not necessarily be the same. Scotland is a predominantly rural country, with few large shopping centres outside Edinburgh and Glasgow— [Interruption.] I am quoting from the Auld report. I do not know on what basis the Auld report came to its conclusions, but I was simply quoting what the report said about Scotland. The report said:

Scotland is predominantly a rural country with few large shopping centres outside Edinburgh and Glasgow, and with more strongly rooted religious traditions of Sunday observance. Moreover, many of its larger shops are operated by companies whose headquarters are in England. Some may have remained shut on Sunday because their English based managements have geared all their retailing to their trading patterns south of the border. Hitherto a combination of these factors may have limited the degree of Sunday opening in Scotland. Deregulation of opening hours in England and Wales might prompt a new look at Sunday trading there as well. In traditional parlance, the continental Sunday is a bit of a myth, because many European countries have regulations about Sunday shopping. In France, Sunday opening is effectively restricted. In Belgium, traders must close one day a week. There are restrictions on Sunday trading in the Netherlands, and in West Germany trading is restricted except for certain goods, and shops are closed on Saturday afternoons as well. In Italy, Sunday trading is strictly prohibited. In Luxembourg, shops may stay open until 1 pm on Sundays, and in Austria, non-food shops are closed for the weekend. There are restrictions on Sunday shopping in Australia, Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand. It is true that there is deregulation in Sweden, but even in that country six members of a monitoring committee of 10 have recommended the reintroduction of legal restrictions on Sunday trading. There is no strong sign from any of those countries of serious difficulties in enforcing the law. So much for those who say that it would be impossible to enforce regulations on Sunday trading in Britain.

Some hon. Members have said, "What are you fussing about? It is entirely voluntary. The shops can decide and the shoppers can decide." But, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight) said, one person's freedom is a denial of another person's freedom. No matter how much we say that this will be voluntary, many hon. Members know that it will in practice not be voluntary for shop workers and their families. Those who start working in shops after the Bill becomes law—if it gets that far—will be obliged to work on Sundays. They are a weak and vulnerable group of people whose freedom is threatened by the legislation. Furthermore, we must consider the freedom of those who live near to many shops. Shop workers are vulnerable and badly paid. The vast majority of them are women, and many of them work part time.

Some hon. Members have referred to the Auld report's comments on wages councils. Paragraph 296 states: We strongly urge the retention for retail workers of the machinery of the Wages Councils for the fixing and proper enforcement of satisfactory wages and premium rates. The Auld report said, "Let us keep the wages councils as protection for shop workers as a condition of deregulation." The majority of retail workers — two thirds of them—are women, and 60 per cent. of them work part time. Many children of school age work part time in shops. In 1984 the Wages Council Inspectorate visited shops and in 40 per cent. of the retail premises visited it discovered the illegal underpayment of one or more workers. A somewhat depleted wages inspectorate discovered that, and more of the protection that it provides will be removed by the Government. Shop workers are badly paid. According to the earnings survey of 1985, 42 per cent. of male full-time workers earned less than £100 a week, while 82 per cent. of women earned less than £100 a week. They were earning about half the average wage of about £171 a week.

What about the effect on the family? Many of the women working in shops are mothers of children under the age of 16. Their Sundays and their family lives will be affected. It is not just a matter of Sundays. Deregulation will mean that there will be no restrictions on shopping hours on other days of the week. That will be a heavy burden on shop workers, and it will affect the environment.

On the economic effects of total deregulation, the Auld report carries a research study which suggests a loss of 20,000 full-time jobs as a result of deregulation because of the shift from weekdays to Sundays. We shall need more shop workers on Sundays, but there will be a loss of shop workers on weekdays. It is most unlikely that the amount of goods sold will increase. It is hard to believe that people wish to spend some of their money shopping and do not have the time or the opportunity to do so. The alternative is that the people spend their money on other things and would switch to spending money in the shops. Again, that is most unlikely. Any sensible economic analysis would suggest little, if any, change in the total amount spent in shops, but there are likely to be higher retailing costs because the costs of running shops will have to be spread over seven days instead of over five and a half or six days as at present.

It is argued that this is voluntary for retailers. Every hon. Member has been told that retailers do not want total deregulation, but that they will feel obliged to keep their shops open because of competitive pressures if this measure goes through. We have seen what happened on Good Fridays, and we know that it will happen on Sundays.

Over the years there has been an enormous decline in the number of small shops. On every street corner shops have disappeared in recent years. Let me quote some figures from the Auld report. We do not have precise figures according to shop size, but between 1950 and 1982 the number of independent retailers decreased from 500,000 to 260,000. We can assume that the majority were small shops. The number of people employed in retailing as a whole during that period declined by about 200,000. The number of people employed in independent shops during that period fell from 1,800,000 to 1,100,000. We all know what will happen if we have deregulation—the multiples will open on Sundays, and more small, independent shops will go to the wall and be driven out of business.

Some people will say, "That is all very well. We can all use the multiples. What does it matter?" Many people do not have motor cars and cannot get to the large multiples and the supermarkets with their car parks. What about the elderly who are dependent on the short walk to the small corner shop? Many of them have already told us that the closure of independent shops has made their lives more difficult. How much more difficult will their lives be made by this legislation? We would also argue that the elderly should be free to do their shopping in their own localities, without the need to be dependent on someone with a motor car to help them with their shopping activities.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even though supermarkets and other large shops open in Scotland on Sundays, there are still many small shops in existence which carry out their traditional function of providing service where the public want it?

Mr. Dubs

That view flies in the face of all the economic analyses of shopping in England and Wales. We all know that the threat to the existence of the small, independent shopkeeper will be aggravated if the Bill goes through, and those of us who care about our local communities and the elderly who live there are fearful of the consequences.

What about the rights of people who live in shopping areas? What about the rights of those who are used to a bit of peace and quiet on a Sunday and in the evenings? If this measure goes through, shops that were given planning permission years ago will be allowed to cause disturbance and mayhem to local people who have the misfortune to live nearby. We should not turn our backs on the rights and freedom of such people.

What about the problems of car parking in shopping areas, the noise of traffic and congestion? What about the burdens on the police and parking meter attendants? What about the burdens on local authorities which clear the refuse?

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dubs

No, I will not. Will we say that such burdens do not matter, that we do not care about them and that if people have the misfortune to live near a shopping centre, bad luck? Their lives will be disturbed, their Sundays will not be peaceful and they will have no choice at all.

Some years ago, some shops received planning permission from local authorities. Had the local authorities and local people known that this measure would go through, not all of those stores would have been given planning permission. The Government are saying, "Never mind about the care taken by local authorities. Forget it. Forget the care that they tried to show for people. It does not matter at all." The Bill will upset many people. It will upset people who have deeply held principles about Sunday, whether those principles are based on religion or simply on a widely held feeling that one day ought to be a quieter, more tranquil, more relaxed day than the rest.

Of course we can say, "Let us shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week," but if we go down that path this country will be the poorer. The quality of life in many of our communities will be poorer and many people will feel that we have let them down. Those people have the right to live the way that they have lived for many years. They did not ask for their lives to be disrupted, nor did they ask for their environment to be disturbed.

There are about 2 million people working in our retail trades, but few of them work on Sundays. As I have said, they are lowly paid and not strongly organised into trade unions, because it is clearly difficult for them to be so organised when they work in such a variety of small establishments. They are people upon whom we depend for six days of the week. We know that whatever safeguards the Government say there are in the Bill for people who are currently employed, they will be vulnerable to pressure if the shops in which they work decide to open seven days a week. They may well turn to the legislation and say that they are not obliged to work, but they will be in a weak position and will feel pressurised and coerced.

We know that a large number of people work part time and that there is a high turnover of workers in the retail trade. New people coming in will not have rights, when they look for jobs they will be told, "It is Sunday working, or else, for you. Never mind what Parliament said, and never mind about your rights of conscience. You will have to work on Sundays." I know that some people already work on Sundays, but is that a reason for saying that more people should be compelled to work on Sundays? Surely we do not want to go that far. Surely we do not believe that the rights of those people do not matter.

We in the Labour party are against the Bill for two main reasons. The first is the character of the traditional Sunday, our opposition to its total commercialisation and our belief that the view of minorities, who may be religious minorities, should be respected. Secondly, the rights of shop workers should be respected. They have rights and we should pay attention to them. I am certain that if the House were to have a free vote the majority of hon. Members would oppose the Bill. That has come out clearly tonight and in the period preceding this debate. I am disappointed that the Government, knowing that they are landed with something that they are unhappy about, did not say, "Let us have a free vote." By saying that they would get themselves off the hook and show respect for the views and principles of many of their hon. Friends. The people of this country know and are sorry about what the Government have done. They are telling the House that hon. Members should vote according to their beliefs and forget the Whip.

11.29 pm
The Paymaster General and Minister for Employment (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) gave a clear account of why he is against the Bill, and why he will vote against it, but at no stage did he, any more than the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) state what he was in favour of. I suspect that he is not in favour of the Shops Act 1950. That is a relevant point because we have to look at the consequences of the vote that the House will be asked to make at midnight.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

I apologise to the Minister. However, before he gets into his stride, I wish to ask him a question. The House was astonished to hear the comment by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) to the effect that, although the Home Secretary had given the House a voluntary undertaking that there would be no guillotine, the Government propose to treat the House with contempt by getting someone else to move a motion that the Government would accept.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

That cannot be true.

Mr. Callaghan

I cannot believe that the Leader of the House, who has a good reputation, would allow such a gross contempt to take place. I hope that the Minister will give us a clear assurance that this allegation is not true.

Mr. Clarke

The right hon. Gentleman will not rely for his information on the tapes. He will know that it is not possible for anyone to move a guillotine on a Bill other than a Minister of the Crown. I hope that he will allow me to deal with the rather important matter of how the Bill is to be handled.

The Opposition have their members under a three-line Whip as well. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) made a speech in favour of the Bill, and then, with some difficulty, found reasons why he would be voting against it, which showed that both sides are under a three-line Whip.

It is appropriate to consider how we shall handle the Bill.

Mr. Kaufman

Answer the question.

Mr. Clarke

Of course I shall answer the point made by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan), but I must be allowed to make my speech.

Mr. Kaufman

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is impossible for the House to come to a view on the Bill without a clear statement from the Paymaster General that the promise of the Home Secretary that there will be no guillotine on the Bill will be kept. If that promise is to be kept, the Paymaster General can solve the problem by saying so.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have sat through every minute of this long debate, which has been based on the premise that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will keep his promise. It will be an outrage to the House if he does not intend to do so.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Paymaster General has been speaking for less than five minutes and must be allowed to make his own speech.

Mr. Clarke

I shall not go back on what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said. However, if the House allows me, I shall explain carefully how the Government propose to handle the Bill, which deals with a serious matter. The right hon. Member for Gorton has just returned to the Chamber after hours of absence.

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Clarke


Mr. Speaker

Order. Only one hon. Member at a time.

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Clarke


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Paymaster General.

Mr. Clarke

Neither side of the House will be helped if I am not allowed to explain how the Bill will be handled. I have already made it clear that I shall not go back on what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said and he has no intention of doing so. This is an absurd way in which to start—based on information on the tapes.

This is not an unusual situation. I have had three jobs in the present Government and it has been my fate that during that time I have had to handle legislation on the compulsory wearing of seat belts and on the addition of fluoride to the drinking water supply in Britain. Now I find myself with the privilege of dealing with the reform of Sunday trading. I am not regretting my fate, because they are all particularly interesting Bills, especially in the way in which the House of Commons approaches them.

The compulsory wearing of seat belts was taken on a Transport Bill backed by a three-line Whip by the Government on Second and Third Reading. The question whether we should have compulsory wearing of seat belts was handled on a free vote in which everybody on both sides of the House, including Ministers of the Crown, voted in both directions.

The Water (Fluoridation) Bill was carried on a free vote on Second Reading, and, as I well recall, the result of that was to empty the Chamber for many happy hours and some of us then carried it through thereafter. The Bill was carried on a free vote but with members of the Government accepting the advice of my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary.

On this occasion the Government are applying a three-line Whip on Second Reading for reasons which I shall go on to describe in a moment, just as the major Opposition party is applying a three-line Whip. Then we shall adopt the Special Standing Committee procedure, which, as the hon. Member for Battersea conceded, is the first time that that has been done for a Bill of this controversial nature. We have given the clearest undertaking that amendments in Committee will be subject to a free vote and by that I mean a free vote for all Members of the House, including members of the Government. [Interruption.]

I am asked why we impose a three-line Whip at this stage and to ensure that it is necessary to remind the House how we got here. First, the Government began with the proposition—[Interruption.]—that the present law was unenforceable. The absurd nature of the law has not been defended by any hon. Member on either side throughout the day. It is the state of the law that has led me while I have been in the House to take the opportunity from time to time to vote for repeal of the Shops Act.

I do not need to tell hon. Members on either side about the present state of the law under the Shops Act 1950 and I shall not spend my time, certainly given the number of interruptions I am getting, reminding people of the fact that fish and chip shops can sell any food but fish and chips; they can be brought only from a railway station. — [Interruption.] I take it from that that there are no defenders of the present law, but, as we know, because of changing social practice, a growing number of shops has been opening illegally — small shops, corner shops, Aslan shops, garden centres, do-it-yourself shops. I would expect—I hazard a guess, I have no research—that the vast majority of hon. Members have at some time or another shopped in a shop that was trading illegally under the Shops Act.

Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North)


Mr. Clarke

I apologise to my hon. Friend. I shall not give way because time was taken by bizarre knockabout stuff at the start.

The Government set up the Auld committee, which made recommendations to deal with deregulation. We have taken the Bill through another place, which amended it somewhat. The Bill went through the House of Lords where the Government do not have an automatic majority — certainly not against the combined forces of the Opposition and the Cross Benches.

After years of preparation and consideration we believe that we are entitled to ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading to enable it to proceed. All kinds of compromises can be considered. Some of those compromises are pressed upon us by my right hon. and hon. Friends, as well as by Opposition Members. We have examined them, but we cannot see a compromise which is workable, or which we are sure will command a majority in any sector, including the House. For that reason we ask the House, with the usual Whip that Governments apply to such a measure, to give the Bill a Second Reading, to go into the unique Special Standing Committee procedure and to follow that by free votes on the principle of the amendments.

Mr. Gale

I have listened to the debate for eight hours. I am as convinced now as when the debate started that the principle of the Bill is abhorrent to me and to many of my hon. Friends. Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell me—yes or no—whether the Front Bench is committed to complete deregulation?

Mr. Clarke

We are presenting a Bill which represents a measure of deregulation which has so far—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] So far we are satisfied, as was the Auld committee when it considered all the alternatives, that no one has suggested a practical alternative.

We propose that the Standing Committee should begin by taking evidence, under the special Standing Committee procedure, from each and every interest group and then, on a free vote, decide—as the House will on Report—the conclusion to which it wishes to come.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) may think that that is not satisfactory for resolving this difficult matter, but I have not heard a better procedure urged upon the Government today. The effect of rejecting the Second Reading will be to go back to the 1950 Act, which has no friends and will not be enforced.

I never thought that a Government would introduce a Bill on Sunday trading, because the usual procedure is for an hon. Member to deal with such matters. If this Second Reading is rejected we shall be stuck with the unenforceable 1950 Act, with a steady increase in Sunday trading throughout the country. It will be many a long year before we have this chance again.

How are we to handle the timetabling of the Bill? Unless we have some structure and order in our debates it is possible for a handful of hon. Members to protract any legislation—[Interruption.] A Bill in favour of muddle could be talked out by an hon. Member who was determined enough if there were no rules of procedure or conduct. The Government's undertaking is that they will allow a free vote for their supporters—members of Government and Back Benchers. Of course the Opposition will also allow a free vote. However, that freedom has never extended to procedural motions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It has never extended to procedural motions such as closures.—[Interruption.] I apologise to the Opposition for the fact that they have been labouring under a misapprehension. I could tell when the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) was speaking that he expected an extremely protracted Committee stage. I am not saying anything now that all hon. Members do not already know.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Did the Home Secretary know?

Mr. Clarke

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made no reference whatever to a closure.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order! Not three at a time.

Mr. Clarke

Those hon. Members who wish to get indignant about the matter should reflect that, if it were not possible for the Government to ask its supporters to carry even procedural motions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) could talk out the Bill singlehandedly, as I know from experience. Not only tactics have led to the conclusion I have reached. It is plainly impossible for the Government ever to say that on a Government Bill there will never be any whipping on closures, naming of Members, and so on.

I ask hon. Members to consider all those people outside the House who feel strongly about this Bill. The House owes the public and itself a duty to have a sensible, structured debate. I do not believe that any person outside who feels strongly about measures before us is very impressed by the kind of debate in which one hon. Member keeps things going for hours by repetition. There will be whipping from the Government on procedural motions, and I do not believe that any Labour hon. Member could seriously expect anything else.

Mr. Kaufman

Whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues keep their promise of a free vote to their own hon. Friends is a matter between them and their hon. Friends. In fact, the Paymaster General is saying that they intend to break that promise. However, the promise made by the Home Secretary to this House, that throughout the debate on this Bill there would be no guillotine, is a promise to the whole House. Let us therefore have no ifs and buts. Will the Paymaster General now assure us clearly and categorically that throughout the passage of the Bill no guillotine will be imposed on the proceedings?

Mr. Clarke

Yes, of course. I have already done so three times.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Clarke

It is no good hon. Members getting up because they do not like the answer. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said earlier today, the Government have no plan to introduce a guillotine motion. The right hon. Member for Gorton knows the procedures of this House as well as most hon. Members. He knows what a guillotine means. A guillotine means a timetable motion, laying down a timetable at which each stage is taken. It is a well-honoured procedure which was introduced to beat Irish obstruction, and it has been used by successive Governments since. We have no plans to do that. We are proposing to follow the course that has been described—to invite the House to give the Bill a Second Reading and to submit it to the Special Standing Committee procedure, allowing a free vote on amendments of principle and on Report. If the House responds to the evident public need to resolve the problems of the inherent ridiculousness of our Sunday trading laws, we should be able to have a reasoned and measured debate which reaches a conclusion.

Of course the Government must reserve the right, if individual hon. Members do not like the way in which the Bill is going at any stage—they might be absolute deregulators who do not like the compromises or absolute Sabbatarians who will not accept any change—and try to hold it up, to have closures to enable the House to reach a proper conclusion.

Mr. Walter Harrison (Wakefield)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Clarke

No. The Government believe that that is a process which will enable the House to reach a considered judgment on the future nature of Sunday trading law. We do not propose a timetable motion to guide the House. Should a small group of individuals, who could be hard-core deregulators or hard-core Sabbatarians filibuster and seek to prevent the House from reaching any conclusion in the exercise of its free judgment, and the House was near some form of consensus of conclusion, the House would start to say that a handful of individuals should not be allowed to prevent the House from coming to a conclusion.

Mr. Kaufman

There are two things about which we must be clear. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that a timetable lays down stages by which a Bill should proceed. A timetable, a guillotine—

Mr. Clarke

A timetable motion.

Mr. Kaufman

A timetable motion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should study Standing Orders. A guillotine is a timetable. A timetable motion — a guillotine—also sets a terminal date. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman giving the House a categorical assurance that no guillotine motion setting a terminal date for completion of the Bill will be moved?

Mr. Clarke

The Government have no plans to introduce such a guillotine motion. If the right hon. Gentleman was as familiar with Standing Orders as he claims, he would know the difference between a guillotine and a closure, and we would not have spent so much time on this filibustering nonsense.

Mr. James Callaghan

I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. I do not think that any of us have to be here very long before we know the difference between a closure and a guillotine. I speak for myself, but I cannot conceive of a Government proceeding without moving a closure at certain intervals. That is not the point that I put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman at the beginning. He could have disposed of the matter straight away and saved himself a lot of trouble and publicity.

I understand that I speak with the agreement of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). The Government will not move a guillotine, but they will not perhaps resist a movement by hon. Members from any part of the House to put down a motion calling on the Government to introduce a guillotine. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give me a clear undertaking? It would be twisting the House, in view of what the Home Secretary said—and I do not believe that the Leader of the House would do it—if, having given the House a pledge, the Government failed to resist any attempt to move a motion that called on them to introduce a guillotine.

Mr. Clarke

I have already given the undertaking that the Government have no plans to introduce the guillotine. That is the position from which we started. We obviously trust that the guillotine will not be required. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No one except a Minister of the Crown can move a guillotine motion, and no Minister of the Crown intends to introduce such a motion.

As the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, who is slightly nearer to the real point than to the synthetic ones, will appreciate, the House may reach the stage where it wishes to come to a conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman wants me to say that the Government will guarantee that, even if the House as a whole wishes to bring proceedings to a conclusion, we will not agree. He is giving any individual hon. Member the right, in effect, to obstruct the Bill.

We are glad that the Ulster Unionist Members are back in their place. Let me postulate one theory. The House could be agreed that a measure that had passed through Committee and Report stages was a desirable improvement on the present law in England and Wales. If I gave the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth the guarantee he seeks, it would be open to the Ulster Unionist Members to talk out the legislation—although I am sure that they would not — relying on the Government's guarantee that we would never, in response to any pressure, introduce a timetable motion. Speeches about the General Belgrano, let alone other matters, could keep us here until Christmas, if I gave such a guarantee.

Mr. James Callaghan


Mr. Clarke

We have given the most reasonable arrangement I can recall a Government proposing to help us make progress over an aspect of law which the vast majority of hon. Members have known for years to be nonsense, and we now have the chance to consider it carefully in Committee.

Mr. Callaghan

As someone who has been a Member for 41 years—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Perhaps. I want to say that if the Government accept such a motion, it will be the shabbiest trick I have ever seen.

Mr. Clarke

The right hon. Gentleman is sitting behind a Front Bench whose only proposal for making progress in this matter is that we should have a conference. Apart from that, the right hon. Member for Gorton had no proposition. He did not say what the Labour party would say to that conference. It is obvious that the Opposition's position is opportunist, just as it is obvious that the Government's position gives the House the best chance it has ever had of reforming Sunday trading laws so that we have laws that are respected and enforceable and so that we can come to a reasonable conclusion.

I think that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, a former Prime Minister, had prepared his conclusion before he tried his first intervention. I always find it difficult to attack him, because his fiddling of the Boundary Commission's proposals brought me into Parliament. He would have abolished my seat if he had not delayed, and I was elected in 1970. Therefore, I shall wait a long time to hear him accuse me of shabby tricks. He seeks to denigrate the most sensible proposal that we have to make progress on this important matter. If it is rejected now, we shall live with the Shops Act 1950 for a further 20 years, and then return to another muddle of this sort.

Question put, That the amendment be made:-

The House divided: Ayes 227, Noes 279

Division No. 140] [12 midnight
Abse, Leo Bermingham, Gerald
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bidwell, Sydney
Alton, David Blair, Anthony
Anderson, Donald Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Boyes, Roland
Ashdown, Paddy Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Barnett, Guy Buchan, Norman
Barron, Kevin Caborn, Richard
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Beggs, Roy Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Beith, A. J. Campbell, Ian
Bell, Stuart Campbell-Savours, Dale
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Canavan, Dennis
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Cartwright, John Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Clarke, Thomas Kennedy, Charles
Clay, Robert Kilfedder, James A.
Clelland, David Gordon Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Lambie, David
Cohen, Harry Lamond, James
Coleman, Donald Leadbitter, Ted
Conlan, Bernard Leighton, Ronald
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Litherland, Robert
Corbett, Robin Livsey, Richard
Corbyn, Jeremy Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Craigen, J. M. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Crowther, Stan Loyden, Edward
Cunliffe, Lawrence McCrea, Rev William
Cunningham, Dr John McCusker, Harold
Dalyell, Tam McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) McGuire, Michael
Davies, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Deakins, Eric McKelvey, William
Dewar, Donald MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dixon, Donald Maclennan, Robert
Dobson, Frank McNamara, Kevin
Dormand, Jack McTaggart, Robert
Douglas, Dick McWilliam, John
Dubs, Alfred Madden, Max
Duffy, A. E. P. Maginnis, Ken
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Marek, Dr John
Eadie, Alex Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Eastham, Ken Martin, Michael
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ellis, Raymond Maxton, John
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Maynard, Miss Joan
Ewing, Harry Meacher, Michael
Fatchett, Derek Meadowcroft, Michael
Faulds, Andrew Michie, William
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Mikardo, Ian
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Fisher, Mark Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Flannery, Martin Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Forrester, John Mudd, David
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Nellist, David
Foster, Derek Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foulkes, George O'Brien, William
Fraser, J. (Norwood) O'Neill, Martin
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Freud, Clement Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Garrett, W. E. Paisley, Rev lan
George, Bruce Park, George
Godman, Dr Norman Patchett, Terry
Golding, John Pavitt, Laurie
Gould, Bryan Pendry, Tom
Gourlay, Harry Penhaligon, David
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Pike, Peter
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Powell, Rt Hon J. E.
Hancock, Michael Prescott, John
Hardy, Peter Randall, Stuart
Harman, Ms Harriet Raynsford, Nick
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Redmond, Martin
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Richardson, Ms Jo
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Haynes, Frank Robertson, George
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Heffer, Eric S. Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rogers, Allan
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Rooker, J. W.
Home Robertson, John Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Ross, Wm. (Londonderry E)
Howells, Geraint Rowlands, Ted
Hoyle, Douglas Ryman, John
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Janner, Hon Greville Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Skinner, Dennis
Johnston, Sir Russell Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E) Wallace, James
Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Soley, Clive Wareing, Robert
Steel, Rt Hon David Weetch, Ken
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) White, James
Stott, Roger Wigley, Dafydd
Strang, Gavin Williams, Rt Hon A.
Straw, Jack Wilson, Gordon
Taylor, Rt Hon John David Winnick, David
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Woodall, Alec
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Thorne, Stan (Preston) Tellers for the Ayes
Tinn, James Mr. Ron Davies and
Torney, Tom Mr. Ray Powell.
Wainwright, R.
Adley, Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Aitken, Jonathan du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Alexander, Richard Dunn, Robert
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Durant, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dykes, Hugh
Ancram, Michael Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Tom Emery, Sir Peter
Ashby, David Eyre, Sir Reginald
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Fairbairn, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fallon, Michael
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Farr, Sir John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Favell, Anthony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Baldry, Tony Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fletcher, Alexander
Batiste, Spencer Fookes, Miss Janet
Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic Forman, Nigel
Best, Keith Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forth, Eric
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Marcus
Bottomley, Peter Franks, Cecil
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Freeman, Roger
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Galley, Roy
Bright, Graham Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Brinton, Tim Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brooke, Hon Peter Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brown, M. (Brigg & CI'thpes) Glyn, Dr Alan
Browne, John Goodlad, Alastair
Bryan, Sir Paul Gorst, John
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Grist, Ian
Budgen, Nick Ground, Patrick
Butcher, John Grylls, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Carttiss, Michael Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cash, William Hampson, Dr Keith
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Haselhurst, Alan
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Chope, Christopher Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Churchill, W. S. Hawksley, Warren
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hayes, J.
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hayward, Robert
Clegg, Sir Walter Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Cockeram, Eric Heathcoat-Amory, David
Colvin, Michael Henderson, Barry
Conway, Derek Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Simon Hickmet, Richard
Cope, John Hicks, Robert
Corrie, John Hill, James
Couchman, James Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cranborne, Viscount Hordern, Sir Peter
Critchley, Julian Howard, Michael
Crouch, David Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Dickens, Geoffrey Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dorrell, Stephen Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Price, Sir David
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Prior, Rt Hon James
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Proctor, K. Harvey
Jackson, Robert Raffan, Keith
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rathbone, Tim
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Renton, Tim
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
King, Rt Hon Tom Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Knowles, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knox, David Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lamont, Norman Roe, Mrs Marion
Lang, Ian Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lawler, Geoffrey Rost, Peter
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rowe, Andrew
Lee, John (Pendle) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Ryder, Richard
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lightbown, David St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lilley, Peter Scott, Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lyell, Nicholas Shelton, William (Streatham)
McCrindle, Robert Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Silvester, Fred
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Sims, Roger
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Skeet, Sir Trevor
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maclean, David John Soames, Hon Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Speed, Keith
McQuarrie, Albert Speller, Tony
Madel, David Spencer, Derek
Major, John Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Malone, Gerald Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maples, John Squire, Robin
Marland, Paul Stanley, Rt Hon John
Marlow, Antony Steen, Anthony
Maude, Hon Francis Stern, Michael
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mellor, David Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Merchant, Piers Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sumberg, David
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Temple-Morris, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Monro, Sir Hector Thurnham, Peter
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moore, Rt Hon John Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Tracey, Richard
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Trippier, David
Moynihan, Hon C. Trotter, Neville
Neale, Gerrard Twinn, Dr lan
Needham, Richard Waddington, David
Nelson, Anthony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Neubert, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Newton, Tony Walden, George
Nicholls, Patrick Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Normanton, Tom Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Norris, Steven Waller, Gary
Onslow, Cranley Walters, Dennis
Oppenheim, Phillip Ward, John
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Osborn, Sir John Warren, Kenneth
Ottaway, Richard Watson, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Watts, John
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Parris, Matthew Wheeler, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Whitney, Raymond
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn) Wiggin, Jerry
Pattie, Geoffrey Wolfson, Mark
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Wood, Timothy
Pollock, Alexander Woodcock, Michael
Portillo, Michael Wrigglesworth, Ian
Powell, William (Corby) Yeo, Tim
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Young, Sir George (Acton)
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. Carol Mather and
Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Tellers for the Noes:

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 41 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading):

The House divided: Ayes 282, Noes 296.

Division No. 141] [12.15
Adley, Robert Eyre, Sir Reginald
Aitken, Jonathan Fairbairn, Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Fallon, Michael
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Farr, Sir John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Favell, Anthony
Ancram, Michael Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Arnold, Tom Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Ashby, David Fletcher, Alexander
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Fookes, Miss Janet
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Forman, Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Forth, Eric
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Baldry, Tony Fox, Marcus
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Franks, Cecil
Batiste, Spencer Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic Freeman, Roger
Best, Keith Freud, Clement
Biffen, Rt Hon John Galley, Roy
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Glyn, Dr Alan
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Goodlad, Alastair
Bright, Graham Gorst, John
Brinton, Tim Gow, Ian
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Grist, Ian
Brooke, Hon Peter Ground, Patrick
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Grylls, Michael
Browne, John Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Bryan, Sir Paul Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Buck, Sir Antony Hampson, Dr Keith
Budgen, Nick Hanley, Jeremy
Butcher, John Haselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Carttiss, Michael Hawksley, Warren
Cash, William Hayes, J.
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hayward, Robert
Chope, Christopher Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Churchill, W. S. Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Henderson, Barry
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hickmet, Richard
Clegg, Sir Walter Hicks, Robert
Cockeram, Eric Hill, James
Colvin, Michael Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Conway, Derek Hordern, Sir Peter
Coombs, Simon Howard, Michael
Cope, John Howarth, Alan(Stratf'd-on-A)
Corrie, John Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Couchman, James Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cranborne, Viscount Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Critchley, Julian Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Crouch, David Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dickens, Geoffrey Jackson, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Dunn, Robert Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Durant, Tony Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dykes, Hugh King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Eggar, Tim King, Rt Hon Tom
Emery, Sir Peter Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Renton, Tim
Knowles, Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Knox, David Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lamont, Norman Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lang, Ian Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lawler, Geoffrey Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Roe, Mrs Marion
Lee, John (Pendle) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rost, Peter
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rowe, Andrew
Lightbown, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lilley, Peter Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Luce, Rt Hon Richard St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lyell, Nicholas Scott, Nicholas
McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Silvester, Fred
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Sims, Roger
Maclean, David John Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McQuarrie, Albert Soames, Hon Nicholas
Madel, David Speed, Keith
Major, John Speller, Tony
Malone, Gerald Spencer, Derek
Maples, John Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Marland, Paul Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marlow, Antony Squire, Robin
Maude, Hon Francis Stanley, Rt Hon John
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Steen, Anthony
Mellor, David Stern, Michael
Merchant, Piers Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Sumberg, David
Miscampbell, Norman Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Temple-Morris, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Moore, Rt Hon John Thurnham, Peter
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Moynihan, Hon C. Tracey, Richard
Neale, Gerrard Trippier, David
Needham, Richard Trotter, Neville
Nelson, Anthony Twinn, Dr Ian
Neubert, Michael Waddington, David
Newton, Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholls, Patrick Waldegrave, Hon William
Normanton, Tom Walden, George
Norris, Steven Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Onslow, Cranley Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Oppenheim, Phillip Waller, Gary
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Walters, Dennis
Osborn, Sir John Ward, John
Ottaway, Richard Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Warren, Kenneth
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Watson, John
Parris, Matthew Watts, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn) Wheeler, John
Pattie, Geoffrey Whitney, Raymond
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Wiggin, Jerry
Pollock, Alexander Wolfson, Mark
Portillo, Michael Wood, Timothy
Powell, William (Corby) Woodcock, Michael
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wrigglesworth, Ian
Price, Sir David Yeo, Tim
Prior, Rt Hon James Young, Sir George (Acton)
Proctor, K. Harvey Younger, Rt Hon George
Raffan, Keith
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Tellers for the Ayes:
Rathbone, Tim Mr. Carol Mather and
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Abse, Leo Amess, David
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Anderson, Donald
Alton, David Archer, Rt Hon Peter
Ashdown, Paddy Eadie, Alex
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Eastham, Ken
Ashton, Joe Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Aspinwall, Jack Ellis, Raymond
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ewing, Harry
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fatchett, Derek
Barnett, Guy Faulds, Andrew
Barron, Kevin Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Fisher, Mark
Beggs, Roy Flannery, Martin
Beith, A. J. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bell, Stuart Forrester, John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Foster, Derek
Benyon, William Foulkes, George
Bermingham, Gerald Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Bevan, David Gilroy Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bidwell, Sydney Fry, Peter
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Gale, Roger
Blackburn, John Garrett, W. E.
Blair, Anthony George, Bruce
Body, Sir Richard Godman, Dr Norman
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Golding, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Boyes, Roland Gould, Bryan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gourlay, Harry
Bray, Dr Jeremy Gower, Sir Raymond
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Grant, Sir Anthony
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Greenway, Harry
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Gregory, Conal
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Bruinvels, Peter Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Buchan, Norman Hancock, Michael
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Hannam, John
Caborn, Richard Hardy, Peter
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Hargreaves, Kenneth
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Harman, Ms Harriet
Campbell, Ian Harris, David
Campbell-Savours, Dale Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Canavan, Dennis Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Harvey, Robert
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cartwright, John Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Chapman, Sydney Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Heffer, Eric S.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clarke, Thomas Hind, Kenneth
Clay, Robert Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clelland, David Gordon Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cohen, Harry Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Donald Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Conlan, Bernard Howells, Geraint
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Hoyle, Douglas
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Corbett, Robin Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Corbyn, Jeremy Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cormack, Patrick Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Craigen, J. M. Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Crowther, Stan Hunter, Andrew
Cunliffe, Lawrence Irving, Charles
Cunningham, Dr John Janner, Hon Greville
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Jessel, Toby
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Johnston, Sir Russell
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Deakins, Eric Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dewar, Donald Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dicks, Terry Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dixon, Donald Kennedy, Charles
Dobson, Frank Kilfedder, James A.
Dormand, Jack Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Douglas, Dick Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dover, Den Lambie, David
Dubs, Alfred Lamond, James
Duffy, A. E. P. Latham, Michael
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Leadbitter, Ted
Leighton, Ronald Pendry, Tom
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Penhaligon, David
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Pike, Peter
Litherland, Robert Powell, Rt Hon J. E.
Livsey, Richard Powley, John
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Prescott, John
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Loyden, Edward Randall, Stuart
McCrea, Rev William Raynsford, Nick
McCusker, Harold Redmond, Martin
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Richardson, Ms Jo
McGuire, Michael Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Robertson, George
McKelvey, William Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Maclennan, Robert Rogers, Allan
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Rooker, J. W.
McNamara, Kevin Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McTaggart, Robert Ross, Wm. (Londonderry E)
McWilliam, John Rowlands, Ted
Madden, Max Ryman, John
Maginnis, Ken Sayeed, Jonathan
Malins, Humfrey Sedgemore, Brian
Marek, Dr John Sheerman, Barry
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Martin, Michael Shersby, Michael
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Maxton, John Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Maynard, Miss Joan Skinner, Dennis
Meacher, Michael Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Meadowcroft, Michael Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Michie, William Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Mikardo, Ian Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Soley, Clive
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stanbrook, Ivor
Moate, Roger Steel, Rt Hon David
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Stokes, John
Mudd, David Stott, Roger
Murphy, Christopher Strang, Gavin
Nellist, David Straw, Jack
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tapsell, Sir Peter
O'Brien, William Taylor, Rt Hon John David
O'Neill, Martin Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Terlezki, Stefan
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Paisley, Rev Ian Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Park, George Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Patchett, Terry Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Pavitt, Laurie Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Pawsey, James Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Tinn, James
Torney, Tom Wigley, Dafydd
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Wilkinson, John
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Williams, Rt Hon A.
Viggers, Peter Wilson, Gordon
Wainwright, R. Winnick, David
Walker, Cecil (Belfast N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Wall, Sir Patrick Winterton, Nicholas
Wallace, James Woodall, Alec
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wareing, Robert
Weetch, Ken Tellers for the Noes:
White, James Mr. Ray Powell and
Whitfield, John Mr. Frank Haynes.

Question accordingly negatived.

12.28 am
Mr. Kinnock

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will the Government give us a statement on their future views on what was a central piece of their legislative programme —[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Kinnock

It was a piece of legislation forecast and to which the Government were committed in the Queen's Speech at the beginning of this Session—a piece of legislation which demonstrated the immense distance between the leadership of the Conservative party and the desires of the British people, as reflected in tonight's vote. We must have a statement this evening from the Government so that we can get guidance on whether they intend to repeat the lunacy of trying to introduce such a Bill in this or in any other Session. The same fate would meet such a Bill.

Mr. Stanbrook


The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)


Mr. Speaker

Order. I call the Leader of the House, and in this place we should above all else indulge In the freedom of speech.

Mr. Biffen

In the light of the decision of the House tonight, it is clear that further progress on the Bill is not possible. The Government accept that position and have no plans to reintroduce this legislation.

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