HC Deb 03 July 1997 vol 297 c412
18. Mr. Cohen

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement in respect of her policy towards the May day public holiday. [5221]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths

I should tell the House that I have received suggestions for a name change—to Landslide day, to Victory day or even to Demolition day. As we have no wish to be triumphalist, however, we will keep it as May day.

Mr. Cohen

May I tell my hon. Friend that—because the previous Government seriously threatened to abolish it—I am delighted that he has agreed to save May day as a bank holiday? As there will be many more people in work under this Labour Government, would it not be right to celebrate May day as Workers Away day?

Mr. Griffiths

Of course May day has very deep roots as a spring festival. The early May day bank holiday is valued by many sections of our community.

Sir Sydney Chapman

Putting aside the hint of political ideology behind the question, in all fairness is there not a case for moving the relatively recently introduced May day bank holiday to another part of the calendar, to even out the numbers? Does the Secretary of State agree that it might be better to have the holiday on the Monday, or perhaps Friday, nearest Trafalgar day, for example, or a celebration closer to my own heart—All Saints' day?

Mr. Griffiths

As the hon. Gentleman has mentioned Trafalgar, I should tell him that one of the first changes that I made after taking over my office was to hang on the wall behind my desk a large original painting of the 1836 Waterloo banquet. Hanging that painting contrasts with a decision of his former colleague at the Department of Trade and Industry, who decided to hang several thousand pounds-worth of new drape curtains. As for the hon. Gentleman's initial question, the business community was strongly against such a suggestion.