HL Deb 26 March 1908 vol 186 cc1523-32

House in Committee (according to Order).

[The Earl of ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

LORD ORANMORE and BROWNE moved to omit, from the beginning of Paragraph (a) in sub section 1 of Clause 3, the words "The opening or keeping open of any shop solely for the purposes of any of the trades," and to insert the, words, "The sale or offering for sale of any of the articles." He explained that the object of this Amendment, and of the consequential Amendments following it, was to allow small shops which could not be said to belong to any special trade, but which catered for many wants, to be kept open. There were, he said, many such all over England. In Barrow-in-Furness alone small shops of this kind were kept by fifty-three widows with eighty-two children dependent on them, and by ten women with infirm husbands and thirty-four children dependent upon them. It was doubtful whether, under the clause as it stood, these persons would he able to open their shops on Sunday.

Amendment moved— In page 1, line 20, to leave out from the beginning of paragraph (a) to the word 'mentioned' in line 27, and to insert the words 'The sale or offering for sale of any of the articles.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Broume.)


thought he could convince the noble Lord of the nil-desirability of pressing the Amendment. The words in the clause were those agreed to by the Committee of their Lordships' House who examined very carefully into the whole question, and great danger was involved in altering the wording of a measure which had been carefully drafted, unless there was certainty that the Amendment had been considered in reference to the drafting of the rest of the Bill. As a matter of fact, the Amendment would not carry out the object the noble Lord had in view, for Clause 3 was not the clause which prohibited the opening of shops on Sunday. Their Lordships had already passed Clause 1, which effected that object. Clause 3 dealt with special exemptions for scheduled trades. Therefore, the effect of the Amendment would be to enable the shopkeeper in question to sell his goods on Sunday, but he could not sell them in the shop, as by Clause 1 he was prohibited from opening the shop on that day.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to amend Paragraph (b) of the first sub section of Clause 3— (b) As respects the area of any local authority, the opening of such shops or classes of shops for the sale of such articles or classes of articles as may he allowed under any resolution for the time being in force of that authority up to nine in the forenoon, or such earlier hour as may be specified in the resolution. by substituting the words "eleven in the forenoon" for the words "nine in the forenoon." The opponents of the Bill desired to fix one o'clock; he thought eleven o'clock would be a fair compromise. The working classes laboured very hard all the week, and naturally desired a little rest on the Sunday morning; but, if no shops were allowed to be open after nine o'clock on that morning, they would be prevented from purchasing food unless they got up very early. It was true that the Committee had reported in favour of the hour of nine, but he would like to know if any of the local authorities had expressed an opinion on that point. It must be remembered that this was practically new legislation, and it was, therefore, very desirable not to begin too strictly. He suggested that the hour of eleven should be inserted to see how it worked, and if it were found to be unduly late it could be subsequently altered.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 13, to leave out the word 'nine' and to insert the word 'eleven.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


hoped that here again the noble Lord would not press his Amendment. The question of the hour had been very carefully considered, not only by the Committee of their Lordships' House, but also by the shopkeepers' associations, more than 400 of which were in favour of the provision as it now stood in the Bill. The noble Lord had asked whether any local authorities had expressed their opinion on the subject. The Bill was supported by the corporations of Belfast, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough and Swansea, by the Urban District Councils Association representing 490 urban districts, and by the corporations of Edinburg, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeeu, and over fifty other Scottish towns. If the Amendment were carried the shopkeepers concerned and their assistants would be precluded from attending any place of worship on Sunday morning, and the first half of the day would be completely gone. He submitted that the shopkeepers were entitled to one day's rest a week, and contended that the provision in the clause as it stood was ample. Moreover, the great bulk of the working men were paid early on Saturday, and had sufficient time on that day for obtaining the necessaries of life.


thought the noble Lord would be well advised in not pressing the Amendment. Even if the hour of eleven were inserted, he was disposed to think that the local authorities would avail themselves of the power given in the section and fix an earlier hour. Nine o'clock was, in his opinion, the outside time that would be allowed by any local authority.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to delete the words "or herbalist" from the subsection providing that nothing in the Act should prevent— The sale by any pharmaceutical chemist or chemists and druggist or herbalist of any drugs, medicines, or surgical appliances, or the sale of any article by the occupier of any premises, or the servant or agent of any such occupier, to any person lodging upon such premises. He believed there was no legal definition of a herbalist, and that the exemption in this case was unwise.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 21, to leave out the words 'or herbalist.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


said herbalists were anxious to be included in the Bill. These men dealt in vegetable compounds which might or might not have the efficacious results claimed for them, but certainly they were not injurious. No person could sell drugs or medicines unless he was specially qualified.


The noble Lord is quite correct in saying that they cannot sell drugs and medicines. They cannot sell poisons. The restriction only applies to poisonous substances scheduled in the Pharmacy Act.


was of opinion that, as herbalists could not sell poisons, there could be no objection to their inclusion.


deprecated legislation for such a small and unknown class as herbalists, and suggested that Lord Avebury should make inquiries before the next stage of the Bill as to whether it was absolutely necessary to retain them.


I think this provision is inserted in the interests of the poor. There are a very large number of herbalists, considerably more than the noble and learned Lord imagines, and a great many of them—I hope most of them—ply a perfectly harmless trade. They are not, of course, recognised in the way that a chemist and druggist is. They have no status of that kind, but they are to a certain extent in many districts the poor man's chemist, and I think no harm would be done by leaving them in the Bill.


undertook that if the Amendment were withdrawn he would consider the point before the next stage of the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

*LORD SWAYTHLING moved, as an Amendment to Clause 5, which provided that the Sunday Observation Prosecution Act, 1871, should apply to prosecutions for offences under the Bill as it applied to prosecutions under the Sunday Observance Act, 1677, the insertion of the following words: "Provided always that, where the person alleged to have committed the offence being a person professing the Jewish religion: (1) Has not kept his shop open for the purpose of his trade, or sold or exposed or offered for sale any article from sunset on the Friday to sunset on the Saturday immediately preceding the alleged offence; and (2) has not employed for the purpose of his trade on the Sunday on which the offence is alleged to have been committed any person other than a person professing the Jewish religion, the consent required by the Sunday Observation Prosecution Act, 1871, shall not be given unless the offence shall have been committed after the hour of 3 p.m. on such Sunday." This Amendment had, he said, been framed in concert with the board of deputies which represented the Jews in the United Kingdom and in the Colonies. It was also founded on the unanimous Report of the Select Committee on Sunday Trading, who recommended that an endeavour should be made to effect a compromise in favour of the Jews. He was also encouraged to hope that the Amendment would be accepted by the words of sympathy expressed by several noble Lords on the Second Reading of the Bill. Lord Avebury had stated on the Second Reading that Jews could work on Saturday nights. In the summer, however, the Jewish Sabbath terminated at nine o'clock, and therefore the facility referred to by Lord Avebury would be almost useless; and in the winter they had to cease work at four o'clock on Friday afternoons. Hitherto the Jewish community had been successful in maintaining their own poor and in keeping Jews out of the workhouse. If the Bill passed without Amendment it would reduce to poverty many thousands of Jews who were already on the verge of pauperism, and the Jewish community would have very great difficulty in maintaining them. His sole object in moving the Amendment was to enable his people to remain self-supporting.

Amendment moved— In line 34, after '1677' to insert the words 'Provided always that where the person alleged to have committed the offence being a person professing the Jewish religion (1) has not kept his shop open for the purpose of his trade, or sold or exposed or offered for sale any article from sunset on the Friday to sunset on the Saturday immediately preceding the alleged offence; and (2) has not employed for the purpose of his trade on the Sunday on which the offence is alleged to have been committed any person other than a person professing the Jewish religion, the consent required by the Sunday Observation Prosecution Act, 1871, shall not be given unless the offence shall have been committed after the hour of three p.m. on such Sunday.' "—(Lord Swaythling.)


could not agree to an Amendment the effect of which would be to close the Christian shops on the whole of Sunday and leave to a small number of Jewish shops the opportunity of obtaining the whole of the Sunday trade. This question had been very carefully considered by the shopkeepers themselves, and they submitted to their Lordships that it would be very unfair to them to adopt the proposal contained in the Amendment. The noble Lord had spoken of Jews having to close till nine o'clock on Saturday evenings during a part of the year, but that would only be a very small part of the year. The needs of the Jews had been carefully considered by a Joint Committee of both Houses, who reported as follows— The Committee must draw attention to the case of the Jews, with whom they have much sympathy. They would be glad if a compromise could be found. The Committee have been informed that any measure will be opposed which does not expressly permit those Jews who close on Saturday to open on Sunday. Such an arrangement, on the other hand, would probably be opposed by the shopkeeping community as a whole, and the Committee cannot recommend it. That was the decision arrived at by the Joint Committee which very carefully considered the particular proposal now before the Committee. An endeavour had been made to meet the needs of the Jews in a subsequent provision, any Amendment to which would be most carefully considered. In the circumstances he hoped their Lordships would not accept the Amendment.


thought something might be done under Clause 6 to meet the case submitted by Lord Swaythling.


said it would, perhaps, be for the convenience of their Lordships that he should explain the attitude of His Majesty's Government with regard to this Amendment, and, generally, with regard to the Bill. The Government did not propose to exercise such influence as they possessed in the discussion of the Bill. In view of the fullness of their legislative programme, there was no possibility of giving facilities to the measure in the other House, and the discussion was therefore merely academic. If it had been otherwise, the Home Office would have put down Amendments to the Bill; to have taken that course in the present circumstances would, the Home Secretary felt, only have imposed a hard task on officials who were already over worked. On the Second Reading he had ventured to say that it would be in the practical application of this Bill that the difficulties would come in. He thought it was obvious to everyone that there was an immense difficulty with regard to the Jews which had not yet been met. To the Jews in the East End of London the matter was of almost vital importance. For himself he could only repeat the hope upon which the Duke of Northumberland poured so much scorn on the Second Reading, that some compromise might yet be arrived at. It did not seem to him that Lord Avebury had yet succeeded in devising arrangements which would remove the opposition of the Jews.


regarded the announcement to which the Committee had just listened as rather unsatisfactory. They were constantly under the difficulty of not being able to have legislation originated hi sufficient time in their Lordships' House. Here was a Bill brought in, after inquiry by a Select Committee, very early in the session when there was ample time. But they were now told that there was no use proceeding with it because the officials of the Home Office were so overworked that apparently between now and June they would not be able to formulate the Amendments which the Government thought should be inserted. He was fully aware of the difficulty of the subject. He agreed that there was a grievance as shown in the Amendment, but if they were never to see the Amendments which the Home Office would like inserted they would never advance the matter. Surely one of the most important steps in the direction of the compromise which everybody professed to desire would be that at some time or another the Home Office should apply their mind to the subject and let it be seen what it was they suggested. He thought the best course would be to adjourn the Committee, and resume when the Home Office had had sufficient leisure to formulate their Amendments.


promised to consider whatever suggestions might be made on behalf of the Jewish community, but as the proposal now before the Committee had been carefully considered and rejected by the Joint Committee, he hoped the noble Lord would not press it.


observed that under the Bill there would still be a good many shops allowed to be open on Sundays, and he thought that room for a compromise might be found later concerning Jewish shops which supplied the necessaries of life.


said the point was not that the Home Office officials had not had the necessary time to prepare Amendments, but that the Government and the House of Commons were overworked: and as it was impossible to find time for this Bill, the Home Office had not desired to waste the time of their officials in drafting Amendments which could have no practical effect. He could not help feeling that the Jews had a just claim for a definite and substantial clause in the Bill. The whole atmosphere of the reign of Charles II. was very different from the atmosphere of the present day, and as the Jews closed their shops on the Saturday, he did not see why they should be prevented from trading at any rate during a portion of the Sunday.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6:

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to insert the necessary authorities for applying the Bill in Scotland and Ireland. He explained that he was following the precedent of the Shop Hours Act, 1904.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 35, after the word 'apply' to insert the words 'in England' and after the word 'State' to insert the words 'in Scotland to the Secretary for Scotland, and in Ireland to the Lord-Lieutenant.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


accepted the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. Consequential Amendments agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7:

Drafting Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.


LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to omit the words "sweets for immediate consumption," and to insert "sweatmeats, fruit, and cooked fish, meat and eggs." The sale of these articles on Sundays was for the benefit principally of cheap trippers, and it would be very hard if they could not procure the articles mentioned in his Amendment. Moreover, they should be permitted to take them away for consumption on the sea-shore or elsewhere, but this they would be prevented from doing by the retention of the words "for immediate consumption." As to meat, he meant, of course, cooked meat.

Amendment moved— In line 15, to leave out the words 'sweets for immediate consumption' and to insert the words 'sweetmeats, fruit, and cooked fish, meat and eggs.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


was pre pared to accept "sweetmeats" instead of "sweets," but the other words seemed unnecessary. Cooked fish, meat, and eggs would come under the term "refreshments," and to specify certain particular refreshments of which there could be no doubt might be held to exclude others.


Raw meat is not in the Schedule.


The noble Lord explained that he meant cooked, not raw meat.


said it seemed to him that the words were required.


stated that it was certainly intended that all these refreshments should be allowed to be sold during the whole of the day. He thought there could be no doubt about it; but if the noble Lord would postpone the Amendment he would consult the draftsman.


thought that as the Schedule stood, there was a doubt on the subject, and he was glad that Lord Avebury intended to confer with the draftsman upon it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill re-committed to the Standing Committee, and to be printed as amended. (No. 41.)