HL Deb 22 July 1930 vol 78 cc670-82

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Business of hairdresser or barber not to be carried on on Sunday.

1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to carry on the business of a hairdresser or barber on Sunday.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out all words after "person," and to insert "to employ any assistant in the business of a hairdresser or barber on Sunday." The noble Lord said: This Bill is a Private Member's Bill, introduced in another place and passed after 11 o'clock at night, and consequently had no discussion at all except in the Grand Committee upstairs. The effect of the Amendment that I am moving is that it would he illegal for any person to employ any assistant in the business of a hairdresser or barber on Sunday, but it would leave the man himself, the proprietor of the business, the right to work on Sunday if he likes. I was always under the impression that this was a free country, and that if a man chose to work seven days in the week, or six days in the week, or three days in the week, he was at liberty to do so. But now, apparently, the Socialists and Liberals are not in favour of freedom except freedom as they think right; and I as a Tory —and the longer I live the more Tory I become—am in favour of liberty, and have always been in favour of liberty. I do not see why on earth a man of twenty-one years and upwards, who, as the Socialists used to say in another place, is capable of fighting for his country, should not be able to cut somebody's hair or shave somebody, if he likes to do so, on Sunday.

It is possible, though I am not sure that I quite agree with it, that it inflicts some hardship if you say that he may employ some other person who, for fear of being discharged, feels himself bound to work on Sunday. But, in the case of my Amendment, that would not apply, because my Amendment would only allow a man who is a perfectly free subject to work on Sundays. I have had letters from hairdressers in favour of the rejection of the Bill altogether, and I have had letters from hairdressers in favour of the Bill. I have also had another letter from hairdressers, signed by several people, who say that in their opinion hairdressers should be allowed to cut people's hair and shave people on Sundays in seaside resorts in July, August and September, and that that proposal was agreed to by the promoters of the Bill in another place, but they did not carry it out. It seems to me that it is a little difficult to define what exactly is a seaside resort, and therefore I have not attempted to put down that Amendment; but I have put down an Amendment leaving a person free to carry on business if he likes.

Now, what is the objection to my Amendment? The objection that has been sent to me is that if I am a barber and do not want to work on Sunday, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, is a barber also and does want to work on Sunday, I am going to pre- vent his working because he might make a little money, while I should sit still and not make it. That does not seem to me to be at all a good reason, and therefore I move the Amendment, which I hope the noble Lord will accept.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 7, leave out from ("person") to end of the clause and insert the said words.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


It was owing, perhaps, to the powerful appeal made by the noble and learned Lord above the Gangway on behalf of the assistants that this Bill was read a second time the other day. The Amendment which has just been moved will cut out the assistants and it will simply mean that one man may conduct his shop and carry on his barber's business on Sundays. I think that will mean a great deal to many small men living in mean streets, and it will certainly be for the public convenience that a man should be enabled by himself to carry on his barber's shop on Sundays. I support the Amendment and hope that it will be carried.


I am sorry that I cannot accept this Amendment. The noble Lord who moved it said that apparently nowadays neither Socialists nor Liberals were in favour of liberty. I think I am safe in saying that not only Socialists and Liberals, but Conservatives also, are in favour of Sunday closing, which is rather another matter and is more germane, perhaps, to the point at issue. This Amendment to make it illegal only to employ assistants is merely another way of throwing the Bill out altogether, the reason being that I do not think the noble Lord who moved or the noble Lord who supported the Amendment can really know what the facts are in reference to the hairdressers' trade. The fact is that the one-man hairdresser's business practically does not exist at all. There is always an assistant employed who is absolutely essential to the carrying on of the business of a barber. The so-called one-man business consists of one man who is competent to carry on the trade. He has as his assistant very often a boy or a girl who does the rough work, the cleaning up and the preparatory work. What the assistant does is to sweep the floor, get the hot water ready, lather the faces of customers, put the gown round the custo- mer and when the operation is over take the gown off again, brush the customer's coat and see him off the premises. The point is that the assistant simply makes ready for the proprietor so as to enable him to get along from one customer to another. The business which can be carried on without an assistant does not exist. Therefore, if your Lordships accepted this Amendment, and I feel quite confident that having accepted the Second Reading by such a large majority you will not do anything of the kind, you would in fact be stultifying the Second Reading you gave to the Bill.


It the statement made by the noble Lord is correct the result of my Amendment would ho to do no harm at all. Really it would carry out what he wants, because he says there are practically no barbers who carry on business by themselves. If there are no barbers who carry on business by themselves, why does the noble Lord object to the Amendment? He will get his Bill and he will still leave a person, who, as I have said, is sane and of age, liberty to carry on his business if he likes. If it is an impossibility he will not carry it on and the noble Lord will get every-thing he wants. My Amendment will do no harm. It may possibly do good. As it is such a very small Amendment, according to the noble Lord, I hope your Lordships will accept it.


On the contrary, I did not say it was a small Amendment. I said it was an entirely wrecking Amendment. I do not think I need repeat the arguments I used. The noble Lord took the trouble to address your Lordships twice. I do not want to inflict my remarks again upon your Lordships; I simply ask you to vote against the Amendment.


I might say, perhaps, that the Home Office, who are giving general support to the measure, are very much against the Amendment, which they consider would wreck the whole Bill.


May I be allowed to say a few words upon this matter at no great length? This matter, or rather the same point as is raised by this Amendment was discussed in connection with a Bill which went through your Lordships' House either last year or the year before. The very point was raised as to whether a distinction should be made between the shopkeeper who had assistants and the shopkeeper who had none. After a very careful debate in your Lordships' House it was, decided that no distinction could be made. I am referring, of course, to the period before the late General Election when I had the honour of sitting on the Bench opposite. I remember taking part in that discussion. In the upshot it was decided without any hesitation that the distinction could not be made because of the difficulty of competition as between one shop and the other. If you gave a privilege to the one-man shop he would have a comparative advantage as compared with the shopkeeper who employed assistants. Your Lordships, after carefully considering the matter, came to the conclusion that the distinction could not be sustained. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will not trouble your Lordships to decide what has already been decided on the main question. Surely it is only reasonable in legislation that once a principle is decided for the all-inclusive measure, or not quite the all-inclusive measure but one including the greater number of examples of a subject, then it should be applied throughout, as it would be in this case if my noble friend's Amendment was not pressed. I hope, therefore, that he will not press it.


I do not quite hold that because we did a certain thing some time ago we should never make an alteration. We may have done wrong some time ago and in view of later events it may be right to alter it. But after what my noble friend who leads the Opposition has said, I will not press this Amendment, though I shall press the next Amendment that stands in my name.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD TEYNHAM moved to add the words "after eleven o'clock in the morning." The noble Lord said: In spite of what the noble Lord below me has been saying I still regard this measure as unnecessary and oppressive. It is in order to limit the time when its provisions will hold good that I put forward this Amendment. After all, not only in London but in provincial towns many small shops, such as dairies and those selling sweets and tobacco, are open until eleven o'clock. Why not barbers' shops? I am perfectly willing to limit the Amendment, if necessary, to men's shops, because I agree that there is no particular reason why a woman should have her hair shingled on a Sunday morning. I am informed by a member of the trade that whilst, to his knowledge, the opinion of the trade has never been fully expressed as to the merits of this Bill, the principal support for it has come from women's shops. I believe that little support has come from purely men's shops, and I think that it would be an undoubted hardships to the workingman, who probably has not time to go to a barber's shop on a week-day, that he should not be able to visit a barber's shop on a Sunday morning. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 8, after ("Sunday") insert ("after eleven o'clock in the morning").—(Lord Teynham.)


The Amendment moved by my noble friend will give the barber and his assistant an opportunity of going to church. No doubt, therefore, it will be supported by right rev. Prelates who sit on the other side of the House. It seems to me to be an extremely reasonable Amendment, because it allows people to have their hair cut and be shaved at a reasonable time on Sunday. I shall certainly support it.


I am sorry that I cannot accept this Amendment either. Of course, I should be the first to admit that the matter of public convenience is one which has to be considered. I agree that if a case could he made that some really important matter of public convenience had to be considered and provided for, it might easily be that this Sunday closing of barbers would be a wrong thing. But I feel quite convinced, from the information which is in my possession, that no serious inconvenience will be caused to the public by this complete Sunday closing. The suggestion is that barbers' shops should be open until eleven o'clock. What that means in practice is that if there were a number of customers in the shop, the shop would have to remain open until they were attended to. I feel certain that the result of this Amendment would be to give the barbers, instead of a day and a half a week, which is what we want to give them, two half days a week. It would cut very seriously into this principle of Sunday closing. What we want to do is to give this trade a day and a half a week, like other trades which come under the Lord's Day Observance Act and the Shops Act.

There is another thing. I am assured by the representatives in the trade who are promoting this Bill that the Sunday morning business is very much less important than formerly, and that is due to two causes. It is due to the fact that so many people nowadays use the safety razor, and shave themselves, and, therefore, modern development is that the Sunday work is very largely haircutting and shampooing, which could be just as well done at any other time of the week. I believe it is the fact that a certain number of people have the habit of going along on Sunday morning to be shaved. Very often the workman is at a loose end on Sunday morning. I have no doubt his wife may he cooking the Sunday dinner and the public-house is not open at that time. There he is at a loose end, and he gets into the habit of drifting along to the barber's shop to fill in time. To say that he has not to do that, but has to make other arrangements, is not a serious infringement on his liberty or a serious inconvenience. If, as the price for his doing that, you have to deprive these unfortunate barbers of the Sunday closing, then I say unhesitatingly you are paying too high a price. The noble Lord said he thought the right rev. Prelates would vote for the Amendment because it gave the barbers a chance to go to church. I think that the right rev. Prelates would be much more interested in seeing that these people got their Sunday rest. When you consider that these assistants have to work twelve and thirteen hours a day for seven days in the week, and three hundred and sixty five days a year, I am certain no right rev. Prelate would wish to vote for this proposal even if they had a chance to go to church on Sunday. I appeal to your Lordships with the utmost confidence to resist this Amendment. I shall certainly not accept it.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Exemption as respects hairdressers or barbers attending certain persons.

2. Notwithstanding anything in this or any other Act, any person carrying on the business of a hairdresser or barber may, at any time, for the purposes of that business attend any person—

  1. (a) in any place, if that person is unable, by reason of bodily or mental infirmity, to go to the place where such business as aforesaid is carried on; or
  2. (b) in any hotel, if that person is resident therein; or
  3. (c) in any sea-going ship:

Provided that nothing in this section shall authorise the employment of any shop assistant in or about the business of a shop at any time when it would, under the Shops Acts, 1912 to 1928, be unlawful for him to be so employed.


In view of the decision of the House on the last Amendment, I do not propose to move the next Amendment in my name—[to insert, after "person," immediately preceding paragraph (a), "for the purpose of shaving only and"].

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out paragraph (b). The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment which I feel certain the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will accept, because this carries out what he desires. It makes it impossible for a barber to do work on Sunday in all hotel. There cart be no earthly reason that I can see why, if it is wrong for a barber to carry on his business in his shop on Sunday, it is right for him to carry on a business in an hotel. Moreover, if this is left in, it will make the Bill one which is favourable to rich people and is unfavourable to poor people. The poor man is not resident in an hotel, and the rich man is, and consequently the rich man will have a privilege which the poor man will not have. This is an Amendment in the direction of the desire of the noble Lord, inasmuch as it prevents a barber doing work on Sunday in a special place. Therefore I hope he will accept it; but in any case on this Amendment, I shall ask your Lordships to divide.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 17, leave out paragraph (b). —(Lord Banbury of Southem.)


I hope your Lordships will accept this Amendment, because I feel you cannot have much respect for a person who can afford to live in an hotel and yet cannot take the trouble to buy a safety razor to shave himself.


I hope your Lordships will not accept the Amendment. I belong to an association called the Travel Association. We are doing our very best to get Americans and other foreigners to come to this country. They do not shave in the same way as we do, and for the purposes of those who travel it is very inconvenient if they cannot get a shave from Saturday night until Monday morning. It is really for the benefit of those who travel, and for the foreigners who come to this country, that this exemption is asked for in the Bill. I do not think it is a question of rich or poor or anything of that sort. It is really for the benefit of those who come to this country. If we are to make it more uncomfortable for them, we shall not get the benefit of the American dollars which we are hoping will flow in.


I am sorry to disappoint the noble Lord, but I cannot accept this Amendment. The noble Lord suggests that I want to prevent barbers working on Sunday, and that I can do more to that end by leaving out this paragraph. What he wants to do is to allow them to work on Sundays, so why does he move the Amendment at all? The Amendment is to allow them to work in hotels. Therefore it would be very ranch better if he did not move the Amendment.


How does the noble Lord know that I have not been converted by his arguments?


If the noble Lord says that, perhaps he wishes to withdraw the Amendment?




Therefore he has not been converted. I am sorry to hear it. I hope the House will convert him by voting against the Amendment. That is by the way. The argument that this means one law for the rich and another for the poor does not hold water, because it so happens that I felt there might be force in that objection, and I took the trouble to make inquiries, and I am assured by people who are in a good position to know that there is just as much opportunity to get a cheap shave as there is to get an expensive one, in hotels on Sundays. But the real point is the one made by the noble Lord, Lord Jessel. This paragraph was inserted to safeguard the interests of a very important industry, that is the visiting industry, an industry which caters for visitors to this country.

As the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, said at an earlier stage, there was some question of omitting seaside resorts. The fact is, people who go for their holiday to seaside resorts rather like to have, or some of them live to have, a holiday from shaving at the same time, and, therefore, there was a move that the seaside resorts and holiday places should be exempted during the season. Some of these resorts have a winter season and a summer season, and it was found when you came to boil it down, you could not get a reasonable exemption of that kind, and therefore the decision was arrived at that the position would best be met by having this exemption of persons resident in an hotel. I would like to tell your Lordships that the word "resident" is not nearly so formidable as it looks. You can be a resident in an hotel without sleeping there. You can be a resident in an hotel, I am informed, if you take a meal there. Your Lordships are familiar with the Licensing Laws, and know that a meal can be something less substantial than a sirloin of beef. Therefore this provision goes a very long way to meet the convenience of people generally on a Sunday; and, if omitted, it would, as I think the noble Lord knows, cause a complete upset of the arrangements which have been come

to in connection with this Bill. It is really a wrecking Amendment. I hope your Lordships will not accept it.


The speech of the noble Lord has really opened the eyes of some of us very much. I at any rate was under the impression that a resident meant resident. Apparently it means having a meal of some sort, a breakfast, or dinner, or possibly a cocktail, or some other pernicious form of meal, and in that case the man who could afford this meal can go and cut a hole directly into the middle of the noble Lord's Bill. Why he should like to destroy his own Bill is astonishing to me. If he has persuaded your Lordships, as I think he did on Second Reading, that on the whole the Bill is a good Bill, I certainly trust your Lordships will not allow the Bill to be destroyed by its own parent. The noble Lord, Lord Jessel, seems to think that we ought to legislate specially for the benefit of American tourists coming over here temporarily. Personally, that does not appeal to me very greatly. An American millionaire can, if he chooses, bring over his own barber if he is totally incapable of shaving himself one day in the week. Therefore, I think the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, has not given a very adequate reason for carrying out the wish of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, to make a serious hole to the destruction of his own Bill. I certainly trust your Lordships will leave out this paragraph.

On Question, Whether the said paragraph shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 68; Not-Contents, 18.

Sankey, L. (L. Chancellor.) Leven and Melville, E. Gloucester, L. Bp.
Lucan, E. Lincoln, L. Bp.
Parmoor, L. (L. President.) Mar and Kellie, E. Manchester, L. Bp.
Minto, E. Sheffield, L. Bp.
Wellington, D. Morton, E. Southwark, L. Bp.
Munster, E.
Lansdowne, M. Peel, E. Aberdare, L.
Linlithgow, M. Russell, E. Alvingham, L.
Normanby, M. Selborne, E. Ampthill, L.
Reading, M. Vano, E. (M. Londonderry.) Annaly, L.
Salisbury, M. Arnold, L.
Burnham, V. Atkin, L.
Shaftesbury, E. (L. Steward.) [Teller.] FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Baden-Powell.
Hailsham, V. Balfour of Burleigh, L. [Teller.]
Beauchamp, E. Hood, V.
Denbigh, E. Mersey, V. Bayford, L.
Grey, E. Plumer, V. Clwyd, L.
Iveagh, E. Darling, L.
Dynevor, L. Jessel, L. Saltoun, L.
Doverdale, L. Ker, L. (M. Lothian.) Strachie, L.
Fairfax of Cameron, L. Kirkley, L. Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)
Faringdon, L. Lawrence, L. Swaythling, L.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.) Marks, L. Thomson, L.
Gorell, L. Marley, L. Wharton, L.
Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.) Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Wraxall, L.
Howard of Glossop, L. Sanderson, L.
Airlie, E. Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.] Ellenborough, L.
Lauderdale, E. Elphinstone, L.
Lindsey, E. Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.) Forester, L.
Midleton, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Onslow, E. Sempill, L.
Stanhope, E. Danesfort, L. Templemore, L.
Bertie of Thame, V. [Teller.] Teynham, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

LORD TEYNHAM moved, in paragraph (c), after "any,' to insert "railway station, railway train or." The noble Lord said: The Bill provides that a hairdresser may carry on business in any sea-going ship. I propose to insert the words "railway station, railway train." At almost all the large railway stations in London, and I think in the provinces there are now hairdressers' establishments, most of which are open on Sundays. I think they ought to be allowed to remain open. I propose to insert the words "railway train" because there is at least one train running in the United Kingdom which has a barber's shoo on board. I do not think that train runs on Sundays at present, but it might be run on Sundays, and therefore I have inserted that word also.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 19, after ("any") insert ("railway station, railway train or").—(Lord Teynham.)


I am sorry that I cannot accept even this Amendment of the noble Lord. To deal first with the railway trains, I think he is looking rather far ahead if he wants to make even the potential barber of the future work on Sundays. I believe that there is one train that has a barber, and I do not see why the barber on that train should not have a holiday as well as anybody else. The substance of the Amendment, however, is to include railway stations. The noble Lord is quite right in saying that there are barbers shops in railway stations. As a matter of fact, there are very often two. In at least two big stations in London, to my knowledge, there is a barber's shop below in the lavatory and another in the hotel. Under the provision of the previous paragraph the hotel shop will remain open, and the one that I want to close—and this would also remain open if the noble Lord's Amendment were accepted—is the very unhealthy barber's shop which is often found underground in the lavatory.

The assistants working in those lavatory barbers' shops in railway stations are working, I suppose, in as unhealthy conditions as those of any barbers' shops in the country. They are the very men who really ought not to have to work on Sundays. I had the curiosity to go this afternoon on my way here to have a look at the barber's shop mentioned to me in the underground lavatory at Victoria Station. It is no exaggeration to say that the atmosphere there is foul, and if ever an assistant needs a Sunday break it is an assistant there. It so happened that the assistant was off duty when I looked in, and he had to come out and have his smoke walking up and down between the two rows of urinals. If he has to have his break under those conditions, clearly he is a man who does need Sunday closing, and accordingly I feel confident that your Lordships will not accept this Amendment.


All the arguments which the noble Lord has used in favour of closing barbers' shops at railway stations can also be used in favour of closing lavatories at railway stations. Is he in favour of lavatories being closed down on Sundays because they employ assistants? I think the Amendment that I have moved is quite a reasonable one.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.