§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time. The Bill has been promoted by the hairdressing trade with a view to securing the closing of hairdressers' shops on Sunday. The trade at the present moment is outside the scope of the Lord's Day Observance Act, 1677, as it was held in a certain case in 1900 that a barber was not a tradesman within the meaning of that Act. It is therefore lawful at the present moment for a barber to carry on business on Sunday, although I think your Lordships will recognise the hardship of having to work seven days a week. The trade has for many years endeavoured to escape this hardship by voluntary agreement among themselves, but such agreements have continually broken down under the force of competition. If one hairdresser in a district opens on Sunday, all the other hairdressers in that district are compelled to follow his example. There may be a district in which there are ten or fifteen hairdressers, all perfectly happy, with an arrangement among themselves that they will not open on Sunday. Then along comes another hairdresser who opens up a shop and, in order to try to get trade, opens on 1094 Sunday. All those men who hitherto have been keeping their establishments closed on Sunday will now, under force of competition, be compelled to open their shops on that day.
In these circumstances, the trade asks for compulsory Sunday closing, just as shopkeepers generally have successfully asked for compulsory early closing. The Bill has been before the House of Commons for many years. It has never met with serious opposition in the House of Commons, and it has now passed that House with the support of all Parties, without a Division on either the Second or the Third Reading. Perhaps I may take your Lordships very shortly through the clauses of the Bill. Clause 1 makes it unlawful to carry on the business of a hairdresser or barber on Sunday, subject to certain exceptions contained in Clauses 2 and 3. Clause 2 permits a hairdresser to attend at any time any person who is unable by reason of mental or bodily infirmity to go to his shop. This follows very closely the lines of the Shops Acts, which contain a general exception for cases of illness. Exceptions are also made for hotel residents, in order that there may be no handicap in catering for visitors, and also for sea-going ships, in order to make it clear that it shall not affect passengers arriving in this country on a Sunday morning.
Clause 3 is, I think, a rather more difficult clause. It permits the Jewish barber to close on Saturday instead of Sunday, and to close for his weekly half-holiday on Friday, or some other day, instead of Saturday, or some other day, as required by the Shops Acts. It enables the Jewish barber to arrange for his weekly day of rest and weekly half holiday between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday. Jew and Christian alike must close for a day and a half in each week. To Clause 3, possibly, some of your Lordships may object, but it was one which had to be agreed to by the promoters of the Bill because there are a very great number of Jews in the hairdressing trade. It was arranged for, I think, by the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs in the last Government, and finally accepted as a compromise by the hairdressers when the Bill was promoted last year. I think this Bill is really a very uncontroversial Bill, as your Lordships will realise from hearing its clauses and hearing its 1095 record in another place. I am not going to put forward any more arguments for it at the moment, or attempt to meet Lord Banbury's case before he makes it, because I do not know what it is. We will wait and see whether he has really got some good reason against the Bill, or is merely feeling that it is a week or so since he moved the rejection of a measure in this House and that it is time to do it again. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl De La Warr.)
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM, who had given Notice to move as an Amendment, That the Bill be read 2a this day three months, said: My Lords, I rise to move the rejection of this very foolish little Bill, which aims at the restriction of the liberty of the subject. The noble Earl has said, and said quite truly, that this Bill has been for many years before the House of Commons, but it never achieved any success until this year, by accident, it slipped through after eleven o'clock. This Bill, promoted by a private member, has never had any discussion on the Second Reading in the House of Commons, because it slipped through after eleven o'clock, and it seems to me to be rather unusual for a Government to take up a Private Member's Bill which has slipped through after eleven o'clock without any discussion, and to bring it forward in your Lordships' House. I do not say that in no circumstances have Governments taken up a Private Member's Bill, but it is very unusual for them to do so, and then only if the Bill has had considerable support in the other House of Parliament.
This Bill seeks to interfere, as I have said, with the liberty of the subject. It says that a barber may not carry on his business on Sunday, except in an hotel. He may go to an hotel and there he may shave anybody who happens to be in the hotel, or he may cut his hair. Why he may do it in an hotel but not in his own shop, I do not know, because it is very much more troublesome for a barber to go from his shop to the hotel, and would take up much more of the time that he might devote to other subjects on Sunday than if he were allowed to shave the man in his own shop. He may also shave him on board a ship. Why should he shave
him on board a ship any more than in his own shop on the land? He may also shave a person
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.
Then there is a clause which says that you may shave somebody on Sunday if you are a Jew. If you are a Jew you may go and shave anybody on Sunday anywhere and at any time, or you may allow anybody to come to your place on Sunday to be shaved or have his hair cut. But we next interfere with the religion of the Jew by saying: "As you are a Jew you must not do anything on Saturday, but, provided you do not do anything on Saturday, you may do anything you like on Sunday." I do not know how you are going to prove that a man is a Jew. Supposing I were a hairdresser and went to shave somebody on Sunday you would have to prove that I was not a Jew. And supposing I had become a convert a week before, and then, as a Jew, went to shave somebody on Sunday, what would happen then? I do not know.
§ There is no one who would more regret than myself to see the Continental Sunday brought over here. I have always in my life done all that I could in my small way to give everybody who was in any kind of way in my employment full leisure on Sunday. In the old days I never took a horse out on Sunday, unless, of course, it was a question of life or death. But why should you compel people to do what they ought to do by their own free will? It is an example of the tyranny which will descend upon us if the Socialists ever obtain a large majority. And why single out the barber? Does the noble Earl propose to bring in a Bill which will prevent a man from driving a motor coach on Sunday? I understand that large motor coaches go about all day on Sunday, carrying people who ought to go to church or chapel—carrying them, not for health reasons, but for their amusement; and yet the driver of the motor coach may drive those people about all day long. But an unfortunate man who may, perhaps, be starting in business as a barber is treated differently. He may wish in these hard times to work as hard as he can—which, I beg to say is a very good thing, for what we want to do is to inculcate 1097 hard work in this country, and not doing nothing, or as little as you possibly can.
§ It seems to me, therefore, that the Bill is unwanted, is unnecessary, and is a gross interference with the liberty of the subject. In my young days we always prided ourselves on being a free country. I remember perfectly well going abroad with my father, and seeing signs all over the place—c'est défendu—and asked him what it meant. He said: "In foreign countries you are not allowed to do anything you like." It was otherwise in England then; whereas at the present moment you have no liberty to do anything. There is always someone interfering with us. I shall certainly go to a Division, and I really trust your Lordships will support me on this occasion. I forgot to mention—the noble Earl was no doubt unaware of it—that there is at the present moment a Committee sitting dealing with the hours of shops. The proper course would be to wait until this Committee has reported and then deal with every shop and everybody concerned—not pick out one particular class of people and subject them to this legislation. I beg to move.
Leave out ("now"), and at the end of the Motion insert ("this day three months.")—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I think there is a very real difficulty in taking this trade apart from other trades. The whole question of Sunday trading has more than once been the subject of special investigation in your Lordships' House. There has been either a Select Committee of this House or a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament which dealt with the matter, and when it had been dealt with, at that time at any rate, we thought it had been settled for a long time to come. I think it is very desirable, therefore, that, before any further alterations are made in the law, we should be thoroughly well advised as to what we are doing. The fact that there is a Committee sitting now seems to make it very desirable not to proceed further at the present moment until we see what this Committee says. If the noble Earl who moved the Second Reading had told us that in the opinion of the Home Office there were grave reasons 1098 why this Bill should be passed it would have been very different, but I do not understand that the Home Office has taken a very strong line in the matter. Indeed, this morning when I read the Parliamentary Papers I was a little surprised to see that this Bill, which had apparently been a Private Member's Bill in another place, had been taken up by His Majesty's Government in this House. That, of course, is not entirely unknown, but it is a little bit unusual, and I was rather hoping that the noble Earl would have explained to us the reasons why they have taken this step.
§ LORD DANESFORT
My Lords, I listened to the noble Earl's speech with some interest, thinking that we should hear some overwhelming, or at any rate strong, reasons for passing a Bill of this extremely unusual character, especially considering that its career in the House of Commons was not such as to recommend it here. It was never discussed at all, as I understand, on Second Reading; it slipped through by accident, as some very bad Bills occasionally do. I have been greatly impressed by what has fallen from the noble Lords who have just spoken, and I think the point they made requires an answer—the point, namely, that a Committee on shop hours is now sitting with a view to considering the whole question of shop hours and cognate matters. Surely that is an unanswerable argument against dealing with one trade in preference to any others at a moment when we know very little about the matter. Therefore I think it would be right to wait until that Committee has reported, when we shall know something more about it. At present it seems to be entirely premature to deal with what, on the face of it, appears to be a very foolish Bill.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I think I can offer an explanation in connection with one or two points in this Bill which may make your Lordships feel that you should give it a Second Reading. Perhaps, as the noble Earl said, I ought to have made my position clearer on this Bill, and to have stated that, while the Home Office have followed it with the greatest friendliness in the House of Commons, it has not actually been a Government Bill, and I am moving it rather as an individual than as a member of His Majesty's Government. 1099 Some reference has been made to the fact that there is at present a Committee sitting on the question of shop hours. The whole point of this Bill is that hitherto the hairdressing trade has, by a legal decision taken in 1900, been excepted from the ordinary legislation that affects all other trades. All other shops automatically have to close on Sunday under the Lord's Day Observance Act, 1677. By a decision taken in 1900 it was decreed that legally a hairdresser is not a trader and is, therefore, excepted from those provisions. For the last few years the trade has endeavoured to induce Parliament to alter this law and now at last they have been able to get a Bill through another place. It has been suggested that this Bill slipped through the House of Commons without discussion. It is perfectly true that there was no discussion on the Bill on Second Reading. But there was very considerable discussion at a further stage when it was possible for members on all sides of the House to express their opinion upon it. A number of Amendments were moved and the speeches of those members of another place who moved the Amendments showed that they were entirely friendly to the Bill, that they had considered the Bill thoroughly, and that they desired it to pass.
Let me give your Lordships an example. Sir Rennell Rodd, a Conservative member of another place, moved an Amendment to the Bill. There was a very long discussion on that Amendment and in the end it was pointed out to him that if the Amendment was persisted in it would result in the death of the Bill.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
There was a Division taken later, and the figures in that Division show that a considerable number of members were present. There were members on all sides of the House
§ EARL DE LA WARR
In regard to the Amendment that was considered in opposition to the Bill the voting was thirtythree. 1100 Those on the other side were 166, and they included a large number of members of all Parties.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
It shows that the feeling against the Bill was not very strong, and I do not know when else the Bill could have been taken. At any rate, the Bill did not slip through without discussion. It has had very considerable discussion. It has been before another place for very many years now and it would be impossible for any member there not to be familiar with it.
The noble Lord, Lord Banbury, referred to the liberty of the subject. Surely that is a point which, from the way in which he expressed himself, is not of great interest. We almost all of us recognise that, in almost every piece of legislation which comes before your Lordships' House, in some way or other probably the liberty of the subject is affected. The question is which liberty of what subject we are going to give most attention to. I give your Lordships an instance. You might have a district with fifteen hairdressers' shops in it all working perfectly happily together and under the arrangement that they close their shops on Sunday. A man goes there and decides that he will try to take their trade away by the unfair method, which he would not be allowed to follow if he were a member of another trade, of opening on Sunday and by that action compelling those fifteen men to stop in and work on Sunday. Are you to respect the liberty of those fifteen barbers who have been there for years and have built up their trade on a certain basis, or are you to respect the liberty of an individual who comes in and tries to take away their trade by this unfair method?
I do not think there are any other points that I wish to deal with. I think I mentioned the point about the Committee which is already considering the question of shop hours. I pointed out to your Lordships—I want to stress it again even if I mentioned it before—that the reason for this Bill having to be moved is that hitherto barbers have been excepted from the ordinary legislation that applies to all other tradesmen of all categories. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will give this Bill a 1101 Second Reading. If you feel that it requires further discussion there are always the further stages of Committee and Report when your Lordships can express your views on the details of the measure.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Earl will allow me to ask a question the answer to which certainly would affect my mind. He has told us that there is a Committee sitting, which, I gather, is competent at any rate to consider this matter. Speaking for myself, I do not think that the noble Earl has quite met the point that whilst there is a Committee sitting it seems undesirable to deal with things piecemeal. If the Bill was given a Second Reading I do not know whether the noble Earl would undertake that it should not go any further until we had the Report of that Committee. If that was so it might affect my mind. I do not speak for anybody but myself and I do not profess to represent any body of opinion on this side of your Lordships' House; but it seems to me to be a possible solution, as there has been a considerable amount of support for the Bill, if we gave it a Second Reading on the understanding that it would go no further until the Committee had reported, when we should know what they think about it. That, I think, would meet my noble friend Lord Banbury and it would prevent piecemeal legislation. On the other hand, it would not jeopardise the Bill altogether if in fact, when the Committee had examined into it, they came to the conclusion that it was not desirable.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, it is only by your Lordships' leave that I can speak again. I thank the noble and learned Viscount for intervening because he has given me an opportunity of clearing up a point. The Committee that has been mentioned deals only with the question of hours. It does not deal with the question of Sunday closing; and I am informed that its terms of reference would have to be changed if it were to consider this matter.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I am afraid I have not, but if the noble Viscount wishes it I will certainly produce them in Committee, if he cares to bring this matter 1102 up again. I think I shall be able to satisfy him on that point. I will certainly consider it.
§ LORD CLWYD
My Lords, before we go to a Division I should like to stress one point. The impulse behind this Bill comes, as I understand it, entirely from those who are directly interested.
§ LORD CLWYD
I am informed that there has been no kind of agitation or movement outside of the trade itself, but that for many years this particular trade has been working in order, if possible, to get a Bill providing, as this Bill does, for Sunday closing in their case. It would be rather hard, and it would be doing them scarcely justice in view of that fact, if your Lordships' House were to reject the Bill on Second Reading. It may be desirable that a certain time should elapse before the Committee stage is taken. But in view of the fact, which I believe is a fact, that few Bills produced in either House have had behind them to such an extent the support of those who are directly interested in the case for which the Bill provides, I hope your Lordships will accept it. In another place, as the noble Earl has explained, there was no discussion on Second Reading, but I happen to know, as he has already pointed out, that during the Committee stage there was a full discussion.
§ LORD CLWYD
At all events, there was a full discussion of the clauses of the Bill, and it comes from another place practically unopposed.
§ LORD DARLING
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Earl who is in charge of the Bill or whether some other member of the Government would explain it, but I do not quite gather from him, and I should like to know for certain whether it is a fact, that when legislation was passed legalising the carrying on of certain work on Sundays—that is to say, altering the Lord's Day Observance Act 1103 —this particular industry escaped by reason of some decision of the Legislature that it should not be affected, or whether words were used modifying the Lord's Day Act, and that there has been some judicial construction the result of which is that shaving and hairdressing are said not to be the carrying on of a trade within the Statute which modified the Lord's Day Act? I think that it would make a good deal of difference if this was omitted merely by inadvertence when the Legislature interfered with the very pious Act of Charles II. If it is merely an inadvertence, that would strengthen the case for the Bill very much, but if it was left out on purpose because it was found a number of idle people would not shave themselves on Sunday, and must go to a barber to be shaved, the matter would be in a very different position, especially as there are more and more idle people in this country who insist upon having legislation for their own particular benefit. Perhaps the noble Earl could tell us how this comes to be an exceptional case.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, again it is only with your permission that I speak, but from 1677 until 1900, I understand, the hairdressers and barbers of this country did come under the general legislation of the Lord's Day Observance Act. That Act was passed in 1677, and it went on operating with regard to this trade till 1900 when, in a case entitled Palmer versus Snow (1900–1 Queen's Bench, p. 725), there was a decision given that a barber was not technically a tradesman within the meaning of that Act, and from then onwards barbers have been entitled to open on Sunday. It was found within a few years after this decision that it was having a very serious effect on the conditions of life in the whole trade, in that it put the members of the trade into a position, as I have explained, of being compelled by one man in a district to open under force of competition on Sundays. As a result this Bill has been brought forward, as the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, stated, with the full agreement of the whole trade and of all those who are really affected by the conditions in that trade.
My Lords, I hope your Lordships will refuse to give this Bill a Second Reading. It has been said that hairdressers themselves are in favour 1104 of this measure. It seems to me that what we have to look at is whether this is for the public good and not merely for the hairdressers, who, surely, can look after themselves. Clause 2 of this Bill shows that it is a class measure of the worst description, because the well-to-do man sitting in an hotel can make full use of the barber's shop, whereas the working man, who perhaps has only one or two shaves a week, is debarred from having his Sunday shave. I think that is a real hardship on the working man. Noble Lords opposite, or the Socialist Party they represent, are supposed to be imbued with class consciousness. This is class consciousness, but all the sympathy is being given to the rich man, and the poor man is left out. I consider this to be a real hardship to working men, and I hope your Lordships will refuse to pass the Bill.
§ EARL PEEL
My Lords, my point of view is not quite the same as that of the noble Lord who spoke last. I was rather sorry that the noble Earl did not accept the suggestion made by my noble friend about the Second Reading. He countered that by saying that the Committee does not deal with days, but is really dealing with hours. I think the noble Earl must admit that he did not give us a very full account of the reasons for this Bill in moving the Second Reading, and we have got the information from him rather piecemeal. I am rather unwilling myself to vote against this Bill, and I should much prefer that he would consider the point and adjourn the debate, say for a week or a fortnight, so that we really might have a little more information upon the points on which the noble Earl has been questioned. Until I was informed about it by the noble Earl I was not aware that this matter went back to 1677. There are a good many points in the Bill on which I certainly should feel much happier in voting if one could have this adjournment of a week or a fortnight. I do not know if the noble Earl would consider that suggestion as an alternative to the suggestion of my noble friend which he did not accept?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, if you wish that course to be pursued, I think we certainly ought to consider it, but might I make another suggestion to noble Lords opposite, that se should give this 1105 Bill a Second Reading, and then consider those points which noble Lords have raised, and which will certainly have to be given full consideration, in Committee and on Report? Your Lordships will still have the Bill in your hands, and there will also be the Third Reading. If we agree to the Second Reading to-night it will enable us to get one step further, so that we might be able to get the Bill through, at any rate shortly after Whitsuntide. I would ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading to-night and allow us to deal with all these matters in Committee and on Report, giving an ample interval before the Committee stage.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I venture to urge upon the noble Earl, if he will allow me, that the advice given by my noble friend Lord Peel is very helpful advice so far as the fortunes of the Bill are concerned. This Bill stands in a very special position. The great majority of tradesmen are not allowed to ply their trade on a Sunday. That has come down to us from the long distant past. My noble friend Lord Banbury thinks that it is Socialist legislation. I think the time of Charles II was responsible for it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
They are very nearly the same thing, but I think it is of a good deal older date than the modern Socialist Party. Let me put the case in its most moderate form. There is a prima facie case why hairdressers may come forward and say: "Why should we not be treated like other people?" If the hairdressers want it, it 1106 is not a matter to be rejected out of hand by your Lordships' House. At the same time, the discussion has revealed that there are certain elements in the Bill which are extremely doubtful exceptions, made in order to meet cases which have been put, and which have rendered the Bill rather dislocated in form. I can see that those responsible for the Bill have probably tried to meet the opposition by putting in special Amendments for them, but, as so often happens in a compromise, that has resulted in a very unhappy result. I think, in the circumstances, if the noble Earl would take—I do not know if I might put it in that way—my advice, the best course would be to allow the Second Reading to stand over for a short time. I feel that if he presses the matter to a Division now the Bill will be rejected. I think that would be a pity, until the House has had a little more time to consider it. I hope the noble Earl will consider favourably what my noble friend Lord Peel, who I believe is a friend of his Bill, has suggested.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, my only anxiety is to get this Bill accepted by your Lordships' House, and if your Lordships desire opportunity to look into the Bill more thoroughly both as to merits and as to past experience in another place, I am most certainly willing to accept the advice given just now by the noble Marquess and by the noble Earl, Lord Peel, which I am sure was dictated by the most friendly feeling. I think perhaps the correct procedure would be for the debate to be adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Lord Cushendun.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and debate adjourned sine die accordingly.
§ House adojurned at six o'clock.