HL Deb 28 March 1968 vol 290 cc1144-76

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill, may I first of all declare an interest. I am the President of the Institute of Shops Acts Administration, and it is the members of that Institute who have the difficult task of enforcing the various Shops Acts. Before I move on to what I am going to say, may I again express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who, as I think I have already told your Lordships. used his influence to get me the help of Parliamentary draftsmen in drafting this Bill. Therefore, in the unlikely event of anything being wrong with this Bill it will not be the drafting, and I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

Sunday trading at present is governed almost entirely by the Shops Act 1950, and this Bill maintains the same basic principle as the Sunday trading provisions of that Act; that is, speaking generally, that shops shall not open on Sunday; and as in the 1950 Act so in this Bill there are Schedules giving the exceptions. This Bill closely follows the Report of the Crathorne Committee, and I think it is important that I should remind your Lordships a little about that Committee. The Committee was set up under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Crathorne to deal with the whole question of Sunday observance and to make recommendations. One part of it dealt with Sunday trading. The result of that Committee was rather remarkable. Sunday observance generally was a controversial subject. The Committee was a high-powered Committee, composed of people of differing views on many subjects. The politicians on the Committee were of opposite Parties, and the people who were not politicians were well known for their strong views on many matters. Most people would have expected, and I certainly did, that there would be a majority Report and a minority Report, but in fact in the event there was a unanimous Report, which was really quite remarkable. This Report was debated very fully in both Houses and given a general blessing, and this Bill, as I have said, follows closely the recommendations on Sunday trading given by that Committee, though on one or two very minor matters we have not gone quite as far as their recommendations.

The object of the Bill is to clarify the 1950 Act. Probably because in the 1950 Act the Government of the day tried to stop up so many loopholes, it has been found over the years that much of it is unenforceable; it is riddled with anomalies, and it has led to a very large number of court cases which, if the law had been clear, would not have had to be brought. I hope that this Bill will in fact do away with most of the anomalies and clarify the law.

May I interpose here one further thing that the Committee found? The Committee found that there was no public demand over-all for additional opening of shops on Sundays, with two exceptions. One was food shops and the other was launderettes, and I shall have a word to say about launderettes when we come on to the Schedules. The principal change in this Bill over the 1950 Act deals with food, and it is on the food sections of the 1950 Act that the law has become nonsensical—I use the word "nonsensical" advisedly. Because they put it so much better than I can, perhaps I may read certain paragraphs or parts of paragraphs of the Crathorne Committee Report on this subject.

I quote first from paragraph 153. To put the case as strongly as it can be put, when making alterations in the food laws I think I must read the whole of this paragraph. The Committee said this: The chief criticisms made to us about the existing law concerned the sale of food and drink for off-consumption, namely, the uncertainty of the scope of the excepted items described in Schedule 5"— may I say in parenthesis that the "excepted items" in this Bill come in Schedule 1— as 'meals and refreshments' and"— which was the wording of the Act— 'newly-cooked provisions'"— which was also the wording of the Act— and the apparent overlap between the exemptions. The courts have interpreted 'refreshments' so widely that an extensive range of foodstuffs including many ordinary groceries, seem to be covered by the exemption and are commonly sold on Sunday. It has been held that a raw kipper can constitute a meal or refreshment'". I again interpose, to say that this was a court case in which a shop was "run in" for selling as "refreshment" a raw kipper. The case came into court and a number of witnesses appeared saying that they always ate their kippers raw, and so, of course, the prosecution was lost. That is the state in which that Act stands.

To continue the quotation: and a loaf of bread is a 'refreshment' just as much as a bun or a ham sandwich is a 'refreshment'". All these are allowed to be sold as refreshments. To finish this paragraph: The law has been the subject of pungent criticism in the courts. Mr. Justice Humphreys said (in the case of L.C.C. v. Linda Davies) '… There is almost no nonsensical proposition which may not seriously be put forward as a result of looking at these innumerable exceptions'. Lord Hewitt said (in the case of L.C.C. v. Lees), '—not often in the course of half a century of experience of the law, have I had the opportunity of endeavouring to come to close quarters with such a piece of legislation'. In the same case, Sir William Jowitt, as he then was, who appeared for the respondents in the case, said that the provisions of Schedules 5 and 6 taken together, and compared and contrasted with each other, were to his mind unintelligible. They are talking about the present law.

I shall quote a portion of the next paragraph. I am sorry to quote so much but, in the end, I think it will make my task shorter because it is so well put in the paragraph: These problems are aggravated by the increase in 'mixed' businesses in different types of commodity. Before the Second World War, the butcher, the grocer, the greengrocer and the fishmonger dealt in recognisably distinct classes of goods and the existing restrictions were largely based on this situation. Many grocers now sell frozen meat and fish and fishmongers sell vegetables. These 'mixed' shops are usually entitled to open on Sunday because they stock some exempted goods but technically they should refuse to sell other goods. So that is the position. The public come in. They find they can buy one bit of food but they cannot buy another bit of food, and they do not understand; or, if they can buy one bit of food which is fresh they cannot buy it when it is tinned; or there is something else in the shop which they cannot buy. The public cannot understand it and, owing to the wording of the Act, the courts have never understood it.

There is one other matter which I mention now and which causes difficulty. It is the question of fish-and-chip shops. This is what the Committee said on this subject in paragraph 156: Paragraph 1(b) of Schedule 5 allows almost complete freedom for the sale of meals or refreshments for on-consumption; the only exception is that fried fish and chips cannot be consumed at a fried fish-and-chip shop. That is a little odd, when fried fish and chips can be sold in a restaurant. In an attempt to get round the law (because I think I am right in saying that it is not quite certain whether this is legal) many people now attach a small café to the fish-and-chip shop itself for Sunday, so that it becomes a café or a restaurant where fish and chips may be sold. I am not sure whether that point has ever been settled. This is the nonsense of the present Act.

Now may I come on to the Bill. The Bill applies to England and Wales only. Clause 1 substitutes for Schedule 5 of the present Act, which is the one with the main exceptions, a new list of the transactions for which all shops may be opened on Sundays. There are smaller changes which I shall describe when I come to the Schedules, but the main change is that all kinds of food and drink may be sold on or off the premises. I say "and drink", but that point is also to some extent, if the drinks are alcoholic, covered by the licensing laws. But this clause allows all food and drink to be sold on Sundays on or off the premises. No longer will somebody be prosecuted for selling an uncooked kipper, whether it is going to be eaten at the counter or out in the road. Thus I hope that many of these court cases, which the inspectors have to bring, will disappear.

One important point in what may be thought to be this large new section of food shops that are to be allowed to open on Sundays is that there must be fair control, to make certain that there is no unfair trading between a shop which is not really a food shop but which sells food, and another kind of shop which does not in fact sell food. It must be certain what is a food shop. One difficulty under the present Act is that so many of these things are not certain. In this clause we are trying to make the position certain. We are saying that any food shop the owners of which want to open on Sunday must be registered with the local authority. If the shop sells nothing but food, it will automatically be placed on the register, because under Clause 1 those concerned are allowed to sell food on a Sunday. But the shop will still be registered.

The shop that sells a small amount of food but which sells mostly other things will not be registered as a food shop. The shop that sells almost entirely food but does sell some other things can apply for registration. The words of the clause are: in which the principal or only business … is the sale of food. If the local authority are not satisfied that it is the principal business—not "mainly" but actually the principal business of the shop to sell food—then they will not register it. The remainder of the clause deals with the question of appeal against refusal, and so on. If, after a shop is opened, the local authority finds that it is selling an increasing number of goods that are not food, it can be struck off because it will not then be selling principally food. That is the effect of Clause 2.

I come to Clause 3. Under the present Act, without prejudice to any other exemption, local authorities may by order direct that certain shops, or shops in certain parts of the local authority's area, may open on Sundays for a limited number of Sundays. Under the present Act this applies only to holiday resorts. After 18 years the question has not yet been settled as to what is a "holiday resort". No definition has yet been found. The present Act has caused a great deal of ill-feeling between one local authority and another. So what we say here is that a local authority which thinks it is in its interests can order shops to be open in an area, the whole area or part of an area, where in fact there are a large number of visitors on certain Sundays.


My Lords, did the noble Lord say "order" or, "permit"? I rather gathered that he said that they would "order" shops to be open.


No, my Lords, they would make an order allowing them to be open. In no case need any shop open. I am grateful to the noble Lord for picking me up on that. So except for the number of Sundays on which they may be open, which has now been left to the local authority, what is done here is much the same as under the present Act, except that any local authority may take action if they think that there is a demand in their area for additional shops to be open on Sunday. That comes under the Schedules, with which I shall deal a little later.

Clause 4 makes provision in regard to Moslems. Under the present Act there are special provisions for Jewish firms, who have their Sabbaths on a Saturday, to open on Sunday. This clause makes the same provision for Moslems, but instead of closing on Saturday, as is the case with Jewish shops, they will close on Friday. Clause 5 deals with employment in the shops. Under the present Act if shop employees work on a Sunday when the shop is open for service to the public, they have to have additional time off. This Bill extends that provision to employees who work in a shop on a Sunday even though the shop is not in fact open to the public. We consider it fair that when shop assistants have to work on a Sunday, even though the shop may be closed to the public, they should still have the additional time off.

Clause 6 extends the Shops (Airports) Act 1962. Under that Act at present at specified airports where there are a large number of passengers the President of the Board of Trade can allow shops to be open during the week, out of the usual shopping hours, if he thinks that it is in the interests of the travelling public. Those shops must be situated only in that part of the airport which passengers commonly frequent—it cannot, for instance, be on the outskirts of the airport. The clause extends the power of the President of the Board of Trade, under the present rules, to allow shops to be open on Sundays, since in many of the great intercontinental airports Sunday is the busiest time of the week and is a day on which passengers have most need to make purchases.

Clause 7 deals with minor consequential Amendments and repeals. I would draw attention only to subsection (2), which deals with hairdressers. It has been very uncertain exactly what hair- dressers could do on a Sunday, and this clause makes it certain. The subsection says: Where there is situated in any hospital, nursing home or other establishment of the like kind, or in any hotel or club, a shop in which the business of a hairdresser or barber is carried on, nothing in Section 47 of this Act "— that is the Shops Act 1950shall prevent that shop from being open at any time for the sole purpose of enabling persons resident in that establishment, hotel or club to be served in the course of that business.' That is not altering the law to any appreciable extent, but clarifies it. Clause 8 deals merely with the Short Title, and so on.

I should like briefly to refer to the Schedules, which contain some of the "meat" of the Bill. The Schedules deal with goods which may be sold on a Sunday. Paragraph 1 of Schedule I introduces a new provision which deals with: The sale of food … or drink (including alcoholic drink) for consumption on or off the premises … That is the main change. I will merely pick out the points which have altered, because some parts of this provision follow the present Act. Paragraph 2(2) deals with car accessories, and so on, and this contains some alterations le clarify the law. There has been some doubt as to what is an "accessory" and what is a "part"; that is to say, as to whether a windscreen wiper is an accesscry or a part of a car. Some of these sound rather small items, but this provision is aimed at making the situation clear. Under sub-paragraph (2) parts, accessories, fuel or lubricants may be sold. Although one cannot sell a motor car on a Sunday, under this Bill one will be able to sell a part or an accessory. This sub-paragraph includes one new item, "vessels". This is to cater for the increasing interest which is being shown in yachting, both motor and sail, around our coasts. There was some doubt whether a sparking plug for a motor boat could be sold on a Sunday. This provision clarifies the situation and parts and accessories for vessels will be allowed.

There is also mention of aircraft. This applies to small, privately-owned aeroplanes. Then one sees the phrase, "mechanically propelled vehicles", and that too will widen the scope of the law. There is also "cycles and agricultural machinery". There has been some doubt whether a garage could sell on a Sunday something appertaining to a combine harvester. It seems rather silly that if a garage is open, such a part is not allowed to be sold. This item was left out of the previous Act and this provision will make the matter more certain. Then we have included caravans and trailers. The car drawing a trailer is more or less already covered, and the question was whether this would cover a caravan or a trailer. We have therefore also included those items.

Sub-paragraph (3) deals with flowers. There was some doubt under the old Act about the definition of "flowers". Our wording is: Flowers (other than artificial flowers), plants and shrubs. Then there is a sub-paragraph dealing with stationery, greeting cards, and so on, to which we have added the sale of postage stamps. Now that the Post Office allows stamps to be sold at certain stations, we thought that this item would be of help to people who have not a Post Office near them. Then there is a subparagraph dealing with photographs. It seems absurd that at the moment under the present law one can go to a photographer who is open for business and can have a photograph taken only if it is of passport size. That did not seem to be sensible, and we suggest that if one allows the place to be open anyway, then one should allow the sale of photographs and photographic films or plates.

Domestic fuels are dealt with in subparagraph (7). This is an important item. There is no likelihood that coal merchants in the ordinary way will deliver coal to somebody's house on a Sunday, since it would be far too expensive to do so. But in periods of prolonged cold weather coal merchants have not been able to get round to the people during the week and families have been left without any fuel at all. We have therefore allowed domestic fuels to be delivered on a Sunday. What it comes down to is that it will be done where necessary, but not otherwise.

Sub-paragraph (8) deals with food for animals. One was allowed to buy food for certain animals, but not for others. Then, of course, the poor shopkeeper was allowed to sell food for horses, and I think asses, but not for cows. There was a list of animals, which really was nonsense, because if someone wanted a dog biscuit for his dog he could say to the man, "I have a pony which lives on dog biscuits. Can I have some dog biscuits for my pony?" The man could sell them or not as he liked, and he probably had a defence. That seemed silly, so now if someone runs out of animal food people will be allowed to sell it.

I come back to Clause 2 which refers to paragraph 3 of Schedule 1. Under Clause 2 a shop may open if its principal sale is food. We say that if its principal sale is food it may then sell other articles which it normally sells during the week. I revert to what I said earlier: that if the sale of other goods that are not food increases very rapidly after a few weeks, that shop will not be principally selling food and will be struck off the register.

I now come to the question of the chemists. At the present time chemists may open, but in theory they may not sell goods other than medical ones. If you want to buy a razor blade on a Sunday, that is illegal if you say, "I haven't had a shave this morning. May I have a packet of blades?" But if you go in and say, "I have some very bad corns", then you may have blades, because they are for medical services. So what we have done in paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 is to allow the other articles that are normally included in the stock in trade of a chemist's shop to be sold on Sundays, provided that throughout the time the chemist's shop is open there is a registered qualified pharmacist on the premises. If he wants to go for lunch it is no good having four shop girls there, as they will have to go, too; the shop will have to be shut. I assure your Lordships that you will not get these qualified pharmacists sitting all day in one shop, as nine-tenths of them will still open for a couple of hours and will take it in turn to be there. They want their Sundays, the same as other people do, and if they are not there, then nothing may be sold.

We will skip paragraph 5 which is much the same as the present law, but there is a small point on paragraph 6. The sale by fishermen of freshly caught fish is allowed at present, but sometimes the shop is a quayside stall. So we have added the words, "at or adjacent to the point where it is landed", because very often they have a little stall a couple of hundred yards away.

I said that I would mention launderettes. Under paragraph 9, launderettes will be allowed to open on Sundays if they wish. The actual description used is the laundering or cleaning of articles by or on behalf of persons bringing them to the premises". Launderettes are apparently new, but the Crathorne Committee found a very great demand for them in certain areas, particularly in the rather poor areas where many people live in flats and do not have much room to hang out laundry. Furthermore, the mother of the family is frequently working, and in such cases the launderette is really a great public benefaction. The Committee took a lot of public evidence, and everyone agreed that these launderettes were very important. Of course, cleaning agents go with the launderettes, and they are also allowed. Another point about launderettes is that they cause the absolute minimum of Sunday employment. There may be one person in the shop, and in some cases there is no one there the whole time as the equipment is completely automatic. This is a public service which is wanted.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves launderettes, may I ask him the significance of the words, "on behalf of" in paragraph 9 of the Schedule? I do not quite understand what they mean.


My Lords, the words are: by or on behalf of persons bringing them to the premises". It need not be the person's own laundry.

We then come on to the special orders which can be made by local authorities in what used to be called "holiday resorts", where people congregate for certain articles which may be sold. There are very slight alterations to the existing law; it is only the territory that is widened. There are: Articles required for the purposes of bathing, sunbathing or fishing. There was a great request for the inclusion of sunbathing articles, such as dark glasses, which of course were not bathing dress and were not obtainable. Then there follow photographic requisites, toys, souvenirs, fancy goads and reproductions of works of art. The list is much the same as now.

My Lords, I hope that I have made clear this somewhat complicated small Bill. I trust your Lordships will not think it is unduly controversial, and that you will give it a Second Reading. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a Second time.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord just one small question? I wonder why the Bill is so hard on the chemists, for, after all, one sometimes needs a painkiller or medicine on a Sunday morning. It seems to me that it is not very difficult to exclude from restriction such items as toilet requisites, since there was a time when one could buy only perishable food on a Sunday and not tins of food.


My Lords, I am not quite sure whether I take the noble Baroness's point. She says that I am being hard on the chemists.


Not on the chemists. I am sorry: I meant hard on the public.


My Lords, the point is that chemists are like other people; and they like their Sundays off. They work extremely hard and they are highly qualified people, and in most local authority areas they take it in turn to open on a Sunday. That situation will not be altered. If somebody comes in now and asks for something which, strictly speaking, is not surgical or medical the chemist may, if he wishes, sell it. But if he likes to confine himself entirely to medicines on a Sunday, he can do so.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for introducing this Bill and also for the lucid way in which he has explained it The only purpose of this Bill is a very modest one. It is simply to rationalise the existing law on Sunday trading. It is no more, no less, than this. It will not be the signal for a shoppers' free-for-all on Sundays. That might change the essential and traditional nature of the English Sunday. It was made clear to the Crathorne Committee—and I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, is here listening to the debate this afternoon; I hope he will feel that it is at last some reward for the very line and painstaking work which he and his Committee did, and for a most informed, well-written and at times hilarious Report—and to my Department in its recent long and exhaustive study of the law on retail trading hours generally, that, for the most part, the public do not want the character of Sunday changed. They want it to be a day of worship for worshippers and a day of leisure for those who seek leisure.

As your Lordships know, Sunday trading is already fairly widespread within the limits prescribed by Part IV of the present Act, the Shops Act 1950. Precisely what those limits are, and precisely what can or cannot be sold on Sundays, have for far too long bedevilled the courts, the shopkeepers, and the poor shops inspectors who have to enforce the law. This Bill seeks little more than to make what is now arguably possible, definitively so. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, has already explained how anomalous the present situation, under the existing law, can be. This was underlined by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell. She asked a question which the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, did not understand and which indicated that even someone so well informed as my noble friend did not know what the present law is. That is an illustration of how mixed up, how stupid, the whole thing is, and how badly needed is a law which will straighten it out, even if, fundamentally, it does not alter the position.

Since the anomalies have been pointed out, I need only to gild the picture painted by Lord Derwent. He has told your Lordships that if you need a shave on a Sunday and have no razor blade, you must let your beard grow. If, on the other hand, you are sufficiently inspired to go to the chemist and say that you need a razor blade to cut your corns, the chemist can legally supply you, because it is then regarded as a surgical instrument, and under the present law surgical appliances can be sold on Sunday, but only by a dispensing chemist, who, at the same time and by the same law, is prevented from selling you his soap or his toothbrushes or his photographic films—unless, of course, he is in a holiday resort, when on 18 Sundays in a year he can sell you photographic films. The Bill proposes to remove this anomaly by letting chemists sell any of their stock-in-trade on Sunday. That gets over my noble friend's point.

One of the most disputatious and intensely complicated areas in the present law is the sale of food. The law says that meals or refreshments can be sold for consumption on or off the premises. That sounds extremely simple. But for many weary years the courts have been trying to determine just what "refreshments" are. They have been variously described as, "food and drink of an agreeable nature", or "different from a full meal—something lighter—a refresher". So said the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, in 1946. By litigation, by going to the courts and spending a lot of money, it has been decided that a whole variety of things are in fact "refreshments"—not only kippers eaten raw, as the noble Lord said, but veal and ham pies, cream buns, jam tarts and salami, but salami only provided it is sold in small bits and you eat it more or less at once. If those conditions are not preserved, then you are breaking the law. Packets of tea are not refreshment, but cups of tea are, because the tea has been treated in some way—it has had hot water poured on it—to make it refreshment.

The sale of newly-cooked provisions and of flowers is permissible, but not, of course, if the flowers are on plants. You have to be very careful: that would be a grievous sin. Then, again, fruit and vegetables can legally be sold on Sunday, but not, of course, if they are tinned or bottled. In case your Lordships are becoming concerned, let me reassure you: your Sunday frozen peas are all right provided they are in a packet. Another item of food news: the sale of cooked or partly-cooked tripe is specifically permitted—what partly-cooked tripe looks like I do not know, but its sale is permissible—and anybody who wants to buy this delicacy on Sunday can be assured that the shopkeeper would not be committing an offence in selling it. Nor would the buyer be aiding and abetting an offence— unless, of course, the tripe is raw. That would be going too far.

Many people, though not perhaps your Lordships, experience an almost irresistible urge for fish and chips on Sunday. They can, as the noble Lord pointed out, indulge that urge legally from a restaurant which sells other meals as well, but must resist the temptation if, logically enough, they want to buy fish and chips from a fish-and-chip shop. Such an heinous act is specifically prohibited. But even this bizarre embargo is ambiguous. You may ask, "Can I buy fish from the shop, walk out, go back and ask separately for chips?". The answer is that I cannot tell you—nobody can. But, my Lords, even if the sale of all the foodstuffs in a shop is legally possible now—and I have shown how dubious an assumption that is—a foodshop cannot sell other articles of its stock-in-trade at the same time. The poor shopkeeper, to save himself the embarrassment of giving silly but correct answers to shoppers' questions—that is a variant of the old one, "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer"—has to resort to covering up his forbidden tinned food or detergent or "what-have-you".

In one go, by paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to this Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, has indicated that the sale of any food or any drink will be permitted for consumption on or off the premises. Food and drink, my Lords—it will be as simple and as sensible as that. Shops whose main business is selling food will be able to sell their other, previously-concealed articles as well, provided they comply with the simple formality of registering with the local authority. Incidentally, they will be able to compete on the same terms, if they wish (which they probably will not) with mobile food shops. In short, if this Bill becomes law all food shops anywhere in England and Wales, mobile or static, will be able to sell food on Sunday if they wish to do so. As there is so little time during the week for writing speeches—at least, I find so little time—I do most of my writing at weekends. If I run out of paper, I cannot buy any on Sunday. The shop is open, of course; it is open for the sale of cigarettes, tobacco, confectionery, newspapers and periodicals—the whole lot. But I can get a writing pad only on pain of prosecution. If this Bill becomes law, that disability will vanish.

By way of final illustration of the anomalies, may I just mention the present difficulties with holiday resorts? As the law now stands, if the local authority think their area a holiday resort they can permit the sale of certain specified articles, primarily of use to tourists and holidaymakers, but only for a maximum of 18 Sundays in any year. Nobody quite knows what a holiday resort is these days. Certainly, to encourage foreign tourists we should like to see the whole of the country regarded as one. With the widespread ownership of cars, it probably is. And more and more, but still not as much as we should like, people take holidays at any time of the year, and are encouraged to do so to relieve the suffocating August pressure. There seems no sensible reason why the local authority for any area should not allow shops to open to sell to tourists and holidaymakers the things needed on holiday at any time of the year. This Bill will allow just that.

All I have said so far is, I hope, an argument for common sense, and on that account should cause anxiety to nobody. But for perfectly understandable reasons trade unions which safeguard the interests of shop workers, and in particular the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, are very worried. They view the prospect of such a Bill as this with considerable apprehension, because of the effect they think it will have on their members. Ever since the Crathorne Committee Report was published in December, 1964, we have been aware of their opposition to any legislation to implement the Sunday trading recommendations contained in the Report. Indeed, the Report itself made it quite clear that the unions would be opposed to any relaxation in the statutory restrictions on Sunday employment at present embodied in the Shops Act. It is their considered view, a view advanced then, brought to the notice of another place in the debate there on February 15, 1965, and discussed at a recent meeting with me at the Home Office, that a Bill of the sort before your Lordships to-day would lead to a large increase in the Sunday opening of shops—much of it, they argue, in self-defence—without a corresponding increase in total trade.

They argue from this that it would mean increased overheads and higher prices; that it would create staffing difficulties, bad enough in an industry where nine-tenths of the employees were women, mostly part-time and many married; and that these difficulties would be aggravated. Relief arrangements for managers in small businesses would, they think, be virtually impossible, and this would give rise to the danger that there would be no proper supervision of stocks and cash. Further, they consider that the results would be contrary to the Government's economic policy, expressed both in appeals to the public to spend less and to save more—appeals reinforced by the Budget proposals—and in such measures as the imposition of selective employment tax.

I respect their views. Since I met U.S.D.A.W. members from another place just over three weeks ago, I have discussed their views with ministerial colleagues, including the Minister of Labour. But I doubt—and in the main my colleagues share my doubts—that if the Bill becomes law Sunday opening will spread as widely as U.S.D.A.W. fear. There may be some increase in food shops and launderettes, and I am sure there is a great need for these services on Sundays. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, when he speaks, will give us some information on the question of launderettes on which he is an expert.

But the increase of Sunday trading is not the purpose of this Bill. It is rationalisation: the removal of stupidities, of indefensible stupidities, which I think we have suffered too long. Where there is a danger that Sunday trading may spread, U.S.D.A.W. will, no doubt, seek to protect its members' interests by negotiation. Incidentally, the Bill preserves the existing provisions for days-off, in lieu, when shopkeepers work on Sundays; and I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, pointed out that it extends the existing safeguards because it provides time off in lieu when the shopkeeper is inside the store, dressing a window, when the shop is not open and when he is doing it on a Sunday. Under this Bill he will get his time off in lieu just as if the shop were open.

As your Lordships know, the Government have consistently and publicly stated their general acceptance of the recommendations of the Crathorne Com- mittee on Sunday Trading. And the Home Secretary and I have expressed the Government's willingness to support a Private Member's Bill which would give broad effect to those recommendations. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, introduced a Bill to do this just before Christmas. Although it will be left to a free vote of this House and of another place to decide, it is the Government's duty to ensure that this measure—indeed any measure—reaching the Statute Book does so in both a workable and, so far as possible, a technically perfect form. For these reasons I was able to promise the noble Lord drafting assistance with a revised Bill. He withdrew his earlier Bill and has now introduced the one before your Lordships to-day. It is one which I think is, so far as possible, technically complete—I hesitate to say "perfect"—and, so far as Sunday trading is concerned, it is virtually all Crathorne; Crathorne and nothing but Crathorne.

Finally, may I reiterate the modest and sole purpose of the Bill? It is to rationalise the existing anomalous Statute. It does no more and no less. I take this opportunity to reaffirm the Government's support for it, and their willingness to leave the decision on it to a free vote in this House and in another place. But I must add that the Government cannot enter into any commitment as to Government time being allowed for it in another place. For myself—and I believe I speak for many of your Lordships—I vote it a fair wind; and I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.

5.6 p.m.


My Lords, as a speaker in your Lordships' Chamber I have only one merit: that I am brief. And to-day will be no exception to my rule. Like many other noble Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for bringing forward this Bill, which I think is long overdue and a measure that is very much needed in this country.

Some time ago I took part in a debate in this House on the Crathorne Committee's Report, and on that occasion I spoke of launderettes, in which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said I have an interest; and it is one which I should now declare. I am glad to see in Schedule 1(9) the inclusion of the words "on behalf of" in relation to laundering. I should like to say why I am glad. The Seven Kings decision at Ilford was somewhat unfortunate in that it meant that only launderettes totally unattended could legally be open on Sundays. This excluded the older type of launderette, which required attendants for the machines and the giving of change, and similar services. This Bill, I am glad to see, rationalises the situation here as it has done on so many other points of the law throughout. I was going to say that I was glad to see that protection was given to the staff in respect of Sundays. I was somewhat sorry to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that a number of the unions concerned still have worries over this matter. Consequently, I will merely say that I hope that the unions will find in this connection that they are not going to be imposed upon, as I am sure they are not.

There is one brief point to which I should refer in the Schedules. Slightly facetiously, I wonder whether under "agricultural machinery" somebody could buy a sparking plug for a motor mower. Another point I feel arises under Schedule 2, which refers to the sale of toys, souvenirs and fancy goods. These types of souvenir shops carry a very large range of items. Some of them, on occasion, have artificial flowers which are specifically excluded under the provisions of Schedule 2(3). I wonder whether at a later stage it might be possible to clarify the situation in regard to souvenir shops. Rather than overburden your Lordships with other remarks to-day, I would end by saying how much I personally welcome this Bill.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my words of congratulation to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for the urbanity, the clarity and persuasiveness with which he presented his case to-day. He would no doubt think it appropriate—as, I am sure, would your Lordships—that there should be some official representation from the organised churches of this country; although you may feel it is not so appropriate that I should attempt to fill that office. Nevertheless, it is true that there is appearing upon the ecclesiastical horizon more of a consensus on the observance of Sunday than perhaps fifty years ago would have been deemed possible. There is now a more irenical attitude in the middle—and I leave out the Lord's Day Observance Society at one end, and the most permissive lapsed Unitarians at the other—and a recognition within the general framework of organised Christianity that changes are necessary and that the old-fashioned Sunday (which turns out to be not so old-fashioned in some respects) is no longer either possible or desirable. And if I may paraphrase from the standpoint of the Methodist Church, which I imagine is rather the bell-ringer for the enlightened opinions of others, we do not regard this Bill with rapture. We do not feel that it is a view of the Promised Land. We regard a great many of its provisions as inevitable, and in general terms we believe the direction which it seeks is right.

I should like, however, to lay what I believe to be a couple of secure foundations for the approach which we ought to make and, I humbly suggest, ought to be made by Christian people generally, to this process which is now going on of the change of the Sabbath into the Sunday, and the change of the Sunday into a different kind of day from that which many of us knew when we were children. It would be quite impious, as well as totally improper, of those who profess the Christian faith, and cherish Sunday, to seek to impose its prohibitions, its disciplines and behaviour patterns upon other people; and this is all the more appropriate, or the action of recognising that this is no universal application which can be made to the whole population is more apposite, in view of the multi-racial society into which we are moving. We have no right to say, as a minority movement—which of course we are—that those things which are dear to us can be imposed in principle on those who disagree with us. But we would claim that lying behind the particular canons and dogmatic and doctrinal statements about Sunday observance there lie two principles which are not dependent on a particular theology but are in fact part of natural law. One is that it is entirely necessary for the well-being of the community that there should be rhythm in its life and that there should be a periodic change of behaviour pattern, regularly, and historically and, I think, most suitably, once a week; and, secondly, that there should be one day from time to time which is materially and which is ideologically different and, as we would think, spiritually different from other days.

Secondly, my Lords, we believe that the highest proportion of the community should have available for them the freedom to enjoy those changes which are apparent in that day. That is to say, we believe that as many as possible should be free to exercise the kind of Sunday which is appropriate to their well-being and which in many cases—in most cases indeed—should represent a change of behaviour pattern, leisure; and, what is perhaps more important than either of those, that it should include the kind of family spirit which is possible at week-ends when a family comes together and enjoys its family life—though of course this is diminishing, as we know. Nevertheless, we regard it as a most important element in the well-being of the community. It is therefore by these standards that we would seek to judge this Bill.

My Lords, I have many reservations about the Bill but I will refer first of all to those things which seem to me unexceptionable. First of all, unquestionably, as the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, so clearly set out—and my noble friend Lord Stonham followed up by underlining what the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, said—this is a Bill which needs rationalisation. It is stupid in places; it is irrelevant in other places, and it is incomprehensible here and there. Therefore, those who seek to rationalise an already existing situation by clarifying that which is unclear and removing anomalies should commend themselves to any disinterested party, and certainly this Bill in this respect must commend itself to your Lordships' House.

If I may say so, I thought that my noble friend Lord Stonham was a little naive in suggesting that the Bill does nothing more than remove anomalies. If your Lordships will examine the anomalies, you will find that in almost every case that which was prohibited is now permitted. Therefore, if you add up the various things which have been anomalously introduced in past days, and caused no end of trouble in the courts, you will find that the total increase of what is permitted now is very much larger than it was in the original 1950 Act. And this, I think, should be stressed. It has, I think, been a little overlooked.

Secondly, there can be no doubt at all, surely, that the proper exercise of trading for necessitous and other reasons, which are connected particularly with chemists' shops and with sudden emergencies and so forth, is an entirely appropriate addition to or correction of a previously imperfect law. But, my Lords, the rub comes when the fact is considered, as I think it must be, that here we are tending to make on Sunday an increase of the processes of trading which have previously been in most cases associated with Saturday. In fact, I think it is highly likely that if there is an extension of the opportunities to purchase all kinds of goods on Sunday in addition to foodstuffs, it will be found that the pattern of Sunday will tend to change and there will be at least the possibility—and I think the vast probability—that a great deal more trading will be involved. What is perhaps more significant (and this affects the trade union point of view, and has been clearly demonstrated in what they have said about it) is that there is every likelihood that little traders will, for the sake of keeping in business, be compelled to open on Sundays, whereas if their own particular desires were consulted they would very much prefer to spend their Sunday within their own family life, and so forth.

Furthermore—and this surely is incontestable—if the total working population, those employed in all industries, amount to 20,750,000 as the Crathorne Report says, it is also true that those employed in catering and the various allied trades represent 12.2 per cent. or one in every eight. It is quite clear that not every person employed in retail trade will necessarily have to work on Sunday, but it is highly likely that a very much larger number than hitherto will so have to do. It is no good telling them that they will be all right because they can have a holiday some time else, some other time during the week. You cannot, for instance, tell that to a parson. There is nothing so obvious as the fact that if a holiday is taken, or time off is taken, at any other period but when other people are similarly enjoying their leisure, or the vast proportion of them are, and indeed the children are not at school, you must not tell persons that that is an equivalent type of holiday. It is nothing of the sort. As I see it, there is no substitute for the kind of leisure time provided now on Sundays for the large majority of people in this country.

My Lords, I have a good deal of sympathy with those who have written to me—and I dare say people have written to your Lordships—fearing that this increase in Sunday trading will impair their own possibilities for leisure. I hope that these things may be ironed out in the further processes of the Bill, and I hope that the principle which my noble friend has laid down, and with which I heartily agree, that a Bill which did nothing but rationalise the present situation is acceptable to your Lordships' House. I would take that as an acceptable text. But when I read, for instance, in Schedule 2, Articles required for the purposes of bathing, sunbathing or fishing and I reflect on what my family require, apparently, for the purposes of bathing, sunbathing or fishing when they go on holiday, I begin to regard this as almost a cornucopian addition to the requirements normally to be seen in the shops at Southend, Blackpool or elsewhere.

I do not believe that it is necessary, for instance, to purchase cigarettes on a Sunday. If there is permission to buy other goods in shops which are registered, and which are predominantly concerned with selling food, surely, human nature being what it is, and original sin showing no sign of diminution, it is beyond any question that there will be a wholesale attempt to increase the amount of goods which may be sold, as well as food, because they are normally in the shop which predominantly is concerned with the selling of food. Will not this also create a condition of unfair competition with other local businessmen and retailers in that particular area?

I make no apology for saying that I very much regret the passing of the Christian Sunday which I knew as a boy. At least I want to put in a "plug" for it, or raise a banner for it. I feel that on the whole, though perhaps the process which this Bill represents is inevitable, it is a process which I regret. I have no right to stand as a minority movement spokesman and claim that the community in which I live must accept the principles which I hold dear, but I think that they should be voiced, and I do not intend to stand "silent upon a peak in Darien", as if to survey some new area of the world which I ought to see in greater detail and to enjoy in greater measure. Far from it. It may well be that this is an inevitable process and is part of the decline of religious conviction. In that measure, it is to my way of thinking to be regretted; but if to rationalise the present situation and nothing more than that is the intention of the Bill, though I disapprove of some of its characteristics and fear others I will not vote against it on Second Reading. I hope that it may be amended on Committee.

5.21 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself, I am glad to say, in general agreement with the noble and reverend Lord, Lord Soper, in what he has said on the subject of this Bill. I am glad that I do not have to disagree with the noble and reverend Lord on what is so emphatically his own subject. I share with him some apprehensions with regard to the tendencies which this Bill represents, and there is one point which I would particularly stress—that is, that in our civilisation Sunday is the one day when all the family can expect to be together and live a family life. That is a matter which concerns not only the churches but also the State. The State is founded upon the family, and anything which hurts the family will in the long run be to the detriment of the State. I feel that it would be a great tragedy if the apprehensions of U.S.D.A.W. and of the noble and reverend Lord proved to be well founded. For that reason I shall join with the noble and reverend Lord in giving careful examination to the provisions of this Bill at a later stage.

There are a few points on which I should greatly like to be satisfied and on which I am not yet perfectly satisfied. The first concerns the mobile shops, of which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, spoke. I did not quite follow his remarks. According to paragraph 144 of the Crathorne Committee's Report, legislation would be required to bring the mobile shops—the vans that come round to our houses—within the provision of this Bill. I do not find that legislation here, but no doubt that is a matter on which I can be authoritatively reassured.

I would stress that this is an important matter to us country dwellers. The milkman comes every day and sells me eggs and vegetables and fruit. The baker sells me cakes, buns and meat pies. The butcher offers me a large assortment of joints, and an admirable man comes straight from the fishing harbour and sells me fish. Then, of course, there is the ice-cream man. He used to come and call on me when I had young children, and he still goes to the village, but I am afraid there was a row about that. He used to come up the village street just at the moment when the children were due to go into Sunday school, and the naughty little children would insist on having their ice-cream before they went in. A village row is a very serious matter. I do not want unnecessarily to bring anybody under restrictions, but there is a case for some restrictions on the Sunday trading of these mobile shops.

I also want to ask the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, a few questions about Clause 2. I am not enamoured of his register to be kept by the local authorities. It seems to me that that may be open to quite serious abuse. Let us suppose that in a locality there are two shops which want to take advantage of being registered, two small grocers who both sell washing powders, and both make appplication for the privilege. The local authority will have to decide between the two shops. It may be that there is not room for two shops; the trade will not bear two shops being open on Sunday.


My Lords, if the trade will not bear it, they will not open.


Only one will be open and each one wants to be the one. It will be a difficult responsibility for the local authority to decide between the two applicants for registration, and there is a certain possibility, I am afraid, of pressure being brought by one shopkeeper to be registered as against the other. He may say to his councillor, "I voted for you and we belong to the same Party. Can't you use your influence to get me registered instead of the other man?" This possibility concerns me, and I hope that it will be considered and answered.

Would it not be a good solution if the local authority had power to suggest to these two shopkeepers to open on alternate Sundays, just as chemists do? Chemists have a scheme by which one is on duty on one Sunday and one on the other. I do not see any power in the Bill for a local authority to make arrangements for opening on alternate Sundays, and I suggest to the noble Lord that some such power should be there.

As regards chemists, the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, is introducing a difficult question. I believe he is thinking of the small chemist's shop, with one man, who is a registered pharmacist, on duty. The public feel that if a man is on duty he may just as well sell them a packet of tooth powder as a packet of cough lozenges. That seems acceptable. But what about Boot's Cash Chemists? I am thinking of the big branch in my own market town. It is an enormous shop on two floors. There is one long counter devoted to medicines and I should not be surprised if there were two or three pharmacists in the employ of that branch. For the rest, the shop is taken up with a wide variety of merchandise. There is, for example, a gardening department, where one can buy seeds, weed-killers, watering cans and all the things a gardener requires.

I envisage this situation. John Citizen is cultivating his garden on Sunday and finds he has forgotten to buy sweet pea seeds. He says: "I shall be too late to plant them next Sunday. I must have the sweet pea seeds. It is Sunday. How can I get my seeds if the shop is shut? I will go to Boot's. They will be open for the sale of medicines, and now they will be open for the sale of seeds. I will buy the seeds there." It is very convenient for John Citizen, but is it not rather anomalous that seeds can be bought on Sunday only at such a place as is open for the sale of medicine?

As for the safeguard mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, that a registered pharmacist must be present, there may be two or three registered pharmacists there. I do not think it is at all likely that a large shop like Boot's would think it worth while to pay for all the overtime required to be open on Sundays; but it is a possibility, and when we legislate on so important a matter as this, so profoundly affecting one of our most cherished institutions, we have to be careful to consider not only what is probable, but what is possible.

Finally, I should like to say a word on the general Sabbatarian issue. I wish that the Lord's Day Observance Society, which in many ways I greatly admire, would take a rather more positive view of the Sabbath day than the somewhat negative and restricted view that they do take. I believe that if that Society felt itself able to use its energy, and its not inconsiderable funds, in order to propagate among the people a more joyful view of the Lord's Day, it would be doing a much greater service than in fighting a rearguard action against the tendency of the times.

That brings me back to the milkman. The milkman has to turn up every day. He is never able either to lie in bed or to go to early church. He has to work very hard indeed if he is running his own business, as is commonly the case in the country. If more people had refrigerators in their houses, the milkman would be able to take at any rate one or two mornings a week off from his work. Is it not time, with all the wealth this country still possesses, and all the scientific knowledge that we have, that we came to consider a refrigerator as a necessary part of the equipment of every home? I suggest that it would be of enormous benefit to the milkman and to the housewife, and a very reasonable goal which the country might set itself. I should like to see a delegation of the leaders of the Christian churches, and of the Lord's Day Observance Society, too, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urging him to consider in his next Budget taking the purchase tax off the small model refrigerator. If that suggestion were adopted, we should at least be doing one thing to reduce the amount of Sunday work which is at present going on.

5.35 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words in support of this Bill. Before I do so, may I say how much I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, said about refrigerators. They are not a luxury, but a necessity. The health of the country could, and largely does, depend on them. I have myself spoken of this matter, and I fully agree with what the noble Earl has said. I, too, hope that the Government will consider reducing purchase tax on these appliances. I am sure the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for introducing this Bill, and also to my noble friend Lord Stonham and to the Home Office for their help in drafting it. It seems to me to be an excellent example of co-operation on a non-Party and non-political matter, and I wish the Bill every luck.

As noble Lords before me have said, there are considerable anomalies in the present law. Noble Lords have mentioned the question of the razor, to which the Crathorne Report referred in paragraph 166. I think the short answer to the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, is that a razor is a surgical appliance. I do not know what goes on in the Boot's shop that he referred to, but in most chemists' shops you cannot buy a razor unless you ask for it as a surgical appliance for cutting corns, and you cannot use it for the purpose for which it is normally intended. Even more interesting is the question of toilet requisites, which cannot be sold on Sunday, although medicine can. You cannot, for example, buy soap or a hair shampoo. I was brought up to believe that cleanliness was next to Godliness, and I should not have thought that there was anything very wicked in buying soap on a Sunday. But the present law does not allow you to do this.

The second reason why I support this Bill is because I think it will be greatly to the convenience of the public. Nowadays, when a great many married women work—and they are encouraged to go out to work—it is extremely inconvenient to the public that shops are not open for buying food on Sundays; and also launderettes, which the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, mentioned, when they can get their laundry done. It is difficult when people work—and very often most of the family are working—to get everything done on a Saturday morning. If one takes the case, say, of a young couple trying to buy house furnishings, which should not be bought in a hurry and cannot be bought in a hurry if the buying is to be wise, as the Crathorne Report pointed out, the couple have to do this and do their food shopping, get the car cleaned and have exercise and fresh air all in the one day. It would be a great convenience, for example, if they could use Saturday morning to go round the big stores and look for their house furnishings, and do some of their shopping, and then on Sunday could buy the necessary foods that they probably now have to deal with on Saturday.

I agree with all that my noble friend Lord Soper and the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, said about the importance of preserving the traditional character of Sunday. I think it is essential, as my noble friend has said, to have one day a week which is given up to spiritual repose and also which people can spend quietly with their families. I should not like to see any inroads into that. I think it is important, also, that we should retain one day of rest, not only for religious reasons, important as they are, but also for purely practical reasons. For example, if all shops were open seven days a week, and yet the staffs were getting a two-day holiday, it might spread to offices, and then we should get everything open for seven days a week and people having different holidays for two of the days. The tendency then would be, for example, in teamwork or creative activities, that the poor chap whose rest day was going to be on the morrow would be encouraged by his workmates to lend a hand if they were working on some particularly urgent project. That is the kind of thing that we must guard against.

But, as my noble friend Lord Stonham said, this Bill does not really drive any inroads into Sunday, but merely rationalises the existing situation. It will be up to the local authorities—I am sure they will use these powers wisely—to give these licences. It will merely mean that the existing shops, which are open mostly anyway, will be able to sell the rest of their stock, to the great convenience of the public. Also I think it would stop the law from being any longer held in contempt, which is something which must be guarded against, because the public can never understand this extraordinary, and I think ridiculous, situation in which one type of goods can be sold in a shop and not another. For these reasons, my Lords, I warmly support the Bill and hope the House will give it a Second Reading.


My Lords, I rise just for one moment to say how much I welcome this Bill, which is really the other half of the operation which began some time ago with the Sunday Entertainments Bill. If I remember rightly, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, did not go quite all the way with me on the Sunday Entertainments Bill. I am happy to tell him that I go all the way with him on this one which, as my noble friend Lord Strabolgi has said, is in fact a tidying-up and rationalising operation. There may be one or two things which we may have to comment on in Committee in more detail, but in general I think the Bill is an excellent one and I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for bringing it in and supplementing the other work that was done.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, may I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate? Considering that there was one part of the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Willis, which I opposed very strongly—I think I even divided against him—it is extremely generous of him to say the nice things he has said. I did agree with the rest of his Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, told me that he had been sent for by the Home Office and had to go back and work there. I quite understand that, and I am grateful to him for the general support he has given the Bill. I was particularly grateful to him also for putting the union point of view. I understand their fears. They are afraid that this may snowball into a lot of Sunday trading and it would be difficult to help the shop workers. For different reasons, of course, fears were also expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh. They are all afraid of this Sunday trading snowball. I just do not believe it—I am sorry. I may be proved right in the long run; I may be proved wrong—I do not know—but, by and large, people do not want to work on Sundays.

Shops are not going to open, either a whole shop or part of a shop, unless it is going to pay. They will have to pay bigger wages on Sunday. It is not the public custom to do their shopping on Sunday, except for the odd bit of food. They do not buy their Sunday joint on a Sunday; that is part of the weekly shopping. They want the extra bits and the refreshments and so on, and I do not believe that there will be many, if any, more shops open on Sunday as a result of this Bill than there are at present. My views may be right or wrong, but that is the advice I have obtained, and that is the advice given some years ago to the Crathorne Committee. Although there may be some increase, I very much doubt whether there will be much increase.


My Lords, may I intervene to ask the noble Lord this question? Has he any information at all as to what happens in other countries where there is no restriction on Sunday opening?


My Lords, my experience is largely in France and to some extent in Italy where there are no restrictions on Sunday opening. I know perfectly well that the charcuteries, the shops which sell sausages and so on, will open on a Sunday morning. The ordinary shop does not. The butcher's shop does not; the fishmonger does not, except sometimes in Paris when the fishmonger is open for the sale of milk, because his shop is the dairy. But otherwise, no; it does not happen like that. On the other hand, if one is in a holiday resort, or in a city like Paris, there are a number of these shops which sell virtually only food and drink. They are not bistros; they are actual shops. The owner goes in and opens for an hour or two. If there is any increase in opening of food shops here I think almost certainly it will be done by the shop on the corner, as it is in France, and it will be the owner who does the selling. In fact, there are shops like that now all over London. If I happen to be in London I frequently on Sunday morning run up to a shop in Marylebone which sells practically anything you want—whether they are all things one is allowed to sell, I am not sure. So I do not think these fears are fully justified.

As regards the observations of my noble friend Lord Redesdale, I am grateful for his support about launderettes. As to his sparking plug, I should not think he would have the slightest difficulty. I appreciated what the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said about his fears, and particularly I noted that he is afraid about time off—whether the workers would ever get it. In so far as shops are concerned—I am not talking about the catering trade—the rule now is, and will remain so under this Bill, that the time off must be taken in the week before or the week after the Sunday in question. It is absolutely laid down. Of course, many of these shops are staffed on Sundays when they open by workpeople who work at the shop only on Sunday. But the ordinary work-person will not work seven days a week. You will not get the staff to do it, I am quite certain.

The noble Lord did not much like the inclusion of sunbathing in the Bill because it meant that an enormous amount of extra gear could be sold. At the moment, of course, the sale of goods connected with bathing or fishing is allowed. The only addition to that list is sunbathing, and I am advised by the people who deal in these things that they have been wondering whether in fact, under the present law, they could sell sunglasses and sun-tan oil. I gather that no question has arisen of buying, say, suitcases to go to the seaside, and such things. I think that is all right.

The noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, asked me certain questions. He asked about mobile shops. In my original draft of the Bill I put in mobile shops as having to obey the same rules as everyone else. It was pointed out to me—and I think it is quite true—that it would be nonsensical, when they are not controlled during the week, to control them on Sundays. I understand that it is not improbable that the whole question of mobile shops will be dealt with in another Bill in the not too far distant future. There is an additional factor about Sunday trading. If food shops are allowed to open cm Sunday there are less likely to be mobile shops. I should like to include mobile shops, but I think it would be silly to deal with them only on Sunday; when they are not dealt with by the law on weekdays.

The second question he asked me was whether we could arrange for certain shops to open on alternate Sundays. A local authority cannot do that. If shops sell only food, or principally food and very little else, they have the right to be registered; and whether or not in fact they open is nothing to do with the local authority, which is concerned only with registration. If in a small area there is enough business for one shop, though not for two, one will open and the other will not; or they will come to some agreement between them. But it is not a matter for the local authorities. If both shops like to stay open and lose money, that is up to them; but shopkeepers are pretty shrewd and I do not think that that is a problem.

With regard to chemists—I will come in a moment to the question of Boot's—there is not going to be a great rush of chemists open to sell all kinds of other goods on a Sunday. It is the most difficult thing to get chemists to work on Sunday at all. A large majority of chemists in a big city open on Sunday because of a sense of public duty. They have a roster. Some of them refuse to do it because they say they are sufficiently hard worked in the week. I do not think it is really worth a chemist's opening for a very long period on a Sunday possibly to sell sundries. As regards Boot's (I am using "Boot's" as a generic term, as referring to the multiple chemists), I am sorry but again I do not believe it. Boot's would have to have their chemists there. Are they really on a Sunday going to employ at a big wage somebody to look after their gardening department, when they may get in only two people during the whole of the day? They may even be lucky and get ten. But, broadly, there is no demand, I think, for that department to be open; and where there is no public demand these places will not open because they will lose money. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, spoke about dairies. A number of large dairies are already rationalising their deliveries, and delivering milk every two or three days. Is that what the noble Lord was referring to?


My Lords, I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, who mentioned that.


In fact we both raised the point, my Lords.


I am sorry, my Lords. There is a certain problem here. The ordinary person with a refrigerator does not worry unduly about deliveries of milk, but it becomes difficult with a family of seven or eight if they have not an enormous refrigerator. The dairies do not particularly want to cut their deliveries, but they are having to do it. I have already thanked the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I hope I have answered all the more important questions. Again, I would express the hope that your Lordships do not think this Bill unduly controversial. I am somewhat frightened that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, will possibly put down many Amendments, but apart from that I hope your Lordships will give this Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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