HL Deb 16 February 1971 vol 315 cc501-30

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Registration of Food Shops]:

LORD KILBRACKEN moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 12, leave out from ("than") to second ("or") in line 13 and insert ("chocolate, chocolate and sugar confectionery, ice cream (including wafers and edible containers, ice Jollies and similar products)")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is purely a drafting Amendment, to bring the language here into line with that used in the Schedule. My Amendment will completely disappear, of course, if Amendment No. 2 is agreed to, but we shall have to see what happens. I beg to move.


My Lords, may I just say that I hope this Amendment will fall because Amendment No. 2 will be accepted. For the moment I am happy to accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DERWENT moved Amendment No. 2: Leave out Clause 2.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2. This matter was mentioned briefly in Committee. I acknowledge that this is rather a clumsy clause. It is not popular with local authorities because it will give their staff extra work, and many of them are short-handed. It was put into the Bill to give some teeth to the present law. The penalties provided by the 1950 Act are in modern times quite absurd: they are £5 for a first offence and £20 for a subsequent offence. Although we have talked in this Bill mostly about food, those penalties apply just as much to other goods that are not supposed to be sold on a Sunday, such as motor cars. A £5 penalty for somebody who on a Sunday sells illegally a couple of Aston Martins is really no deterrent. This provision was put into the Bill, in so far as food shops were concerned, to be some deterrent. During the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, moved an Amendment bringing the maximum monetary penalties up to what is suitable at this modern time, and I suggested then that if the House agreed to those penalties this rather cumbersome clause on enforcement would be unnecessary. I have had conversations with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and I hope he agrees with me that Clause No. 2 is not now necessary in the Bill, owing to the Amendment of the noble Lord which the House accepted in Committee.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Amendment of s.59 of Shops Act 1950]:


My Lords, Amendment No. 3 is purely a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 41, after ("Trading)") insert— ("(i) in line 1 leave out the word "foregoing" and (ii)")—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DERWENT moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 42, leave out ("twenty-five") and insert ("fifty").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 together because they deal with the same point. As I have said, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, moved an Amendment to increase the maximum fines. It was mentioned at the time by my noble friend Lord Windlesham that perhaps these were not entirely in accordance with the scales that appear in other Bills. He did not like the odd fives, and so on. I had a word with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, about it, and I think he agreed that he and I would be perfectly ready to accept what the Home Office considered to be suitable fines, provided that they were "biggish" ones. So for a first offence, instead of the £25 maximum suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, I am moving to put in £50. For subsequent offences, instead of £250, I am moving to insert £200. This brings them more into line as regards actual figures with other Acts of Parliament.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 44, leave out ("two hundred and fifty") and insert ("two hundred").—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Minor and consequential amendments and repeals]:


My Lords, Amendment No. 6 is consequential on an Amendment that was passed in Committee. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 3, line 15, at end insert— ("( ) In section 55 of the Shops Act 1950 (delivery of goods) after the word "Goods" insert (including butcher's meat)".").—(Lord Derwent.)

Clause 8 [Short title, citation, contruction, commencement and extent]:

3.55 p.m.

LORD MAELOR moved Amendment No. 7: Page 3, line 26, at end insert ("or the Principality of Wales")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this particular Amendment I find myself in a rather peculiar position. As a rule, the purpose of an Amendment is to change the content of what is proposed to be adopted. My Amendment does nothing of the kind. I have much sympathy with the sponsor of this Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, because he wants to do away with so many of the anomalies which are in what I would describe as the silly Act of 1950. That Act is full of anomalies. It allows me to go to a chemist's shop to buy razor blades on a Sunday if I tell the chemist that I want them for cutting my corns. But if I tell him that I want them for shaving purposes, he cannot sell them to me. We know that in practice he does sell, knowing full well that the local authority—quite rightly—will not prosecute him for breaking the law. Anything which leads to dishonesty should be scrapped on the grounds of morality.

I am not going to speak on the contents of the Bill at all, so I shall not be in conflict with the sponsor of the Bill in that respect. My speech will be devoted entirely to Wales, and as a Welshman I hope to capture the sympathies of your Lordships' House. This House is noted for its generosity and magnanimity towards minority views. According to Clause 8 of this Bill, it will not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland. I know that the reason for this is that Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own peculiar legal system. Wales does not enjoy that privilege. Strangely enough, it was a Welshman, sitting on the Throne of Britain, who was responsible for this. That was King Henry VIII, and he had the best intentions. His purpose was to secure for the people of Wales the same legal privileges as were enjoyed by the people of England. That was a clear example of a man doing the right thing in the wrong way.

I want to impress upon your Lordships' House that the people of Wales are a nation apart. We are fundamentally different from the English and come from a different stock. I am not saying that we are better than the English—I would not dare say that here this afternoon. I might say it in North Wales, but not here. However, I am emphasising that we are different from the English. In case anyone doubts that we are a separate nation, let me remind your Lordships of one or two facts.

First, we have our own language—one of the oldest languages in the world—the language, I understand, that was spoken even in the Garden of Eden. At home, I speak nothing but Welsh, and Welsh is my medium for worship. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, told me on one occasion that he was surprised to hear me say this, and suggested that we should all speak English. As your Lordships can see, I can speak a little English, at any rate. The fact that we have a language of our own confirms our claim to nationhood. We have our own literature, which is entirely incomprehensible to any but the Welsh. In the Lobby I met a compatriot who had gone into the Vote Office and asked for the Report on The Reform of Local Government in Wales, and he was given a Welsh copy. He did not understand it, because he cannot speak or read Welsh. I am sure an Englishman cannot read that Report.

We have our own traditions and it is this fact that has prompted me to move the Amendment. These traditions are mainly cultural, and can be traced to the influence of religion. They do not have counterparts in England. What horseracing is to the English the Eisteddfod is to the Welsh—but what a difference!


Clyw, clyw fy machgen.


Without being in any way hypocritical, I believe that I can claim that the Welsh are a religious people. I do not measure that by church attendances. I am anxious to emphasise that our traditions and way of life have a religious basis. It is interesting to note that Wales is entirely Nonconformist. Even the Episcopal Church is Nonconformist in Wales. I should not be surprised if the right reverend Prelates—some of them—would like to see that happening in England, too. That privilege is enjoyed in Wales. Roman Catholics are Nonconformist there. Every religious denomination in Wales is Nonconformist.

This brings me to our attitude towards Sunday. Speaking generally—I do not pretend to speak on behalf of the Anglicised parts of the Principality—we in Wales cling tenaciously to the idea of a workless Sunday. Small shopkeepers, like the rest of us, wish it to be a day of rest. Anyone who has spent a holiday in Wales must have appreciated this. Shopkeepers who do not desire to open on a Sunday will be compelled under this Bill to do so in order to retain their customers. The supermarkets (whatever the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, may say on this), I am sure, if I know them, will be obliged to follow suit. The people of England like this. If so, let them have it, and good luck to them! I am not going to oppose this Bill so far as England is concerned, because I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, is speaking on behalf of the English nation. But I am speaking on behalf of the Welsh nation, and I am asking your Lordships to respect my point of view as I am respecting yours. Here I am, offering even to support the Bill if it is confined to England; but I cannot do so if Wales is brought in.

I do not wish to detain the House at this hour, but I should like to suggest to the sponsor of the Bill that it would be good strategy in the interests of this Bill for him to accept my Amendment. What I am about to suggest is not blackmail but merely a matter of tactics. As the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, knows, this Bill cannot become law until it passes through another place. In the other place there are 36 Members of Parliament representing Wales. I would not presume to know the views of all those Members on this Bill, but I do know that many of them would definitely vote against it. Therefore, if Wales is not included in the Bill when it goes to the other place, those Members will probably not be interested in it—indeed, I am sure they will not be—and their vote will be neutralised. I am referring now to those Members who would definitely vote against the Bill. They will absent themselves from the Lobby on that occasion. They will not be interested. They will say, "This is a Bill for England, so why should we concern ourselves about it?" It would handsomely pay the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, I am sure, if he agreed to my Amendment. In the light of all I have said, I am moving my Amendment and, if necessary, must divide the House on the issue.

4.3 p.m.


My Lords, this is a difficult moment for me. I am normally, along with my colleagues, forbidden to stand at this Dispatch Box to speak on matters connected with Wales. My noble friend Lord Aberdare is the only one who can discuss these matters with the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, and others from Wales. But I think I should intervene on this Amendment. The noble Lord said two things that particularly caught my ear during his speech. He said that the Welsh were different from the English—and he certainly proved that in his speech; and he said that the present law on Sunday trading contained many anomalies. The effect of this Amendment would be to place Wales in a very different position from England. Wales would be left with the present law, complete with all its anomalies.

The Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, if it reached the Statute Book, would make a whole range of improvements and rationalisations in the law which would, as the Bill is drafted, apply to England and Wales. This has been the pattern of not only the shops legislation but a great deal—the overwhelming volume—of other domestic legislation. If for certain reasons Northern Ireland or Scotland are excluded, the legislation does apply to England and Wales. It would be very difficult to justify, despite the very amusing speech we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, why in this particular instance the shops legislation should suddenly, after all these years, cease to apply in Wales as regards opening hours on Sundays. Although, of course, it is true that in parts of Wales there is a stronger sabbatarian tradition, I am advised that the present law, which permits a good deal of trading on Sunday, has not led to any objections over the past 21 years since the Shops Act went on the Statute Book. Indeed, such representations as my Department have received on the subject of Wales have been from holiday resorts keen to obtain greater flexibility, rather than greater restriction. So, although I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of the House will have listened with great sympathy to, and will have been entertained by, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, he has not really made out a case as to why legislation in this particular instance should be limited only to England.


My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, will not press this Amendment because of one additional reason I shall give. I sympathise with much that he had to say. One day I promise myself I shall bring in a Bill for Home Rule for Yorkshire, so I know how he feels about Wales. There is, however, another point here. I am advised that it is impossible to accept the noble Lord's Amendment because this Bill deals with only Part IV of the 1950 Act—which deals with Sunday Trading, I agree, but it is only a small part of that Act. The Amendment would create an enormous number of anomalies, because in other Parts of the 1950 Act many of the sections apply to Sundays and weekdays. So the effect of this Amendment would be that it would create certain difficulties about Sundays, and even more difficulties about weekdays. It would not be clear whether the other Parts of the Bill which affect Sundays and weekdays would continue to operate, while some parts of Part IV of the Bill would not continue to operate in Wales. I suggest that, if the noble Lord wants to take Wales out of shops legislation, he should introduce a Private Member's Bill taking it out of the Act of 1950 altogether. In view of that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment. I am not being rude, but I think it would make a nonsense of the original Act.


My Lords, married as I am to a Welsh speaking Welshman, I cannot bear to sit here and see my noble friend unsupported. I would say only this to him. I understand what he means, because I know the culture of Wales very well. But, of course, he should have been here on the other stages of the Bill, when we opposed the whole principle of permitting people such as those whom he described, shop assistants and others, to be compelled to work on Sunday morning. I must confess (and I shall tell my husband of this) that I cannot understand how he applies his Christianity, his Christian principles, to the people who work in North Wales and not to those who work in England, because the principle here is entirely the same. The noble Lord should have been here on other occasions, when we embraced all the shop assistants and applied the principles which to-day he has expounded regarding them.

Certainly if my noble friend decides to divide the House I shall vote with him. I have no intention of repeating the speeches I have made on other occasions. I will say only, as I said then, that I am shocked that this House should think of introducing legislation of this kind when it has taken a hundred years to establish the right of shop assistants to have one day in the week to rest. I congratulate the noble Lord, but I think he would have only a moral victory.


My Lords, I should not like my noble friend Lord Maelor to think he has no support from a fellow Welshman—"Ac Yma Hefyd!". But, with all due respect, I would say that if he divides it is out of a nostalgic, perhaps a little chauvinistic, patriotism. I shall stagger into the Lobby with him to see that he is not alone against the hosts of Anglo-Saxons who will vote against him but, nevertheless, I take the constructive logical position of the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill. One of the things for which we struggled for years was to get the shop assistant a period of free time. Therefore, without delaying your Lordships, I feel that just for the record I should make out a case for supporting my noble friend on the grounds of nationality. If he divides the House—and I sincerely hope that he does because he has some support here—I will move into the Lobby to support him. There! I have my voice on record so that when he gets back home he will be all right.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, married as I am to a non-Welsh speaking Welsh woman, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, will not mind my explaining to him why, if he presses his Amendment to a Division, I shall not feel able to support him in the Division Lobby. As a former Minister for Welsh Affairs I agree entirely with all he says about Wales being a different nation and having in many respects a different way of life. I also bear in mind what he said about the differences between Welsh Wales and the rest of Wales, but I am bound to say that from my experience of Welsh Wales I cannot go all the way with him there.

I can call to mind at this moment a seaside place deep in Welsh Wales where I have seen on a Sunday a greater proportion of shops open and serving the public than 1 ever remember seeing in any English seaside place. I would respectfully submit to the noble Lord that, if he wishes to stand up for his greatly respected Sabbatarian views, he should proceed not by pressing this Amendment, which, as my noble friend Lord Derwent has explained to him, will really make rubbish of the Bill, but by persuading his fellow Welshmen in Welsh Wales that, whatever the business attractions of being open on Sundays, they should in fact close their shops on Sundays.


My Lords, if my noble friend divides the House I shall go with him, for one simple reason. I am opposed to the Bill—every word of it—from beginning to end, and if there is one section of our community who are to be exempted from the terms of this Bill, namely Wales, then I shall be happy that at least one part of the United Kingdom does not come within the scope of this Bill.


My Lords, if I am allowed to speak again I must say that I have been greatly encouraged by the support that I have received. Indeed, I had a shock when I came into the House a quarter of an hour ago, because the first words I heard the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, say were these: "To exclude whales". I thought "Oh, my goodness! he is dealing with my Amendment", until I heard him add, "and swans". May I just say this. My Teller is a Scotsman, so Wales and Scotland will be united this afternoon, and I am glad of that. We have beaten them so many times at Rugby and football that I am glad to think we shall be together to-day. But I must divide the House.


My Lords, I had not intended to take part in this debate, but I was alerted to the Biblical interest in it by the allegation that Welsh was spoken in the Garden of Eden. I shall be looking up the Holy Writ with interest, to find the source reference of this point. In respect to what the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, has just said, I would point out that in my maiden speech I spoke on the subject of cruelty to whales. There was some doubt among the people to whom I mentioned this as to whether I was speaking of the mammal or the Principality; and I now feel moved that we should not take steps which might be interpreted as cruelty to Wales, without the "h".

What I want to say more seriously is this. I think that the issue of conscience, and how conscience is expressed, is difficult to establish in relation to the particular Bill that we have before us. It seems to me that what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has said is the one thing which those who have a strong conscience in this respect should bear in mind. I myself was born in Scotland, in a country where Sabbatarianism was very strong and in certain parts still is. I wholly respect the views of the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, but I shall find it

difficult to go into the Lobby with him because I cannot feel that this is a particularly appropriate way in which to express this issue of conscience. I profoundly hope that there will be no type of intimidation which will prevent those who feel in conscience bound that they should not work on Sunday from adhering to their principles. I hope that they will be under no coercion to work on Sunday. It is not clear in my mind that by supporting the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, I should in fact be supporting people who have strong consciences and who may be in a minority or a majority in different parts of the country.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Royle, is not aware that this Bill does not apply to Scotland, and if he does not wish to see the effects of the Bill if it is passed into law I am sure we shall be delighted to welcome him every weekend in Scotland. He would then not have to spend a Sunday in either England or Wales. That would benefit both British Rail and Scotland.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Duke.

4.20 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 92.

Archibald, L. Gray, L. Poltimore, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Royle, L.
Beswick, L. Hamnett, L. St. Davids, V.
Blyton, L. Hatherton, L. Shinwell, L.
Brockway, L. Hoy, L. [Teller.] Strathclyde, L.
Burntwood, L. Ingleby, V. Summerskill, Bs.
Davies of Leek, L. Jacques, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Kilbracken, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Lauderdale, E. Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.
Glasgow, E. Maelor, L. [Teller.]
Grantchester, L. Moyle, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Birdwood, L. Crathorne, L.
Abinger, L. Birk, Bs. Crook, L.
Amherst, E. Boothby, L. Daventry, V.
Amory, V. Boston, L. Denham, L.
Ampthill, L. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Derwent, L. [Teller.]
Amulree, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Dundee, E.
Atholl, D. Buccleuch and Queensberry, D. Dundonald, E.
Auckland, L. Buckinghamshire, E. Eccles, V.
Audley, Bs. Carnock, L. Effingham, E.
Avebury, L. Cawley, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Champion, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs.
Berkeley, Bs. Colville of Culross, V. Essex, E.
Falkland, V. Lindgren, L. Rhyl, L.
Fortescue, E. Listowel, E. Ridley, V.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Rockley, L.
Gowrie, E. McCorquodale of Newton, L. St. Helens, L.
Greenhill, L. Mersey, V. St. Just, L.
Greenway, L. Meston, L. St. Oswald, L.
Grenfell, L. [Teller.] Milverton, L. Sandys, L.
Gridley, L. Molson, L. Sempill, Ly.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Monson, L. Shannon, E.
Hankey, L. Moyne, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Henderson, L. Norwich, L.Bp. Stamp, L.
Henley, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Stocks, Bs.
Howe, E. Ogmore, L. Strang, L.
Hurcomb, L. Phillips, Bs. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Hylton-Foster, Bs. Platt, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal,
Jessel, L. Rank, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Killearn, L. Rankeillour, L. Willis, L.
Leatherland, L. Rathcavan, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Leathers, V. Reigate, L.

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Transactions for which shops may be open on Sunday.]:

LORD DERWENT moved Amendment No. 8: Page 4, line 4, leave out ("food for human consumption") and insert ("meals or refreshments").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is really a drafting Amendment. This is the part of the Schedule that deals with food for consumption on the premises—restaurants, cafes and so on. The phrase "meals or refreshments" has created no difficulty under the present Act, and as there have been different times of closing on Sunday for those serving meals or refreshments on the premises it is considered desirable, in order that there can be no misunderstanding, that the wording of the present Act, in so far as this particular paragraph is concerned, should not be altered. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKEN moved Amendment No. 9: Page 4, line 4, leave out from ("including") to ("intoxicating") in line 6.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I had originally expected to put down a similar Amendment to my Amendment No. 1, in order again in the Schedules to change the language used to that which the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, and I found to be preferable. Then I saw that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, had put down the Amendment which has just been carried. Therefore, it did not seem necessary to go into this long rigmarole of "sugar confectionary, ice lollies" and so on, because of the change of language to "meals or refreshments". I felt this for two reasons: first, because soft drinks and ice cream and ices certainly would come under the word "refreshments". Then I asked myself where on earth would what are commonly called "sweets" be sold for consumption on the premises. It seemed to me that this could only be at cinemas, theatres and so on, and that that would be fully covered by paragraph 3. I therefore put down this Amendment whereby that paragraph would read: The sale of meals or refreshments (including intoxicating liquors) for consumption on the premises at which they are sold. I do not think anything more than that is necessary. I beg to move.


My Lords, unless my noble friend Lord Windlesham has any comment, it seems to me that this Amendment simplifies the language. I think it achieves what is necessary, and I am perfectly prepared to accept it.


My Lords, so far as the Government are concerned, there seems no objection to this Amendment.


My Lords, I call Amendment No. 10. I ought to inform the House that if this Amendment is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 11 and 12.

LORD DERWENT moved Amendment No. 10: Page 4, line 8, leave out paragraph 2.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to discuss Amendments Nos. 10 and 13 together. I know that noble Lords opposite object to my Amendment No. 13, but perhaps they will agree that we should settle the whole question of the first of these Amendments. Both Amendments deal with the same matter. Except for one important point, I am here re-drafting; that is to say, doing away with the existing paragraphs 2 and 3 and making one paragraph. I hope that noble Lords will agree to the drafting part of the Amendment.

But there is this other important aspect. During the Committee stage of the Bill an Amendment was moved, I think by the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury (who I regret is not here to-day), to the effect that food shops should close at midday. That Amendment was put forward on the ground, among others, that this was a compromise solution—between what and what I never quite understood. I blame myself that perhaps the Committee did not fully realise what they were doing. For more than 40 years food shops have been able to open on Sunday from midnight to 8 o'clock at night. As your Lordships know, many of them do not open. Of those that do, most open for an hour or two in the morning, some in the afternoon and occasionally they open in the evening.

No difficulty has been created by this situation. No large number of shops, any more than large stores, have opened. Why that situation should be changed now, I do not know. Shops are allowed to open now with no bad effects. I do not see why any difficulty should be created now when there has been none in the past. In addition, if the Bill remains unamended, anybody coming home from abroad, or whose car has broken down and who cannot get to a food shop by midday, if he has nothing in his larder at home he will not be able to buy any food of any kind on a Sunday. At the moment food can be bought everywhere. This has created no problems. It has not created very much trade on a Sunday. I know of delicatessen shops which do not open on Sunday mornings, but which do open in the late afternoon or in the evening when there is a public demand for them. Why should we go back on this arrangement? As I say, it has created no problems, and I see no reason why problems should be created in the future.

I say that food shops can stay open until 8 o'clock at night. This has never been tested in law. There are several people at the Home Office who think that people with shops are entitled to open from midnight to midnight on a Sunday. The whole argument on the Committee stage was that shops should not open after midday. I believe this to be entirely unnecessary. The shopkeeper knows what time of day he ought to open. Some shops which are open in the afternoon never open in the morning because there is no public demand. This applies particularly to main roads. People need food. Why, for the first time ever, so far as I know, this change should be suggested, I do not know.

The other argument (put rather in this form) was that shops will be able to sell many more things on a Sunday than may be sold at the present time. We argued this on Second Reading. It is absolute nonsense. On Sundays you can sell, for consumption off the premises, meals or refreshments. I repeat what I said before, that the courts have found that anything which can be eaten on the premises is a meal or refreshment. Certain things cannot be purchased. They are limited in number. Flour and tea are included because they have to be added to before they can be consumed on the premises. While the purchase of certain goods is not allowed because taken alone they cannot be consumed, you can on a Sunday buy goods provided that they are part of a meal. Thus, you can buy your flour or tea if you buy your butter and bread with them. Then it becomes a meal and it can be sold. This happens all over the country now. The 12 o'clock rule will mean that from 12 o'clock on a Sunday nobody in England will be able to buy any food. What our tourist trade will think about that, I shudder to contemplate. After all this time it is an absurd proposition.

Amendment No. 13 seeks to leave out this suggested 12 o'clock closing, which was brought in on the Committee stage. My purpose is to allow your Lordships another look at this question, because I do not think I explained it properly on the last occasion.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to oppose this Amendment. It is an attempt to negative an Amendment which was carried at Committee stage. The issue was then fully debated, and at that stage it was settled by a Division in which more than 60 of your Lordships took part. I do not accept that the Committee did not know what it was doing. I shall certainly try to make sure that the House knows what it is doing on this occasion.

We have been told that the main purpose of this Bill is to clarify the law in regard to Sunday trading. It will clarify the law in regard to Sunday trading whether this Amendment is carried or not; there will be no difference so far as the clarity is concerned. But if this Amendment is carried, then the law will be left in an illogical and untidy state. We shall be in the position that shops which are compelled by law to close at midday on one weekday a week, the early closing day, will nevertheless be able to open all day on Sunday. In the view of the opponents of this Bill that is illogical, and that would be the position if this Amendment were carried. The issue before the House at the present time is not whether people who are out on a social occasion on Sunday should be able to buy meals and refreshments; cigarettes and tobacco; sweets and chocolates; ice cream and drinks; or petrol and oil, and all the other things that people buy when they are enjoying leisure on a Sunday. The issue is whether the grocer, the butcher, the supermarket and fried fish and chip shops should be open all day on a Sunday. That is the issue of the Bill. As the Bill stands at present, the grocers, the butchers, the supermarkets will be able to open until 12 o'clock; but if the Amendment is carried they will be able to open all day.

Let us take the case of the butcher. At the present time a butcher cannot open at all on Sunday. The question before the House is not whether a butcher should be open or closed, the question is whether a butcher should be open for half a day or a full day. If the Amendment is carried he will be open for the full day; if the Amendment is defeated then he will be limited to half a day. Surely that is a compromise. I am surprised that the noble Lord should say that he did not understand where the compromise came in. Indeed, the whole spirit of the Amendment in Committee was for reconciliation and compromise. We know that the trade associations, particularly the specialist trade associations—the grocers, the meat traders, and the fried fish traders—are all against any extension of Sunday trading, and have said specifically that they are against this Bill.

We also know that the National Chamber of Commerce is against this Bill, and certainly against this Amendment. We know that the Co-operative Movement is against this Bill, and certainly against this Amendment. We know that the trade unions concerned are against this Bill, and particularly this Amendment, because they do not want an extension of Sunday trading. We also know that the Federation of Consumer Groups circularised the groups to ascertain the wishes of consumers. They expressed their wishes in reply to questionnaires which were summarised, and the summaries were submitted to the Crathorne Committee. In the words of the Crathorne Committee, the survey indicated that the chief demand was for the sale of groceries during part of Sunday.

The Amendment which was passed at the Committee stage was a compromise, in the sense that it was an attempt to meet the needs of consumers who said they wanted grocery shops open for part of Sunday; and consequently the Amendment provided that not only grocery shops but all other food shops might be open for part of Sunday. Surely that is a compromise. It was an effort to try to reconcile the wishes of the employers, the employees and the consumers, and it was a very fair compromise. But we who oppose this Bill have gone even further. We have another Amendment, No. 19, which will allow any local authority—not just holiday resorts—where there is a demand, to extend the hours for food shops to any hour after 12 o'clock. So what we are asking your Lordships to do is to accept 12 o'clock as being a reasonable hour up to which the full range of food can be sold but to allow the local authority in any locality where there is a further demand to assess that demand and to decide whether food shops should be open later; and, if so, until what time. Surely that is a fair and reasonable compromise. Indeed, we could not compromise any more without capitulating fully.

If this attempt at reconciliation and compromise is thrown out, as it would be if this Amendment were approved, then that will stiffen opposition to this Bill. When its opponents see that their opinions—and even a reconciliation of their opinions with those of others—have been rejected, then they will certainly stiffen their opposition to this Bill. The opponents of this Bill—particularly the National Chamber of Trade, the cooperative societies and the Co-operative Movement—not only have Members in Parliamentary constituencies, they have organisations there, and they will make their opinions known to their Members. On the other hand, if this attempt at reconciliation and compromise is accepted, and the Bill stays in its present form, it is very likely that the opposition to this Bill will be weakened, and it will be accepted as a fair and reasonable compromise of the wishes of those who are in the trade and of the consumers who use the trade.

At this late hour I appeal to the noble Lord to consider that position; to consider the withdrawal of his Amendment. I have to give notice that if he cannot withdraw it, then we shall certainly divide the House on what we regard as the major question.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, may I read from the Crathorne Report, paragraph 136, where the Committee came to the conclusion that the special character of Sunday ought to be preserved as far as practicable as a day of leisure in which a person is not required to pursue his weekday work and is free to do as he chooses. Let us be entirely honest with ourselves on this matter. Do we ourselves value not having to work on Sundays? Do we value having Sunday as a day of rest and worship? Do we value Sunday as a day we can spend with our families? Do we value Sunday as a day when we can take our families on outings? Do we value it as a God-given break from our normal weekday routine? If we do, let us be very careful before we pass an Amendment which will have the effect of taking other people's Sundays away from them. Many of the workers in the food trade are women, and many of them are married women. If we pass this Amendment they may be tempted away by high wages for Sunday working, and the result will be that they will not be with their families on Sundays.

If the stores are allowed to open all day for the sale of food, surely the next anomaly that people will raise will be, "Why should we be able to sell only food? Why should we not be able to sell other goods which are in our store?". Perhaps we shall then have another Shops (Sunday Trading) Bill. I ask your Lordships to consider this Amendment very carefully, so that more families will not lose the Sundays that they can spend together.


My Lords, I agree wholeheartedly with the last speaker, and I rise to make one point against the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, with whom I usually agree. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, said that people returning from abroad would arrive home with nothing to eat because shops were closed at midday on Sunday. The noble Lord also mentioned the tourist trade, but in my opinion tourists do not go out on Sunday afternoon and buy food. If they want food they buy it on any other day of the week and stock up. If people are travelling about they usually go to a public house or a restaurant. Therefore I cannot agree on that point, and I feel strongly that, so far as possible, Sunday should be maintained as a day of leisure. I oppose the Amendment.


My Lords, I am at risk of repeating what I said earlier, but I would point out that this Amendment is really putting back what we have already agreed to; therefore we have every right to say again what we said before. I support the noble Viscount, Lord Ingleby, particularly because the noble Lord, Lord Derwent—and most of us have the greatest respect for all that he says—is on the Government's side of the House, while most of the speakers against the Bill have been on the other side. Therefore I rise to support the noble Viscount, Lord Ingleby, in case all those noble Lords who will come in if we divide on this Amendment think that this is simply a Party political issue, which I cannot see that it is in the slightest degree.

I would also say that, whereas the noble Viscount, Lord Ingleby, and other speakers have quite rightly put the point about Sunday's being a day of rest and that it is not desirable to extend Sunday trading, I was greatly impressed with the argument that the more Sunday trading is extended over the seven days of the week, the more will food cost until finally it costs seven-sixths of what it costs to-day. That is because people will not buy more food; they will simply buy it on more days of the week, and the people who sell food on Sundays will probably be paid at higher rates. Therefore I cannot support the Amendment.


My Lords, in view of the fact that my next two Amendments will fall if this Amendment is carried, may I also say a word? I agree with noble Lords who have spoken that it must be considered extremely unfortunate, to say the least, that when an important major topic has been discussed in Committee and has gone to a Division and been decided, an Amendment which goes completely counter to what was agreed earlier should be put down at Report stage. What has happened here is that this Amendment has been presented to us as, more or less, consequential on Amendment No. 2, since this paragraph refers to sales in shops registered with the local authority. Many of us agreed with Amendment No. 2, since the principle of registration of shops with the local authority was one which it was far better to eliminate. But the deletion of Clause 2 does not make it necessary, consequentially, to delete paragraph 2, because if Amendment No. 12 were accepted instead it would simply delete the words, at shops registered with the local authority", and the sale of food would, with certain exceptions, still be restricted to the hours until 12 noon. That is the course which I should prefer, and I support my noble friend.


My Lords, I have nothing to add to what I said when this matter was debated in Committee on January 25. It is a crucial Amendment. The arguments for and against have been very persuasively put by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, and there is no need for me to try to balance the pros and cons. All I need do is repeat that the position of the Government on this matter is one of neutrality, and leave it to your Lordships to decide.


My Lords, I think I am entitled to reply. As regards the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, about reversing a decision taken by the Committee, I may tell him that that is frequently done if there is only a small majority on the first occasion, particularly if one feels that the House should have another look at it. There is nothing unusual about it. I am rather astonished at the speeches. To listen to them, and particularly if one listened to my noble friend Lord Ingleby—this is the only subject on which we ever disagree—anyone who knew nothing about this matter would think that shops were not now allowed to open all day on Sunday. But they are, my Lords, and all these prophecies of doom about how all the supermarkets and other shops are going to open and how everyone will be forced to work on Sunday really do not bear any relation to life.

As the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, admitted, people work on Sunday because they want to. You cannot force them to work; you almost have to get down on your knees and beg them to work, and you must then pay them very highly. I agree that if they open it is possible that food will cost more, but although the shops which now open for a few hours can charge more, most shops cannot sell at increased prices. But why we should say that if a shop opens on Sunday it must shut at 12 o'clock, when for the last forty years it has been opening in the afternoon or the evening or at some other time, I simply cannot understand.


My Lords, does the noble Lord not agree that that does not apply to a large number of the shops concerned? For example, butchers' shops cannot open at all on Sundays now.


My Lords, I was coming to the butchers, because of the noble Lord, Lord Royle. The only real addition under this Bill to food which can now be sold on Sunday—it is not only affected by this 12 o'clock rule—is butchers' meat. We have argued that issue out and decided it by a big majority. There is no reason why butchers in particular should be left out of the Bill. I think that butchers will not open on a Sunday. They do not want to do so, and they will lose money if they do. But, apart from the butchers, my Amendment will effect practically no change from what the law is now. A few extra articles that cannot be sold now will be able to be sold, but the bulk of the

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

LORD DERWENT: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 13.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 14, leave out sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) and insert:

articles can be sold now and will continue to be sold. It has been possible since 1928 to stay open till 8 o'clock, and before that a shopkeeper could stay open as long as he liked, so why we should take this retrograde step now I cannot imagine.

5.0 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 69; Not-Contents, 53. ("(i) food for human consumption (including chocolate, chocolate and sugar confectionery, ice cream (including wafers and edible containers), ice lollies and similar products) or drink (including intoxicating liquors) or ingredients for the preparation of food or drink;")—(Lord Derwent.)

Abinger, L. Dulverton, L. Molson, L.
Airedale, L. Ebbisham, L. Monson, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Elliot of Harwood, B. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Amherst, E. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Amory, V. Essex, E. Rankeillour, L.
Ampthill, L. Fortescue, E. Rea, L.
Atholl, D. Glasgow, E. Reigate, L.
Audley, Bs. Gowrie, E. Ridley, V.
Balerno, L. Grantchester, L. Rockley, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Grenfell, L. [Teller] St. Helens, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Gridley, L. St. Just, L.
Boothby, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Oswald, L.
Boston, L. Hacking, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Henley, L. Stamp, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Stonham, L.
Buckton, L. Jessel, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Carnock, L. Killearn, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Kinnoull, E. Tenby, V.
Conesford, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Teynham, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigmyle, L. Merrivale, L. Vivian, L.
Crathorne, L. Mersey, V. Willis, L.
Daventry, V. Meston, L.
Derwent, L. [Teller.] Milverton, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Douglass of Cleveland, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Amulree, L. Faringdon, L. Platt, L.
Archibald, L. Garnsworthy, L. Royle, L.
Ardwick, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. St. Davids, V.
Auckland, L. Greenway, L. Sandys, L.
Beswick, L. Hamnett, L. [Teller.] Shepherd, L.
Blackford, L. Hanworth, V. Shinwell, L.
Blyton, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Stocks, Bs.
Brown, L. Hoy, L. Strang, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Ingleby, V. Strathclyde, L.
Burntwood, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Summerskill, Bs.
Champion, L. Kilbracken, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Chester, L.Bp. Kilmarnock, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Clwyd, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Wells-Pestell, L.
Collison, L. Maelor, L. White, Bs.
Davies of Leek, L. Merthyr, L. Wolverton, L.
Diamond, L. Moyle, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Moyne, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.10 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 14: Page 4, line 27, at end insert ("and peat, plant food, stakes and tree ties necessary for successful and normal cultivation")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in rising to move this Amendment I should like to remind the House that I moved a similar Amendment during the Committee stage. At that time I explained that the purpose of the Amendment was to assist garden centres, which in the opinion of many people are a social necessity and are part of the leisure industry, by allowing them to be able legally to offer not only plants and shrubs but also the peat and other items that go with the planting of those shrubs. I pointed out at that time that 50 per cent. of the business of garden centres was carried out at weekends. My noble friend Lord Derwent advised the Committee to reject that Amendment on the ground that it was far too wide and that it would allow the sale of garden machinery, which in his opinion would be unfair trading.

I have gone back to my advisers on this subject—they are the Horticultural Association—and I now move this Amendment which limits the things that the garden centres may legally sell to "peat, plant food, stakes and tree ties". All of these, in my opinion, are very innocuous, in the sense of their value. Their cost per plant is well under £1, and for that reason their sale cannot, I think, be considered as an example of unfair trading on a Sunday. I feel that the acceptance of this Amendment would help remove an anomaly in the existing law. I beg to move.


On the face of it, this sounds to be a sensible Amendment but I am afraid that I must resist it on the same ground as before. The sale of tree ties, and so on, does not seem to be a matter of great importance, but these are examples of goods that are sold in a variety of shops which are not allowed to open on a Sunday. I do not like to mention the names of shops specifically, but there are well-known shops, like Boot's, which sell such items as garden implements, tree ties and peat. They cannot open on a Sunday. It therefore seems unfair that these goods which, unlike plants and shrubs, are not grown on the premises should be sold by the nursery gardens. I think that this Amendment is a very narrow one but my advice is that its acceptance would lead to a considerable number of protests concerning unfair trading. I hope that my noble friend will not press this Amendment.


My Lords, may I ask whether it would be legal to include these goods in the price of a plant or a shrub which is sold on a Sunday? It seems to me that if one buys some form of shrub then it is necessary to buy a stake or tree tie in order to prop it up, after planting, when the purchaser reaches home. I should have thought that perhaps the garden centres would get round this particular limitation by including the stake and tie in the charge for the plant by making the price marginally higher. In this case I cannot see any objection to allowing them to sell them separately.


My Lords, luckily, in the case of questions of that kind, I am not allowed to speak a second time.


My Lords, we have been assured by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, that all these awful things are not going to happen on Sunday: that the supermarkets will not open, that the butchers shops will not open and that therefore it does not matter whether we allow them to sell these things or not. Is he now saying that Boot's will open on Sunday in order to sell tree ties and peat?


My Lords, I do not know why the noble Lord wishes to misrepresent what I have said. I said that Boot's would not be able to sell them because they are not allowed to open on Sundays. If the noble Lord were to look at the Bill, rather than accuse me in this way, he would see that one may sell those things which are growing on the premises but not other things.


My Lords, I apologise immediately if the noble Lord thinks that I have misrepresented him. I thought he was implying that if we allow the noble Earl's Amendment to go through it will be unfair to Boot's not to allow them also to open on Sunday to sell these things. I could not see the force of that argument.


My Lords, the noble Lord spoke of things growing on the premises. The average nurseryman grows on his own premises only a small proportion of the shrubs he sells; the rest he imports from other nurseries.


My Lords, I think we are in some difficulty: we are almost getting back to a Committee-type debate. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, is entitled to speak only once. He has said on this Amendment that while he sympathises with the aims of the noble Earl, he does not feel that they fall within the aims and purposes of the Bill. That is the reply that he has given to the House. The Government have no views on this Amendment, but I think it would be wrong to carry on with a Committee-type discussion.


My Lords, with the greatest respect to my noble friend, I think we are entitled to discuss this Amendment even if in his view it appears to be a Committee-type discussion.


My Lords, the difficulty is that noble Lords are putting to Lord Derwent questions which he is not entitled to answer.


My Lords, I have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Derwent; I am sitting on the same Bench. But the whole merit of this Amendment was that it was narrow in its concept. I should have mentioned that it was drawn because of the good intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Platt, during the Committee stage. If I were asked the question put by my noble friend the Duke of Atholl, whether it would be outside the law for a garden centre to offer peat and stakes at an inclusive price with the plant, I should answer, Yes. The purpose of my Amendment is to try to correct this anomaly in the law. I feel that there has been a little support; but I do not wish to press the House to a Division. I must leave it to the House to decide.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

5.20 p.m.

LORD DERWENT moved Amendment No. 16: Page 4, line 35, leave out ("historic house or historic place open to the public") and insert ("place of historic interest").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu cannot be here. Amendment No. 16 and Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 are all drafting Amendments. The drafting was suggested by my noble friend Lord Windlesham as being better wording, according to the Parliamentary draftsmen, than that in the Bill. The Amendment does not, in fact, change the sense of what is in the Bill but it alters the wording so that there will be no misunderstanding. I beg to move.


My Lords, may I raise a point which the noble Lord might like to consider? It was clearly the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, when he moved his Amendments on Committee stage, that this should apply to what we think of as the "stately homes" that are open to the public. I am wondering whether the expression, "places of historic interest" is the right one for the 800—I believe it is—of these "stately homes" which are open. Although all of them are, I suppose, of great architectural and other interest, I do not think that the vast majority could be said to be of any historic interest whatsoever. On Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that this was a preferable phrase because it was the one used in Schedule 5 to the 1950 Act. With due respect, it is not quite the expression there used. In that Schedule the expression used is, "places of natural beauty and historic interest." I feel a doubt whether this would apply to all the stately homes to which the noble Lord means it to apply.


My Lords, following the discussion of this point on Committee stage, the wording of this part of the Bill was studied by Parliamentary draftsmen. The advice given to me—and passed on by me to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, whose Bill this is—was that the words in the Amendment would be more appropriate. As the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, says, they are taken from Schedule 5 of the Shops Act 1950, although the wording is a little wider, as he pointed out, because the reference is to, other gallery or museum or any place of natural beauty or historic interest. Historic houses would fall under the second part of that description—"place of … historic interest." Places of natural beauty would go in a separate category, along with museums and galleries. This is a fairly fine point of interpretation. We are advised that there has been no difficulty in the last 21 years in people who own historic houses having to decide whether or not they are covered by the Act. Now that the point has been studied, perhaps the House will be willing to accept these words.


My Lords, I attended particularly this afternoon because I have read paragraph 4 with care. Perhaps I may read it to the House and then ask a question. The paragraph reads: The sale at any museum, art gallery or historic house or historic place open to the public of reproductions of works of art on display at the museum, art gallery, house or historic place or of souvenirs associated with the museum, art gallery, house or historic place. The word "house" is repeated. If I wanted to, I think I could, under the provision in this Schedule, attract people to a murderer's house. I should be entitled to sell reproductions on a Sunday and have a waxworks exhibition, according to the wording in this paragraph. In fact, I think I could go to a court of law and appeal. I could say that I was opening Christie's house, or the house of someone like him; that as an entrepreneur who has not much of a heart about things I am buying the house and I am arranging for a waxworks exhibition of Christie and all the horrors; and I propose to do a roaring trade by opening the exhibition on Sunday—and neither your Lordships nor anyone else would be able to stop me. I should very much like information on this point.


My Lords, I cannot think from whom the noble Lord is going to get his information.


My Lords, in view of the ambiguity, I think we ought to appeal to someone who is qualified to give an interpretation.


In fact, my Lords, Parliamentary draftsmen have looked at this point. This Amendment and the next two Amendments are in accordance with what Parliamentary draftsmen think right. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, has raised his point. I shall have further consultation—or Lord Montagu of Beaulieu will have further consultation—with the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and he will doubtless ask his advisers; and if it ought to be altered, I am sure that we can do it on Third Reading. But as the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, is advised at the moment, this is the best wording.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords I beg to move Amendment No. 17.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 37, leave out ("house or historic place") and insert ("or place of historic interest").—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DERWENT: My Lords I beg to move Amendment No. 18.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 38, leave out ("house or historic place") and insert ("or place of historic interest").—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Provisions of Shops Act 1950 repealed by Section 7(3)]:

LORD DERWENT: My Lords I beg to move Amendment No. 20.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 24, leave out ("and 61") and insert (" ,61 and 63 to 65.")—(Lord Dement.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.