HL Deb 09 March 1971 vol 316 cc41-2

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Bill read 3a


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, as one of those who has opposed this Bill, I should like to say a few words. I think that the Bill has been improved in its various stages through this House. The proposal that food shops should be registered with the local authority has been dropped. I believe that that would have cost more than the value of the benefits that would have been obtained. I am also glad to see that we now have realistic penalties which will facilitate the enforcement of the law. But I am particularly pleased that the proposals which would have withdrawn the safeguards of the workers have been dropped. The original Bill provided for a withdrawal of the safeguards of the 1950 Act. Under the 1950 Act a worker may be employed only on two Sundays in one month. At the Committee and Report stages these provisions of the Bill were taken out, and consequently if this Bill becomes law the worker will enjoy the same protection as he already has under the 1950 Act.

The Bill will also clarify the law, but it will do that at considerable risk. I believe that it may well be the beginning of the end of Sundays as we have known them in this country. We believe that that risk could have been avoided by the Amendment which was proposed at the Committee stage and was carried by this House, the Amendment that the whole range of foods should be sold on Sundays up to, but not later than, 12 o'clock. That Amendment would have been acceptable to the vast majority of shopkeepers, to workers and to consumers, and we regret that the Amendment was negatived at the Report stage. We believe that it is absolutely illogical that food shops should be required to close at lunch-time on one weekday each week but should be allowed every liberty to open all day on Sundays. We congratulate the noble Lord on having got the Bill through this House, and we hope that it will be amended in the other place.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for his final remarks. Your Lordships will not wish me to argue the, Bill all over again; I am happy to leave it to the other place, to see how is gets on there. I should like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debates, and, rather unusually, I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, who was the principal opponent, for having improved the Bill in its passage through the House. I am very grateful. I wish we could always say that Bills have been improved by their opponents and that the movers agree that they have improved them. I am very grateful.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.