HL Deb 06 February 1986 vol 470 cc1311-32

5.49 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Lord Denning moved Amendment No. 2. After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

("Local authority supervision of Sunday trading

.—(1) The provisions of this section shall be construed in the light of the general proposition 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.

(2) Sunday trading, that is, the opening of shops for trade or business on Sundays (which has hitherto been precluded or restricted by Part IV of the Shops Act 1950) shall in future be permitted only in the circumstances and to the extent allowed by the local authority.

(3) Every shopkeeper who desires to open his shop for trade or business on Sundays shall apply to the local authority for permission to do so.

(4) In deciding whether to grant or refuse permission, the local authority shall take into account all relevant considerations such as—

  1. (a) the nature of the shop and the goods to be sold there and the size and situation of it; and
  2. (b) the effect, in their opinion, which the opening of it on Sunday would have on the shopkeeper, the shop worker, the customers, the passers-by and the residents of the area.

(5) In order to achieve a degree of uniformity over the country the Secretary of State shall issue a Code of Practice for the guidance of local authorities, but such a code shall not be issued unless a draft of it has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6) Any interested person may appeal within a reasonable time to the Secretary of State against a grant or refusal of permission to open a shop for trade on Sundays, and the Secretary of State may allow or reject the appeal on written representations or on public hearing as he thinks fit.

(7) If any shopkeeper should open his shop for trade or business on a Sunday without the permission of the local authority, he shall not be guilty of a criminal offence, but the local authority may apply to a Circuit Judge for an injunction to restrain him from repeating it; and the judge shall have available to him all the remedies usual for breach of an injunction.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, at Committee stage there was much discussion on several amendments. Useful comments, and objections, were made to some of our amendments. I have tried to take all those into account and to present to your Lordships what I hope will be an acceptable way of preserving our Sunday. If your Lordships have the amendment before you, you will see that in a rather unusual form of construction we try to state, in the first subsection, the principle 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". If that principle is accepted I think it follows, as I will show, that the whole of the rest of the clause should be accepted.

In stating that principle I have gone back to the important departmental committee chaired by Lord Crathorne, a very distinguished Member of this House, and including the Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Ede. I have taken the words from that committee's report. Let me read them to you: We 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". It goes on: The special character of Sunday would be seriously impaired if the majority of shops were open as on weekdays and most shop assistants were required to work on that day. It is however, generally recognised that some goods and services are required on a Sunday".

In 1964 that committee thought that the practical way of doing this was to revise that list of exceptions. As has been said, in the course of experience that schedule of exceptions has been criticised, put to scorn and the like. I am afraid that there is no chance of getting any list of exemptions through your Lordships' House now. However, does that mean that there is no practicable way of securing our Sunday? That is what the Government would put forward.

It is for those reasons that the following clauses are suggested. The next clause permits Sunday trading, but only, in the circumstances and to the extent allowed by the local authority". That has been going on a good deal. But the local authority have had the control hitherto, and there has been some variation. Some have enforced prohibition; others have not.

If I may turn to the Auld Report, it felt that there was a great deal to be said for the local authority being able to have the control. In paragraph 219 the report said: In fact, shopping seems to us to be one area where a reasonable case might be made for local discretion. Shopping is primarily a local activity, employing local people, and it would be local residents who would be disturbed by any untoward noise or traffic congestion".

The Act of 1950 and the others have therefore entrusted this matter to the local authorities. They are, after all, democratically representing the people; they represent the tradesmen in the districts. Your Lordships will know how they are formed. After considering that the ground for opposition, set out in the Auld Report at paragraph 226— But the major difficulty with a pattern of local variations, and it is one that would apply whatever the method of local determination, would be the lack of consistency inherent in the system, both geographically and over time"— it goes on to say that policies may vary. One local authority may have a different view from another. A person from one area may go just across the border to find a shop that is open.

In these amendments we have tried to overcome that, and I hope successfully. In the next subsection, subsection (4), local authority special exemptions are not proposed, or anything of that kind. Let each shop be decided by itself. Let the local authority have a list of applications, whether it be do-it-yourself shops or food shops. A lot of these open on Sundays now. Let the local authority have a list of the shops which are available to open on Sundays without any restriction. Shops would then be named. As subsection (4) says, in dealing with these applications one considers, the nature of the shop and the goods to be sold there and the size and situation of it". An example is the small shop which already gives a reasonable service to the community; let that be open. Let the local authority say so. Let the do-it-yourself centres be open. But at all events let there be this regulation by the local authority.

It is then said that there will be differences all over the country. That argument is dealt with in subsection (5): In order to achieve a degree of uniformity over the country the Secretary of State shall issue a Code of Practice for the guidance of local authorities, but such a code shall not be issued unless a draft of it has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament". One will not get any difference if one goes from Hampshire into Sussex or Wiltshire or whatever it may be. The local authorities will have a code of practice which the Secretary of State will issue. One will therefore have a system uniform throughout the country, so that objection would be dealt with.

In order to ensure further uniformity one comes to subsection (6). If a trader is refused permission when he thinks he ought to have it, or one of the residents thinks that he has been granted it and that he ought not to have it, a very simple method would be to have an appeal to the Secretary of State by written representation. The Secretary of State would then decide it. That would also give uniformity throughout the country.

A further objection was that one was making a criminal offence of infringement in this matter; that one ought not to make it a criminal offence, subjecting a person to penalty of imprisonment, if he opens on Sunday. That is dealt with in subsection (7). One does not make someone guilty of a criminal offence. If he has opened a shop on Sunday without permission one simply applies to the judge and says to him, "This man is opening a shop on a Sunday"—as do some of the great stores in London—"He has done it without being granted permission". Then an injunction could be granted to stop him from doing it again. It is not a criminal offence. He will not do it again, or if he does, contrary to the order of the court, then he can be fined, reprimanded or whatever it may be.

Those are simple remedies I suggest for all the objections which were made previously to the local authorities in their own districts being able to say, "These shops, well and good, they can open on Sundays"—I shall not go into the exceptions; most of them will have done it a long time. There will be no difficulty about those, but all the others must get permission or they must not continue.

In other words, through this amendment one has tried to find a practical way of framing the first proposition. But if the first proposition is ignored it merely means that the Government, through this Bill, will be saying, "Well, Sunday is free for all. The law has no part in it".

I would ask all those who agree with this proposition to vote for the amendment. It is fundamental. It is the only way of dealing with the situation. I repeat: … 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"— to go to church, as I hope people will if they wish to, or to go for recreation if they wish to, to go if they please to the do-it-yourself shop, because they will certainly have got permission. In other words, one preserves in this way the "special character of Sunday", which I am sure all the right thinking people in this country would wish to do. They would wish to preserve this special character of Sunday which we have had over the centuries. I hope and I think that this is a practical way of ensuring the character of Sunday. I ask your Lordships to support the amendment.

6 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

My Lords—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, at Second Reading—

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I believe that one of the proposers of the amendment takes priority.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I am so sorry; I beg the right reverend Prelate's pardon. I can see him now and I ask him to excuse me.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

My Lords, I apologise to the noble and learned Lord if I have in any way pre-empted him, but I thought that your Lordships' House would wish to know that the General Synod of the Church of England has just ended. Indeed, one of the reasons why we are a little late here is that we had a meeting of our House: that was the reason why we were late. The presidents agreed to have an emergency debate, so strong was the feeling of the members of the General Synod. During that emergency debate we reaffirmed our opposition to total deregulation by an overwhelming majority of 427 in favour, six against and three abstentions. I thought that your Lordships' House would wish to know that.

So far as the amendment is concerned, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will agree with the principle of subsection (1): namely; that we would wish to preserve the special character of Sunday so far as possible. As regards subsections (2) and (3), we understand that it is part of Her Majesty's Government's policy that there should be as much decentralisation as possible and those subsections take that into account.

As regards subsection (4), we take into account factors with which I would hope the noble Lord the Minister would himself be concerned; namely, the effect of Sunday opening on shopkeepers, shopworkers, customers, passers-by and the residents of the area.

I listened to what seemed to be many hours of debate when the noble Lord the Minister successfully steered us through all the stages of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill in this House, As regards that Bill, the Minister successfully persuaded us that the Secretary of State should have discretion—discretion concerning approval of all projects involving scientific procedures, and discretion concerning the approval of codes of conduct. Your Lordships will see that under subsection (5) of this Bill discretion is given to the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice which will have to be approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has already spoken about the fact that the criminal law would not enter into it. Perhaps I may add that it would be flexible. Codes of practice could be changed. We hope that it may be possible for what seems to us to be the stony heart of the Minister to be melted by the good sense of the amendment so that he can agree with almost every principle of it. Briefly, those are the reasons why I am very happy to support the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I was moved, as I think other noble Lords who were here were moved, when the noble Baroness, Lady Ryder, spoke on the previous amendment. It is a pity that the noble Baroness was not present to express views like that on Second Reading. However, as many of us made clear on Second Reading, the fact is that with this Bill we are not concerned to safeguard the character of Sunday or the sanctity of Sunday, because we do not believe—I do not believe, the Government do not believe and the majority of us do not believe—that the sanctity of Sunday is threatened by the deregulation of shopping; we are concerned to ensure that the deregulation is done in an orderly way and that the interests of those who work in the shops are safeguarded.

At the conclusion of the Committee stage, I had thought that it would not prove possible to design any amendments worse than those which had already been offered from the point of view of the authorities whose job it would be to implement and enforce them. However, I have to say to your Lordships that the four noble Lords whose names are attached to the amendment have succeeded triumphantly in producing such an amendment. Indeed, it puts me in two difficulties.

First, I cannot imagine how four noble Lords of their eminence, distinction and authority could possibly have agreed among themselves to draft and table this amendment. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has just retired from the very peak of the learned profession. The right reverend Prelate occupies with great distinction one of the most important sees in the Church of England. The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, speaks with all the authority of a Front Bench spokesman of the main Opposition. The noble Lord, Lord Graham, speaks not only with knowledge of local government, but with distinction as the leader of a local authority for a considerable number of years. I cannot imagine how they have combined together to produce such an extraordinary amendment.

The other difficulty which I am in is that in order to express, as I sometimes seek to do, the views of the Association of District Councils, I should have to use the homely and colourful language of the lower deck. That would be appropriate on HMS "Brazen" when she was not open to visitors, but it is not appropriate from a member of the cloth in the company and in the distinguished setting in which we are being recorded, possibly, for radio. Therefore, I have to sacrifice accuracy for seemliness.

Let us imagine the situation that an amendment like this one would pose for the local authorities. Visualise, for example, the chief executive of the City of Birmingham—a city which has 12,500 shops—or, to take one of my own members of the Association of District Councils, the City of Bristol with 5,700 shops. If this amendment were enacted, he and his staff would have to gear themselves to receive applications from all those shops. Of course this legislation will not lead to all those shops opening on Sunday. However the owners of the shops will know that the first thing that they will have to do in order to be able to open just for an hour on some Sundays or for the day on two or three Sundays before Christmas is to get their application in, and therefore, the local authority will have to be geared up to deal with applications on that scale.

They then have to turn over the page and see what it is they have to deal with. They have to receive from those shops something setting out the nature of the shops. That is easy enough. They then have to take into account the goods to be sold, and that amounts to something near to a complete stock list. One does not need to know the number of items, but one has to know all the categories. Then the Chief Executive of the City of Bristol will have to consider how to form an opinion on the effect of the opening of the shop on Sundays, and of course that will vary according to whether it opens for an hour every Sunday or whether it opens all day for a few Sundays just before Christmas, or whether it is open during the tourist season and so on. There are endless permutations. The local authorities have to form an opinion of the effect of all that on their shopkeepers—5,000 in the case of Bristol and 12,000 in the case of Birmingham—as well as all their shopworkers. For some of the big shops the exercise will be easy because USDAW will be able to express an opinion. However, at least half the shopkeepers are not represented, so they will have to find some way of getting information in respect of them.

They then have to consider the customers. The customers are not just the citizens of Bristol and Birmingham—they go miles wider. The City of Birmingham at the heart of the West Midlands has to form an opinion about the effect of the customers who come in from the whole of the West Midlands and the shire counties beyond. Let us leave aside the passersby for the moment and turn to the residents. As regard the residents, the exercise is relatively easy because they are the people whom the councillors are elected to represent and one might reasonably go direct to them for their opinions. In relation to passers-by, the task is extraordinarily difficult. The passer-by is a person who can only be defined by behaviour. It is perhaps a job which the traffic wardens could do when they are properly trained. You have to observe and make sure that the chap in question is not a resident, that he is not a customer (that he is not actually going in and out of the shop), but that he is just passing by. Once you are satisfied about that you can consult him and ask him how he thinks he will be affected—not how he has been affected.

When you have all this together you still cannot quite deal with these applications because, in order to do so properly, you must have regard to this code of practice. There are very few things which local authorities dislike more than codes of practice issued from central government, but they are in this amendment and regard must be had to them.

Clearly, a new division would have to be established in the Home Office to work on this—a Sunday Opening Division, with the short title, SOD. That division would need an Assistant Secretary and probably an Under-Secretary. It would be a very important, responsible job. They would have to design this code of practice. The Assistant Secretary (SOD) would need an advisory committee: the Sunday Opening Committee (short title, SOC). On that committee would need to be someone to represent the shopkeepers, someone to represent the shopworkers, someone to represent the customers—and in that case we have Which? magazine and all those people—someone to represent the residents (and there are many residents in the United Kingdom) but perhaps that could be done, but to find someone to represent the passers-by really would be difficult. My noble friend on the Front Bench would have to sort that out. Therefore, you would start off like that.

Then we come to subsection (6) which deals with appeals. Can noble Lords imagine that the local authority will be able to deal with matters to the satisfaction of all their 12,000 shopkeepers in Birmingham without some of them objecting and appealing? If only 10 per cent. appealed, that would mean 1,200. This would lead to a whole series of public local inquiries. We all know what planning public local inquiries are like. They deal with well-established rules, regulations, customs and conventions. These public local inquiries would be looking into whether the local authority had formed the correct opinion on the matters set out in subsection (1) and in the light of all the circumstances which they have ascertained following subsection (2). It would be an absolute bureaucratic nightmare and I hope that the noble Lords who have a tabled this amendment will not give it another thought. If they do, I hope that the House will reject it.

Lord Grimond

My Lords—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, this is the second time that I have intervened. The first time was before the right reverend Prelate spoke. I apologised to him and I repeat my apology. Now I have interrupted the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and possibly the noble Lord, Lord Graham.

I entirely follow the view put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. Of all the amendments that we have had, I think that this really is the worst, and it is the worst not only for the reasons which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has set out but because it compounds the existing anomalies, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, referred to completely indefensible anomalies. Indefensible anomalies are now to be compounded by territorial fragmentation.

On Second Reading we owed it to the right revered Prelate that the question was posed with complete accuracy and clarity before your Lordships: should we have total deregulation or partial deregulation? Your Lordships decided on the former. The right reverend Prelate has again today reiterated his opposition to that, and very naturally he supports, and indeed has sponsored, this amendment because it is the latest of many which seeks to go back on what was decided on Second Reading.

6.15 p.m.

Subsection (1) is certainly an instruction to the courts as to how they are to construe what follows. It goes no further than that. It proclaims a principle which would be of value to the court if the matter ever came before the court. Subsection (2) is rather obscurely drafted, but I take it to apply to every single retail outlet. It is susceptible of a narrower interpretation. However, subsection (3) begins with the words "Every shopkeeper …" and subsection (7) states "If any shopkeeper …" Therefore, this applies to every single retail outlet, even though today it may be lawfully transacting business on a Sunday. For example, it applies to every petrol filling station, newsagent and tobacconist. Every single shop in this country must apply to the local authority for leave to trade on a Sunday.

My noble and learned friend quoted from the Auld Report, but this amendment goes right against the final Auld recommendation on this part of the issue. Not only does it go against the Auld recommendation and what your Lordships decided on Second Reading, but it exemplifies what has been described as the "tunnel vision" which vitiates the approach of the opponents of this Bill. They regard retail trading on a Sunday as peculiarly obnoxious, as something quite different from the commercial and industrial activities of the other four to six million people who work on a Sunday.

On a previous amendment I drew attention to the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who was moving the amendment, lived in an area in close proximity to the newspaper offices. I mentioned how the Embankment is thronged with cars; that the narrow streets between the Embankment and Fleet Street are blocked with massive vehicles on a Sunday, as are Fleet Street, Gray's Inn Road and Holborn. I twitted the noble Lord that he failed to see any of that rattle, hubbub and throng simply because he was gazing, as the opponents of this Bill have habitually gazed, in horrified fascination at the shops in Fleet Street and Holborn which might open in order to serve the people who work in the area. At the time I also mentioned Gray's Inn Road, but perhaps that has now been overtaken by events.

It is not enough to say that newspaper people are entirely different from people who work in the shops. You have the office messengers; you have the cleaners. How are they to be differentiated? Yet nobody suggests that all these other businesses must apply to a local authority for a licence to carry on their trade.

There is another matter. What is given to the local authorities is an unfettered discretion. It is quite open to them to say that in the whole of their area, or part of their area, no shops shall open at all on a Sunday. Obviously a number of opponents of this Bill would like to see that happen.

What would happen then? The noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, on an amendment in Committee referring to local options, suggested looking at the United States, where some have Sunday opening and some do not, and all that happens is that in the places where Sunday opening is banned the people who want to shop get in their cars and drive across the state boundary, That, of course, is an admission that Sunday trading is desired, and that people will go to considerable trouble to get it.

However, in England, under this proposal, it is much more serious. A district council is often divided from its neighbour by a street. Therefore, you may well get, say, a draper's shop open on a Sunday on one side of the street and its rival for custom on the other compulsorily closed because it has not been licensed by the local authority. Further, this does not face the difficulty that both the Gowers Committee and the Auld Committee referred to, that shops increasingly have mixed stocks, and that that is an invitation to evasion, an invitation to a breach of the criminal law, bringing the criminal law, both those committees said, into disrepute and contempt.

It is perfectly open to a local authority to say, "No Sunday opening in this area", or, "No Sunday opening in part of this area", or, "Let us apply the schedule", which is now utterly discredited, "Schedule 5 of the 1950 Act", or, "Let us apply one of the other schedules that have been proffered". There have been no less than five during the course of our discussions, and not one has stood up to examination.

What you get is a patchwork of retail trading across the country. How does my noble and learned friend propose to deal with that? The first way is the bureaucratic appeal to the Minister, added to the vast local bureaucracy to which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has referred. The second is to paper over the cracks with a document labelled with the current vogue words in statutory affairs, "A code of practice". What is the status of that code of practice? Obviously it is not intended to tie the hands of the local authorities, which can go their own sweet various ways. It merely would be Whitehall nanny exhortation. That is the way that those fissures, cracks, are papered over.

This seems to me to be the worst of all the amendments for that reason; but there is one matter that I raised several times as early as Second Reading. It is fair to say that it was in an intervention in the speech of one of the right reverend Prelates. There is the question of the ethnic minorities in this country, and that has never been faced. What I questioned then has not even been referred to because it is so much easier to deal with generalities such as, "local democracy", and, "Let the people choose", and so on.

Take an area where there is a total ban on shops opening on Sunday. At the moment, by legislation which goes back before the last war, practising Jews who keep their sabbath on a Friday and close their shops on a Friday can open on a Sunday morning.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I am sure that the noble and learned Lord will forgive me for intervening, but as a practising member of the faith he is now describing may I say that the sabbath day is in accordance with the Commandments. It is on the seventh day, and it is on Saturday.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I am very much obliged. I apologise if I have offended any susceptibility. I think I am right in saying that it starts on a Friday evening, does it not?

Suppose you have it that all the shops are to be closed on a Sunday morning. The question then arises whether the practising Jew shall be allowed to open his shop on a Sunday morning, as at present. Do any of your Lordships think it desirable that a local election should be fought with that as one of its issues? Can your Lordships imagine what the National Front would make of that?

It is not only the practising Jew: there are also the Moslem communities. They are expert shopkeepers, and valuably there is a growing middle class from among the Moslem shopkeepers. They told the Auld Committee that many of them shut their shops on a Friday and that they would like to open them on a Sunday. Considering the way that the Moslem shopkeepers were a prime target in recent riots and assaults, do any of your Lordships, do any of the proponents of this amendment, think that it would be desirable to have a local election in the Midlands to decide whether the Moslem shopkeeper should be allowed to open his shop on a Sunday morning to compensate for the Friday closing?

This is an unconstrained discretion given to the local authorities subject only to appeal to the Secretary of State. For those reasons, as well as those given by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I hope that your Lordships will have nothing to do with this amendment.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, will the—

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I gave way to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond.

Lord Grimond

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords, particularly those who have given way. I hope not to delay the House for very long. Indeed I should have thought that all the criticism that can be made of this amendment has been made in the telling speeches of the noble Lord. Lord Sandford, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon. I wanted to add a word or two becaue I am somewhat perplexed by the form of the amendment.

I used to visit close relations of mine who were members of the strictest sect of the Wee Free Kirk and the sabbath was kept holy. No vehicle could be taken out. The only things that were allowed was church in the morning, a lot of eating, reading the Bible and other good books and going for a walk in the afternoon. They kept the sabbath because it was God's will, because it was what the Bible entailed upon them. Yet that argument appears to have died out and we are told now that keeping the sabbath is a matter of convenience, that it is a question of leisure. One amendment which was moved, and I believe supported by the right reverend Prelates, as I understood it, would have ensured the opening of shops on Sunday morning and the closure of shops on Sunday afternoon. That would have very much surprised my free kirk cousins. They would have found it bad enough for the shops to be opened on Sunday afternoon, but the idea that someone could seriously propose to open them on Sunday morning and shut them so that we could all play golf on Sunday afternoon would have struck them as irreligious to say the least of it.

I do not intend to go over the difficulties of the amendment, but subsection (1) reads: a person [must be] free to do as he chooses". My liberal soul may demand that I keep a shop; I choose to do that. It seems to me that I should have freedom to do so, unless I am convinced and convinced for religious reasons that it was wholly improper. Over the page we read the words which have already been dealt with where: the nature of the shop and the goods to be sold there and the size and situation of it are to be taken into account. There is no guidance about what is to be taken into account except that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, said that in principle he would favour small shops being opened. Why small shops should be opened and larger shops closed I really do not understand. It is the small shopkeeper who may be working a seven day week and who may wish to play golf on a Sunday afternoon. He may even wish to go to church. Thus I feel we should have to give guidance about that.

The next subsection reads: In order to achieve a degree of uniformity over the country the Secretary of State shall issue a Code of Practice". I am not clear whether we want uniformity or whether we do not. We hand this matter over to the local authorities so that each area may be free to choose and to differ from other areas. I rather approve of that, if we are to have it at all, because the only place in which I can see this amendment really being of use and value is in the northern islands of the Hebrides. There the free kirk still flourishes. There may be there a strong community desire to keep the shops shut on Sunday, I suspect for all Sunday and none of this business about leisure. As they are separated by sea, it is extremely difficult to go over to shop on the mainland. It is conceivable that this amendment might be of use in the northern islands of the Outer Hebrides, but it is the only place I can think of in which it would have a chance of working. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, who has such experience in these matters, would agree with me.

In Scotland we used to have a local option at one time. It was not a success. It was designed to stop drinking. In fact it greatly increased drinking because people would motor for miles and miles and having motored they thought they might as well drink up to the gills, which they did, or they bought drink by the case and took it home. Therefore I am doubtful about that, but on the whole I should prefer that local authorities were given some power simply and solely for the sake of the northern islands of the Hebrides (not the southern islands which are Roman Catholic and I have the idea that they would get on with their own affairs!).

I feel that this amendment—although I am sure it is brought forward in a spirit of compromise and of goodwill—does not seem to me to have any religious significance whatever. Even I, a renegade from the Church of Scotland, still feel that the sabbath means something, but I do not think that appears in this amendment. However if we are to leave the sabbath—I for my part am prepared to do that—we must therefore go the whole hog and accept that if the shops are to be open on a Sunday we must open the whole lot and leave it to the common sense and the effect of whole community opinion to see if this is sensibly carried out. In my view it has been sensibly carried out in Scotland. I hear no complaints in Orkney about the opening of the shops, or very few compared with other matters, and over Scotland as a whole Sunday opening—much as it is disapproved of by those who feel deeply religious about it—is for the rest of the population accepted and acceptable and they would be loath to go back to any other system.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the amendment, however well intentioned, is open to most serious objection because, in the first place, it fails to take into account the effect of the Government Amendments Nos. 19 and 22 which acknowledge the special character of Sunday as relevant in modern society for those who work in shops. Secondly, it proposes a wholly impracticable concept of the special character of Sunday with licensing protection for those who work in shops but no such protection for the many others. Furthermore, it conflicts with the principle of deregulation for the avoidance of anomalies. It proposes also a novel system of application and enforcement which is neither practical nor acceptable. Worst of all, it puts us all back on that old familiar well-trodden treadmill which calls into question the principle of deregulation.

The special character of Sunday as distinct from any other working day is recognised and enhanced by the Government's Amendments Nos. 19 and 22: the moratorium of two years on repeal of the provisions of the Shops Act referred to in Clause 2—that is Amendment No. 19—and there is also the strengthening of the safeguards against dismissal for an action short of dismissal for refusing to work on Sunday under the Employment Act as proposed in the new schedule which is Amendment No. 22. These two amendments introduced after the telling speech of my noble friend Lord Stockton go a long way to meet the point he made that the existing safeguards for the protection of shopworkers should not be removed in the principle of deregulation.

Subsection (1) of the amendment, couched in terms of leisure, freedom not to be required to perform weekday work on a Sunday (taken verbatim from a 1964 document) ignores the realities of living, earning, spending, saving and even shopping in a multi-religious, largely agnostic society of 1986, a society in which, assuredly, there is no justification for making any long-term distinction between those who work in shops on Sunday and those who render services or supply goods other than in shops, a disparity which could only be resolved, one day, if it be resolved at all, by general legislation quite beyond the scope or intendment of this Bill.

As to the intendment of the Bill, of course the position is, as has been said by other noble Lords, that the principle of deregulation has been affirmed on more than one Division on more than one occasion in your Lordships' House; and the ingenious licensing system, ingenious and novel, proposed in this amendment is clearly inconsistent—inconsistent, that is to say, with the principle that has been accepted which lies at the very heart of the Bill. Indeed, this amendment stands in stark, irreconcilable conflict with the plain intendment of Clause 1; and, if it were carried, this amendment would work havoc on this Bill.

In conclusion, I want to say a word about the proposed means of enforcement, for these of themselves are open to most serious objection. You start with this code of practice having no legal effect. It is to apply to individual licensing for each shop in each area which has to be individually dealt with. How on earth can you achieve uniformity? Why on earth in the name of justice should you seek to achieve uniformity? Each individual application ought to be dealt with on its merits if you are to have this curious bureaucratic system at all.

But these codes of practice have no legal effect whatever, and whether they induce uniformity or do not is neither here nor there because at the end of the day you end up by asking the circuit judge, of all people, to restrain a breach of a code which has no legal effect. And not only that. In the intermediate stage where you get to this appeal to the Secretary of State against the grant or refusal of a licence, the code would be, as presumably the Secretary of State issued it, taken into account. On what basis—uniform application, the merits of the individual case? It is impossible to answer the question. And then at the end of the day, at the suit of one of the parties to what is a purely administrative decision by the Secretary of State, on mere proof of breach, the judge is called upon to enforce that decision by injunction without ever being able to entertain the individual merits at all. It is respectfully suggested that such a departure from settled practice is contrary to the very essence of justice.

6.45 p.m.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, I will detain your Lordships for a few moments because family life has been mentioned as being damaged if shops are open on Sunday. I come from New Jersey in the USA where I live most of the time now. Far more people go to church there than do here. All the shops are open. And not only are they all open, but if you ask farmworkers, "You going to church on Sunday? Are you going to take all the children?" they say, "Yes, because after church we are going to the supermarket and then they are going to dodge round the counters having a splendid time while we, mother and father, shop together". It is quite wrong, looking at the American experience, to think that opening the shops reduces the number of people going to church. I am quite sure that it does exactly the opposite.

Of course, in America there is no great authority like an established Church to tell you what the special character of Sunday is. People are very religious. Many of them there have a very fine idea about Sunday but they do not accept it from authority. Surely the need for a day of rest which is in the amendment has greatly changed. In the old days, of course, you had six days' work, a lot of it manual work and a man was very tired. It was perfectly proper that he should have a day of rest for physical reasons. Now he works only five days a week; now the man shares the household jobs; he knows how to cook; he can look after the children—and he does. People are able to do things as a family today which they never could a few years ago. If the wife wants to earn a certain amount of money as a part-time worker on Saturday or Sunday—and it may very well be that that is very good for the children—she does so. Father now looks after the children. I think really that these two days at the end of a week have a different character now.

I do not know much about religion but I think that if you want to attract followers to the Christian faith it matters much less what you say about this or that form of dogma than what you do. It is the way people act, how they behave, that creates examples which make us better neighbours and better able, I think, to look after our own families. Therefore, I think the opposition to this Bill is founded on an out-of-date view of our society.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I am sure that the House knows that I have a very deep respect for the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, but I would respectfully remind them of an advice that was once given to me by a great advocate. He said, "If ever you mock or you laugh at your opponents in court, or if ever you over-exaggerate in your language in condemnation of your opponent's case, it is a sure sign to the judge that you have a very weak case indeed". I did not enjoy—and I noticed that the Front Bench did so—the comments that were made about this amendment in a rather mocking tone, if I may say so, by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. Everybody is entitled to his opinion. They may have reacted differently from the way I did.

One could be very caustic. The noble Lord who spoke a moment ago spoke about this being an agnostic era. I could say in common parlance, "A fat lot of good it's done this country and all of us that it is an agnostic era". Is our youth any better, or is it worse? Is our family life any better, or is it worse? Is our record as a people better, or is it worse? So I should have thought one takes no pride in the fact that it is an agnostic era.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the words that I used—and it was I who used the words—were, in fact, a "multi-religious, largely agnostic society". That is what I said.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, if I return to the same sentiment that I was trying to express, I use the words "largely agnostic" at the request of the noble Lord—and he rightly requests it—instead of the quotation that I gave. The sentiment is the same. A fat lot of good it has done us by being largely agnostic.

But having said that, one can of course produce a problem for every solution, and that is what the noble Lord the Minister and those who are in favour of this Bill have done. We brought forward amendments saying that this was a local matter. We are not dealing again—I say this with respect to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—with this business of people who want to go to church or do not want to go to church, and with the question whether this is a religious issue or not a religious issue. We dealt with all that in past amendments. We are dealing now with whether local authorities should have the right to decide if a shop should open. I turn immediately to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, who said that he regarded this as the worst amendment of all time. He then went on to deal—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, not of all time; only of this Bill.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I am so glad that the noble and learned Lord is being so moderate in his criticism. But he then went on to say that this amendment would produce a situation where local authorities could decide whether or not there should be any shops open in their areas. That is what he said, and I notice that he does not correct me. If the noble and learned Lord will forgive me, that was the worst argument in the debate on this amendment because, if he turns to the amendment itself, he will see that there are principles laid down upon which a local authority have to make a decision. They have to take into consideration various matters before they consent to an application, or refuse it. If they merely issued a blanket edict that no shops were to open in their area, it would not take long on judicial review for that local authority to be castigated at once. The noble and learned Lord knows that, and therefore, with respect, he should not as a distinguished lawyer have used that argument.

What are we deciding? We have previously, as I have said, produced a problem for every solution. Local authorities were brought in first on the basis of deciding by way of a planning permission whether or not shops should open. Noble Lords on all sides of the House said "Yes, we understand that local authorities obviously have local considerations well in their minds, principles that could guide them locally and local likes and dislikes. All that is very sensible, but you cannot really apply planning permission; that is out." They were right. So we threw out that amendment for that reason.

We then said that local authorities ought to decide on general principles. Everybody paid tribute to local authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said he did not think that local authorities would like the job. Some of us replied that national government do not like many jobs, but they have to do them. If that is so, that is not an argument. Then everybody said that local authorities are very suitable for this but there could be such a variation. You are dealing with Brighton, Bermondsey, Barnstaple and Bristol, which are all very varied areas, and in those circumstances you could get a lack of uniformity in the principles that were then laid down by local authorities. So the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, and those of us who support this amendment have tried to meet both those objections. We do not have planning law as the guiding principle and we have tried to produce uniformity; not, as was said very recently, uniformity as between one shop and another, but uniformity as between areas, because certain principles will be laid down.

Codes of practice have been laughed at in connection with this amendment. When we on these Benches, on very serious Acts indeed, were dealing with police powers, the liberty of the subject, whether people go to prison or whether they are kept in custody, the Government answered that codes of practice would be obeyed by the police and that that was a sufficient safeguard. But suddenly codes of practice have become wastepaper; nobody wants them. They do not have the force of law, say the Government and others on the Government Benches.

Let us look at this amendment rather seriously. This is possibly our last chance to deal with the question of whether local people should be able to decide what they want in their locality. I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond. We are not deciding this on religious grounds. It would be wrong and improper. I have said so quite openly to this House, and my colleagues understand me very well. It would not be very fitting if I were to stand at this Dispatch Box and try to lecture your Lordships upon matters religious. I have my own faith, and your Lordships have yours. In so many ways our faiths converge, but upon this matter it would be quite wrong for me to address your Lordships. I have addressed your Lordships on the subject of family life, the environment, the crowding of areas on a Sunday, and the fact that there should be a different day of the week within the cycle of days of the week. Is it wrong for local authorities to have to decide this, and is it wrong that they should have a code of practice?

The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said—smiling as he said it—"Look at the numbers in Birmingham. There are 12,000 shops in Birmingham." We have been told, "Please don't worry; only a few people will want this. You are quite wrong to think that there will be Oxford Streets throughout the towns of this country. Only a few people will want to do it." So, presumably, there will be only a few applications. "What", says somebody else, "newsagents will have to apply? They are shops that are already open within the law." There is nothing within this amendment to stop a local authority from saying, "We have taken into consideration all these shops in our area that are legally open. Newsagents, or whatever they may be, will get a completely formal consent. All they will have to do is to make a formal application."

Great play has been made of the fact that all that is being done in this legislation is to echo the voice of freedom throughout the land. Nobody need open a shop unless he wants to. I have never heard (and I do not want to use exaggerated language) a sentence more mocking at freedom. Will the workers who start shopworking after the date of commencement of the Act have any freedom as to whether they will work on Sunday? Will they have freedom to keep their jobs if they say, "We don't want to work on Sunday"? No, my Lords, they will not have that freedom. Will shops which do not want to work on Sundays but which wish to keep themselves economically alive because other shops with a competing trade are open have the freedom that has been talked about to decide whether or not to open on Sundays?

I commend this amendment to your Lordships on the basis that it puts the rights to deal with these matters where they should be—with local authorities who know their people and know their conditions. There is nothing in this amendment which deserves laughter or extreme language. It is an amendment that deserves support.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may say a word. I do not want to use extreme language at all, and of course the views of the local authorities are not decisive. But the Auld Report, having gone through all the various ways of controlling Sunday trading and pointing out that they had defects, did say at paragraph 227 that of all the options this was the only one which actually made the situation worse.

7 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, I want to say only three things. First, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, mocked our modern society. I would rather my children were born now in the era of tolerance and listening to other people's points of view than in 1938 when I was born—I am not quite sure when the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was born, but it was a little earlier than that. It is a better society that we live in now than it has ever been before. That is the first point. Secondly, what this amendment is saying is that it is the last chance for the bossy-boots to get their oar in, if that is not a terrible mixture of metaphors. What we are asking the Government to do, those of us who agree with it, is to allow people to do what they want. It is not for nanny state to say "Do this, do that". We are mature and civilised human beings.

The last point I want to make is specifically directed at the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham. The right reverend Prelate has put into his amendment "passers-by". I thought that the New Testament was rather scathing about those who pass by on the other side. Is this a new Christian doctrine, to go with the Eusebian denial of the Virgin Birth, that now "passers-by" should always be consulted? I sincerely hope that this last bossy-boots amendment is thoroughly resisted.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I am bound to recognise after this long debate that some of your Lordships find it an attractive proposition that the regulation of retail trading hours particularly on a Sunday should be in the hands of local authorities in order that they can be tailored to the needs of local communities. That has come over quite plainly. But I rather hope that, on reflection, your Lordships will see that such a scheme would introduce a quite intolerable burden of bureaucracy, as we have heard from so many who have spoken this afternoon. This burden would fall on traders, it would fall on courts and it would fall on the local authorities.

If this amendment were to be accepted, as my noble friend Lord Sandford so vividly illustrated, local authorities would be faced with a flood of applications upon enactment of the Bill. Every sweet shop, tobacconist and newsagent, every garden centre and do-it-youself shop, every pharmacy and video shop, every petrol station and station bookstall, every shop in a holiday resort and every other shop now open on a Sunday, legally or illegally, would be required to apply for permission to open on a Sunday. What a burden that would be! Under the terms of this amendment a shop will either be granted permission to open or refused it. There is no scope for conditional or limited opening. Local authorities will have to consider each and every one of these applications. They will have to establish detailed policy for each shopping area and neighbourhood and decide whether to allow all or some shops to open; and, if some, what kind. They will have to consult, deal with representations, deal with petitions and deal with lobbies. Inevitably, there will be difficulties and disagreements, all of which will fall to the Secretary of State to be solved on appeal. I shall return to that in a moment. For fairness, it will be necessary for such appeals to be processed rapidly in order that a trader does not lose custom to a competitor. In this case the burden will fall upon the taxpayer.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, quoted from paragraph 219 of the Auld Report. As I think has been pointed out, he did not go on to mention paragraphs 223 or 224, or indeed the last paragraph to which my noble friend Lord Sandford referred just now, which all go to point out the other side of the coin and the very real difficulties that this would introduce. While I can see that it might be superficially attractive, this amendment continues to shy away from the problems and practicalities that any new system of regulation will introduce.

The Secretary of State is required to draw up a code of practice, presumably stating the principles and conditions under which a shop should be allowed to open. My noble friend Lord Sandford again pointed to the difficulties of this. In this House and elsewhere it has been shown time and again that it is not feasible in today's retail trade to devise a system which will differentiate fairly between shops. Yet this amendment requires the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice and that code of practice is to be agreed in both Houses of Parliament.

Were the amendment to be accepted we should begin our discussions all over again as we tried to define a code of practice that would be fair and simple and easy to enforce. This would not solve a problem; it would merely delay it. The problems would be tackled not as part of this Bill but when considering a code of practice issued by the Secretary of State. Although a code of practice will be issued by the Secretary of State, the judgment and the application of it will be local. Surely, there is a strange inconsistency there. Nor will such a code be binding. This would be a total abdication of responsibility. It would be an admission that Parliament could not solve the problem and had decided to pass the buck to the individual local authorities.

If local authorities disagree or diverge in their interpretations of the code of practice and their granting of permission, we may find a trader is forced to close when a nearby rival is open. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, gave an example of how boundaries may lie along a street and shops on one side would be able to pick up business where others on the other side of the road would not. There are bound to be local anomalies. If they are to be eliminated, it will presumably be through the system of appeal to the Secretary of State. Such appeals may come not just from shopkeepers whose application has been refused but from any interested person. This may include his trade rivals or any member of the public.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, seemed to indicate that the right to appeal would be a very simple method of achieving uniformity. Would it really? The amendment allows any interested person to appeal against a grant or refusal of permission. It would mean a shopkeeper could appeal against refusal of permission; it would mean a rival shopkeeper could appeal against the grant of permission; it would mean that people who objected to shops being opened could appeal against the grant of permission; it would mean that people who wished to shop could appeal against the refusal of permission. In short, it would mean an extremely busy Secretary of State, but I cannot see that the system would be simple or that it would lead to a simple method of achieving uniformity. As my noble friend Lord Sandford pointed out, if one went into the realm of public inquiry the mind really boggles.

I cannot envisage that that would be a sensible way to proceed. I do not regard it at all as any part of the Government's business to decide whether or not an individual shopkeeper should be allowed to trade on Sundays. The amendment may remove the offence from the scope of the criminal law but the only sanction that can be imposed on a shopkeeper is an injunction. Thereafter he would be liable to the penalties associated with contempt of court should he not abide by the terms of that injunction. Is that really a practicable way of dealing with a trader for opening a shop to meet the needs of the customer? Do we really want that to happen? I agree with my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway; of course we do not.

This amendment proposes a system of regulation that would create an unacceptable burden on all concerned and at a cost to ratepayer and taxpayer. It is a procrastinating amendment since it leaves discussion of the policy underlying the proposed code of practice to another time, even though such a policy has been unsuccessfully sought on many occasions both here and in another place. Furthermore, it proposes restrictions on Sunday trading in Scotland, as the noble Lord, Lord Grimond indicated, where there are none now. I think that many of your Lordships will agree that Scotland will not particularly welcome that.

Retail trading hours do not need restriction by law, nor are such restrictions desired by the majority of the people of this country. I share the views of those who have pointed to the serious shortcomings of this amendment, which would produce a complex and costly bureaucracy at local and at national level to regulate a harmless activity which most people do not consider should be regulated.

This amendment does not have the good case in reality which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, thinks it has. That is why my noble friend Lord Sandford, with his great experience, stressed the nonsenses it would lead to. I hope the noble and learned Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Denning

My Lords, we have heard today the sort of arguments I have heard dozens of times in the courts of law. They say, "If you do not like your opponents' argument and cannot deal with it in any other way, pour scorn upon it". It is like the partner who had to leave a case to his colleague. He put a note for him on the brief, reading, "No case, abuse the other side's attorney."

That is what has happened throughout our discussion today. Time after time, at Committee stage and now, we have put forward amendments to preserve the character of our Sundays. They have all been well-intentioned, well thought out and well planned but we are met not with reason but with scorn. I tell your Lordships that all those round the country to whom I have spoken, all right-minded people, want to preserve our Sunday as much as they can and to restrict Sunday trading so that it does not impair Sundays. That is what we have tried to do in these amendments. Well, we did not succeed with exceptions. That proposal had scorn poured upon it. It was said, "These are ridiculous exceptions. There are anomalies." We did not succeed, although we tried time after time.

We now come to the amendment we are at present debating. Surely it is sensible. It is not unworkable. What I would envisage would happen, as my noble friend Lord Mishcon said, is that if the amendment goes through all those shops which are now opening on Sunday will just make a formal application to the local authorities and in nearly every case those applications will go through on the nod because the local authorities have not taken any steps against the shops under the existing Act. Therefore, there will be no trouble about those at all. Of course, any new ones like the do-it-yourself centres will be allowed. It will only be a few who want to open freshly on Sundays. I hope there will be only one or two in our areas or perhaps half a dozen or more—people who hitherto have been closed on Sundays—who will say, "Now we will apply for permission."

The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, envisages floods of applications. That is what is feared. I dispute the suggestion. There will not be floods. The only people who will apply will be those existing shopkeepers whom we already tolerate opening on Sundays—whether newsagents or food centres. They will be granted permission automatically. Applications will only come from those who want newly to open on Sundays. Why should not our local authorities—good, sensible people—say, "We have got enough already open on Sundays. We have that little shop around the corner. We do not want you next door to open"? Why should not they say that? If there is abuse of authority as suggested by my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale, where shops are open in one area but not another, or you cross the border to find shops open but cannot, those will all be ironed out by the code of practice and by the appeal mechanism.

We have tried many amendments and this is the last step, the last opportunity, for us to preserve the character of our Sundays by some means in law and not to let Sundays be flooded with shops that are open. Whether your Lordships agree with the details or not, I ask the House to say that this amendment should be carried in order to emphasise the real opinion of the people of England that the character of Sunday should remain and that we should not allow free, unsolicited Sunday trading for all shops. I am ready to test the opinion of the House because I feel so strongly about it.

7.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 86.

Airedale, L. Lincoln, Bp.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Liverpool, Bp.
Birmingham, Bp. [Teller.] London, Bp.
Bottomley, L. Mishcon, L.
Brentford, V. Mulley, L.
Broadbridge, L. Newcastle, Bp.
Brockway, L. Nicol, B.
Buckmaster, V. Oram, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Chichester, Bp. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Coleraine, L. Rea, L.
Collison, L. Rochester, Bp.
Dean of Beswick, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Denning, L. Ryder of Warsaw, B.
Diamond, L. St. Albans, Bp.
Durham, Bp. Southwark, Bp.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Stallard, L. [Teller.]
Ewart-Biggs, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Gallacher, L. Swinfen, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Grantchester, L. Underhill, L.
Greenway, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hampton, L. Wheatley, L.
Hereford, Bp. White, B.
Irving of Dartford, L. Wilberforce, L.
John-Mackie, L. Winchester, Bp.
Kilbracken, L. York, Abp.
Leicester, Bp. Ypres, E.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Geddes, L.
Arran, E. Glenarthur, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Grimond, L.
Belstead, L. Halsbury, E.
Bessborough, E. Harris of High Cross, L.
Birdwood, L. Henderson of Brompton, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Henley, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hooper, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Broxbourne, L. Ingrow, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Kimball, L.
Butterworth, L. Lawrence, L.
Caccia, L. Layton, L.
Caithness, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Long, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. McAlpine of West Green, L.
Cathcart, E. Mancroft, L.
Chelwood, L. Manton, L.
Clinton, L. Margadale, L.
Coggan, L. Marley, L.
Colwyn, L. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Cork and Orrery, E.
Cranbrook, E. Merrivale, L.
Davidson, V. Molson, L.
De La Warr, E. Monson, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mottistone, L.
Dilhorne, V. Mountevans, L.
Eccles, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Elton, L. Munster, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Norrie, L. Stockton, E.
Onslow, E. Suffield, L.
Orkney, E. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Pender, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Portland, D. Trumpington, B.
Rankeillour, L. Vickers, B.
Renton, L. Vinson, L.
Rodney, L. Vivian, L.
St. Davids, V, Ward of Witley, V.
Sanderson of Bowden, L. Whitelaw, V.
Sandford, L. Wolfson, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L. Young, B.
Skelmersdale, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7.25 p.m.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, it would appear that this is a convenient moment to break for dinner. I suggest that we do not resume the Report stage of this Bill before 8.30. I move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, we have now adjourned, but I think noble Lords are anxious to get home this evening, so would 8.15 be acceptable to the Government?

Viscount Davidson

I thought, my Lords, that 8.30 had been agreed through the usual channels; but obviously it was not. Yes, it is agreed—8.15 then.