HL Deb 23 January 1986 vol 470 cc347-85

4.15 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Glenarthur.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 3 [Rights of established shopworkers concerning Sunday working]:

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I beg to move—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

Before the noble Lord proceeds, may I ask whether there has been another agreed list of groupings of amendments? If there has been and there is a spare copy, I should be very grateful for it.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

To the best of my knowledge, the groupings that were available on Tuesday are the same today. There have been no additions and no further amendments submitted. So if the noble and learned Lord has a copy of the groupings available for Tuesday, it is the same list.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I have just got it. I only had the original list. I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I beg to move that Clause 3 shall not stand part of the Bill, in order to facilitate what I am sure will be a very short debate, at the end of which it will be my intention not to press the matter to a vote. This Motion has been put down because, as those who have followed these matters will have learnt from the proceedings on Tuesday, in particular, there is immense dissatisfaction not just with Clause 2 but also with Schedule 1, which is the substance of Clause 3.

The main debate, which I believe ended with some satisfaction on Tuesday, allowed the Minister to use a form of words which quite clearly indicated that, whereas before he was only going to look at things carefully, now that we have moved on to the employment clauses he will look at them very carefully. Without reading too much into that, some of us believe that there will be opportunities for improving the Bill. Certainly the amendments that are due to follow provide the Minister with a number of opportunities to do so. But I take the view, as do those who support me in general on these matters, that at this stage it would not be helpful to the Committee if we sought to delete the clause from the Bill.

Lord Sandford

I wonder whether I may rise before we leave Clause 3, so as to make some suggestions to the Committee and particularly to my noble friend on the Front Bench. These are suggestions which occur to me as a result of reflecting on what was said to the Committee by my noble friend Lord Stockton on Tuesday evening. He said that we ought not to allow the occasion of this Bill to become one where the conditions under which workers in the distributive trade have to operate, as a result of the change in Sunday trading, are made more difficult. This was something which the Auld Report itself recognised, and they pointed out in paragraph 288 that the whole of the retail trade will now face as a result of the enactment of the Bill rapidly changing and uncertain conditions. That is what they envisaged would follow deregulation, and that is certainly the case.

In what I want to say next I should like to make clear to the Committee that I am departing from much of what I have been saying so far on the Bill where on Clause 1 I have been seeking to draw the attention of the Committee to the views of the Association of District Councils, whose president I am, which are responsible for three-quarters of the enforcement of this legislation. In what I have to say now I am not expressing their views. They have no responsibility for the working conditions of the distributive trades and what I say are thoughts of my own. I should like also to say that in speaking about wages councils and conditions of work I am very much out of my depth. This is not a subject on which I have had much to do in the past. I have, on the other hand, given notice to my noble friend on the Front Bench of what I was about to say and I hope that he will be able to respond in some measure.

The final amendment that we were discussing on Tuesday night was one moved, I think from the same concern as I feel myself and many Members of the Committee will feel, by my noble friend Lord Renton. Many Members of the Committee will have been swayed by his moving account of the way in which the lives of the man in the choir and his son were going to be torn apart by the enactment of this legislation. I have to say that, much as I was moved as others were by this case, if it had been pressed to a Division I would not have voted for it. I think that the effect of the amendment would have been to establish permanently a huge and unjustified differentiation between all those people who in the future will be working on Sundays in the distributive trade, and all those who already and in the future will be working in other businesses which are needed to provide the essential services to keep the life of the nation going—nurses in hospitals, the drivers of trains, the people preparing the Monday newspapers, and so on and so forth.

So I do not think that is a solution to the problem which my noble friend Lord Stockton put before us. But I think there are two other options, and it would be helpful if—not today perhaps because I do not think the notice I have given my noble friend is sufficient—when we come to the Report stage my noble friend can indicate which of these two options is likely to appeal to him. It seems to me that, faced with the turbulence which will result in the distributive trades as a result of the enactment of the Bill, we need to do two things. We need to extend the remit of the wages council which we understand is envisaged by the Government in the legislation they are bringing before the Commons. Incidentally, I understand that the wages council legislation in the Commons will be about a fortnight ahead of this legislation when they get it in a few weeks' time. The two will be in Committee in the other place at the same time and this will perhaps make it easier for them to deal with it than it is for us. That legislation should allow for the remit of the wages councils with responsibility in the distributive trades to be extended only for a limited period to get through the upheaval that the legislation will cause, and then to be reviewed, and to the extent that it is no longer found necessary—as I do not believe it will be—then to be taken away.

The alternative is for my noble friend to look again at Clause 2 and consider whether some parts of those sections which are mentioned there ought not to be retained for the period of transition—three, four or five years; not perhaps all of them, but some of them—and then reviewed, and, in the light of the way in which the industry has settled down, finally repealed. The suggestion I would put to the Committee (for us to hear what my noble friend can say now but certainly to return to it at Report stage) is that either the legislation on the wages councils should be brought forward; or that the legislation in Clause 2 of the Bill should not be dealt with in quite such a wholesale way as is at present intended but protection should be retained for those working in distributive trades for a limited period to see them through this transition which everybody agrees is going to be turbulent, with no one certain about the way it is going to work out. I hope that my noble friend can give some preliminary indication of how he sees that suggestion.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My noble friend Lord Sandford has made two interesting suggestions and although I do not go the whole way with him, I think one of them is worth consideration by my noble friend on the Front Bench. I would respectfully differ from my noble friend Lord Sandford when he suggests that the coming into force of this measure will create—I think he used the word "turbulence"—in the distributive trades. I very much doubt that. First of all one has to allow for the fact that a great many shops are already open on Sundays and have been for a very considerable time. There is going to be no sudden transition.

Secondly, those who run shops after the Bill becomes an Act will have to take a decision whether the additional costs incurred in Sunday opening will be justified by the demand which they will meet. That will obviously be a fairly slow process of decision, perhaps of trial and error and perhaps of Sunday opening and then abandoning it. Therefore I am bound to say that I foresee a much smoother transition when the Bill is enacted than does my noble friend. Having said that, I was very glad to hear him say, as I tried to say to your Lordships on Tuesday night, that it would be completely wrong, as was then suggested, to create two distinct categories of new workers: new workers in all other industries without exception where Sunday work takes place—we were told that there were something like 8 million people who work sometimes on Sundays—and those going into shop work. That really would be an indefensible creation of special privilege, and I am sure it would give rise to a great deal of ill-feeling and jealousy. Therefore I was very glad to hear my noble friend Lord Sandford not taking that line which I was sorry to hear one or two of my noble friends taking on Tuesday.

My noble friend's other suggestion that any possible difficulties could be dealt with through the wages council machinery, involving, as would probably be the case, some amendment to the wages council Bill to enable this to be done, seems on the face of it to be worth consideration and it is certainly a point on which, in due course, I would be personally very grateful to hear the view of my noble friend the Minister. That would involve leaving this Bill as it stands in its present form but considering carefully whether or not—I have a fairly open mind on this point—some specific provision to deal with any temporary problem which might arise should go into the wages council legislation.

Lord Denning

Perhaps I may add just one point. At the last session we had on this Bill I understood that, in view of our criticisms of the obscure schedule and its unintelligibility and complexity, my noble friend the Minister indicated that he would ask the parliamentary draftsman to redraft it at least so as to make it intelligible. In the future stages, and even today, are we going to discuss the schedule in its present form when we know it is going in all probability to take a different shape in the future?

4.30 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I find myself very much in agreement with both the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. It seems to me absolutely wrong to treat shopworkers as a quite different category of employee in this respect from all the others who work on Sunday. On the other hand, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in feeling anxiety about the rapid revision that there is in Clause 2. I should like to see a transitional period. In particular, I revert to the point that I made last Tuesday; namely, that it seems wrong that the 16 to 18 year-olds are left without the protection of either the shops inspectorate and their legislation or apparently—so far as we can judge from the Secretary of State's letter—the wages council legislation.

With regard to the point made by my noble and learned friend Lord Denning (whom we would all wish to welcome here on his 87th birthday), I did not understand that the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, had undertaken that the schedule should be redrafted. I was going to complain about the fact that he had not done so, and add my criticisms to those that have already been directed at the drafting of this schedule, when the Motion that the schedule stand part is debated; but it seems to me that we have to deal with the schedule as it now stands. As we go painfully through the schedule, it will merely add to the case against its drafting.

Lord Sainsbury

As I understand it, under the existing law a shopkeeper can employ staff to work on Sunday—for example, in filling shelves—so long as he does not open the shop to trade. If that is so, then I find it difficult to justify the existing law. Under Clause 3 of the Bill only existing employees who have not signed any contractual obligation to work on Sunday are protected from being compelled to do so. I favour the extension of that right to new employees who have not signed voluntarily a contractual obligation to work on Sunday. I hope that the Government will give that point of view very careful and serious consideration.

Lord Rochester

I rise only to say in my own words that which has been said already by other noble Lords. I did not have even the short notice that the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, will have had of what it was that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has just had to say to the Committee. However, I should like to welcome the very constructive approach that he has made—and more particularly to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Stockton, last Tuesday. It seems to me that the suggestion he has made that the wages council scheme should be extended to cover the situation of shopworkers, and in particular the lacuna that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, uncovered—not, as he inadvertently said, for those in the 16 to 18 age group but those in the 18 to 21 age group—merit our attention.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I am very grateful to the noble Lord; he is of course quite right.

Lord Rochester

I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord. Alternatively, Clause 2 should be amended in whole or in part for the time being. I look forward very much to what it is that the noble Lord the Minister will have to say. I trust that he will be able to respond in the most positive way possible.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I want very briefly to support the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, to this matter and that the clause should today be agreed to. This in view of the undertaking of my noble friend the Minister given on the only amendment to Clause 3, Amendment No. 24, that he would study with great care all that has been said".—[Official Report, 21/1/86; col. 224.] Not only for the reasons given by my noble friend the Minister is respect of Amendment No. 24 but also for those given by my noble friends Lord Sandford and Lord Boyd-Carpenter, I would not for one moment support Amendment No. 24. That creates a curious situation because with the Bill as it stands, there is the inevitable linkage between the drafting of Clause 3 and Amendment No. 24. Only by Amendment No. 24 can one bring in the schedule and give it both pre- and post-commencement effect. So we are getting into a curious situation. I am making that point not to confuse your Lordships but for quite another purpose: to show that this whole situation warrants total basic reappraisal in the light of the approach of principle that was adopted by my noble friend Lord Stockton.

The whole matter of the approach to the employment aspect of this Bill warrants total reappraisal. At the moment it is in the state of a dog's dinner and no amount of amendment, jiggery, correction, niggling or changing can produce a satisfactory result. Against that, we shall have to attend with great care to the continuing debate. Take for example the amendments down in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, and others—Amendments Nos. 24A to 24C. With the greatest respect to your Lordships, there is not the slightest object in debating those at all, because until we know whether my noble friend the Minister is prepared to move some way towards the paternalistic approach that was put by my noble friend Lord Stockton there can be no purpose in doing so. At this stage, I am therefore seeking some assistance from my noble friend the Minister that might enable the Committee to take a slightly more civilised and shorter course. This debate, although I gather it goes on possibly until 11.30 p.m., is, if I may say so with respect, pregnant with sterility, if that is possible. At least I have thought up a phrase that I have not used previously or heard elsewhere.

I am not seeking to confuse but making a personal attempt to clarify; I have not discussed this with any other noble Lord. The situation is, first, that surely we have to know whether my noble friend the Minister is prepared to move in the direction which I indicated to ensure that all Sunday working is truly optional and to ensure that a measure of safeguard for the shopworkers is provided on the face of the statute. That is the first thing we have to know. That is the approach to which I adhere through thick and thin, and I intervened to make that point at a previous stage in the debate.

But this approach does not of necessity involve the wages council factor. I do not want to take time on it. The paternalistic approach can be adopted without dealing with the wages council factor, or you can deal with it with the wages council factor. There are two ways. Therefore, it may well obscure the merits of the main point if you force the wages council argument too hard on the Government.

The other point I want to make in regard to the principle is that the Government must somehow let your Lordships know where they stand or it will become very difficult. They must surely accept that the approach does not involve nannying in any objectionable sense of the term. I think that some of these suggestions were misunderstood by my noble friend at one stage in the debate. What this approach will involve is three cardinal points of principle. The first is the removal of any distinction between pre-commencement shopworkers and post-commencement shopworkers in the context of Sunday working. The second point is that we must accept that Sunday is not to be treated as any other working day unless the workers concerned so wish to treat it.

The third point—and I dealt with this to some degree on, I believe, Amendment No. 18B the other day—is that we must have express provisions of safeguards; never mind how it is done. Amendment No. 11 seemed to me to be attractive. It attracted me, but it does not matter what attracts me. What matters is what attracts your Lordships. If the point of principle is sound and acceptable, how it is done does not matter in terms of words. But there must be express provision on the face of the statute for the reasons I have already given.

If my noble friend the Minister were to accept the validity of the three points that I have made, or any single one of them, then it follows that not only Clause 3 cannot stand in its present form on Report but neither can Schedule 1. I am delighted to see my noble friend Lord Renton in his place, but neither can his Amendment No. 24 stand because, whether one is for it or not, on any showing it would then be otiose as it deals with the division point which would have been taken care of by the three points of principle to which I have referred.

Therefore, how can one proceed constructively from here? I have been through the schedule. There are parts of it—and I shall not take up the time of your Lordships' Committee by identifying them—which can of course be taken and incorporated within the new concept of the three principles. However, most of it cannot, and there is no way that one can twist and turn it and adapt it. Therefore, if we were to receive, perhaps even after a short adjournment, some form of indication from the Minister there would not be any necessity to consider the matter in great detail.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur

It might be helpful if I remind your Lordships, and particularly my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, who has made some most helpful suggestions, precisely where we got to on Tuesday with the amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Renton.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I have read the proceedings, twice.

Lord Glenarthur

I am grateful to my noble friend. What I said then was that I would undertake to look very carefully at all that had been said. Only one day has elapsed since then, and it would be impossible to respond fully to all the suggestions that were made and the various arguments that were put forward.

My noble friend Lord Sandford has put forward another suggestion, on which my noble friend Lord Campbell commented. All this is within the ambit of the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, that he does propose to suggest that Clause 3 should not stand part of the Bill. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Sandford for giving me notice that he proposed to make this suggestion. I believe that, rather like the suggestions which came forward on Tuesday, this suggestion must be considered in the same spirit. I appreciate the point made by my noble friends Lord Sandford and Lord Boyd-Carpenter about smooth transition. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, referred to the drafting of Schedule 1. Again, I said, reported in col. 233 of Hansard, that I would have a look at it to see what could be done. However, I hope I did not give the impression then that I would manage to achieve that in the detail necessary before the next Committee sitting which is today. Certainly I stand by what I said and I shall see what can be done. If there is any change it will I hope come forward at the next stage of the Bill. Therefore, we have to discuss Schedule 1 as it stands at the moment.

I hope that my noble friend Lord Sandford will be satisfied if I say to him that I certainly will consider what he said in the same spirit as I am now considering the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Renton and the whole question of the employment considerations. I made it plain then that there were huge difficulties. Nevertheless, I stand by what I said and I shall do precisely that.

On the question of the wages councils Bill, the Committee will be aware that that Bill has not yet appeared, so there are certainly grave difficulties in saying from this Dispatch Box now that something can be done. It has to be considered in the same way that I am considering the other matters raised on Tuesday. I hope that I have explained sufficiently to the satisfaction of my noble friends Lord Campbell and Lord Sandford that I will continue to study what has been said in precisely the way that I said I would. Perhaps we can therefore agree that Clause 3 should definitely stand part of the Bill at the moment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful for this short debate. The Committee will appreciate that, with my intention not to press the matter, I could simply have stood up 32 minutes ago and said "Not moved", as I did on a number of occasions on Tuesday and as I intend to do later. But I had understood from conversations I have had that Members of the Committee wanted to use this opportunity simply to underline and reinforce, without committing any words to paper or putting words into the Minister's mouth, the feeling that there did appear to be the possibility of some improvement which would go a long way toward satisfying the general anxieties. So this short debate has certainly been helpful.

At the same time, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, it is not simply academic to leave on the Marshalled List later amendments which deal internally with the schedule, because in fact we are agreeing the clause. We have not agreed to the detail of the schedule. The noble Lord is saying to us: until we have heard from the Minister, why should we waste our time? With respect, I have some experience in another place as well as here, and one needs to use every opportunity—and this day of the Committee stage provides it—to make the case. We shall be pressing our case on later amendments.

The other point I wish to raise is this. I was interested to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, wanted there to be no differentiation between shopworkers who worked on a Sunday and any other workers working on that day. Such a differentiation would be quite unacceptable, but apparently what is acceptable is that there should be a difference between people who are shopworkers before the Act is passed and those who are shopworkers afterwards. In other words—

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

Will the noble Lord allow me—

Lord Graham of Edmonton

In a moment. The principle of differentiation apparently is accepted in that particular instance.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I apologise if I failed to make clear to the noble Lord the view that I was expressing, and perhaps I may try again. I accept that some protection is right where Parliament changes the law affecting existing employees. They became shopworkers under the old dispensation. They will find that Parliament, if it passes this Bill, has altered the law, and I think it is right to protect them.

On the other hand, it seems to me quite unacceptable that where someone newly comes into a trade which like every other trade can involve Sunday working, then he and he only should be given privileges which everybody else who is working on Sunday and going into a trade involving work on Sunday, is denied.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful to the noble Lord but I am bound to point out that there are many noble Lords, including myself, who believe that the protection for existing workers does not amount to very much at all. While we would not wish to deny them that protection, we shall certainly be questioning very strongly in later amendments the value of this protection. However, unless there is some other noble Lord who wishes to make a point, it is now my intention to withdraw my amendment.

Lord Renton

Before the noble Lord does that, perhaps I may say very briefly, without prolonging the discussion, that, owing to having to attend the Deputy Speakers' meeting and another meeting, I was not able to be here for the beginning of this discussion; but having heard some of it I should like to say that I welcome the move on the part of my noble friend Lord Glenarthur to consider further this very difficult question.

I must confess that I cannot agree with my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, because I think that his view overlooks what the other night my noble friend Lord Wolfson called the invidious position where one has some workers in the retail business who are given protection by statute and others who are working in the same business who do not have it. I hope that my noble friend will bear that point in mind.

Lord Sandford

I hope that the Committee will agree with me that this has been a useful discussion and that the assurances given to us by my noble friend on the Front Bench about what he will try to do before the next stage of the Bill are very welcome. I should like to make just one further suggestion to my noble friend on the Front Bench: namely, that I believe the Committee (or it will be the House then) would welcome it if he were able to persuade his noble friend Lord Young, whose department is responsible for these matters, to come and join us at the point when we shall be discussing this Bill again at Report; because I think it would be helpful, as my noble friend Lord Campbell was suggesting, to have a clear view from the Minister who is directly responsible on the philosophy of employment and employment protection, which will underpin everything. Those remarks are intended to be helpful to my noble friend and are not the least bit critical of the way in which he is handling this Bill.

Lord Mishcon

I too do not wish to be critical of the way in which the noble Lord the Minister is handling this Bill. I think we are all very content with it. We should simply have loved a little surrender to the voice of reason now and again.

Having said that, I want to make a practical point. I have in mind some words, which we always value, from the noble Earl, Lord Stockton, who did not talk in paternalistic terms, if I may say so, when he said, if I understood him correctly, that we ought to be dealing with a Bill which deals with Sunday opening or Sunday closing and its regularisation or deregularisation. We ought not in any way at all to affect the rights of workers as they presently exist and, he said, a short clause to that effect, if that were the proper way of dealing with it, should be in this Bill. But if that is not the proper way, this is the spirit which ought to be the spirit of the Committee when dealing with this matter.

My practical suggestion is this. We shall have a lot of debates on the amendments now before us. It has been rightly said that, if the attitude of the Minister is changing, perhaps after consultation with his noble friend the Secretary of State who deals with labour matters, then it is a little disturbing because as we give further consideration to amendments during the interval—not a long one—between now and Report stage we shall not know generally, unless the Government put down their amendments in good time, where we shall be standing at that stage.

Bearing in mind the general attitude, which I know the noble Lord the Minister has noticed from all sides of your Lordships' Chamber, that there is anxiety about labour conditions in a field of employment which is very unprotected—that is the way I should like to put it—would he consider between now and Report stage seeing a delegation, perhaps in company with his noble friend the Secretary of State for Employment (though of course he cannot talk about committing him in his absence) in order that these matters could be discussed with the trade union representatives involved and with those who are very much concerned with this matter in your Lordships' Committee? Such a frank discussion—and we are not asking the Minister in advance to give away anything—would enable us to know that all the points of view have been put and been considered by the Minister, and reactions to them would enable us to know what we ought to be doing at Report stage. I wonder whether the noble Lord the Minister would react to that suggestion, which I hope the Committee will think is a practical one.

Lord Glenarthur

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Sandford and to the noble Lord opposite for their suggestions. I find myself in a rather difficult position because I cannot, as I think both noble Lords will appreciate, commit my noble friend. What I can say, however, in response to both suggestions, and particularly the first suggestion, is that it is something which I am sure that my noble friend will note. As regards the second suggestion of a delegation which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, I accept the spirit in which he makes that suggestion, but I think that it really needs to be considered within the overall examination of the arguments that have been put forward on the whole question of the anxiety that he expresses about those who feel they are not sufficiently protected in this field. I am grateful to him for his suggestion and I shall react to it in due course, but not now.

Lord Rochester

I do not expect the Minister to respond, but I may have been guilty of a slip of the tongue. Following what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said, I may have suggested that Clause 2 should be retained in whole or in part as one of the alternatives. If so, I of course intended to say it should be amended. I apologise to the noble Lord.

Clause 3 agreed to.

5 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 24A: After Clause 3, insert the following new clause:

("Secretary of State's report on the operation of the Act.

.—(1) One year after the coming into force of this Act it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to prepare and lay before Parliament a report on its operation.

(2) The said report shall contain an assessment of the effect of operation of this Act upon the following matters, namely—

  1. (a) the exercise of the right to worship;
  2. (b) the employment, remuneration and working conditions of employees;
  3. (c) costs and prices in retail and distributive industries;
  4. (d) the interests and wishes of the consumers;
  5. (e) the incidence of crime;
  6. (f) the demands on transport; and
  7. (g) the effect on the environment and the interests of residents.

(3) In preparing the said report it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to seek evidence from members of the public and from persons and organisations representing those directly affected by the matters referred to in subsection (2) above, including religious bodies, trade unions, representative organisations in retail and other business, local authorities, the police, representatives of consumers, representatives of residents.").

The noble Lord said: I cannot believe that any member of your Lordships' Committee will feel that the amendment is not most reasonable. It does not interfere in any way with a single line, comma or jot of the Bill. Those who believe that there is literally not a word wrong with the Bill will be relieved that the amendment does not seek in any way to alter the words, the spirit or the intention of complete deregulation and of the provisions in Clauses 2 and 3 and Schedule 1. Thus we can have a relaxed debate about the general situation which has been alluded to by a number of noble Lords.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, believes that the transition from the law as it stands to the law as it will be will be reasonable; it will not be without problems but it will not merit the term that has been used—turmoil. From time to time noble Lords have pleaded in aid evidence gathered from surveys, observations, letters and arguments advanced from one quarter or another. Somebody puts up one argument and evidence then comes from another quarter. I am prepared to say, but not with absolute certainty, that a lot of people who believe that there will be no turmoil or distress will be surprised at the size of the problems that will emerge.

During the general argument over the past two or three years, although it has been going on for longer than that, a number of concerns have been expressed. This amendment says to the Government, "Have your Bill in full or in part but at least put to rest the anxieties on both sides of the argument". Twelve months is perhaps a short time, but whether there are problems or not, let us have a proper report; not a press release, a conference, a leak or anything of that kind, but let us do it properly. Let us not tie the Government down about what they should do in the light of the report. This procedure has been carried out on a number of occasions in the past. We invite the Government, in effect, to put their money where their legislation is.

I completely accept the Government's sincerity. They believe that the measure is in the best interests of all those affected—the consumers, the workers, the employers and the local authorities. I do not dispute their sincerity. But I believe that there are many noble Lords throughout the House who feel it is possible for things to go wrong. For instance, let us consider the effect on the workers. The trade unions are apprehensive. They talk of hoaxes, disasters and catastrophes. Events may prove that to be unfounded. A report to Parliament in 12 or 18 months' time may prove that or it may produce other evidence that we cannot see now because we cannot gaze into a crystal ball.

In the Auld Committee report it is said that the measure may increase employment; on the other hand, it is argued that it will create more unemployment. In the retail and distributive sector in 12 months' time statistics on that question ought to be available.

Many of the trade unions are concerned not only about Sunday working but about late night working. As your Lordships know, I am not an alarmist, but various trade unions have told me that we should bear in mind that the bulk of retail workers are women and that many are part-time, and they need, sadly, to take into account the environment and ambience in which many of them work. They may be leaving work later at night in the future. I am talking of crime, mugging and fear in workers' minds. When we are talking about crime, I could quote, although time does not permit, letters from police chiefs who recognise that the longer shops are open the more shop related crime there will be. That is a fact of life, which could be assessed, tabulated and reported to the House.

Some people argue that costs will rise. There is the whole nexus of wage rates, premium rates and one rate. Will the costs be absorbed? Will Sunday become just another weekday? Some argue that the cost to the consumer will go up and others say that will be minimal, if anything. A report would be able to give us that evidence.

Some people talk about greater environmental distress for the people living in the areas of likely increased shopping. I live in Edmonton and know Edmonton Green. I am satisfied that if Sunday trading occurs the life of the people who live within a mile of the green (which is simply an enlarged car park) or around the town centre will be a misery on seven days, as opposed to six days, a week. I may be wrong. A report on the effect on the environment of residential areas could tell us that.

I do not say that the Minister has not consulted properly in the past, but a range of people will have a view—the churches, the trade unions and the retailers, and I am talking not just about the large retailers represented in the retail consortium. There is the national chamber of trade and groups such as the Hardware Federation, the meat retailers and the Bakers' Institute which represent the smaller traders. All those bodies are entitled after 12 months to tell the House their experience and to produce the evidence.

The councils will have a view also. I am talking not merely about the councillors and the Association of District Councils, which is well and authoritatively represented in your Lordships' House by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. There are also the shop inspectors. I remind your Lordships' Committee that they have said that the present law is not difficult to enforce provided that they have support. Let us hear what they have to say in 12 months' time. I can certainly see the police, the Consumers' Association and the consumer councils having a view.

All the arguments can be resolved without disturbing the Government's intention to bring in the Bill, though many of us wish that they would not. But let us test it in the light of experience. In 12 months', or, with the way that legislation goes, two years' time, let us see how the legislation is working, whether there are lessons to be learnt and whether we need to bring forward amending legislation. I beg to move.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I am surprised that anyone as experienced and as practical as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, has proved himself to be over the years that we have been in Parliament together, should think for one second that an amendment such as this would be inserted in a Bill by any responsible Parliament. Why should this be granted only to the people who work in the retail trade? The report would contain an assessment of whether they have had their right to worship interfered with, what their remuneration is, whether their working has increased prices or affected them, and about the interests and wishes of the consumers. If this one industry was asked to do this because of some special reason—which the noble Lord did not explain—why would it not apply to everybody who has to work on Sunday? Why should not all these questions be put to them?

To ask a Government to set up such a precedent, after having produced legislation which they truly believe is in the best interests of the nation, is to ask them to doubt the real effectiveness of what they are doing. It would be asking them to admit in advance that they have doubts about the real quality of the legislation which they are asking Parliament to accept.

I do not believe that any responsible Parliament could pick out one industry—in this case the retail industry—and say that it is the only one which ought to have this kind of annual report put on the records. If one does it in this instance one would have to do it in many others. I do not think it is being fair to the people who are engaged in the retail trade to represent them as though they are all that different from other workers in other industries. I am connected with the hotel industry. The people in that industry are workers; they give a similar kind of service—and by and large it is very good and very satisfactory.

By putting in this kind of safety chain one is giving the impression that those in the retail trade are in need of the special, almost unbelievable, protection of an annual report, which would cost money and time. The noble Lord is a practical man who is experienced in these matters. I do not think that he would expect one industry to have this written in without thinking that it would have to be extended over the whole of the industries where people have to work unsocial hours or on Sundays.

This sets a precedent which would boomerang in a way which I believe would be disastrous to business and commerce as a whole. The noble Lord was persuasive in presenting the amendment. That is one of the problems: the noble Lord is a very persuasive arguer on these matters, and his love of Edmonton was obvious to everyone when he quoted his example of how he obtains this knowledge. I come from the Midlands, Staffordshire, and I know that there are many industries in Staffordshire which would feel that, if this kind of thing was done for one industry, the same should be done for them. One would be opening the door to something which would not be very pleasant for Parliaments of the future. I do not think we ought to do that.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Sainsbury

I am afraid that I cannot support this amendment. To the retailer the prospect of a review after one year when patterns of trade have already been established would create the opportunity for the whole divisive controversy to be started all over again. The report suggested by the amendment would obviously require the setting up of another committee. If the committee covered all the matters mentioned in this amendment the work might easily take two years to complete, by which time the pattern of trade would be even more firmly established. Therefore, I think that this amendment, if pressed, should be opposed.

Lord Gallacher

I have a great deal of support for this amendment for reasons which I hope briefly to put before the Committee. First, what we are dealing with in this Bill is not merely Sunday trading but Sunday and Sunday night trading. It is not weekday trading along the present pattern of weekday trading under the 1950 Shops Act. It is the legalising of the right of retailers to be open from one minute after midnight until 23.59 on the same day. Thus, in effect what the Bill seeks to legalise, and what the Auld Committee recommended, was that the shops of this country, if they so wish, can be open for 168 hours a week. That, by any stretch of the imagination represents a major change in the social habits and the life of the people of this country.

There are two views as to how retailers may react to the freedom which the Bill proposes to confer upon them. There are those who say that it will not be very different from what happens in Scotland on a Sunday. There are others, including myself, who say that it will be vastly different. We have our reasons for that judgment, not least the fact that 50 per cent. of the multiple retailers are simply waiting for the starting gun. Fifty per cent. of them will open; the remaining 50 per cent. of multiple retailers in this country will have to give serious consideration to what is happening to their trade if their principal trading rivals are open and they are closed. We are dealing with a situation which is, in a sense, unknown and goes beyond anything of which we have practical experience in this country.

Turning to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, I think that the amendment makes it perfectly clear that the process of consultation is not one in which workers only are to be consulted but a whole range of interests which may be affected. I am particularly concerned with those people mentioned by my noble friend Lord Graham who, through no fault of their own, happen to have the good fortune or misfortune to live close to areas which may suddenly find themselves transformed on a Sunday. If their only defence—once the Bill becomes an Act—is to rely upon the law of nuisance, then I think they may find themselves facing court proceedings and not getting very much joy out of those proceedings.

In deference to those people in particular sympathetic consideration should be given to this amendment. Modern retailing can be a fairly noisy business. Music comes into it—at least, I am told that it is music. Motor-cars certainly come into it; car doors certainly come into it. If one is saying that these effects can go on quite legally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without the possibility of a review, one is making a very harsh judgment indeed and inflicting on the people of England and Wales a situation which I do not think Parliament has the right so to do.

The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, also mentioned the fact that nobody else has even had a review of parliamentary legislation in this way and that we shall be creating a dangerous precedent. I have had the misfortune to have been at this game quite a long time. I recollect quite clearly the occasion when the Bill on policyholders' protection was going through Parliament—admittedly a different kind of measure but one which aroused great opposition from the orthodox insurance industry. One irate insurance officer told me that it was a rogues' charter. Your Lordships will recall that the purpose of the Bill was to provide a fund for the protection of people who might be disadvantaged by the collapse of insurance companies. In deference to the kind of view expressed to me the Bill provided for just such a review as that now proposed after five years. The review was made, and, significantly enough, there was no question of any revision to the Act because the worst fears of the insurance industry about its operation were not realised.

It may be that under this amendment, if it were to become law, the review would take place and our worst fears for the people of this country and for their peace and quiet in the late evening would not be realised. But I say that at least the opportunity ought to be given.

The noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, says that we shall be disturbing established patterns of trade. In my capacity as an assessor to the Auld Committee, I did a fair amount of legwork. I did not even charge for shoe leather! However, I went round the garden centres and the DIY shops which are currently breaking the law on Sundays, in order to observe how much trade was going on. I found—and I readily admit it—that a great deal of trade was going on, both on Sunday mornings and again on Sunday afternoons. I also found that, in so far as they were giving notice of what their opening times were on Sundays—and many of them were not doing so for fear of incurring the wrath of local authorities—most of them were closing at 6 p.m.

I personally felt that the Auld Committee made a mistake in going for total abolition, and it may be that at the Report stage of the Bill we shall ask the Government to think about this matter. If no one is asking for midnight trading, then in my view it is an imposition on the people of this country to give it to them through a Bill of this character. However, as the Bill stands, I believe that the case for a review is very powerful. It may be that 12 months is too short a period. I think that it is. However, certainly within the period of one to two years those people who may be oppressed by what lies before them have the right to feel that the Home Office will be looking at the whole matter and maybe drawing conclusions as to the practical results of the operation of the Bill and possibly giving them some redress, some amelioration in respect of the disturbance which the Bill may quite unwittingly impose upon them. I support the amendment.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I hope that the noble Lord opposite will forgive me if I do not follow him in that part of his speech which seemed, if he will allow me to say so, more appropriate to Second Reading than to the debate on this rather limited amendment. I shall confine myself to the amendment.

I am bound to say that I do not take quite as adverse a view of the amendment as my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls. In my view the amendment is very well-intentioned. However, like many well-intentioned proposals, it requires examination as to its practical effect. First, I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken that it really would be quite absurd to have the review within a year. It is not clear from the way in which it is drafted whether the review is to start after a year or to be completed after a year. Quite obviously, if we look at what is proposed and know something about the speed with which governmental machinery works, we will realise that we are talking about a process of at least a year as regards the preparation of the report. On any view that would be too soon.

As was made clear by the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, who speaks with more experience of this matter than any of us, it would be quite absurd to start reviewing the Act (as it will then be) after so short an interval and before its real patterns have settled down. I understand the point of view of the noble Lord. Lord Graham of Edmonton, and that he feels that the Bill will have serious effects and that people may be reassured by knowing that it will be reviewed. I suggest to the noble Lord and to your Lordships that there is a much simpler and less cumbrous way of dealing with the matter.

For example, if any section of noble Lords opposite feel after a year or any other period that the Act has turned out to work less well than some of us hoped, there is nothing whatever to prevent them staging a debate in the House. In so far as they are in the Official Opposition—a position in which I think they will be, happily, for many years to come—they will be able to use one of the very large number of days which are allotted to the Official Opposition (a far larger number of days than allotted to my noble friends) to have a full debate. They will be able to put down a Motion and to ask for answers on a large number of points which appear in the amendment. The Government of the day will have to answer them. Surely that is a great deal less cumbrous, more efficient and a more flexible method than that proposed. Therefore, while to some extent I am with the noble Lord, Lord Graham, as regards the intention, I am wholly against him as regards the method.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I hope that your Lordships will allow me to make a brief intervention. Of course I sympathise with the fears expressed by the noble Lord opposite. However, if we look at the matter objectively we realise that these provisions are wholly inappropriate to put on the face of a statute. They are not provisions which are apt to carry legal enforceability. If we begin putting questions of sentiment onto the face of a statute, however well-intentioned, we mess up the statute law. I therefore ask the noble Lord who has proposed the amendment to reconsider his suggestion.

Lord Milverton

I do not think that I can support the amendment, because I rather agree with my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls in asking why, if we are to do this type of thing for one group, it should not be done for others. As my noble friend has said, there are many other people who have to work on Sundays. One of the noble Lords opposite raised the question of noise. There are plenty of activities which occur throughout the country on Sundays which involve noise. For example, there are motor-car rallies. Some people may like them but some may find them a dashed nuisance. Therefore, I do not think that the point about noise being a nuisance is very relevant.

Basically, when it comes down to it, the question of business on Sunday and what work is done should be left to the conscience of people and, one hopes and prays, to the good conscience of employers to deal decently and respectfully with employees and to respect their conscience about Sunday and worship. That is the matter that will have to be watched and studied. If any employers do not honour that position, which I think is implanted in the Bill, they must be brought to account.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

I should like very briefly to give my support to the amendment, for the following reasons. I am sure there is general agreement that one of the recurring themes in the debate on this Bill has been that we do not really know what exactly will come out of it at the end. We do not know how many shops will take advantage of the Bill. We do not know how many shopworkers will choose to work on Sundays. We do not know how much disruption it will cause to the communities living around those shops which stay open. Therefore, a great deal of the debate has been hypothetical.

That is the reason I should like to support the amendment. It seems completely logical and appropriate that there should be a review at some stage—be it one year, two years or three years after the Bill comes into law—to disclose not only what has gone wrong but also what has happened. In my view that is great justification for the amendment.

As my noble friend Lord Gallacher said, we are talking not simply about Sunday trading but about something which could cause much more of a fundamental upheaval to all kinds of aspects of life. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said that the whole point of having a review would be simply to arrest some of the patterns from settling down. But surely, if some of those patterns are settling down in the wrong way, that would be the point of the review. I am sure we would all agree that if the patterns were settling down to the disadvantage of people generally—shopworkers, consumers and sabbatarians—then it would be quite a good idea to stop them settling down altogether.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me for intervening. There is force in what she says if sufficient time is allowed. However, the amendment to which she is speaking would not allow time for patterns to settle down in a form or shape as regards which it would be possible to form an intelligent judgment as to whether that form or shape was good or bad. That is the point. If we were talking of a period of five years it might be a different matter.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has made a very good point. The point about whether the interval is correct has already been brought up. I mentioned one, two or three years. I do not know what the correct time should be. However, I agree that one year would not be long enough to see exactly what is happening.

The different matters which my noble friend Lord Graham has listed, which he thinks would need reviewing, are eminently sensible. We would want to see whether the working conditions of employees were right. I know that it has been pointed out many times, but I do not think one can point out enough the percentage of women who are employed in the retail business. Those women's rights are always the most vulnerable and need the most protection. We certainly want to know whether they have been able to get home safely if shops have stayed open late at night on weekdays or Sundays. This is something which will be revealed when the Act has been in force for a little time. We shall have to see how our transport system has dealt with it; perhaps not many new demands will be made upon it.

However, these seem to be the most eminently sensible matters to be looked at in order to see whether any adjustment needs to be made. Therefore, I should like to give my support to this amendment.

Lord Glenarthur

It is part of the function of Government to keep under review the needs of our society, to see whether new controls are needed and whether old controls have outlived their usefulness. It is part of this process that has led the Government to bring this Bill before Parliament. Your Lordships will know that the Government keep records and statistics of all the major aspects of our daily life. These records are kept by the different departments of state. For example, crime statistics—one of the features of the noble Lord's amendment—are produced by the Home Office; employment statistics are produced by the Department of Employment; information on costs and prices is produced by the Department of Trade and Industry; social trends generally are measured by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys; and matters of transport are dealt with by the Department of Transport. It is from the collation of all these figures and the make-up of the information which results that Government departments seek to distinguish long-term trends and to decide on future legislative needs.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies carried out an economic review for the Auld Committee and concluded that were there to be de-regulation: it is unlikely that … there would be effects of sufficient magnitude to be distinguished readily from the other changes which would be occurring as a result of other influences on the style and structure of British retailing". Frankly, if the effects of this Bill on the style and structure of British retailing are unlikely to be separable from the other trends in this sector, I very much doubt whether the effect of the Bill on the right to worship or the incidence of crime would be able to be separated any more easily.

One section of this report might require a most elaborate analysis of the incidence of crime. Some research already takes place in order to determine the strategies which our society needs to combat crime. Yet for all the research that takes place, I suggest that it would be a foolhardy criminologist who would claim that he could attribute a crime to one particular reason.

Should this Bill produce any small effects, it will not be possible to separate and isolate them from the many other larger social and economic influences that affect the crime rate. The Government produce sufficient information in each of the fields mentioned as a continuing duty. It is unlikely that the effects of de-regulation will be distinguishable in any one of these fields.

The aim of the amendment appears to be to focus attention on the various aspects of the life of our society and to blame any deleterious effects on this Bill. This appears to me to be another example of, to use the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, "tunnel vision". Government information and statistics are very detailed and have certain very valuable uses. This amendment proposes a report which would repeat information available elsewhere, which would shed little light on the negligible effects which the Bill would have and would be of little use to any of us.

It is the function of this House, as has been suggested, and of another place to bring to the Government's attention and to debate any problems that arise in the country as a direct result of legislation or from any other cause. Should difficulties arise from this legislation after one year or after five years or at some point in the future, we shall be free to discuss them. To lay down that such a wide-ranging report should be prepared would merely be to generate unnecessary expense and time-consuming work.

Your Lordships' House is never slow to discuss problems of this or any other sort which affect us in this country. As my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter pointed out, we do not need a report of such doubtful value, however well-intentioned it may be. I hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I apologise to the Committee for not being present earlier, but I have heard the Minister's reply and I should like to congratulate him on his opening remarks. His opening paragraphs were most statesmanlike in relation to the Government's activities. I do not blame the noble Lord for what is in his brief, but I think that his brief has missed the whole point of the amendment. It is that one year after the coming into force of this Act there should be a report. Why is it put forward as: One year after the coming into force of this Act"? There is great dissension throughout the whole country; there is great dissension in parts of your Lordships' Committee. There is great dissension in parts of the noble Lord's Party, some of whose members abstain from voting on this Bill because it raises such great issues in relation to social activities as well as details about the number of hours that shops should open. There is a great cleavage.

This Bill is a serious experiment, and after a year its operation may not be as good as the noble Lord the Minister and the Government think. Therefore, it seems reasonable that one year later certain aspects should be discussed and a report prepared and laid before Parliament on the operation of a very controversial Bill which raises such important matters as social aspects. I agree that some of the items in subsection (2) may not be of any consequence to discuss, but is the Minister on behalf of the Government able to say now that: the employment, remuneration and working conditions of employees will be absolutely satisfactory a year after the coming into force of this Act? How can he say such things?

Lord Glenarthur

With respect, I do not think that the noble Lord can have heard some of the other arguments that were put forward if he came into the Chamber only at the beginning of my speech. The noble Lord is missing the whole point. By not being present, he missed my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls asking whether if we were to accept this amendment to this Bill we should amend in a similar way all the other Bills which we consider. What does the noble Lord think about that? I cannot believe that it is a sensible suggestion. Nor did I at any stage say that paragraphs (a) through to (g) would not be looked at through the normal machinery of Government and the various other means of collecting statistics.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I am deeply grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for that most helpful intervention. At the moment I am dealing with my case on Amendment No. 24A to Clause 3. In putting forward my argument, I do not have to concern myself with the arguments made by other Members of the Committee, however distinguished they may be. It may be amusing to Members opposite, but I am dealing with an amendment. I am entitled to put my case.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

This is not an amendment, it is a new clause.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, was so anxious and I could not deal with the duet.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I was wanting to help the noble Lord, of whom I am very fond. If he was arguing on the basis that this was an amendment to Clause 3, he was wrong. It is not an amendment to Clause 3. It is a new clause which I claim sets up a precedent that we may not like when it is applied to other industries in the future.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

As always, the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, is most helpful to me when I am floundering about. He corrected me on a technical point, and I did say that it was an amendment to Clause 3. I apologise for that great mistake. Of course, we are dealing with a new clause after Clause 3. I apologise to the Committee for having made that mistake.

I am entitled to put my view, and the view of many here, having heard the Minister. The Minister is replying to all the argument, while I am dealing with the Minister's argument and nobody else's and I am entitled to do that. I should have thought that the working conditions of employees ought to be considered carefully after a year. It is reasonable to want to understand, with this controversial Bill, whether what the Government are saying is right.

"Times have changed", we have heard from the Minister; "the country is all right; employers will know when to do this, that, and the other"—after the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Stockton. The noble Lord the Minister laughed about item (e) of the suggested new clause, the report about "the incidence of crime". Surely, crime, shoplifting—

Lord Glenarthur

With respect to the noble Lord, I really cannot accept that I laughed about anything to do with crime. I see quite enough of the effects from other matters to do with the Home Office. What I simply tried to do was to set out my answer to Lord Graham's amendment, for which he has had some support, but which some of my noble friends, and others including the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, have said does not make sense, I believe for various good reasons.

I also went on to say—and the noble Lord may have missed this—that the Government produce a mass of information in each of the fields with which this amendment deals as a continuing duty. I cannot believe, that the noble Lord feels, if that continuing duty exists, that there is a need to elaborate upon it in the way that this amendment proposes. That is all I am suggesting. I gave some examples of the kind of information collected.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

I am again obliged to the noble Lord, but of course he has misunderstood what I said. I strongly resent that he suggested that I thought he was laughing at the question of crime. I never laugh at the question of crime in relation to the noble Lord's outlook on these matters. I was saying that I understood him to be somewhat scornful of an amendment to contain a clause asking for a report on crime.

I took from the way the noble Lord was speaking that he was not scornful about the necessity for dealing with crime; he was scornful, as I understood it, about the need to have an amendment to the Bill which says that in a year's time we shall consider questions of crime, like shoplifting, or difficulties of monitoring the Bill and other matters associated with this Bill.

I feel that it would be reasonable after a year of the operation of this Bill, which causes such great dissension—and there is a cleavage of opinion throughout the country—to have this report because it would be helpful to the Government after one year to reconsider the whole position. I am sorry to have taken up the time of this Committee, and I apologise to those Members of the Committee whom I have not heard. But apart from the Minister, with great respect, what was said before I came in was irrelevant to the speech which I have now addressed to the Committee because I was merely dealing with the speech of the Minister.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I shall be exceedingly brief. I simply wish to reinforce a point eloquently made by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran. There is dissension on this whole issue, not merely in this Committee but throughout the country. I happen to elevate this issue higher than many others in this Committee who look upon this in the generality of legislation. I believe that the impact and effect of this legislation, once passed, will have enormous social consequences, as well as retailing consequences, etc. That is why I believe that it is very special indeed.

Scorn has been poured upon Parliament writing into primary legislation the need to review that which it has agreed is right. Three years ago Parliament passed legislation in respect of seat belts. It said that three years after the passage of that Bill it would be reviewed. This week it was reviewed. Therefore, those who pour scorn on the idea that it is right after a certain time to say, "We will look at it again", need to reflect seriously on what they are saying.

I take the point that perhaps one year may not be right. Perhaps two years or three years would be better, in which case, as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, nods his head, on some other occasion he will get the opportunity to support the principle, not of one year but of perhaps two years. If it turns out that as early as a year later it can be clearly seen that what we have done is wrong, and a majority of the people of this country recognise that it is wrong, why do we not have a mechanism, a peg, upon which we can stop?

The Minister says that we do not need all of this, and that statistics are kept regularly. That negatives the argument that we shall be asking for a lot of work to be done under this new clause. If the statistics are there, they can be assembled and used. It is a sensible amendment which is in keeping with the unhappiness that I sense about the Committee and the other place. The noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, says, "Once it is done, it is done". I say that if once it is done it is seen to be wrong, we ought to have the opportunity to reflect and review. That is why I give the Committee the opportunity to express its view.

5.47 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 24A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 60; Not-Contents, 110.

Airedale, L. Kilbracken, L.
Ardwick, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Attlee, E. Lauderdale, E.
Boston of Faversham, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Bottomley, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. McGregor of Durris, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Molloy, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Collison, L. Nicol, B.
David, B. [Teller.] Oram, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Phillips, B.
Denington, B. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Derby, Bp. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Diamond, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Donoughue, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Eldon, E. Seear, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Serota, B.
Ennals, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Stamp, L.
Ezra, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L. [Teller.]
Falkland, V.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Strabolgi, L.
Gallacher, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Underhill, L.
Gregson, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hanworth, V. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Hooson, L. White, B.
Jacques, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Willis, L.
John-Mackie, L. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Kagan, L.
Aldington, L. Glanusk, L.
Ampthill, L. Glenarthur, L.
Arran, E. Gridley, L.
Atholl, D. Hardinge of Penshurst, L.
Auckland, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Aylestone, L. Harris of High Cross, L.
Bathurst, E. Hayter, L.
Bauer, L. Henderson of Brompton, L.
Belstead, L. Henley, L.
Bessborough, E. Hertford, M.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Hives, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hood, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hooper, B.
Broxbourne, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Butterworth, L. Kimball, L.
Caccia, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Caithness, E. Lawrence, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Layton, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Long, V.
Carnock, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Cathcart, E. Lyell, L.
Clitheroe, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Colville of Culross, V. Malmesbury, E.
Colwyn, L. Mancroft, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Margadale, L.
Cottesloe, L. Marsh, L.
Cox, B. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Davidson, V. Maude of Stratford-upon-
De Freyne, L. Avon, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Melville, V.
Dilhome, V. Merrivale, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Mersey, V.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Milverton, L.
Elton, L. Monson, L.
Enroll of Hale, L. Montague of Beaulieu, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Gainford, L. Mottistone, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Selkirk, E.
Munster, E. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Newall, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Norfolk, D. Somers, L.
Norrie, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Nugent of Guildford, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L. Sudeley, L.
Penrhyn, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Portland, D. Teynham, L.
Rankeillour, L. Vickers, B.
Renton, L. Vivian, L.
Rodney, L. Westbury, L.
Romney, E. Whitelaw, V.
Rugby, L. Windlesham, L.
Sainsbury, L. Wise, L.
Salisbury, M. Wolfson, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. Young, B.
Sandford, L. Ypres, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly

5.55 p.m.

Clause 4 [Short title, consequential amendments, repeals and extent]:

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

May I ask the Minister about the meaning of subsection (3)? If it means anything, why is it in this extraordinary place and not in Schedule 2? I gave the noble Lord notice that I wanted to raise this question, but if he is not prepared to deal with this today I am content to have it dealt with on Report. I shall put down the appropriate amendment myself, or he can do it. Perhaps it would be convenient if I indicate the problem. Would that be convenient for the noble Lord the Minister?

Lord Glenarthur

I may be able to satisfy the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon. Under Section 21 of the 1950 Act the occupier of premises selling refreshments may opt to apply the special provisions of Section 21 instead of the half-day holiday and meal break provisions of Sections 17 to 20. If he opts for this he has to display and maintain on the premises a notice describing the special provisions and the steps taken to comply with them. The form of the notice is prescribed by regulation.

One of the provisions described by the notice is the maximum number of hours—65—that an adult shop assistant may work in any week under these special arrangements. But this maximum does not apply to young persons employed on the premises whose maximum hours are set down elsewhere in Part II of the 1950 Act; that is, Sections 24 to 31. The restriction of Section 21 to young persons only means that this part of the provision is no longer relevant and it is being repealed by Schedule 2, paragraph 6. This means that the notice is accurate.

The simplest way to correct this notice is to deprescribe it and to give guidance on the form it should take in an information leaflet to be published. The provision does not remove the requirement of an occupier to display a notice explaining to his young shopworkers the details of the arrangements he has adopted. The noble and learned Lord asked me why this provision is in Clause 4. This matter is covered in Clause 4 because it is not consequential and therefore cannot be in Schedule 2. I hope that that clarifies this for the noble and learned Lord. I am most grateful to him for having given notice that he would raise it.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I am grateful to the noble Lord. He has clarified matters, but on neither point has he given, in my respectful submission, a satisfactory answer—either on the question of what the subsection does or why it is in Clause 4.

The noble Lord has dealt with Section 21 and he has explained that that can now apply only to young persons. Therefore the requirement on the employer to display a notice in the form prescribed by regulation is no longer relevant. That is so, and therefore Section 21 including these words is of no possible interest for the reason that the noble Lord explained; namely, that the hours of young persons working are dealt with in a different section: that is, Section 24, which deals with young persons working generally and puts a maximum of 48 hours. Section 25 deals with the catering trade and therefore covers the ground covered by Section 21, which is the section dealing with the shops at which refreshments are consumed on the premises.

Section 25—which, as I have said, covers the ground of Section 21; so there is no need for one to look at Section 21 at all—prescribes a fortnightly maximum of 96 hours; in other words, twice the general weekly maximum of 48 hours. What is more, Section 25 requires a notice in the prescribed form, and that is the relevant section; so that, with all respect to the noble Lord, I cannot find his explanation satisfactory. In fact, if anything is needed to deal with Section 21 in any way at all, it should be in Schedule 2 because it disappears completely as to its relevance to adult workers, being repealed by Clause 2 of the Bill.

Therefore the repeal ought to appear in Schedule 2 of the Bill. So far as young persons are concerned, the relevant section of the Shops Act is Section 25. If that is to be dealt with at all—and I cannot see any need for dealing with it at all—it should be dealt with as a consequential provision and not tucked away in this kind of clause. I have never before seen this kind of provision in the final clause of a Bill or statute. Do I take it that the noble Lord has got another answer?

Lord Renton

Will the noble and learned Lord allow me to intervene? He suggests that this should be as a consequential amendment in Schedule 2. But surely it should be in Schedule 3, which deals with repeals. He has, quite rightly, described it as a form of repeal.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I think the noble Lord is right. It could be in Schedule 2 as a minor and consequential amendment in so far as it picks out particular words; or it could be in Schedule 3. The one place that it is certainly wrong for it to be is in the enacting provision of this Bill.

Lord Glenarthur

I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord and to my noble friend. It all goes to show that things are never quite so simple as one thinks. I must tell the noble and learned Lord that when he gave me notice that he intended to raise this matter, I was convinced that the Bill was right. But I have listened with great care to what the noble and learned Lord has said. It provides me with an opportunity to correct one thing that I said when I was talking about the restriction of Section 21 to young persons only. When I referred to that, what I should have said was that it means that this particular part of the provision is no longer relevant and it is being repealed by Schedule 2(6). This means that the notice is inaccurate. I think that I used the word "accurate".

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

That is not the point. The point is that Section 21 does not deal with young persons. That is dealt with in Section 25. It does not deal with young persons and never has dealt with young persons.

Lord Glenarthur

I entirely appreciate the point. I was trying to correct some information that I gave the noble and learned Lord more generally on this point. What I should like to do, since this is a very complex matter, is to study what the noble and learned Lord has said and to write to him about it, having sought the advice of those who have drafted the Bill. I think that is the only way we can take it forward. I respect the sincerity which the noble and learned Lord has expressed and his concern that we have got it wrong. I shall do my best to examine it and explain it further.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Perhaps I may suggest that he sends a copy of his letter to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who naturally keeps a fatherly interest in all matters arising out of the Renton Report.

Lord Glenarthur

I would not dare not to send a copy to my noble friend.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Rights of established shopworkers concerning Sunday working]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Nugent of Guildford)

I should explain on Amendment No. 24B that if this amendment is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 24C or Amendment No. 25.

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 24B: Page 3, line 9, leave out from beginning to end of line 14.

The noble Baroness said: I rise to move the amendment standing in my name in relation to the schedules. There has been a lot of discussion in the Committee about the complexity of Schedule 1. Certainly I share those views. In particular, if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, finds it incompre-hensible, it is certainly very difficult for less experienced and less expert people to deal with it. I wonder how employers and workers are going to cope with it if it remains unamended.

I say at the outset that I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, for setting out with such clarity the principles that really underlie the series of amendments that stand in my name on the Marshalled List in regard to this schedule; because what I am seeking to do in this amendment and in those that follow it is really something quite simple. What I am saying—and other speakers have said so already—is that I am not happy at all about the provisions for what amounts to a two-tier labour force where you have some employeres engaged on some sort of contract and others employed on other terms.

Lord Glenarthur

May I ask the noble Baroness whether she is speaking also to Amendment No. 26C, 27A and 31A? I believe that those are in her name.

Baroness Turner of Camden

Yes. Amendment No. 26C: Page 4, line 15, leave out sub-paragraph (2). Amendment No. 27A: Page 4, line 25, leave out ("uncontractual"). Amendment No. 31A: Page 4, line 42, leave out ("uncontractual"). Perhaps it would be simpler if I were to do so, as they are all consequential one upon the other and stand together as part of a general concept.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I must apologise to the noble Baroness. I am rather lost. Are we on Amendment No. 24B and the others that go with it?

Baroness Turner of Camden

Yes, we are. If I may continue, I was saying earlier that I disagree with the concept of a two-tier workforce, with some employees employed on certain conditions and others employed on quite different conditions. I may say this is also the view of the TUC, which, in a document it has sent to me about the provisions in the Bill, says: This would create a two-tier workforce in the retail trade and the TUC is strongly opposed to the introduction of legislation which is divisive among workers and contributes to the downgrading of certain workers compared with others". The noble Lord, Lord Renton, made rather similar points, I think, when he was moving his amendment on Tuesday evening.

If one departs from the concept of a two-tier workforce, one then does not have to have in all this wording about whether it is uncontractual or contractual; because what we are seeking to do in this series of amendments is to establish quite simply that every shopworker who is required to work on Sunday is enabled to do so in a quite voluntary way. As noble Lords have said earlier, there are many trades and industries where it is quite common for people to work on Sundays and also, if I may say so, to work overtime during the week. But it is not always part of a contract or contractual obligation.

In many instances—I speak as a trade union official of some experience in these areas—the employer has no difficulty in persuading people to work on a Sunday because he pays a premium rate for that work. He pays a premium rate for work in the evening on an overtime basis and he pays a premium rate if he wants people to come in and work on a Sunday. People do so quite voluntarily because they are prepared to work for those premium rates.

That is the object of the amendments that we are putting forward. What we want to ensure, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, explained with great clarity earlier this afternoon, is that there shall be a situation in which shopworkers, whether they have been employed for 20 years or whether they start working in a shop next year, may completely voluntarily decide whether or not they wish to work on a Sunday, and the employer may, if he wishes to do so, pay a premium rate to encourage them to do so. We are able to ensure that they have that right by writing into the Bill a provision, which was originally in Amendment No. 11—to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, referred—for people who are forced to work, as they see it, on a Sunday when they do not want to do so and are threatened with dismissal if they do not work. If it is not in a contract they would have the right to take their case to a tribunal, and they are given rights to sue for unfair dismissal if they are dismissed for refusing to work on Sundays when it is not in their contract.

Those are the objects of these various amendments. Regarding the amendment in relation to uncontractual Sunday work, the paragraph about uncontractual Sunday work comes out if the concept of the two-tier workforce to which I referred earlier is abandoned. If one looks further down at the amendment in relation to paragraph 2(1) of the schedule, there again that is not necessary if the concept of the established shopworkers is abandoned. Over the page, the next paragraphs are also not required, again if the concept of the established shopworker is abandoned and all shopworkers are treated in an equal way and are not bound by contract to work on a Sunday and have the rights under the Employment Protection Act if by any chance they are threatened with dismissal or with actions short of dismissal if they refuse to do so. I commend these amendments to your Lordships.

Lord Renton

In spite of the fact that as my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway said earlier, we may all be wasting our time discussing the first schedule because one hopes the Government will revise it, or perhaps even do away with it altogether, I think that the noble Baroness has done us a good service by saying what she has said, because she has touched on difficulties that arise on this first schedule, especially with regard to this strange concept of "uncontractual Sunday work". To my mind, as a simple lawyer, the expression "uncontractual work" is a contradiction in terms because all work is contractual unless of course it happens to be unpaid, casual, voluntary work done by somebody interloping almost as a bystander. Therefore I hope that when this matter is considered further this quite absurd new notion, which is almost a legal fiction, will be done away with; and to that extent we must be grateful to the noble Baroness for what she has said.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

On one matter I find myself in entire agreement with both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Renton: namely, that this part of the schedule, and indeed most of it, is absolutely baffling. Also I am afraid that I disagree with the noble Baroness and agree with the noble Lord, Lord Renton. When she says most shopworkers do not work under a contract, what she really means, I think, is that they do not work under a formal contract. I think I have appreciated what she means. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, is absolutely right when he says that, except for voluntary work, all work in shops—in fact all pecuniary employment—is under a contract of employment. Therefore I agree with him that it does really make a nonsense to start off with a definition of "uncontractual Sunday work".

Then again this paragraph, which the noble Baroness understandably wishes to get rid of, is very difficult to understand because not only is it wrongly described but it is couched in a negative form, "other than". One really has to translate it into a positive form in order to see what it does. So far as I understand it—and the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—put positively, it means that a shopworker is bound to do Sunday work and the employer is bound to employ him and pay him for the Sunday work under a contract of employment, in two circumstances. The first is that if previous to the Act he was employed on Sunday work in that case he can—and indeed must—simply carry on and the employer is bound to employ and pay him on Sundays after the Act.

The other circumstance is that if he was not employed on Sunday work before the Act he has the same opportunity for opting for Sunday work as any other entrant to the shop trade. The only difference is that then he has to agree in writing to be employed on Sunday work, whereas the employee previously employed on Sunday work is employed afterwards under a contract of employment, either written or unwritten. It seems to me, apart from the infelicity of drafting, that the noble Lord has the matter right.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

I hesitate to intervene and disagree with my noble friend Lord Renton, but I hope he will not mind my pointing out to him that there is no such thing as "a simple lawyer". It seems to me that in itself is a contradiction in terms. I wanted to ask the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, a question concerning voluntary work on Sundays. If I understood her amendment correctly, she is proposing that Sunday workers should be on a voluntary basis. Can she please advise the Committee what would be the circumstances for a retail organisation when the workers, for some reason or another, did not volunteer and whether that organisation therefore would be able to obtain workers from elsewhere without any prejudice to their activities?

Baroness Turner of Camden

This is not an uncommon situation in industry where the employees are employed on contracts which set out the hours they work, and there is an arrangment under which if an employer wants to employ people outside those hours he offers premium rates to do it. Often, if he cannot get volunteers from his own workforce he will get them from elsewhere. But he pays for it separately, and the people who do it have a separate contract. It is a separate arrangement in relation to that work, and it is usually at premium rates.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

I find very offensive the idea of dividing into sheep and goats people who are working side by side, for the same employer, in the same conditions, in the same circumstances and at the same time. That is a situation which would create resentment and uncertainty; but it would have a further effect which would fly in the face of what is proposed in the Bill. It would give an employer an incentive to get rid of all the existing workers, who enjoy a special protection. That is not difficult. Indeed, the cases of unfair dismissal which have filled the reports of tribunals demonstrate the ease with which it can be done. Any employer who has the attributes which I believe are held by those who welcome this Bill will know exactly how to get rid of people.

I believe that we have to protect the right not to work with the same enthusiasm as we protect the right to work. The right not to work individually, as with the right not to work collectively, is a distinguishing characteristic of a democracy. The right of workers to say, "No, I will not work on Sunday", and not be victimised as a consequence, is something which we should have very close to our hearts in putting legislation of this sort on the statute book. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will bear that in mind.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

The noble Lord knows far more about these matters than I do, but is he right under this part to say that anybody is forced to work? As I read it, it is purely that an employee who worked on Sundays before the commencement of the Act is entitled to go on working if he wishes—it is put round the other way in the clause—whereas if he did not before then work on Sundays it is purely up to him whether he does or does not. The only stipulation is that he should agree in writing, and I imagine that that is for the sake of certainty.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, has a highly optimistic view of conditions in the shops trade. If he believes that a person who had previously not worked on Sundays and who wished to continue not working on Sundays would be able to withstand the pressures put on him by an employer of the kind I am discussing, then my views of the qualities of that sort of employer differ from those of the noble and learned Lord.

Lord Glenarthur

I think we all agreed at an earlier point in debating this part of the Bill, and parts close to it, that this schedule is a very complex one. I listened with great care to the interpretation of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, of how he understands the schedule to read if it is changed into the positive, to use the same form of words as he used. I do not think that the noble and learned Lord is quite right if he suggests that the schedule gives any right to employees to be offered Sunday work. The schedule gives rights—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

May I say that I think I put it right the first time, but I was conscious of putting it wrongly when I intervened in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Murray. If the noble Lord will look at Hansard, I think he will find that I got it right the first time.

Lord Glenarthur

Of coure, I will study what the noble and learned Lord said, and I am sure that he did get it right. But it is a complex area. If I may go on to explain, what the schedule does is to give rights to workers so that they cannot be compelled against their wishes to work on Sundays. But if workers have agreed to work on Sundays under a contract, then they will not have the statutory rights in the schedule.

My noble friend Lord Renton was concerned about the phrase "uncontractual Sunday work". It is defined in paragraph 1, and it expresses the idea of work which a worker is not obliged under his contract to do but which an employer may be seeking to compel him to do. The effect of these amendments would be that established shopworkers could not be held to their agreement to work on Sundays. Although shopworkers could enter into agreements to work on Sundays, there would be nothing that employers could do if the shopworkers decided not to keep to their part of the bargain. Employers would be put in an intoler-able position, as they would never know whether their workers would turn up on a Sunday. Employers would be unable to rely on any permanent commitment to Sunday work and would therefore be placed in the weakest of all possible bargaining positions.

I suggest to the noble Baroness, who expressed the purpose of her amendment with great clarity, that it would be increasingly difficult to run a shop efficiently with this handicap. Moreover, if the other amendments were passed shopworkers joining the industry after the commencement date would be placed in the same position. I wonder whether this sort of amendment and this change in English law is an appropriate suggestion. It introduces the concept of a unilateral breaking of a contract, and I cannot see that it is the sort of condition which is likely to safeguard either employers or employees. I hope that the noble Baroness sees the force of that argument and will not press her amendment.

Baroness Turner of Camden

I am very sorry, but I feel that I must press my amendment because, although I am not committed overwhelmingly to the wording—and it has been very difficult, given the schedule and its complexity, to draft suitable wording—I should nevertheless like to test the feeling of the Committee on the principles that I have enunciated. I shall go over them very briefly again.

There is the issue of the two-tier workforce, to which I am irrevocably opposed; there is the question of having contractual and uncontractual working, which is a recipe for confusion; and there is the situation in which employees in the shops industry do not have the same kind of conditions as exist in many other industries, where the employer has, as it were, to provide incentives for people to go in and work on a Sunday through premium rates or in other ways, plus the other requirements that I envisaged in the amendments, that people dismissed or threatened with dismissal, because they do not want to work on a Sunday should have the right to sue for unfair dismissal under the provisions of the Employment Protection Act. Because I did not hear in the Minister's statement any acceptance of the validity of what I said. I feel that I have no alternative but to press the amendment.

6.29 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 24B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 46; Not-Contents, 85.

Airedale, L. Jacques, L.
Ardwick, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Attlee, E. John-Mackie, L.
Aylestone, L. Kilbracken, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Bottomley, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Brentford, V. Lovell-Davis, L.
Broadbridge, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Collison, L. Nicol, B.
David, B. [Teller.] Oram, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Phillips, B.
Denington, B. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Derby, Bp. Rochester, L.
Diamond, L. Sainsbury, L.
Donoughue, L. Seear, B.
Eldon, E. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Ennals, L. Swinfen, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Underhill, L.
Gallacher, L. [Teller.] Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. White, B.
Hanworth, V. Williams of Elvel, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Willis, L.
Ampthill, L. Lawrence, L.
Arran, E. Layton, L.
Atholl, D. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Auckland, L. Long, V.
Bauer, L. Lothian, M.
Belstead, L. Lyell, L.
Bessborough, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Malmesbury, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Broxbourne, L. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L.
Butterworth, L. Merrivale, L.
Caccia, L. Mersey, V.
Caithness, E. Milverton, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Monson, L.
Carnock, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Clitheroe, L. Mottistone, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Colwyn, L. Munster, E.
Cork and Orrery, E. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Cox, B. Norfolk, D.
Davidson, V. Norrie, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Nugent of Guildford, L.
Dilhorne, V. Orkney, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Penrhyn, L.
Elton, L. Portland, D.
Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Rodney, L.
Glanusk, L. Romney, E.
Glenarthur, L. Rugby, L.
Gridley, L. Saltoun of Aberaethy, Ly.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Sandford, L.
Selkirk, E.
Halsbury, E. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Harris of High Cross, L. Somers, L.
Hayter, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Henley, L. Teynham, L.
Hives, L. Tryon, L.
Hood, V. Whitelaw, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Wise, L.
Lane-Fox, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.36 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 24C: Page 3, line 11, leave out ("the commencement date") and insert ("14th November 1985").

The noble Lord said: Again it needs to be said that clearly we are overtaken by events. We ourselves have conspired to provide the uncertainty that enables some noble Lords quite properly to say, "Is there any value in seeking to amend in tiny detail something that may very well be radically altered at a later stage in the Bill, if not in this Chamber perhaps in another place?" The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, who is in his place as always, has raised quite properly the wisdom of appearing to go over ground which in the event may prove not to be necessary. But as I have said—and I say it again—there are obligations on Members on this side to make the case because the later opportunity literally may not present itself.

I do not intend to delay the Committee too long, but I draw the attention of the Committee to the schedule. On page 3, line 9, the present wording reads: 'uncontractual Sunday work' means, in relation to any shopworker, shop work to be done on a Sunday other than work which on the day before the commencement date the shopworker was obliged under his contract of employment to do". I stress the words "the commencement date". We have taken out that nebulous concept. It will be quite clear and precise at a later date, but the commencement date is not clearly defined. We have sought to insert "14th November 1985". In other words, the schedule will read: 'uncontractual Sunday work' means, in relation to any shopworker, shop work to be done on a Sunday other than work which on the day before 14th November 1985 the shopworker was obliged under his contract of employment to do".

Why do we choose the date 14th November 1985? That was the day on which the Bill appeared. That has some significance because in preparation for the possible passing of this Bill—and a Bill will of course eventually emerge in some form—a great many people have reflected on, and aim to protect, their interests. Employers have, legitimately and properly, in protecting their interests, given consideration to the best way in which they will be able to proceed from the commencement date, when they will be legally entitled to operate under all of the clauses of and schedules to the Bill.

It may be held to be reasonable for employers to prepare for the situation that will confront them. They have to earn a living and they have to remain in business. Competition is fierce, and employers need to examine the kind of contractual arrangements they will require to make. I am speaking not only of the provisions covered by this Bill but also of the negotiations and free collective bargaining that employers will have with the major trade unions.

We are of course advised by a number of people outside your Lordships' Committee. I should like to read to the Committee an extract from an article that appeared in the Financial Times on 16th December 1985. Under a major heading, "Union worried over forced Sunday working", Mr. David Thomas wrote: The shopworkers' union, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, says that shop workers presently employed may be forced to work on Sundays once the Shops Bill has become law, in spite of guarantees by ministers to the contrary. The Bill says that shopworkers employed before its enactment would not have to work on Sundays. However, a little-noticed provision excludes from this protection shopworkers already contracted to work on Sundays. USDAW is concerned that retailers might write into the contracts of workers recruited before the Bill was passed the stipulation that they work on Sunday once the law permits. Gateway, the food retailing chain, has stated on its application forms for two years that employees may be asked to work on Sundays if the law were changed and business were to require it. Mr. Peter Fisher, Gateway's personnel director, said, 'If people have been employed and it has been specifically drawn to their attention that they might have to work on Sunday and they have agreed, it is entirely reasonable that any legislation should not override this'. But he added: It is most unlikely that we would turn round and say to someone, 'You must work on Sunday because you have signed'.

In other words, the employers are saying that although by some subterfuge or device, or as a result of openhandedness, they have the right under the contract that the employee has signed to insist that he does work, even though the law says that he cannot do so, they, the employers, will be able to determine whether or not they want to exercise their rights under the employee's contract.

What worries me and a great many people in the trade union movement, and I believe most fair-minded people, is that everyone has reasonably assumed that when the trigger is pulled, the date upon which it is pulled will be the operative date; that is, some time after Royal Assent. The Minister will do a service to the Committee, because his advisers will have done their research on the purport of this amendment, whether or not the Government accept it, if he will state whether his department has been able to ascertain whether or not Gateway's practice of writing in a condition of employment that seeks to override a subsequent Act is prevalent. I am told that Debenhams, in addition to Gateway, have also used that device.

6.45 p.m.

I am not building all this up as something sinister, and I am not speaking of some heinous crime. I am talking about an employer who is seeking to protect his interests in the event of this Bill becoming an Act. I shall not lay too much stress on that. We are simply saying that it is surely better that the date whereby the non-contractual part of the Bill becomes operative should be specific and be determined as the date upon which everybody knew precisely what was going to be in the Bill. I do not blame the Gateways and the Debenhams of this world—and I believe there will be others—who, perhaps shrewdly, have seen a way around the Bill.

From the trade unions' point of view and from the workers' point of view, and I believe from the point of view of this Committee, there is a genuine belief that any person who has been in regular employment as a shopworker before the commencement of the Act will be protected. I have drawn to the attention of the Committee the practice of some employers. I repeat that I do not malign them, but by such practices it is possible that someone who has been working as an established shopworker over the past two years will have signed such a contract.

One might argue that it was surely up to the employee not to sign. My noble friends Lord Murray of Epping Forest and Lady Turner of Camden, and many others, have pointed out that we are living in a climate of unemployment. In such a climate, one clause in a contract of employment containing many clauses may not have been understood or specifically drawn to the employee's attention, or the worker may not have felt it necessary to question such a condition. He might instead have said to himself, "I have the chance of getting a job. I will get that job if I sign this contract, which includes a clause about Sunday working. If I do not sign the contract with that clause, then I shall not get the job. My prospective employer only wants workers who are willing to state that when the law is changed, and although it may say that people do not have to work on Sundays, their employer has the right to say that employees will work on Sundays—not under the Act but under their contracts of employment".

In our view it would be much more sensible to say to employers, as indeed the Prime Minister said to large organisations before Christmas, that they should not for goodness sake begin to act unlawfully before the law is changed. We are saying that we should make the law that will be changed eventually fair and reasonable. We cannot go back to an unspecified and undertermined date. We believe it is reasonable to start the new practices from the date when the Bill was published. That date was 14th November 1985.

I shall very much welcome the Minister's observations. This amendment has not been dreamt up as a device or a peg with which to delay the Committee. I have already declared my interest through my association with USDAW. The TUC, on whose behalf my noble friend Lady Turner has spoken so eloquently on more than one occasion, has asked us to establish whether the Committee is prepared to go a fraction of the way down the road to protect at least in part the intention of the Government that existing shopworkers shall be safeguarded in the future. I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

Your Lordships will certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Graham, that one must have a precise date for ascertaining the status of the worker which gives rise to the rights that the Bill gives him. I do not know whether it was a slip of the tongue on the noble Lord's part, but commence-ment date is a precise date. The date of Royal Assent is the date that a Bill becomes an Act. Under a statute of somewhere near the end of the 18th century—I have forgotten its name—the Clerk of the Parliaments writes under the Title of a Bill, at the moment it receives Royal Assent, the date of Royal Assent. That is, by statute, part of the Act of Parliament and that is the commencing date unless some other date is specified.

The noble Lord also spoke—and I think probably did not quite mean it—of the employers writing into a contract an obligation for their employees to do Sunday work unless this provision were given retrospection. However, what the Bill says is this. If someone is doing Sunday work at the time of Royal Assent under a contract of employment, written or unwritten—as the noble Baroness pointed out, it is quite frequently informal but both the employer and the employee know perfectly well whether the employee is doing Sunday work—he cannot claim the privileges that are given under the Bill: the right not to be dismissed or have penal action short of dismissal taken against him if he thenceforward refuses to do Sunday work. In that respect, as I understand it, all the Bill says is that the existing contract of employment, whether written or unwritten, is merely carried forward.

The other case is that where no Sunday work was done previous to the date of Royal Assent. In that case, under the Bill the employee has the right to claim protection from penal action only if he agrees in writing at that time to do Sunday work; in other words, at Royal Assent or thereafter. There can be no question of a unilateral alteration to the contract of employment by the employer between the date of publication of the Bill and Royal Assent. A change of contract must be, as with every other contract, bilateral.

The noble Baroness was quite right on the earlier amendment in drawing to our attention that quite frequently that is informal. I would expect to find that in a small shop; in other words, the employee is merely working Sunday after Sunday and then one would presume a contract of employment to do Sunday work. In the case of the big retailers one would expect—and I am sure this is the case where they have a personnel manager—the obligations to be in writing.

It seems to me that the commencement date here is the right date and I really do think that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, is seeing bogeys. Although I know he speaks with all the force of the TUC behind him, I think that they are afraid of shadows in this case.

Lord Renton

I hope the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, will not mind my saying that I hope he will withdraw this amendment as quickly as possible. It is against the interests of those for whom he is apparently speaking. I should have thought that it would deprive thousands of workers of the benefits of Clause 3 and the first schedule to the Bill. It will mean that those employed at the earlier date he mentioned of 14th November 1985 will have the benefit of the clause, but those who come into employment between that date and the commencement date will not have the benefit of it. That is entirely contrary to all that he has been working for.

The amendment, of course, also assumes the continuation of the two-tier system—the one that the noble Lord and I have both referred to as the "sheep and the goat situation"—so let us get this out of our way as quickly as possible.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

Before the noble Lord sits down, will he be good enough to tell me which clause he refers to as being detracted from as a result of this proposal? I am sorry, but I did not catch what the noble Lord said from the beginning.

Lord Renton

If the noble Lord had been here earlier and on Tuesday night he would realise that I was referring to Clause 3 and the first schedule.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

And the first schedule.

Lord Glenarthur

Now that I have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and his explanation I understand what this amendment seeks to achieve, but taken at its face value it will mean that existing employees who, since 14th November 1985, wish to work on a Sunday must put their agreement in writing. This will mean that employees who have, since 14th November 1985, made an oral agreement to work on a Sunday will be able, retrospectively, to change their minds.

I believe that to be unreasonable. I think it is unfair to employers who have made agreements in good faith. I hope the noble Lord will not press an amendment which, I suggest, is blatantly unfair on employers and enables shopworkers to break agreements that they have entered into.

The Bill excludes from protection those who have entered of their own free will into contracts to work on Sundays. If employees do not wish to enter into contracts to do Sunday work they should not do so. They should just refuse to enter into such a contractual obligation and the employer cannot unilaterally vary the contract.

The noble Lord gave some examples of concerns that have been expressed about the matter. It has been said that pressure is being put on existing shopworkers to agree to work on Sundays in advance of the new rights under this schedule. This was very much the theme that lay behind the noble Lord's point. Existing employees cannot be forced to agree to Sunday working against their will. Employers do not have the right unilaterally to alter a contract of employment. If existing employees are dismissed before the Shops Bill comes into force for refusing to agree to work on a Sunday they will, according to the provisions of the Employment Protection Act 1978, be able to take their case to an industrial tribunal and claim unfair dismissal, provided that they have the normal qualifying period.

I listened with care to my noble friend Lord Renton. I am not convinced that he was absolutely right in the point he was making. I do not think the amendment alters the qualifying date for the rights, which is the commencement date; and, of course, the commencement date is defined in paragraph 1 of the first schedule. I believe—

7 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

As the noble Lord has mentioned it, may I ask why we should define it, since it is already defined by the statute to which I referred? There are several other unnecessary definitions in that paragraph: "shop", "shopwork" and I think "shopworker". Why in particular is it necessary to define "commencement date"?

Lord Glenarthur

I wonder whether the noble Lord could point me to the relevant part of the Shops Act. He may have that definition already to hand. I think what lies behind it is simply a question of clarity. I do not think there is anything more serious than that underlying it. It may well be defined. I shall try to find it myself.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I do not intend to press this amendment to a Division, but I am wholly unconvinced that the noble Lord the Minister and other noble Lords who have spoken have it right in respect of the ability of employers to "persuade" their employees freely either to sign a contract when they become employed or even to agree to the insertion into an existing contract of a clause which overrides their rights under this Bill.

Let me quote the words of an official from Gateway, the food retailing chain: it is entirely reasonable that any legislation should not override [our agreements]". The official is saying, in other words, that where there is a conflict between an agreement and the law, then it should be settled in favour of the agreement that has been made with their employees. I completely accept that between November 14th and the commencement date (let us say it is 1st June, 1st July, or whenever) there will be a number of employees (I will not hazard a guess as to the number) who on entering employment will be invited to sign a contract which states that in the event of the law regarding Sunday work being changed, the employer reserves the right to say to the employee that he shall work.

The point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is an interesting one: whether in seeking to advantage a number of new employees we are actually disadvan-taging many thousands more. The noble Lord the Minister disputed Lord Renton's reading of the situation. I am certainly prepared to reflect on this and to have consultations with people from outside the House who have long experience of negotiations.

Lord Renton

My noble friend the Minister questioned what I said. But, with great respect, and I think that the noble and learned Lord agrees with me, it is unquestionable. If we look at Clause 3 we see the expression "at the commencement of this Act," and it is right up to the commencement of the Act that the protection afforded by Clause 3 is declared to be given. If we make the commencement date an earlier date then we deprive people of the benefit of Clause 3.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

With respect, if there is no question that existing contracts which take away that right are negatived by the passing of Clause 3, then it will be welcome news to a great many people because not everyone has been under that impression, and a great deal has been said about the protection of the shopworker, the conscience clause and the right not to work. However, if, despite a contract which has been entered into which specifically lays down not that shopworkers shall work but that in the event of legislation being passed the employer shall have the right to make them work, that kind of condition is, in effect, non-operable in the light of the passing of this Bill, then I believe that a number of people outside the House will be very well satisfied. It is clearly something that needs to be studied, as the noble Lord the Minister has said, with care and even on occasions with special care. Those outside the Committee will study very carefully what has been said. Does the noble Lord the Minister wish to be helpful?

Lord Glenarthur

I make only a brief intervention to say that, as I understand it, the amendment is limited to uncontractual Sunday work. I am not quite clear in what way it amends the content of Clause 3. I do not believe that it does.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I thought that the noble Lord had finished. I think he has now made his point perfectly clear. What he is worried about is a new entry into employment after the 14th November last where the employer insists as a condition of employment that he shall agree after the date of commencement, or the Royal Assent, to work on Sunday. I had not understood it before. I think the Minister might be willing to look at that aspect. I have no idea how real is the fear.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I do not want to ask the Minister to look at it because that might invite him to say, "I hear what you say", which I have heard so often. It is a point which is of genuine worry to those outside the Committee. I have said more than once that I am not casting aspersions on employers, who have businesses to run, but the contents of the official record will certainly be looked at by people outside the House as well as the Minister and his advisers. If the point can be taken, and sympathetically taken, by the Minister, and he is able to make a suggestion either informally or even at Report stage, I shall be very grateful and be satisfied.

Lord Glenarthur

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton. I certainly agree that this matter is exceedingly complex. Sometimes I wish I were a lawyer; sometimes I am glad I am not. However, I can say that I still find myself floundering on issues such as this. I shall study what has been said with great care and perhaps I may write to all those noble Lords who have taken part in this debate.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am most grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hooper

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we take a break now. I suggest that we do not resume our deliberations before ten minutes past eight. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.