HL Deb 22 February 1990 vol 516 cc383-5

3.10 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have now reached a decision on the rearrangement of the dates of public holidays.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, no. A number of differing views have been expressed about the pattern of public holidays, including the position of the first Monday in May. We continue to keep this matter under review.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, in the course of that review will my noble friend take into account—he will be aware of this fact if he looks at his diary—that in the six weeks from 16th April to 28th May of this year there are three Bank Holidays, that is one a fortnight? However, during the following seven months until Christmas there is only one Bank Holiday. From the point of view of the public and of employees and employers is that not a nonsensical distribution? Is it not time that the Government's prolonged consideration of this matter reached a conclusion?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the analysis of my noble friend sounds reasonable. In 1990 and in 1992 there will be some quite severe bunching as regards the three main Bank Holidays at Easter, May Day and at Whitsun. However, the matter is not quite so simple as my noble friend suggests. There are a number of factors to take into account. As I said, we are still looking at the situation carefully to see whether or not a consensus will arise.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, will the Minister take into account in his continuing consideration the fact that other member states of the EC often have a far greater number of holidays than is the case in this country? It might aid the bunching to which the Minister has referred if we had some bunching at the other end of the year.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, it comes as no surprise that the noble Baroness would like us all to have more holidays. However, as is so often the case, comparisons between what we do in this country and what is done on the Continent are not entirely fair. A casual look at any good diary will show that there is no conformity on the Continent as is the case in the four constituent parts of Great Britain. Therefore, I do not think the suggestion of the noble Baroness is necessarily a good one.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, has the Minister considered the suggestion that I have made on many occasions and which is linked to the Question of the noble Lord, that if we had a four-term year that would work out much more neatly as regards holidays? So far as I know, universities and other institutions are in favour of that solution. I ask the Minister to look once again at that solution to the problem.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I am sure that the point of the noble Baroness will be considered as part of the review which is considering how to deal with the Bank Holidays.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, is the Minister aware that Easter Monday can occur so late as to fall only one week before the May Day holiday? Is that a satisfactory situation?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the reason for that is that Easter is a movable Feast. We have discussed that matter on many occasions. We have suggested that the interested bodies, particularly the Churches, should reach some kind of consensus on that point.

Lord Hankey

My Lords, will the Government consider the merits of a mid-summer holiday around the end of June?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, there have been a whole variety of suggestions. People have suggested a Churchill Day, a Trafalgar Day, a St. George's Day and even a Waterloo Day on 15th June. As we have a Labour Day on 1st May some consider that we should have a Conservative Day. That demonstrates the problem as regards the whole of this issue.