HL Deb 05 May 1994 vol 554 cc1218-69

3.30 p.m.

Report received.

Schedule 1 [Restrictions on Sunday opening of large shops ]:

Lord Greenway moved Amendment No. 1: Page 4, line 27, at end insert:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1, it may be convenient for me to speak also to Amendment No. 12. I raised the question of exhibitions at Second Reading. Unfortunately I was unable to be present at Committee stage, hence my moving these amendments today. The amendments make what is essentially a technical change to the Bill. They provide an exemption for exhibition stands which occupy a floor area of more than 280 square metres and which might otherwise be classified as "large shops" for the purposes of the Bill.

Exhibitions can hardly be equated with supermarkets and I suggest that they are without the scope of the Bill. The amendments are intended to prevent some individual stands falling within the terms of the Bill because any stand so affected would be subject to different operating hours from the rest of the exhibition were it to take place on a Sunday. I do not need to remind your Lordships that many exhibitions open on a Sunday. That would present not only great difficulties for the organisers, but also would be confusing for the visitors—a number of whom come from overseas, especially in the case of the Boat Show, for example. The amendments are based on existing exemptions from the Shops Act 1950 provided by local legislation in the case of certain exhibition centres such as Birmingham.

As I said at the outset, the amendments are slightly technical in nature. They lack the emotive content of some of the other matters under discussion. I hope that they find favour with the House. I beg to move.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, the noble Lord., Lord Greenway, proposes an exemption for any stand used at an exhibition from the six-hour restriction which the Bill places on trading by large shops. Your Lordships may find it helpful for me to remind the House of the way in which exhibitions are treated under present legislation.

Your Lordships will remember that few transactions are permitted on a Sunday under the terms of Schedule 5 to the Shops Act 1950—certainly the schedule does not provide for the wide range of items which are commonly on sale at major exhibition centres. Stands at exhibitions which are held at major exhibition centres are nonetheless able to sell legally items which are not included in Schedule 5 by virtue of provisions in various local Acts. For instance, the West Midlands County Council Act 1980 disapplies the closing and Sunday trading provisions of the Shops Act 1950 to any shop or stand which is open during the course of an exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre. The Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1981 disapplies those provisions in the 1950 Act to exhibitions at, among other places, Alexandra Palace, the Barbican Centre, Earls Court and Olympia.

In all cases the exemptions provided by those local Acts apply to the site and not to any named exhibitions. It therefore makes no difference whether the exhibition at Olympia is concerned with cars, cats or computers; they are all equally exempt. Your Lordships heard that an exemption for all stands at exhibitions is needed to ensure that they can continue to trade freely on Sundays in future. I have considerable sympathy with that view, but your Lordships may wish to consider whether the amendments are necessary.

Under present legislation, specific exhibition sites had to be made exempt in order for them to open at all on a Sunday because Schedule 5 to the 1950 Act allows such a limited range of transactions. The model for partial deregulation in the Bill is a totally different kettle of fish. Under the Bill all large shops are permitted to sell anything for six hours on a Sunday, provided that they notify the local authority of their intention to do so. There is not even a question mark over whether or not exhibition centres themselves would be restricted to six hours' trading; exhibition centres are not shops. The restrictions could apply only, if they apply at all, to the stands of individual exhibitors within an exhibition. To be caught they would have to meet a number of different criteria. First, they would have to be engaged wholly or mainly in the sale of goods. Secondly, the stand would have to be in a building. It is doubtful, for instance, whether any stand within a marquee could be so described. Thirdly, the stand would be larger than 280 square metres.

I have no doubt that there may be some exhibitors who would be caught by the six-hour restriction; but I suspect that they would be few. The restrictions cannot be described as onerous. If a stand were in fact caught, it would simply mean that it would be restricted to six hours' trading on a Sunday in the same way as any other large shop. Your Lordships may feel that there is no reason that a large stand measuring over 280 square metres at an exhibition and selling, say, furniture, should be more favourably treated than a large shop in the high street. On the other hand, your Lordships may feel that there is a difference.

We have heard that exhibitions attract international visitors and that they bring revenue to the country. That may weigh with your Lordships. As I said, whether or not your Lordships consider the amendment to be necessary is entirely a matter for your Lordships. I have simply tried to put the drawbacks and perceived advantages in the best way I can.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, having heard my noble friend Lord Ferrers on the Front Bench, I sincerely hope that the House will back Amendment No. 1 to the hilt. The idea that it is all right to have exhibitions in Birmingham or London but not in Cornwall or Suffolk shows the ridiculousness of more of these forms of restriction. I therefore sincerely hope that your Lordships will back my noble friend Lord Greenway to the hilt.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, the speech of my noble friend the Minister indicated that there was some uncertainty in the law at present as to whether, as was possible, some of these exhibitions might fall within the prohibitions of the Bill. On the other hand, the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, seems to clear up the matter definitely and does away with any possibility of misunderstanding or unnecessary restriction. Would not my noble friend therefore consider it sensible to accept the amendment?

Lord McCarthy

My Lords, those who have always considered that the best way to solve the problems in the Bill is by total deregulation will naturally support every amendment of this kind which is tabled on the Marshalled List. This is the first such amendment. We have amendments about farm shops, book shops, amusement centres, holiday parks and pet shops. Two amendments succeeded last time and now we have six more. Those who are in favour of complete deregulation will get up each time and say that it ought to be allowed. However, those of us who believe that this is a compromise Bill and that it is based upon the six hours opening option are afraid that if all those amendments are conceded, or if many of them are conceded, we shall be doing precisely what those who advocate deregulation want. We shall be making the present compromise unstable and we shall be told in a year or so that the only way to reconcile the thing and to make it logical is to move into a deregulation option.

This case is one of the weakest. It is very difficult to imagine, as the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, said, a stand larger than a tennis court selling only what seeks to be covered by the Bill, and it is very difficult to believe that any stand which was as large as that would not be covered by the existing legislation anyway.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, my noble friend the Minister says that there are areas of the country served in this respect by various local Acts, and, by definition, as my noble friend Lord Onslow pointed out, there are other areas of the country which are not served by such local Acts. Irrespective of the arguments on the Bill it seems to me that this would be a good moment to sweep all these matters into one and do away with the necessity for having local Acts in this respect.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I support what the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, said about whether we are moving away from a compromise Bill, which is what we received from another place. The compromise was extremely hard to stitch together. The argument went on, not for years, but for generations. We have arrived at it. And since we have arrived at it, your Lordships have begun to pick away at it piece by piece, taking the scales off the fish. A fish without scales will not swim, and I think we are in danger of sinking the Bill.

As regards exhibitions, an exhibition with a stand of the size which I take it the amendment refers to—roughly the size of this Chamber—is either selling combine harvesters, which will not be sold over the counter, or it is behaving like a department store, with which it should not be in competition. I hope therefore that your Lordships will not listen to my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale, who seeks to rationalise further an unrationalisable situation, but will try to salvage the compromise, which has been gained with such difficulty over so many years, and resist the amendment.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, before my noble fiend sits down, will he face up to this problem? What is not being menaced is a compromise; what is being menaced is leaving things in a state of uncertainty. Surely he does not favour that.

Lord Elton

My Lords, as we are not in Committee, I shall not seek to answer that.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, perhaps I may seek some guidance. It seems to me that the House is getting a little out of order in having a full-scale debate on an amendment at Report stage. The Companion to the Standing Orders (Procedure 1st. Rpt. 87–88) clearly states on page 110: Only the mover of an amendment speaks after the Minister". I have always understood that after the Minister has spoken that is the finish, unless someone interrupts him before he sits down. There is not a general debate afterwards. Am I right? Is not the House getting a little out of order on this issue?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I wonder whether I may help. I think the noble Lord is quite correct. The Companion to the Standing Orders states: Only the mover of an amendment speaks after the Minister on Report save for short questions for elucidation to the Minister before he sits down; except that, where the Minister wishes to speak early, this does not prevent subsequent debate".

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, my noble friend did speak.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter says I did speak earlier. I waited and I heard my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham say, "Come on", as if there was a great pause and I was delaying the proceedings; so I got up to speak. I did not wish to truncate my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who has already spoken twice, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, has a point. So far as I can guide the House, I think that on this occasion we had better finish the debate as best we can, provided no one else speaks twice.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I had no idea that my small amendment would generate so much interest. The point that has been missed by all noble Lords who have spoken—and I am grateful for their interventions—is that exhibitions, by nature, are transitory things. They do not open every day of the week and on Sunday, like so many shops. For that reason I think it is right to exempt exhibition stands and at the same time, by reason of my amendments, make it clear that it applies to all exhibition stands that might be larger than the technical size as well as those which are already covered or will be covered by existing local legislation. I commend the amendment to the House.

3.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 126; Not-Contents, 62.

Division No. 1
Addison, V. Hanworth, V.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Harlech, L.
Alport, L. Harris of High Cross, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Haskel, L.
Astor, V. Hayter, L.
Attlee, E. Hemphill, L.
Avebury, L. Hives, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. HolmPatrick, L.
Bancroft, L. Hooson, L.
Blyth, L. Howe, E.
Borthwick, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Ilchester, E.
Brain, L. Ingrow, L.
Bridgeman, V. Ironside, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Jeger, B.
Burnham, L. Kennet, L.
Butterworth, L. Kimball, L.
Cadman, L. Kinnaird, L.
Caithness, E. Kintore, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Kitchener, E.
Carnock, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Chelmsford, V. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Chesham, L. Long, V.
Chorley, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Lyell, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Mallalieu, B.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Malmesbury, E.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Manchester, D.
Courtown, E. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Cranborne, V. Mersey, V.
Cranworth, L. Milne, L.
De Freyne, L. Molloy, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Monson, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Dormer, L. Morris, L.
Ellenborough, L. Mountgarret, V.
Ennals, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Flather, B. Moyne, L.
Foley, L. Munster, E.
Gainford, L. Nelson, E.
Gainsborough, E. Newall, L.
Gisborough, L. Norrie, L.
Goschen, V. Onslow, E.
Greenway, L. [Teller.] Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Gridley, L. Peel, E.
Hacking, L. Pender, L.
Halsbury, E. Perth, E.
Peston, L. Strafford, E.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Strange, B.
Rankeillour, L. Strathcarron, L.
Reay, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Romney, E. Suffield, L.
Sandys, L. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Seccombe, B. Swansea, L.
Shaughnessy, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Shrewsbury, E. Vivian, L.
Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.] Wallace of Coslany, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L. Waverley, V.
St. Helens, L. Westbury, L.
Stedman, B. Wharton, B.
Strabolgi, L. Wise, L.
Acton, L. Longford, E.
Allen of Abbeydale, L. Lucas, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Ardwick, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. McCarthy, L.
Brentford, V. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Brookes, L. Merrivale, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Milverton, L.
Caldecote, V. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Carter, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Cockfield, L. Newcastle, Bp.
Colnbrook, L. Northbourne, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. O'Cathain, B.
David, B. Orkney, E.
Dormand of Easington, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Plant of Highfield, L.
Elles, B. Rochester, L.
Elton, L. [Teller.] Scanlon, L.
Falkland, V. Serota, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Sharples, B.
Gallacher, L. [Teller.] St. Davids, V.
Graham of Edmonton, L. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Stallard, L.
Harrowby, E. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Jacques, L. Sudeley, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Judd, L. Wynford, L.
Kilbracken, L. Young, B.
Knollys, V.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

3.55 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 2 I should inform your Lordships that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 3 and 4.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 2: Page 4, line 30, leave out from ("below,") to end of line 42 and insert ("a large shop may open on Sunday for the serving of retail customers only between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. (2) Where the Sunday is Easter Day or Christmas Day a large shop shall not be open for the serving of retail customers at any time. (3) Sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) above do not apply in relation to—

  1. (a) any of the shops mentioned in paragraph 3 (1) below, or
  2. (b) any shop in respect of which a notice under paragraph 9 (1) of Schedule 2 to this Act (shops occupied by persons observing the Jewish Sabbath) has effect.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I understand that this amendment is technically inaccurate. To save the time of the House I shall not move Amendment No. 2 but will wait until Amendment No. 4 is reached, which is grouped with Amendment No. 2. Then I shall speak to that particular group.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Lord Harris of High Cross moved Amendment No. 3: Page 4, leave out lines 34 to 36 and insert:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 3 and 19 go together. They follow the difficulties to which I drew attention at Second Reading. I voiced the anxiety that we needed to recapture something of the simplicity of the famous Trumpington Bill of 1982. My argument then was that whereas the noble Baroness's Bill for repeal was a two-clause Bill we now have 20 pages of tortured English which I characterised as rigmarole, gobbledegook and mumbo jumbo. I regretted that in place of deregulation we are back at the game of re-regulation and drawing lines between what is permitted and what is forbidden. I suggested that we were sowing seeds for future trouble.

A well disposed solicitor yesterday presented me with four lines of doggerel, not quite worthy of A.P. Herbert. It reads: I'm the Parliamentary draftsman I compose the country's laws And of half the litigation I'm undoubtedly the cause".

In Committee I proposed an amendment to shorten and simplify Part III of Schedule 2, which perpetuates a form of religious test to identify what it calls, a person of the Jewish religion",

who could be listed for public inspection at the town hall as entitled to open without restriction on Sunday on condition that he closes on Saturday. My well-intentioned but ill-starred amendment on that occasion deleted the larger part of what I regarded as the invidious discrimination of Part III, by permitting a Jewish trader to make a simple statutory declaration under the procedures and penalties in the 1835 Act. The ever-vigilant noble Lord, Lord Elton, was quick to point out that the wholesale deletion of Part III would remove paragraph 10 which extended exemption to, members of any religious body regularly observing the Jewish Sabbath".

Since that was not my intention I have had to have second thoughts.

In replying to my proposal my former noble friend the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, was put up by the Government to resist these advances. She dutifully expressed vicarious surprise that I had dared to display such a reforming zeal without consulting the Board of Deputies of British Jews. She did even better: she effected to be shocked that unauthorised Jews might take advantage of liberalisation "for narrow commercial advantage". The idea of it! How shocking ! How absolutely appalling that businessmen should be serving customers at a time which suited both parties!

But in the cause of conciliation I have now informally consulted my Jewish friends and the Board of Deputies. I do not wish to name names since I discovered that there is a certain reluctance to air these delicate matters in public. But from a most impressive lawyer associated with the board's parliamentary committee I learned that I am certainly not alone in finding severe objection to the present method of establishing whether a non-practising Jew, in the formal words quoted to me, "has a conscientious objection to trading on a Sunday That presents many difficulties and has been the cause of much grief and trouble in the past.

I have to go beyond the question that has troubled the Board of Deputies and ask, "What about a non-Jewish trader or company with shops in an area where most of the customers are Jewish? Why should not they be free to close on a Saturday and to open on a Sunday? What about members of other religions?" The noble Lord, Lord Elton, referred to that point. I am told that in parts of Israel, Moslem shops close on a Friday, Jewish shops close on a Saturday and Christian shops close on a Sunday. That is a not of choice which allows conscience to be served at the same time as the customers.

I strongly commend the two amendments on three grounds: they greatly simplify a needlessly complex Bill; they expunge an obnoxious religious test; and they permit any person, partnership or company to choose to close regularly on a Saturday or another weekday whether for private, religious or other reasons, and to open without restrictions on a Sunday. I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Lord Monson

My Lords, although it is by no means the most important part of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Harris of High Cross has done us a service in bringing to our attention this rather absurd part of the schedule, which runs to 86 lines if I have counted correctly, which is ridiculously bureaucratic and impinges upon the freedom of the individual. If an individual is prepared to swear on oath that he or she is a Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Zoroastrian or whatever, that should be the end of the matter. It is positively insulting to tell people that their beliefs have to be verified by some sort of scrutiny committee. It is rather as if a patient going in to hospital for a long stay and asking at the outset to be put on a vegetarian diet was told that that could not be provided until the patient had submitted a certificate from the national association of vegetarians—or some such other hypothetical body—testifying that the patient was indeed a bona fide vegetarian.

The other problem with the present wording is that all major religions have their fundamentalist branches or wings which tend to maintain that those in the mainstream are too liberal, too ecumenical, too free-thinking or too lax in their observance and that, although they are members of the same nominal faith, they cannot be classified as true believers. The fact that that has not been a problem to date does not mean that it might not be a problem in the future. If people have certain religious convictions and are prepared to testify on oath to them, third parties should not have the right to challenge the soundness of their beliefs like some medieval inquisitor. I hope that your Lordships will support the amendments.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has, I must admit, come back to us with a version of his earlier amendment which takes care of some of the misgivings 'which I expressed to your Lordships when we debated this matter in Committee.

In Committee, I expressed surprise that the noble Lord had not consulted the Board of Deputies of British Jews about his proposals, as he said. The existing provisions in the Bill which his amendment seeks to replace had been drawn up in association with the board and had its support. As your Lordships can see, the noble Lord's current amendment makes no mention of any particular faith and so I can see the force of the argument that the provisions need no approval other than that which your Lordships could provide.

In Committee I pointed out that the noble Lord's amendment failed to take account of partnerships or companies—and that has now been rectified. But. the amendment still does not provide any transitional arrangements for those shops currently enjoying an exemption from the rigours of the 1950 Shops Act on Sunday trading through being occupied by members of the Jewish faith. As the Bill stands; such shops would automatically be deemed to be exempt from the six-hour restriction on trading by large shops. Under the noble Lord's proposals, occupiers of such shops would have to give a new notice to the local authority. But your Lordships may not consider that to be a serious inconvenience to those shops which would be affected.

I must admit that I still have some misgivings about the noble Lord's amendments, though I am alive to the attraction of deleting nearly two pages from the Bill. The amendments provide that anybody could seek an exemption from the six-hour restriction which the Bill places on large shops, provided that they make a statutory declaration to close regularly on a Saturday or on another weekday for religious or other reasons. Now, "regular" can mean different things to different people. It could mean every Saturday, or Wednesday or whatever. But it could be interpreted as meaning the first Saturday in the month, or every other Saturday; provided that the closing followed a predictable pattern.

I also suspect that we are for the most part agreed, whichever option was our first choice, that Sunday is special and should be regarded as such. The amendment would mean that the Bill would no longer recognise the special character of Sunday. It would be open to any large shop to open all day on Sunday, provided that it closed on any other day of the week. The amendment does not require there to be a religious reason; "other reasons" are equally valid. Those "other reasons" might be commercial reasons. There might be many shops which find that their mid-week trade is slacker than their Sunday trade might be. Such shops could use the amendment quite legitimately to opt for Wednesday closing and full Sunday opening.

The noble Lord urges that his amendments would have the advantage over the provisions in the Bill of treating everybody in the same way whatever their religion. Certainly, the amendment would bring the advantage that the provision would not appear to discriminate in favour of any single religion—and, no one could argue with that. Indeed, by removing references to the Sabbath, it actually removes some of the advantages Jewish shops would enjoy under the provisions of the Bill as it stands. However, I am not convinced that there is a problem in practice with the provisions as they are drafted which the amendment needs to address. As your Lordships will be aware, the 1950 Shops Act made special provision for those of the Jewish faith because they are required not to work on the Sabbath—not Saturday, the Sabbath. The Government have not received any representations from members of any other minority faiths seeking comparable provisions. Indeed, I am advised that Islam, for instance, does not require its adherents to close their shops on their Holy Day which is a Friday.

So I do not consider that there is a practical need to widen the provision to cover other religious groups. But, of course, it is for your Lordships to decide whether the entirely theoretical advantage which the amendment offers would be outweighed by the many disadvantages which I have already outlined; namely, that the amendment would allow shops to obtain exemption for Sunday opening if they shut on another day of the week —even if the reason for doing so was purely commercial. I personally do not feel that that would be proper. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, referred to "mumbo jumbo". I fear that on this occasion, the noble Lord trumpets without Trumpington.

Lord Harris of High Cross

My Lords, on the whole, I thought that a more promising reply from the noble Baroness. Perhaps I may quickly pick up just one of her catalogue of objections, among which she recited some of the attractions of the amendment. If I had thought of it, perhaps I could have picked out more. Apparently, the word "regularly", which I ventured to include in the amendment, can be interpreted in different ways by different people. I was on my best behaviour on that occasion. I have salvaged only one word from Part III which I have obliterated. On page 9 line 45 it talks of, persons who are members of any religious body regularly observing the Jewish Sabbath". If "regularly" is acceptable in the part of the Bill that I have obliterated, may I please have it reinstated in my modest amendment?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, with the leave of the House, the most important point that I wanted to make was that the effect of the amendment would be merely to require large shops to close on one day of the week of their choice in order to open all day on a Sunday. I have made my case. It is over to your Lordships.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Strabolgi)

My Lords, is the noble Lord withdrawing his amendment?

Lord Harris of High Cross

My Lords, I was wondering whether others who put their names to the amendment would be permitted—

Baroness Trumpington

Too late.

Lord Harris of High Cross

My Lords, I am a little worried because of the observation that came from the Labour Benches that to some degree we are in contempt of, at any rate the spirit if not the letter of, Standing Orders by the ministerial impatience to reply—

Noble Lords


Lord Harris of High Cross

—to the amendments, which I am sure is not intended to foreclose the discussion. I am prepared to test this matter, if I have a Teller.

4.12 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 133.

Division No. 2
Acton, L. Joseph, L.
Addington, L. Mar and Kellie, E.
Borthwick, L. Marshall of Goring, L.
Bridgeman, V. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Broadbridge, L. Milne, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Monson, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Nelson, B.
Denham, L. O'Cathain, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Onslow, E. [Teller.]
Donoughue, L. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Dormer, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Finsberg, L. Peston, L.
Hacking, L. Rankeillour, L.
Halsbury, E. Shaughnessy, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Strafford, E.
Harris of High Cross, L. [Teller] Strathcarron, L.
Haskel, L. Tenby, V.
Howie of Troon, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Addison, V. Ellenborough, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Elton, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L. Falkland, V.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Ferrers, E.
Annaly, L. Foley, L.
Attlee, E. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. Gainford, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gallacher, L. [Teller.]
Blackstone, B. Geddes, L.
Boardman, L. Goschen, V.
Brain, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Braine of Wheatley, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Brentford, V. Grantchester, L.
Brookes, L. Gridley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hanworth, V.
Burnham, L. Hemphill, L.
Butterworth, L. Hives, L.
Cadman, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Caldecote, V. HolmPatrick, L.
Carter, L. Hooson, L.
Chelmsford, V. Howe, E.
Chesham, L. Hylton, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ilchester, E.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Ingrow, L.
Cockfield, L. Ironside, L.
Courtown, E. Jacques, L.
Cranborne, V. Jay of Paddington, B.
Cross, V. Johnston of Rockport, L.
David, B. Judd, L.
De Freyne, L. Kimball, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Kintore, E.
Dixon-Smith, L. Knollys, V.
Dormand of Easington, L. Lauderdale, E.
Downshire, M. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Eatwell, L. Long, V.
Eden of Winton, L. Longford, E.
Lucas, L. Seccombe, B.
Macleod of Borve, B. Seear, B.
Mailalieu, B. Sempill, Ly.
Manchester, D. Serota, B.
Mayhew, L. Sharpies, B.
McCarthy, L. Shrewsbury, E.
McColl of Dulwich, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Merrivale, L. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Milner of Leeds, L. St. Davids, V.
Milverton, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Morris of Castle Morris. L. Sudeley, L.
Mottistone, L. Suffield, L.
Mountgarret, V. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Munster, E. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Teviot, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Tordoff, L.
Newall, L. Trumpington, B.
Newcastle, Bp. Turner of Camden, B.
Nicol, B. Ullswater, V.
Northbourne, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Pender, L. Vivian, L.
Perth, E. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Plant of Highfield, L. Westbury, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Wharton, B.
Reay, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Richard, L. Wise, L.
Rochester, L. Wynford, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L. Young, B.
Romney, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.21 p.m.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon moved Amendment No. 4: Page 4, line 37, leave out from beginning to ("but") in line 39 and insert: ("Sub-paragraph (1) above does not apply in relation to a large shop on a Sunday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 14 and 16 to 18, which are consequential upon it. Amendment No. 4 will remove the provision in sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 2, which refers to the right of large shops to open for six hours once notice has taken effect. It will replace that provision with an exemption permitting all large shops to open at any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The amendment does not state that large shops must open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., nor that they must open for the full six hours between those times. Rather, the shop has the freedom, if it chooses, to open at any time between those hours. If a shop opens before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. the occupier will have violated the general prohibition laid down in paragraph in 2(1) and will be subject to prosecution by the local authority.

Amendment No. 14 has the effect of removing paragraph 4 of Schedule 1, which becomes unnecessary. As the hours are fixed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. it will not be necessary for the shops to inform the local authority which of the six hours they are opening between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Amendment No. 16 will also become unnecessary' because the local authority will not need to keep a register. Therefore, if we pass these amendments we shall be doing away with a great deal of bureaucracy.

One of the principal reasons given by the SHRC for the introduction of a flexible opening system for large shops was to accommodate the trading patterns of, in particular, garden centres and also perhaps DIY stores. Garden centres, when originally limited to six hours trading on Sundays, may have wished to have the option of varying their opening times according to the seasons of the year. For instance, during the summer months they may choose to open later in order to benefit from the lighter summer evenings. The special concerns of DIY stores and garden centres, however, have been dealt with in amendments passed in Committee. While I and other noble Lords might disagree with those particular exemptions, they strengthen the arguments in favour of fixing hours for the remainder of large shops.

The problems of not having fixed hours are of enforcement. Indeed, the strongest argument for fixing the hours of Sunday trading is that without a fixed period of trading the provisions of Schedule 1 are unlikely to be observed or enforced. The same confusion and law breaking which now prevails, and which Parliament is seeking to eliminate, will be perpetuated. The fears that an unfixed period of Sunday trading will be difficult to enforce are shared by representative bodies of the local authorities whose duty it will be to implement the new laws. We shall not do, that—it will be the local authorities. The Association of District Councils has stated that if asked it would prefer to enforce a fixed as opposed to a flexible opening hours system. Parliament is placing the duty of enforcement on local authorities and therefore Parliament ought to listen to their anxieties and advice in regard to enforcement. We must also remember that other employees, including local authority employees, will become involved in Sunday working as a result of the Bill. I have already mentioned that point and I shall not labour it.

At present, stores larger than 3,000 square feet can open for any six hours that 'they chose between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It is likely that there will be many different opening and closing times throughout any given local authority area. In my view, 'that will present a logistical nightmare to any enforcing local authority. It is not hard to imagine local authorities not having the money and the manpower to police the different opening and closing times of each large store in their areas and consequently giving up on the task of enforcement. That would, in effect, allow all stores to open all day on Sundays.

The fixing of the hours of Sunday trading is both entirely reasonably and absolutely necessary if the will of Parliament is to be upheld. Both Houses of Parliament have voted for large stores to be able to trade for six hours on Sundays, but for a maximum of six hours. If that six-hour principle is to be translated into effective practice the six-hour period ought to be fixed and not floating. This amendment will satisfy the point made in Committee that 40 per cent. of all Sunday shopping is done before 2 o'clock and that a large part is done between 10 a.m. and midday.

In Committee we were impressed in particular by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain. She is not now in her place and I hope that she will not mind me quoting from her speech. She stated: If shops are not allowed to open until midday, families who would prefer to do their shopping in the morning, in order to cater for a large social gathering in the afternoon, would be constrained from doing so until 12 noon".

That was the argument against fixed times between 12 noon and 6 o'clock. She continued: That would affect the Sunday lunch. Frankly, I do not much care for that, but much was made of the point when the options were being considered. Secondly, the amendment contains a direct threat to the normal pattern of Sunday shopping which has evolved over the past few years. Some 40 per cent. of all shopping is done before 2 o'clock—between 10 and 2".

In col. 1631, that was later corrected to 10 to 12 noon. The noble Baroness confirmed that 40 per cent. of all shopping is done between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 noon.

The noble Baroness made another interesting point, which was in relation to staff. She stated: The staff employed in the large shops do not want the provision contained in Amendment No. 4. If they are working on a Sunday, for which they are paid premium wages, they have opted to work between 10 and 4. That means that their Sunday is not completely curtailed and they have—some might say—the best of both worlds".—[Official Report, 14/4/94; col. 1630.]

Therefore, the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, who is something of an expert on this matter, supports—or I hope that she will support—my amendment.

It is impossible to argue that deregulating shopping hours allows all people to have what they want. That is not possible. The opening of large stores and the associated deliveries will cause noise and disturbance whether or not the people living nearby want to use the shops themselves. By restricting the opening hours of large shops, those who want peace and quiet will at least be able to enjoy a lie-in and a slower start to the day.

In relation to consumer information, any fixed hour period is preferable for enforcement, as we have seen. But it is also preferable for consumers because anywhere in the country it will be known that the large shops are open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. I submit to your Lordships that that is of great benefit to consumers.

We must consider employees too. The amendment would allow shop workers and others drawn into Sunday working to have a quieter end to the day since the day would end at four o'clock. That would still allow time to be spent with families and others who do not have to work on a Sunday. It limits the number of employees having to work a full day on Sundays.

KSS has consistently argued that the only way to ensure protection for employees is to limit the number of shops opening on Sundays and to reduce the pressure of work. The weakness of the Bill in protecting shopworkers is obvious. It is estimated conservatively that a six-hour trading period will mean at least a seven-hour working day on Sundays for Britain's 2.2 million shop workers. And as I mentioned, other workers will be involved. There will be six hours of actual trading and at least half an hour at each end of that period for stacking shelves, clearing up and so on.

There is a great risk that the inconvenience and loss of free time incurred by shopworkers will be greatly increased unless the six-hour period is fixed. If the period is not fixed and is thereby extended to seven, eight or even more hours in many cases, it will be the shopworkers—and I believe that we all care about the shopworkers—who will bear the brunt of the failure to enforce the law.

Finally, I should like to mention small shops. The small shops sector is in favour of the amendment, which affords valuable protection of their market share and is crucial to their survival. I believe that we all wish to see the survival of small shops. They are expected to continue to disappear at the rate of 1,700 a year up to 1996, according to Verdict Research. All independent surveys, including the Problems in Rural Areas report and the London Economics Survey, confirm that competition from large shops on Sunday will have a detrimental effect on the small shop sector and will accelerate its decline.

The Retail Intelligence Report for 1993 stated that, for major multiples, business that was formerly going to neighbourhood stores is being picked up as additional business".

I reiterate that I feel sure that all your Lordships will wish to see the retention of small stores, particularly in rural areas. Since small shops service a wide range of consumers, their survival should be of concern to us all. As I said, they are particularly relevant to rural areas and also to disadvantaged people; for example, to disabled people who have no transport and who wish to shop in their own areas. For all those reasons, I hope that your Lordships will support the amendment. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

My Lords, the debate on the Bill has been and still is largely about the balance between rights and responsibilities: the rights of employers and employees; the balance of convenience between those who want to shop on Sundays and those who want to have one day in the week which is different from the other six days; and the balance of convenience between the rights of shop owners on the one hand and local residents on the other. This amendment is still concerned with that same balance in relation to the issue of fairness.

Most people have purported to agree that a limit should be established. It has been said that six hours is a fair amount of time to allow large shops to open on a Sunday. Very largely, that is common ground. But the big shop owners apparently still want to have their cake and eat it or, more accurately, have their cake and eat the cake of the small shopkeepers as well, gobbling up the small shopkeepers. The argument has moved on from the point where we thought that there had been a compromise to the point where efforts are still being made to destabilise the whole Bill.

It is clearly both sensible and necessary to fix firmly a six-hour period. It will be helpful for shoppers to know when shops are open. The superstore near where I live takes great pains and no doubt spends a lot of money constructing large notices to explain exactly when the shop will be open on each day of the week. Surely the same should apply to Sundays. We do not want a situation where shoppers turn up and find that the shop is shut whereas on the previous Sunday it was open.

The fixed six-hour period will be helpful for employees who wish to make arrangements for their free time. They will know in advance what hours they will be expected to work. It will be helpful too for local people to know at what time the worst of the activity of the day will be over and they can reasonably expect to be able to sit in their back gardens without juggernauts rushing up and down the streets. As the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said, a fixed period will be helpful to local authorities having to spend a great of ratepayers' money on monitoring the activity. The extra money will be multiplied manifold if it is uncertain for how long shops will be open or at what time they will close.

The amendment has the great benefit of removing temptation from large shop owners. I exempt the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, from any likelihood of succumbing to temptation. The fact is, however, that this legislation is the result of law breaking. What assurance can there possibly be of no further nibbling away at the law or further attempts to evade the law? Therefore, let us put the matter beyond the bounds of temptation and be very clear about the limits so that shop owners are not tempted to go down the same road again.

Lord Monson

My Lords, as I indicated in Committee, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, that there is something to be said for reducing the eight-hour period within which large shops can open on a Sunday. But this amendment goes too far and is not the right way to go about it.

The period of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. would suit supermarkets very well indeed; and as we know, supermarkets constitute a very powerful lobby. It would also suit those people who want to shop only in supermarkets on a Sunday. However, it certainly will not suit the public at large for whom, after all, the Bill was designed. Moreover, it will certainly not suit the great mass of small shopkeepers—and I believe the noble Lord, Lord Murray, will be interested to hear this —such as the corner grocer, the sub-postmaster, and others. Indeed, they will be most distressed if the amendment is carried.

I have received letters and telephone calls from organisations representing tens of thousands of small shopkeepers and their employees who beg me to try to urge your Lordships to set a starting time for large stores later than 10 a.m. —preferably at 10.30 a.m. or, better still, at 11 a.m. I shall quote from such letters when we come to deal with Amendment No. 15, which is designed to address that problem.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, would help small shops selling luxury or semi-luxury items; for example, Samuels, Ratners and other jewellers, Penhaligons, Crabtree & Evelyn, the Body Shop, all gift shops and antique shops. They would all benefit from frustrated shoppers being ejected from large stores at 4 p.m. on a Sunday with purses and wallets still full. Nevertheless, I have to say that it is a little odd to see members of the Labour Party proposing a move that benefits the luxury small shops at the expense of the small corner shops which serve the less well-off people in the country.

Let us consider what the public at large really want. The public, in general, want to get their essential shopping over with in the morning and do their more relaxed shopping, their fun shopping—if you can call it that—in the afternoon, probably after a good lunch at home, in a restaurant or in a pub. Of course, we have the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, partly to thank for the fact that pubs are open until 3 p.m. on a Sunday. We are all grateful to him. After washing up following Sunday lunch at home or wandering out of a pub at 3 p.m., people will be extremely annoyed to find that they have only one hour in which to try on dresses, look through a range of carpets, browse in a bookshop or through a selection of records and tapes or wander through Harrods or toy shops during the weeks immediately preceding Christmas. That is why I say that a six-hour period of 11 to 5 is just about acceptable but not 10 to 4. I cannot possibly support the noble Lord in that respect.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, both noble Lords opposite who spoke in support of the amendment have quite a reasonable case—one must concede—from the point of view of the ease of enforcement of such restrictions. Obviously, if it is always the same hours, from the local authority's point of view enforcement will be easier than as proposed in the Bill. But the price of that ease for local authorities is to increase the restrictive effect of the Bill: it is to deprive the Bill of the small amount of flexibility that it has

I believe that I have made it plain during earlier stages of the Bill that I regard the legislation as highly restrictive and, in many ways, very harmful to enterprise. The present proposal makes it even more restrictive. Many big stores want to open in accordance with the demand of the public. They want to meet that demand. Such public demand varies a good deal with the time of year. In summer, afternoon shopping is attractive to a great many people who will have a leisurely morning and then go out and do their shopping in the afternoon while others, depending on the geographical location of the shop and the area it serves, will find it easier the other way round.

One would have thought that, so far, in this unhappy Bill, the slight bit of flexibility which exists at present —by saying that the six hours may be fitted in at any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—is an advantage. I believe that it would be a great pity to take that away and for your Lordships' House to insist on even more severe restriction of shopping than was insisted upon by the other place. Therefore, for that reason, I hope that your Lordships will reject the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I support the amendment for three reasons. I have, as always, listened with great care to what my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter said. He is an avowed total deregulator. His speech was entirely consistent with that view. But if there was one option for which your Lordships and another place did not vote, it was for total deregulation.

Your Lordships' House voted for the six-hour option. Although it was not one that I supported, I accept the decision of the House as a compromise. What we are seeing today is an endless whittling away of that compromise. It is most disturbing to me that, in such a short space of time, we should see this happening on such a large scale. My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter says that this is what consumers want. But there has never been any actual evidence to show that that is the case.

However, leaving that argument to one side, the real importance of the amendment is that it proposes something which would act to help small shops. There has been a very strong feeling from all parts of the House that they need to be protected. The number of small shops has declined from something like 145,000 in 1950 to 35,000 today. Indeed, they are declining at quite a rapid rate.

If the present option was introduced, it would help small shops because within the eight hours allowed big shops would be open—that is, one or other of them—in a particular place for eight hours of the day and not six. That is much more damaging to the small shop. I believe that the amendment makes that clear.

I was rather surprised to hear that there could be any disagreement about enforcement. I entirely accept that the Shops Act 1950 fell into disrepute and was unenforceable. One point upon which I believe everyone is agreed is that, whatever comes out of the debate, we should have something simpler and easier to enforce. The noble Lord's amendment would help that particular cause. If the House really wants to stand by the six-hour option, it should support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart.

Viscount Caldecote

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, made it abundantly clear that the two principal arguments used against the proposal in Committee that shops should open for a fixed six hours from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. have been demolished. Briefly, it was argued that most shopping is done before noon, and that 6 p.m. would be too late for people to get conveniently and safely home.

Another very strong argument in favour of the amendment is that it will be simpler to operate. One of the great points about the Bill is that it should be simple to operate and very easy to enforce. To have a fixed six hours is surely very much in tune with those two objectives. The amendment also has the advantage that it makes less demand on services —transport, cleaning, and so on—and that it maintains the six-hour principle which has been agreed both in this House and in another place. I strongly support the amendment.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, it seems to me quite extraordinary that we as Members of Parliament can actually make it a criminal offence and fine someone up to £50,000 for opening a shop at five minutes to 10 but make it legal for him to open at five minutes past 10. We genuinely risk dragging ourselves into making a mockery of legislation.

I make no bones about being a free trader. I do not believe in bossing people about and I believe even less in being bossed about myself. I do not want either of those things to happen. Yet the more we restrict, the more we allow such bossiness. That is a bad thing. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, says that it is for the protection of the workers that they should not work more than seven hours. It seems that it is all right to protect them in big shops but not all right to protect them in small shops. Where is the logic in that? We have accepted—those of us who are liberalists or Scots, call it whichever you like—the six-hour compromise. But do not whittle that down again, please! It is too silly to make it a criminal offence to open at five minutes to 10 but to be at liberty to open at five minutes past 10. There is no logic in that at all.

Lord Elton

My Lords, my noble friend's speech was a speech against the principle of the Bill as it stands entirely, and not against the provisions that we are now addressing. The Bill will already make it an offence to open at five minutes to 10 and it will already be legal to open at 10 o'clock, so I am afraid my noble friend has missed his target. The real issue we still seem to be debating is whether or not there should be regulation. I implore your Lordships to get away from this debate, as I implored your Lordships two amendments back. A compromise has been struck. It is that there should be regulation, not that it should be limited. My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter must resign himself to that if the Bill is to go on the statute book. The question now is whether it should be easily enforceable and offer a reasonable degree of protection to some of our fellow citizens who are small shopkeepers and a larger number of our fellow citizens who wish to shop at small shops. That is not a question of keeping Sunday special; it is a question of fair trading and the sort of society we want to live in.

If there is a mobile patch of six hours as at present proposed in the Bill, the inspector will not be able, simply by seeing if the shop is open, to know whether or not the law is being broken. There will be an elaborate bureaucratic machinery of enforcement or there will be no enforcement at all. Most of your Lordships are against bureaucracy and a good number of your Lordships are against the idea of not enforcing the laws passed by Parliament and the Crown in consort. I therefore ask your Lordships to pay close attention to the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, and to my noble friend Lady Young who have adduced three principal reasons; first, this measure makes the provision simple to enforce; secondly, it protects a sector of commerce which, if it is lost, will impoverish many of us; and, thirdly, it reduces the length of the Bill, not to the extent that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, attempted in a less well-guided amendment, but at least to the extent of one page in the statute book. I ask your Lordships to support this amendment.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, one cannot get away from the history of this matter. I approach it certainly from the viewpoint of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. I have always been in favour of complete deregulation and I found it entirely convincing when, at an earlier stage, the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said that if we stopped short of that we should be certain to get into trouble. I did not expect so much trouble before we passed this measure from your Lordships' House but we are now, as we were in Committee, well in the middle of a great deal of trouble.

In a previous Bill your Lordships' House was in favour of complete deregulation. But the other place would not have it, the Bill was lost and we were relegated to the quite insupportable 1950 Act, which is agreed to be unmanageable and impossible as a social measure. The Home Office then tried to reconcile all the different conflicting views—mainly between the deregulators and the Keep Sunday Special group. It failed in spite of every effort. Then, at last, the contending parties came together on a compromise, and it is that compromise which is in this Bill. It was accepted by the other place and it was accepted on Second Reading by your Lordships.

I share the apprehension that was expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, that we are acting wrongly if we try to whittle away, whether from one side or the other, that hard-bought compromise. If a compromise is reached it should be observed on both sides. It was said by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, that there was no principle in the compromise. He observed a principle on the part of the deregulators; he observed a principle on the part of the Keep Sunday Special group, but no principle for the compromise. But the compromise is itself a principle. If people agree to sacrifice something on each side in order to preserve something on their side, that is a bargain that should be kept.

I personally found the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, most cogent, principally on the greater ease of enforcement and the obviating of a great deal of bureaucracy, but also in his plea for small shops. But then your Lordships found equally cogent the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, so far as cycle and motor shops are concerned, and the arguments of the noble Lords, Lord Hacking and Lord Norrie, about do-it-yourself shops and garden centres. But in each case, on both sides, we are whittling away the compromise and in doing so we run a very severe risk of losing altogether that hard-won compromise. Two-thirds of a loaf is, after all, better than no bread at all. Therefore, for all the force and cogency with which the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, put forward his argument, I for one shall vote against the amendment.

Lord Boardman

My Lords, I feel there is a danger of rehearsing the argument between the Keep Sunday Special and the deregulation concepts. The compromise to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, referred, was indeed that the supermarkets would be open for the six hours. That, I suggest, does not prohibit us from attaching to that certain limitations which were well and clearly put by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, when he argued for the certainty that results from having clear hours, not only for those who have to enforce the regulations but particularly for those who use the stores to enable them to know that the stores can be open between certain hours and will not be open at other hours. That is, I believe, a great advantage. I do not consider that it is in any way unreasonable, having agreed in earlier debates here and in another place that supermarkets should be open for six hours, to lay down quite clearly the hours when they are free to be open. I believe it is right and proper and helpful so to do. I hope, therefore, that the House will join me in supporting the noble Lord's amendment.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I simply say that I very much agree with the arguments that were put forward by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I should like indeed to support the views of my noble friend Lord Murray of Epping Forest in saying that there is a genuine threat to the stabilisation of this Bill. Speakers all round the House have spoken to that point, whether or not they have ultimately argued that they agreed with the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Stoddart of Swindon. I will oppose: this amendment for the reasons that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, gave as regards the principle of the Bill being destabilised.

I wish to respond also to a couple of points which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, said were cogently put by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, in support of the amendment because I believe there is disagreement about even those cogently argued facts as regards the small shops and the ease of enforcement. As my noble friend Lord Stoddart of Swindon sees the position, those areas would he improved under the terms of his amendments.

The question of small shops was also referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. We had an exchange of views on that subject during the Committee stage. I believe that the noble Baroness agreed with me at Committee stage that the majority of shopping in small shops on Sundays is done before 10 o'clock. To use that rather hackneyed example, it is done by those who wish to pop out for a newspaper or bottle of milk early in the morning. Therefore, the present arrangement which allows large shops to open at 10 o'clock does not threaten the major proportion of shopping done in small shops. So the argument that they are somehow advantaged by the amendment does not stand up. Under the Bill as it stands, small shops are given the opportunity to open for 24 hours on a Sunday if they wish on Sunday/Monday or Saturday/Sunday, however one wishes to draw it up. That argument is not appropriate.

On the broader question of the impact of Sunday trading on small shops, of course we all agree and have spoken at earlier stages of the Bill about the sad fact that there is a decline in the number of small shops, whether village shops or the small corner grocers in large towns. However, the interesting and paradoxical fact is that the decline in small shops has decelerated rather than accelerated since Sunday trading has been more commonplace in big shops in cities. Why that should be so is of interest to sociologists and social economists. It is nonetheless a fact that there has been a decline in the rate of closure of small shops.

In relation to ease of enforcement, it is true that, if there is no regulation to be enforced, that provides total ease for the local authorities. However, we should not exaggerate the burden that the regulation as it stands in the Bill will place on local authorities. After all, in most local authority boundaries we are talking about only a handful of supermarkets which will be of a size to be included in the regulations requiring them to register with the local authority. Therefore we should not exaggerate the regulatory burden that is being placed on the local authorities by the present Bill.

My overall concern in relation to the amendment is precisely the one so eloquently expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. We are threatening to destabilise the Bill by nibbling away at it by means of the various amendments to be debated later this afternoon, which would extend the exemptions, and also by undermining the basic compromise which—as has been said repeatedly in your Lordships' House—was achieved with great difficulty. It is a compromise which has been accepted by those who represent the consumers, by those who represent large numbers of shopworkers and by those who employ them. We threaten it at the Bill's peril.

5 p.m.

Lord Cockfield

My Lords, it is quite unacceptable that the same noble Lords who have been beavering away destabilising the consensus by getting all sorts of amendments passed at Committee stage to allow do-it-yourself shops, motor garages and all sorts of other peculiar operations to escape the clutches of the compromise should now, because the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, moves a minor amendment designed simply to make enforcement more possible, come along and denounce the unfortunate amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, on the grounds that it is destabilising. Having listened to the arguments against the amendment, I shall certainly support it.

Lord McCarthy

My Lords, I merely want to say one word to those who are not deregulators and who do not believe that we cannot change the Bill in any way, and those who agree in principle with what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said but do not like his timing—and I am thinking in particular of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, and others. Here is an opportunity to embody in the Bill a sensible principle that can be enforced. Do not throw it out simply because you would prefer the time to be 10.30 rather than 10 o'clock or 9.30 rather than 10 o'clock. Vote for it all the same.

Earl Peel

My Lords, it seems to me that the amendment has nothing to do with the compromise. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said that he was looking for greater convenience for the consumers. But who is best able to judge that—central government or the local authority? I should have thought that the noble Lord opposite would have chosen the local authority. That is what his party does in most cases.

Viscount Brentford

My Lords, I support what my noble friend Lord Cockfield said. I believe that the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, are applicable to those who are trying to introduce additional categories of shops which may open longer than the compromise permits. The amendment we are considering now does not do that. It merely tightens up the situation in the way that my noble friends Lord Elton and Lady Young indicated so eloquently. I believe that we should support the amendment.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I have listened with fascination as the guns on both sides of the argument have loosed off. I have watched the shells whizz by, and I have no intention of getting tangled up with them.

The situation is that shops of over 280 square metres can choose any six hours between 10 o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the evening in which to open. They have to give notice to the local authority of the hours which they have chosen, and they have to display notices showing the chosen hours. The local authority has to keep a register of the shops giving notice. That is the position as it is in the Bill.

The arguments seem to me to be fairly simple. On the one hand, in favour of the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, moved—it now seems rather a long while ago—is the fact that everyone would be absolutely certain where they stood. Large shops would be open, if they were open at all, from 10 o'clock in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon every Sunday in the year except Easter Sunday and Christmas Day when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. There would be no need for retailers to give notice and there would be no need to display signs showing the times when the shops would be open. Local authorities would not need to keep registers of lists of shops and their trading hours. In a nutshell, there would be less bureaucracy and the law might be more easily enforced.

On the other hand, there would undoubtedly be less flexibility. As a result, some shoppers would undoubtedly be inconvenienced and retailers would undoubtedly not be able to shift opening times in accordance with what their customers might want or in accordance with what they themselves might want.

In either case shops would still be open for six hours.

The nub of the issue is this. How important is the flexibility which is afforded by the formula which says that a shop can open for any consecutive six-hour period out of eight hours? How important is that for retailers and shoppers? If your Lordships feel that flexibility is important, then I fancy that your Lordships will decide to leave the Bill unamended. But if your Lordships were to consider that more rigidity and less bureaucracy was more important, then I have no doubt that your Lordships will be tempted to vote for the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and, as they say, "fix the six". The decision is entirely a matter for your Lordships.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, I should very much like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this fascinating debate. I believe that I have achieved something which should be chalked up. I have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield. That is something that I shall remember and cherish for a very long time. I thank him for it.

My noble friend Lord Murray of Epping Forest made the point that money is at stake here and that the ratepayers will have to pay additional amounts if more enforcement is required. That is a point that we should take into account.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, said that the amendment would not suit small shopkeepers. However, I have received—and I expect he also has received—a letter from OPEN (Outlets Providing For Everyday Needs), the local shops' campaign for staying open, early until late, every day, in relation to Sunday trading. OPEN supports my amendment. The organisation states: 'This amendment should be supported for three reasons. First, it would limit the damage that the Bill will do to the small local shop sector … Secondly, the amendment would ensure that the much-vaunted six hour option in the Bill really is a six hour option … Thirdly, the amendment would make the Bill less bureau cratic"— the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, should note that— for local authorities to enforce". Thus, the small shopkeepers recommend support for my amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was answered ably by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. He is a complete deregulator and I never expected his support, although I thought perhaps I and others might be able to convince him to throw a vote our way on this occasion. I still hope that he will do so and I shall not offend him in case he says: "Well, on second thoughts I should support it".

The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, said that he was against bossiness. So am I; I reckon that I am against bossiness the most in the House and I am surprised that he thinks that the amendment is about bossiness. It is against bossiness. It will give less opportunity for local authorities to boss people about because they will not have to keep a register. They will not have to keep firms on their books. Again, perhaps the noble Earl will consider supporting my amendment.

I now come to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. He is always persuasive, you have to watch him. The House takes great note of what he says, and rightly so. He played on the compromise that was reached in the House of Commons and he is right, a compromise was reached. As I see it, that compromise was that there should be six hours' shopping on Sunday. That was the real compromise which was agreed by both Houses. So there is no argument about the six hours' shopping. But this House must surely have the right to suggest some amendments within that compromise. That is what my amendment does. It accepts the six-hour shopping, but states that the House of Lords must have the right to suggest an amendment within the compromise. That is why the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, and my noble friend Lady Jay are probably wrong. I hope that they will reconsider their decision to vote against my amendment.

The point was also made that there has been a slow-down in the decline of small shops. One would expect there to be a slow-down because, if there had not been one, within a short time there would be no small shops. The decline has been from 145,000 shops in 1950 to a mere 35,000 at present. So one would expect that as the small shops sector moves almost towards obliteration, there would be a slow-down.

Finally, the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, put the position succinctly. I could not quite accept that he wound up for me, but he almost did so. As always with the Bill, he brilliantly maintained his and the Government's, neutrality. I thank him for his intervention and helpfulness, and I hope that in return for those kind words of praise he will vote for my amendment, as will all other Members of your Lordships' House.

5.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 111.

Division No. 3
Abercorn, D. McCarthy, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Milner of Leeds, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Mottistone, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. Mountgarret, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Birdwood, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Boardman, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Borthwick, L. Newall, L.
Brentford, V. Newcastle, Bp.
Broadbridge, L. Nicol, B.
Brookes, L. Orkney, E.
Burnham, L. Perth, E.
Buxton of Alsa, L. Plant of Highfield, L.
Caldecote, V. Prys-Davies, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ripon, Bp.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Rochester, L.
Cockfield, L. Romney, E.
Coleraine, L. Seccombe, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Seear, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Selkirk, E.
Dormer, L. Serota, B.
Ellenborough, L. Sharples, B.
Elton, L. Sherfield, L.
Gainsborough, E. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Gallacher, L. St. Albans, Bp.
Graham of Edmonton, L. St. Helens, L.
Halsbury, E. Stoddart of Swindon, L.[Teller]
Hanworth, V. Strafford, E.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Strange, B.
Harrowby, E. Swinfen, L.
Hastings, L. Tenby,
Hooson, L. Teviot, L.
Hylton, L. Vivian, L.
Ironside, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Jacques, L. Weatherill, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Wilberforce, L.
Lauderdale, E. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Wise, L.
Longford, E. Wynford, L.
Lucas, L. Young, B.[Teller.]
Mayhew, L.
Aberdare, L. Carnock, L.
Acton, L. Chelmsford, V.
Addison, V. Chesham, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L. Clanwilliam, E.
Annaly, L. Clark of Kempston, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Colville of Culross, V.
Blackstone, B. Colwyn, L.
Blyth, L. Courtown, E.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Craig of Radley, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. [Teller.] Craigavon, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Cranborne, V.
Buckinghamshire, E. David, B.
Butterworth, L. Denham, L.
Cadman, L. Denton of Wakefield, B.
Caithness, E. Dixon-Smith, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Downshire, M.
Eden of Winton, L. Mersey, V.
Elis-Thomas, L. Milverton, L.
Ferrers, E. Monson, L.
Finsberg, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Foley, L. Morris, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Mulley, L.
Geddes, L. Munster, E.
Gisborough, L. Nelson, E.
Goschen, V. Norrie, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B. [Teller.] O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Greenway, L. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Gridley, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Hacking, L. Peel, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Pender, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Peston, L.
Harris of High Cross, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Henley, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Rea, L.
HolmPatrick, L. Reay, L.
Howe, E. Rees, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Renwick, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Richard, L.
Ingrow, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Kilbracken, L. Skidelsky, L.
Kilmarnock, L. St. Davids, V.
Kimball, L. Strabolgi, L.
Kintore, E. Strathcarron, L.
Knollys, V. Strathclyde, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Sudeley, L.
Leigh, L. Suffield, L.
Long, V. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Swansea, L.
Lyell, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Trefgarne, L.
Mallalieu, B. Trumpington, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Merrivale, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.23 p.m.

Earl Peel moved Amendment No. 5: Page 4, line 44, at end insert:

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment is similar to the one that was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, in Committee, but it has been amended to take into account some of the criticisms of the wording that were made by noble Lords. Before discussing the detail, perhaps I may remind the House that since 1950 all farm shops have traded on Sundays without any restrictions. However, as the Bill stands at the moment, farm shops of up to 280 square metres will continue to trade freely on Sundays, but farm shops that are above 280 square metres will be restricted by the six-hour rule. I do not believe that that can be right.

The number does not make a great deal of difference. It is the principle that matters. But for those noble Lords who like statistics the number is round about 100. I therefore ask noble Lords to consider the position of those shops when, up until now, they have traded freely and have invested accordingly. In some cases we are talking about 40 years or more. Furthermore, they have employees whose jobs are based on the longer hours. As the Bill stands at the moment, they now suddenly find themselves restricted to the six hours. It could prove most expensive for them. Not to give them what they have had before would be tantamount to a retrospective move. I am sure that that is not what noble Lords intended.

The original amendment that was moved in Committee included in addition to, any shop at a farm",

smallholdings and allotments. Some noble Lords found that unacceptable. In particular, my noble friend the Minister suggested that I must have come across some funny allotments in my life if they had on them shops of 280 square metres or more. I have to say that he bowled me middle stump on that occasion, because I could not think of any at all. But in order to compromise in respect of that comment we have taken out allotments. What I can say is that the words which incorporated smallholdings and allotments were simply part of the 1950 Act under which those people had traded since that time. I believe that noble Lords will agree that we have a much tighter agreement now, and one which I hope is more acceptable.

Noble Lords will appreciate that we are talking here about a retail trade which involves predominantly fresh commodities —commodities which are grown on the farm and which are highly perishable. They rely on being bought at the peak weekend period when so many people go into the countryside. I ask noble Lords to consider that point. It is a most important consideration in the trading activities of those farms. Those perishable goods will go off if they are not bought and utilised.

Briefly, I have used in this amendment the words "wholly or mainly". I appreciate that those two words have involved a degree of criticism, but I have used them largely because they remain consistent with the parliamentary draftsman's wording, as seen in other examples.

The most important point that I wish to make so far as this amendment is concerned is that it is not my intention at all to disturb the principle underlying the option of reform that was chosen by your Lordships. I do not undermine the compromise that was referred to on so many occasions this afternoon. I am simply attempting to prevent retrospective legislation from occurring when I am certain that it was never your Lordships' intention for that to happen. Perhaps I may remind the House that at Committee stage noble Lords accepted without a on a very similar amendment on motor supplies which was moved by my noble friend Lord Brabazon. Exactly the same principle applied then as applies to this amendment.

It would be quite unjust to penalise the 100 or so operators who have benefited from unrestricted Sunday trading since 1950. I beg to move.

Lord McCarthy

My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Earl a simple question. He says that he uses the words "wholly or mainly" because that phrase occurs elsewhere in the Bill. But of course also in the Bill are the words, for the sale of any goods other than", which occur in Amendments Nos. 6 and 7, which I should like to move subsequently. I therefore want to ask the noble Earl: is he committed to the words "wholly or mainly"? Is there any reason that the noble Earl's amendment should not have read, and might indeed read as a result of a subsequent amendment at Third Reading, "any shop at a farm which is not open for the sale of any goods other than the produce of that farm"? How does the noble Earl react to those words?

Earl Peel

My Lords, with the leave of the House, the answer is, as I said, that I took that decision because the phrase had been used in other parts of the Bill. At the end of the day it will be for the courts to decide whether or not a farm shop of the type I have described is contravening the law. They have operated since 1950, wholly or partly as I described, and it is a matter for the courts. I am simply trying to ensure that they are allowed to continue as they did before this Bill came before this House.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Mallalieu

My Lords, I wish to support the amendment. These larger farm shops, which we are told are estimated to be in the order of 100, are an unforeseen casualty of the Bill. It is perhaps an unfortunate irony that legislation, which was plainly intended by the other place essentially to relax the law on Sunday trading, in their case should have had precisely the opposite effect. As the noble Earl said, since the 1950 Act, those shops, regardless of their size, have been trading on Sundays with no restriction whatever on their opening hours.

The system has worked well for in the region of 44 years. Farm shops of all sizes provide an important service. They provide it, first, to the rural community where not only are there fewer retail outlets but where such village shops as remain tend to be open for fewer hours than their counterpart cornershops in urban and suburban areas. They also provide an important service to visitors to the countryside at the peak time when those visitors are likely to be there and especially on Sundays. They provide all their customers with access to fresh produce—often highly perishable produce, as the noble Earl said—at the very point of production. That surely gives the consumer greater choice and is therefore to be encouraged. The growth in the numbers of such shops, particularly in recent years, is perhaps in part a response to the need on the part of farmers both to diversify and to maximise farm incomes, and in part an indication of the approval of the consumer public.

The unfortunate effect of this legislation is to toughen the law and restrict further the opening of those larger shops which hitherto have been free to open as they chose. The definition of a "large shop" contained in the Bill is: a shop which has a relevant floor area exceeding 280 square metres". It is a particularly inappropriate and arbitrary distinction to draw in relation to farm shops, which, more often than not, make use of existing, redundant farm buildings rather than purpose-built premises. The intention of Parliament being clearly to widen the law on opening and not to narrow it., this amendment seems to me to be not a measure which destabilises the agreement but one which simply maintains the status quo in an area where it is wholly highly desirable to do so.

Lord Monson

My Lords, farm shops are even quieter, are even less likely to disturb nearby householders and generate even less traffic than garden centres. Your Lordships have already agreed to exempt garden centres. However, the main reason for agreeing to the amendment, as the noble Earl argued so cogently, is to avoid retrospection. Those shops have been trading quite legally for 44 years. It would be quite wrong to stop them trading or restrict their opening; hours for no good reason. Therefore I support the amendment.

Lord Burnham

My Lords, I am sure that the amendment will not be opposed by all those who ate out of sympathy with the Keep Sunday Special campaign. Nor will many members of that campaign themselves oppose it. However, there is still some considerable concern with regard to the wording of the amendment.

My noble friend referred to his concern about the use of the words "mainly for the sale of produce". I draw your Lordships' attention to the use of the words, "from that farm". There are three allied categories of farm which may find themselves with problems as a result of those words. First, there are those where there is a single farm shop whose produce is sold as a result of a co-operative of a number of farms. The second category is very similar, where goods from a farm may be brought in and sold by the farm shop. An example would be the sale of eggs from some chicken farm which are brought into a dairy farm which has a farm shop. However, the third and probably the larger problem arises from shops such as rare breed farms, where a number of goods are on sale which., with respect to my noble friend, are not fresh dairy produce. They may be models of Gloucester Old Spot piggie-wiggies or other animals or items which the rare breeds farm is demonstrating.

Therefore I feel that, although the amendment is wholly desirable, possibly the wording even now needs to be looked at again.

Viscount Mountgarret

My Lords, I should like to support the amendment moved so excellently by my noble friend. Noble Lords might remind themselves again of the purpose of the entire Bill. To be fair, it is to give the consumer the right to choose what he should or should not do, even on Sundays. Some concern has been expressed by many people, including the Keep Sunday Special Campaign, with which personally agree, who do not want to disturb the traditional English Sunday.

The fact that I am in principle opposed to shops opening on Sunday does not mean that I have not accepted entirely what your Lordships have already agreed to. Moreover, I have always been in favour of leaving small practices, small shops and small private enterprises untouched and encouraged. These days, farm shops are an integral part of Sunday and an integral part of the countryside. There are a great number of people who like to take to the dales, for example, where my noble friend lives, and dally a while among the little villages. They see a small farm shop and may want to buy a pot of local honey or whatever. Such items are not sold for any substantial pecuniary interest. The local people spend time, voluntarily in most cases, running those shops. To deny them the opportunity to do so would be counter-productive.

My noble friend Lord Burnham was concerned about the wording of the amendment. He was anxious about the words "mainly … produce from that farm". I am not in the least concerned about those words. I think that they are entirely and absolutely correct. You start with a chink and if you open the door a little further, then produce from other farms will come to the one small shop and you can bet your bottom dollar that that facility will be abused. Therefore I personally consider the local farm shop as appertaining to the area related to a particular farm. That is how it ought to be. I hope that my noble friend will allow this amendment to go forward.

Lord Elton

My Lords, perhaps I might address the two points that have just been raised. I should like to remind my noble friend Lord Mountgarret that the farm shop will not be restricted unless it is larger than the size of this Chamber. Therefore, the small, sweet little rural farm shop of which he spoke is not the subject of this amendment. The subject of the amendment is a much larger enterprise.

I also have reservations about the amendment, which my noble friend Lord Peel may be able to resolve for me, if he can resolve it in the sense asked for by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. At the moment he says that we must rely on the courts to see whether or not those of us who believe that "wholly or mainly" means at least 51 per cent. are right, because 49 per cent. of the Floor of this Chamber is sufficient room to sell a very large amount of various commodities other than farm produce.

I do not resist the idea that farm shops which have been open since 1945—if there were a great many in those days, it would surprise me—should continue to do so. I do not believe that that will change the essential character of Sunday. I am trying to see fair play and protect those who are restricted by this compromise from others who now seek to be released from the compromise by amendments dotted around on the Marshalled List.

In considering the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, perhaps my noble friend would consider also the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. His time between now and the next stage would then be extremely well spent. I, for one, would not resist an amendment phrased in the way in which my noble friend Lord Peel wants it phrased if that were amended in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy; that is, to "any shop at a farm which is not open otherwise than for the sale of produce". He can argue with our mutual noble friend whether the produce should be from that farm or from other farms.

I hope my noble friend will consider the matter between now and the next stage rather than putting me in the position of having to resist him on something which I would not otherwise resist.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I wish to add my strong support to the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Peel. He is absolutely correct. However, for the convenience of your Lordships perhaps I can make five short points. Your Lordships may wonder why Amendment No. 13, dealing with pets, is allied to farm shops. I do not mean that pets will be sold for consumption by humans or others at farm shops! I am delighted to see my noble friend on the Front Bench taking up that point.

The emporia that I have in mind are larger than the limit mentioned by my noble friend Lord Elton, but they are pet shops. We already find what I call pet sections in large garden centres, which have been dealt with at length at previous stages of the Bill. Those pet sections deal with every kind of pet, from reptiles to small mammals—mice, gerbils and so forth—together with feed fish, whether as feed for other pets or in their own right, and supplies. They already have freedom under the Bill.

Secondly, many of the major pet stores dealing exclusively —not "wholly or mainly"—in pets and pet supplies are adjacent to the pet sections of those large garden centres. Thirdly, the specialist pet centres in Amendment No. 13 conduct between 25 and 30 per cent. of their business on Sundays. One chain received 50,000 visitors on a Sunday. I make one footnote to that: I suggest that the trade might be seasonal and therefore the six-hour limit—moved so movingly by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart—might not be appropriate to emporia dealing exclusively in pets. In winter the pets may wish to rest in the darkness; but in summer they will be alive and bright and people will want to see them. If the shop is restricted to six-hour trading, there may be difficulties in that regard.

Fourthly, there should be no confusion over pets or pet supplies. Lastly, under the Shops Act 1950 fodder or supplies for horses and ponies may be sold throughout the 24 hours on Sundays. It is for that reason that I would not wish to discriminate against other quadrupeds, be they donkeys, mules or anything else, in the pet stores. But if it is already legitimate and seen as being reasonable that supplies and fodder for horses and ponies should be available on Sundays, I see no reason why they should not also be available for other pets —reptiles and every kind of furry creature that is familiar to and much loved by your Lordships. I add my strong support to the amendment tabled by my noble friend.

Lord McCarthy

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, can he say how many pet shops are larger than this Chamber?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, there are quite a few. But the number of pet emporia that I had in mind was between 15 and 20. I do not know whether they are larger than this Chamber. I see my former tutor in university days extending his arms; I do not know whether he is referring to reptiles or not. The area would be over 200 square metres and there are between 15 and 20.

5.45 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, perhaps I can speak on one point in regard to the size of pet shops. In our garden centre we sublet an area to a pet emporium. The actual amount of covered area given over to tarantulas, chameleons, white rabbits, pink rabbits and rabbits with floppy ears, is quite small. But the open area, where there are fish, parakeets and marmosets, is much larger. It is therefore quite difficult to take account of the size of a pet shop because so much of it is in the open air.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, I wonder whether farm shops were taken into account when a compromise was being negotiated. If they were not, it seems to me that we can accept the amendment without breaching the compromise.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Peel for, among other things, the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. Amendment No. 5 is similar to the one passed at Committee stage and which I moved in regard to cycle accessory shops in that it is an activity that has been allowed to continue in the law since at least 1950. I would therefore regard it as not being part of the compromise to which everybody referred this afternoon. An exception can therefore be made in this case as well.

I also urge my noble friend to preserve the words "wholly or mainly" in the amendment. I shall have more to say on that when we come to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. I can give one example of a farm shop which I visit quite frequently where I live on the Isle of Wight. It happens to be one of England's largest growers of garlic. That may be thought strange but it has been extremely successful, so much so that it exports garlic to the French during the season.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for their support. Naturally one therefore visits the shop to buy, among other things, garlic. However, garlic is not in season all the year round. The shop naturally wishes to sell garlic even when it is out of season and therefore it sells imported garlic. It would be ridiculous if it were not allowed to sell garlic out of season and the words "wholly or mainly" would allow it to continue to do so.

Perhaps my noble friend can confirm when he replies that Sunday is one of the busiest days for farm shops. For that reason we would all wish to encourage them and I hope that the amendment will be accepted.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I add only a few words in support of the amendment. I hope that your Lordships listened to the wise words of my noble friend when he raised the question of whether this matter had been discussed at the time of the compromise. If noble Lords come to the conclusion that it was not then discussed and that that is an additional reason for supporting the amendment, I hope that they will not conclude that there was a compromise which we are in some way breaching. That has been a constant theme in our discussions today, as it was in Committee.

I still remain far from persuaded that there was a compromise and least of all can I understand a compromise which is expected to bind those who do not support it or who did not vote at all on 29th March. If one were to draw a parallel, it would be the vote on Second Reading in another place. It is possible to vote on Second Reading in another place in favour of the principle of a Bill, yet not be committed in any way to not speaking to amend it in order to improve it during its progress through the House. That is a sound principle and that is what we were doing on 29th March. Therefore, though my noble friend's words should be listened to, in that listening we should not accept the idea that we are bound to a compromise and that any argument against any amendment should be based upon a breach of that compromise. Any amendment in this House at any time should be discussed and should be decided on its merits. There is no other rational way in which to reach decisions.

On the amendment itself, I would say only this. I have no interest in a farm shop and I very rarely use one of any size. However, the very powerful argument was one of two words used by the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, when she said that farm shops had been an "unforeseen casualty" of the Bill as drawn. They were an unforeseen casualty and I cannot believe that it would be the intention of your Lordships' House to penalise those who over a period of time —we do not know how many there may have been 44 years ago: probably very few—have both invested large sums of money in these shops and found it possible to use them. It is common sense to pass this amendment, and I hope that your Lordships will.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, before my noble friend the Minister replies, I regret very much that these two subjects—pet shops and farm shops—have been grouped. As I see it, the arguments for supporting them, or indeed rejecting them, are totally different. I go along with my noble friend Lord Peel and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, in seeing that it was an unfortunate accident that farm shops have been left out of the Bill heretofore. On the other hand, it would be totally illogical of me to vote against the amendment of my noble friend Lord Lyell on pet shops knowing full well that some garden centres will allocate up to 5,000 square feet to the sale of pets and pet-related products such as feed, litter and what-have-you. I accept that not all noble Lords will agree with me in my support of either of the amendments, but I think it would be unfortunate if the voting was grouped in the way that the amendments were grouped on the Marshalled List.

Lord Hooson

My Lords, I have only a brief point to make on this amendment which I very much support in spirit. The wording "wholly or mainly" suggests that in the future, if the amendment were passed in this form, there would be a tremendous run on farm shops and alternative planning applications would be made for their development. Does "wholly or mainly" refer to volume or to value? One can make a marvellous case for shops already in existence. However, the development of these shops in the future is what the House should bear in mind. Therefore, although I very much support the spirit of the amendment, its wording needs to be carefully considered.

Baroness Young

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, has made an extremely important point. There has been a lot of confusion on this matter. It is another example of whittling away at the compromise that has been made, and this is the biggest example we have had. After all, we are talking about enormous farm shops, larger than 280 square metres. Everyone else can open. We are talking about very large shops. Under the amendment 49 per cent. of them could be selling something else, or would be selling something else quite soon. I would feel much more comfortable about it if the wording were changed to the wording in Amendment No. 6 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy.

I do not think it should be confused in any way with the amendment tabled in Committee by my noble friend Lord Brabazon on motor accessories. On that occasion there was a road safety argument which has nothing to do with farm shops. That was what swayed your Lordships. As for the pet shops, this is a classic example of something else turning up which puts a great hole through the whole principle of the compromise. Your Lordships' House would make itself a laughing stock if it proceeded to make so many of these amendments.

The Earl of Clanwilliam

My Lords, can my noble friend tell us how big this Chamber actually is?

Baroness Trumpington

Funnily enough, my Lords, from my days when I was a secretary here, the only thing I can tell my noble friend is that, if one put the flag from the top of the Victoria Tower on the floor of this Chamber, it would cover it.

My noble friend Lord Peel has argued very persuasively in favour of allowing large farm shops to be exempt and so able to open for more than six hours on a Sunday. He has put most eloquently the point that the Shops Act 1950 permits the sale of home grown produce at farm shops. And he asks therefore the House to accept that, by allowing large farm shops to be exempt from the six-hour restriction the Bill places on trading by large shops on a Sunday, your Lordships should be doing no more than retaining an existing exemption.

It might be helpful in this context to examine just what the 1950 Act does allow. With your Lordships' permission, I shall read out the relevant part of Section 58: as if there were included in the Fifth Schedule to this Act"— that is the list of transactions that are allowed on a Sunday— the sale by fishermen of freshly caught fish (including shell fish) and the sale at a farm, smallholding, allotment or similar place, of produce produced thereon". The provision was clearly not intended to exempt from the restrictions on Sunday trading any large shops selling everything from biscuits to bananas which happened to be situated on a farm. Rather it was intended to provide sensibly that, where a farmer sold a customer some of his own produce, he would not be in breach of the Sunday trading provisions. I believe the provision was intended to cover small-scale trading only.

I accept that times have changed and some of the farm shops now in operation are larger than 280 square metres. But I suspect that these shops will have been trading in breach of the 1950 Act provisions by selling far more than the home produce of the farm on which they are situated or of farms near them. And I would suggest to your Lordships that any farm shop which sells entirely home-produced foods will most likely be smaller than 280 square metres. Your Lordships may feel that there is no justification in an exemption which will, in effect, enable large food shops on farms which are in competition with other large food shops to open beyond the six permitted hours.

Your Lordships will have noted that the amendment uses the "wholly or mainly" test. Many of your Lordships have already expressed concern that this term could allow the sale of a great many items other than the particular specialist trade of the shop in question. I do not doubt that my noble friend had in mind when applying this test that farm shops should be able to sell pineapples and kumquats even though those do not grow on the farm. If an exemption were to be given to large farm shops, I agree that it would be impracticable to restrict them only to the sale of goods which were strictly grown on the 'farm. But your Lordships should bear in mind that the exemption proposed by my noble friend could allow large quantities of all manner of goods to be sold at farm shops other than home grown produce; and these items would not necessarily have to be food items.

I am advised that there are shops on farms which sell, for instance, toys, antiques and pine furniture. Provided that the farm shop sells mainly home produce, it could also sell these other things beyond the permitted six-hour period. Your Lordships may say "so be it"—and this must be entirely for your Lordships to decide —but I am simply pointing out the possible effects of my noble friend's amendment, which is to provide the potential for shops on farms to have an unfair advantage over their competitors in towns and villages. Despite my noble friend's cogent arguments, I cannot agree that his amendment would improve the Bill.

Amendment No. 13, grouped with Amendment No. 5, is tabled by that well-known animal lover, my noble friend Lord Lyell. It would provide an exemption for shops where the trade or business consists of the sale of pets and pet supplies. The Shops Act 1950 did not allow the sale of pets and pet supplies on Sunday, although it did allow the sale of fodder for horses, mules, ponies and donkeys at any farm, stables, hotel or inn. My noble friend has argued that as some garden centres also sell pets and pet supplies and as garden centres are now exempt in the Bill from the six-hour restriction placed on large shops, unless pet shops are also to be exempt from the six-hour rule they will be placed at a disadvantage.

Perhaps I may paraphrase the remarks of my noble friend Lady Young and the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, when they spoke to Amendment No. 4. My noble friend Lady Young repeated her arguments as regards this amendment. It is precisely the argument that persuaded many of your Lordships that the Bill should not be amended to include exemptions for more and more shops. Each type of shop added to the list has its competitors who will be disadvantaged and who will want an exemption too. Once your Lordships start down that path, where is the line sensibly to be drawn?.

The more types of shops we allow to crowd into paragraph 3, for whatever reason, the more the Bill edges towards total deregulation. Neither your Lordships nor another place were attracted to that option. It is a matter entirely for your Lordships whether the unfair competition pet shops may face from garden centres justifies, through the amendment, this further step towards total deregulation. I must remind your Lordships that the Bill as drafted already allows all small pet shops to open freely on Sunday and all large pet shops to open for a period of six hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. provided that they have notified the local authority of their intention to do so. If the pets are out of doors they have nothing to fear anyway except perhaps from their future owners. We must resist these likeable but bad amendments.

6 p.m.

Earl Peel

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I suppose I can say that I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Lyell for having summed up in such an impartial way. However, before I make a few remarks concerning my amendment, perhaps I may also say that I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Lyell for—how shall I put it?—not allowing his pet amendment to foul up mine. It is separate and I hope that noble Lords are aware of that.

My noble friend Lady Trumpington mentioned the 1950 Act and read verbatim from it. We go back to it again. These large farm shops, regardless of the words in the legislation, have been trading since 1950 and have invested accordingly. That is a point which the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, made. That is what we have to focus on. I understand that there is anxiety among certain noble Lords about the words "wholly or mainly". I can assure noble Lords that I have looked into the matter. I believe that they are the most prudent and appropriate words to use.

There is another very good reason why I use them. In a planning context, "wholly or mainly" has been interpreted as being up to 90 per cent. on certain occasions. Research has been done. The words have not been loosely plucked up; they are carefully chosen. I believe that through the controls of the court any anxieties which noble Lords may have will be satisfied.

Perhaps I may make one final point. There has been no antagonism shown towards large farm shops. They have been allowed to continue in the way I have described. In contrast there are certain trading operations to which your Lordships clearly object. This is one factor which has not been looked at. I seek simply to allow these shops to continue operating in the way they have done.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, the noble Earl says that he has been advised that "wholly or mainly" represents 90 per cent. Can he quote the authority for that? We shall be most interested to hear it.

Earl Peel

My Lords, I cannot quote the authority, but I can assure the noble Lord that, certainly, on one, if not two, occasions, 90 per cent. has been taken by the authority as being the limit up to which the shop can produce its own produce and sell it, leaving very small leeway as far as other retail items are concerned.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, the noble Earl has given way. When he quotes something and says that there is authoritative backing for it, I hope that he will agree that it is due to the House that we should have that authority. Was the authority a court, or a planning authority? What was it?

Earl Peel

My Lords, I am not prepared to repeat what I said. I used those words on the best advice available to me. I have explained my reasons to your Lordships. I believe that the time has come for the House to decide whether to accept the proposed words or not.

6.7 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 119; Not-Contents, 54.

Division No. 4
Aberdare, L. Harrowby, E.
Addington, L. Hastings, L.
Addison, V. Hemphill, L.
Ailesbury, M. HolmPatrick, L.
Airedale, L. Hooper, B.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Howie of Troon, L.
Attlee, E. Jeger, B.
Banbury of Southam, L. Kilbracken, L.
Birkett, L. Kimball, L.
Bledisloe, V. Kinnoull, E.
Blyth, L. Lane of Horsell, L.
Boardman, L. Lawrence, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Leigh, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Liverpool, E.
Burnham, L. Long, V.
Butterworth, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Buxton of Alsa, L. Lucas, L.
Cadman, L. Lyell, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Mallalieu, B. [Teller.]
Carnock, L. Marsh, L.
Chelmsford, V. Masham of Ilton, B.
Chesham, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Mersey, V.
Clark of Kempston, L. Milverton, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Monson, L.
Colwyn, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Courtown, E. Mottistone, L.
Craig of Radley, L. Mountgarret, V.
Cranborne, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Mulley, L.
Denham, L. Munster, E.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Newall, L.
Dormer, L. Nicol, B.
Downshire, M. Norrie, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Onslow, E.
Finsberg, L. Orkney, E.
Gainsborough, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Geddes, L. Peel, E. [Teller.]
Gisborough, L. Peston, L.
Greenway, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Gridley, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Hacking, L. prior, L.
Halsbury, E. Rankeillour, L.
Hanworth, V. Rea, L.
Hardinge, V. Reay, L.
Harris of High Cross, L. Rees, L.
Renwick, L. Suffield, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Seccombe, B. Swinfen, L.
Selborne, E. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Sharples, B. Teynham, L.
Shrewsbury, E. Torrington, V.
Skelmersdale, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Slynn of Hadley, L. Vivian, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L. Wise, L.
St. Helens, L. Wynford, L.
Strathcarron, L.
Acton, L. Judd, L.
Aldenham, L. Kintore, E.
Annaly, L. Lauderdale, E.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Longford, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Blackstone, B.
Brookes, L. Mayhew, L.
Caldecote, V. McCarthy, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Coleraine, L. Merrivale, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Elton, L.[Teller.] Newcastle, Bp.
Ferrers, E. Northbourne, L.
Gallacher, L.[Teller.] O'Cathain, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Goschen, V. Perth, E.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Plant of Highfield, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Richard, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Rochester, L.
Hooson, L. Serota, B.
Hunt of Tanworth, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hylton, L. St. Davids, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Jacques, L. Sudeley, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Jeffreys, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Young, B.
Johnston of Rockport, L.

Resolved in the affirmative and amendment agreed accordingly.

6.15 p.m.

Lord McCarthy moved Amendment No. 6: Page 5, line 1, leave out from ("shop") to ("either") in line 2 and insert ("which is not open for the sale of any goods other than").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, will not regard this amendment as seeking to set aside his own amendment, but rather as providing a little bit of fine tuning. The House will remember that in Committee the noble Lord successfully moved an amendment and spoke (col. 1649 of Hansard, 14th April) in support of allowing motor and cycle supply shops to be exempted from any restrictions on opening hours so that they would be on the list of exempted types of shops. The noble Lord gave four reasons for that: that since 1936 such shops have been lawfully allowed to open on Sundays and that it would be potentially dangerous to deny the opening of such shops at all hours that they might possibly be required especially for, as the noble Lord said, the 10 million motorists who are not members of the AA or RAC. His other reasons were that the Keep Sunday Special Campaign allowed this position in its option and wanted it to be legalised; and that 25 per cent. of the business of such shops was carried out during the period for which the present option would close them. Those four reasons seemed to be persuasive. I think that that was the feeling in the Committee generally. In fact, they were so persuasive that, as I remember, the Committee did not find it necessary to divide on the amendment.

Nevertheless, despite that widespread support for the idea on the grounds of safety and the essential nature of what those shops traditionally provide, there was widespread concern mainly because the noble Lord used the phrase "wholly or mainly". Therefore, I asked the noble Lord whether he would accept a change in his wording to that in my amendment, so that instead of the provision being "wholly or mainly", the shops would be allowed unrestricted Sunday opening if they were not open for the sale of any goods other than the specified motor and cycle supplies. That is what I am asking the House to accept today.

We know—we have had this debate throughout the day—that very many noble Lords, not only on this side of the House but in all parties, are very concerned about the phrase "wholly or mainly". We know that we could get different answers by asking different lawyers. It is perfectly true that some of the lawyers from Keep Sunday Special say that, in effect, just a few qualifying goods are required as the principal goods to provide the principal purpose for keeping the shop open. They say that the provisions, would allow virtually any subsidiary goods, which need not be connected to the primary goods, to be sold up to a limit of 49 per cent. They say that there need not be a direct sales test. It would not depend on how many such goods were sold or even on how many such goods were in the shop. It would be a question of presentation. If one displayed the qualifying goods and kept back the subsidiary goods, one could be said to be perfectly well covered by the phrase "wholly or mainly". They say that the criminal law means that any ambiguity would be interpreted in favour of the defendant. I am not saying that that is the situation. Other lawyers will no doubt say other things.

One noble Lord has told us today that a planning authority —I cannot quite see why a planning authority should have to interpret the phrase—would interpret it as meaning 90 per cent. of the shop's goods. One certainly cannot use the 1950 Act. We have been told again and again that the phrase comes from the 1950 Act. It does; it comes from Schedule 5 to the 1950 Act. It is dealing there with workers, not with shops or types of goods. That legislation is still in force. It provides that workers who work on Sunday ought to have a day off in lieu, except, of course, if they are wholly or mainly selling alcoholic drinks or wholly or mainly peddling milk. That is what the Act says, so we cannot get it from the Act. We have no idea how that would be interpreted in practice, or what would happen if the contestants who disputed the matter went to law and asked the law to decide. Of course the law would decide, but we do not know what it would say.

I suggest in the amendment that it is reasonable to ask the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, to accept a more limited definition. He has written to me, and I dare say that he has written to us all, to try to persuade me that my amendment makes the matter more difficult. He says, first, that the words "wholly or mainly" are used for intoxicating liquor. That is true. They are in the Bill. I do not see why the fact that it is there for intoxicating liquor makes it inappropriate to deal with motor and cycle spares. The question is that here are two phrases: the phrase that I am suggesting which is used for intoxicating liquor and which is precise, and the phrase used in his version of the amendment which I say is imprecise and doubtful.

Secondly, the noble Lord says that so far the traders whom he is defending, representing and advancing, have not exploited their legal privileges to go beyond, as he says, "their chosen product range". To that I say, "Yes, that may well be true". That goes to show that the trade in motor and cycle spares is their core business. That is what they want to trade in. That is where they make their money. There would not be a disastrous business consequence if in future they had to stick to their core business.

Thirdly, the noble Lord says—to some extent I think that he is contradicting himself or perhaps he is only guarding his flank—that they must retain total freedom to go beyond the present range, to facilitate a future response to transport developments".

That is a way of putting it so that if, in future, it became advantageous for them to go beyond their chosen product range, of course they could do so. That is what we are worried about if we put the words "wholly or mainly" into the Bill.

The fourth point that the noble Lord makes, which I take to be the point of substance—if it is true, and I cannot admit it—is that my amendment would have the effect of limiting what the traders could sell on week days so that, for example, they may now sell dungarees, maps and so on, but they could not do that if the amendment were agreed to. He says he reaches that conclusion by looking at Schedule 1 paragraph 3 (2) which provides: In determining whether a shop falls within sub-paragraph (1) (a) above, regard shall be had to the nature of the trade or business carried on there on weekdays as well as to the nature of the trade or business carried on there on Sunday".

The obvious intention of that sentence is to prevent the introduction of a totally new product on a Sunday; to ensure that people do not open their shops on Sundays and sell things that they do not sell on weekdays. The Sunday opener must show that he sells those things all week long. On the face of the Bill it does not say that he shall limit what he sells on Monday to Saturday to what he is now allowed to sell on Sunday. Of course it does not.

On my reading of the Bill, within the six hours the trader can sell what he likes. We are talking about people being free to sell beyond the six-hour limit. As I read the Bill, I do not see that its goes backwards and says that because one is free on Sunday one is limited during the week. If that were the case, and if the noble Lord is worried about that and that is the only reason he cannot support the amendment, then we could deal with that on Third Reading. We could have another amendment to say that regard had to be paid to whether the goods permitted to be sold on Sunday were sold also on weekdays. We could find a form of words. If the noble Lord wants to have the amendment that he has had passed transferred safely to the other place so that it does not appear in any way to upset the controversial compromise that worries people, it would be much safer and much more straightforward and would be in the real interests of those whom the noble Lord is trying to protect, if he were to accept my amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, has spoken finely to his amendment which he describes as merely a bit of "fine tuning", but I shall attempt to persuade your Lordships that it would render ineffective the amendment that was agreed to, without on, in Committee, and is now part of the Bill.

Perhaps I may demonstrate that the analysis put forward by the noble Lord is flawed and fallacious by reminding your Lordships of the arguments debated so fully in Committee on 14th April. Shops which sell motor supplies and accessories are unique in that they have been able to trade lawfully for 44 years without controversy. The exemption was agreed in Committee to retain the status quo, and the principle behind that technical amendment was not in question.

I turn to the words "wholly or mainly". Those words were chosen deliberately, following the context of the Bill. First, they provide a degree of flexibility, the lack of which in the Shops Act 1950, more than anything else, has led to the trouble into which that Act fell and why we are here this evening.

Secondly, if the wording had stated merely "motor and cycle supply and accessory shops" criticism would undoubtedly have been invited on the basis that the words were too imprecise. Thirdly, and most importantly—although the noble Lord brushes this off —the words "wholly or mainly" are used elsewhere in Schedule 1. The definition of a "shop" (page four, line 26) states: any premises where there is carried on a trade or business consisting wholly or mainly of the sale of goods". It appears again (page four, line 45) in relation to the exemption for shops selling intoxicating liquor.

I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, why he does not seek to remove the words "wholly or mainly" from that definition. He wants to remove it from my amendment, and he wants to remove it in the next amendment, but he does not seem to mind it being where it is already in the Bill. The phrase is central to the Bill which regulates shops. It provides a cross-reference should the law be asked to qualify it.

In summary, the use of the words "wholly or mainly" is consistent. Your Lordships will recall that in Committee helpful interventions on that point of law and of the validity of the wording were made by my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham, the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and my noble friend Lord Hacking. Incidentally, as the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, has reminded us, the words "wholly or mainly" were included in the KSSC/RSAR proposals which contain an almost identical exemption for motor and cycle supply and accessory shops.

As I have said previously, I believe that your Lordships fully support the reasons for continuing that exemption. The only question we are seeking to address today is whether my wording would be exploited by retailers and bring into disrepute what I hope will be new law.

The wording is contemporary and over time it will enable the industry to respond to changes in transport developments. Cars do not break down to order. Only last Bank Holiday weekend, 50,000 call-outs were recorded by the motoring organisations, the AA and the RAC. Many of those were in towns outside the prescribed six-hour limit for large shops on a Sunday. We should not forget the 10 million-odd motorists who are not covered by the motoring organisations and who need to carry out their own repairs and maintenance.

My wording allows, for example, for the sale of a spark plug, which, we can all agree, is a motor supply, and also the spanner to remove it. The amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, gives rise to the question of whether the spanner will be allowed. Is it a supply or an accessory? I could give many other examples; for instance, a child's cycle safety helmet, a child's car seat and even a jack. Would they be allowed if the noble Lord's amendment were agreed? It would be a matter for the lawyers in each and every case.

I remind your Lordships that the Bill allows all shops under 280 square metres to open for unrestricted trading. As has been said on many occasions, that represents no fewer than 90 per cent. of all retail premises, comprising practically every independently-owned small shop. Large shops are restricted to six hours. The confusion, anomalies and abuses of the Shops Act 1950 will be swept away by the Bill. Wilful abuse will no longer be a temptation and will effectively be discouraged by the £50,000 fine.

I also remind your Lordships that since 1950 motor and cycle supply shops have lawfully developed their specialist business. Despite the enforced closure of other retail shops and sectors, they did not exploit their trading privilege. It would be a nonsense to suggest that the specialisation offered by retailers and expected by customers would suddenly change. That is the commercial reality of the world out there. If they had wanted to break the law, surely they would have done it now while they had the advantage of other shops not being allowed to open and not in the future when the advantage will largely, if not wholly, be taken away.

The noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, quoted at length from the letter I wrote to many of your Lordships. However, I believe that he has misunderstood the intentions of sub-paragraph (2) on page 5. I understand that it is the Government's intention to qualify my exemption in the Bill by the extension of Schedule 1, paragraph 3, sub-paragraph (2), which states: In determining whether a shop falls within sub-paragraph (1) (a) above, regard shall be had to the nature of the trade or business carried on there on weekdays as well as to the nature of the trade or business carried on there on Sunday". If that paragraph is extended to cover my paragraph in the Bill I hope that it will be of help to the noble Lord. It will prevent any strategic shift in product lines between weekdays and Sundays. I shall support the amendment if it is moved at the next stage. I hope that it will provide some reassurance to noble Lords who, for some reason, are worried that shops may suddenly decide to start selling different items on Sunday. I do not believe that there is any chance that that will happen.

Finally, I repeat that the principle of the exemption agreed by your Lordships without on is not in question. The present wording is contemporary. It will stand the test of time and will maintain the status quo. In contrast, the noble Lord's amendment will bring back doubt and uncertainty; the very qualities that we have sought to avoid and have avoided. I hope that the noble Lord will be persuaded by my arguments to withdraw his amendment. If not, I hope that your Lordships will vote against it.

6.30 p.m.

Viscount Caldecote

My Lords, my noble friend is mistaken in thinking that the trouble with the 1950 Act was that it lacked flexibility. The trouble was that it lacked precision. This amendment has the great advantage of simplifying the Bill and making it easier to enforce. What is meant by "wholly" in the Bill as drafted? If 51 per cent. of a shop's sales are motor accessories, is that all right? Can it sell any of the items which comprise the other 49 per cent.? The provision is difficult to enforce and difficult to understand. I wholly support the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, I have listened to several discussions on the words "wholly or mainly", which is an important issue. I find it difficult to go along with the absolute, which we find in the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. On the other hand, I find it difficult to accept that the words "wholly or mainly" mean 90 per cent., as mentioned in all good faith by the noble Earl, Lord Peel.

Will the Government look at the words "wholly or mainly" with the idea of helping the House on Third Reading to know exactly what it wants? It is not a question of principle; it is one of not too great an amount of liquor, motor materials, garden and farm produce being sold. However, we do not know how to provide for that. I hope that special thought can be given to the words, which are not totally satisfactory.

Viscount Bledisloe

My Lords, I disagree entirely with the noble Lord opposite who says that the amendment will make the Bill clearer and easier to enforce. The great merit of the exceptions as they appear in the schedule is that they are exceptions for a shop of a particular kind which carries on a particular business through the week and the weekend. By way of occasional inspection, it will be easy to see the principal business of such a shop.

The amendment switches to the particular goods being sold on Sunday. I suggest that it returns to the demerits of the 1950 Act under which some goods were not able to be sold while others were. Particular counters were covered up and so forth. If the amendment is passed, inspectors will have to visit the shops every Sunday to see whether a particular pencil or whatever is being sold and the Act thereby infringed.

I urge your Lordships not to switch from the test relating to the types of shops that can open on Sundays, which is now in the Bill, to the old and bad test that some particular types of goods can be sold and others cannot.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I have attached my name to the amendment and I support it. It gives a much clearer definition. Those of us who are not lawyers find it difficult to interpret the meaning of "wholly or mainly". It was said at an earlier stage that it was 90 per cent. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Peel said that that was the case in relation to farm shops. I am told that it applies to revenue matters, but I shall not press the argument because I am not a lawyer.

As regards farm shops, motor accessories, DIY stores and garden centres, all of which are involved, I am anxious about the fact that having decided on the six-hour limit the House has decided that it will be six hours within eight hours. However, the inclusion of the words "wholly or mainly" will affect a number of stores which currently sell more widely. DIY stores, for example, are well known for selling a large number of items which are not strictly do-it-yourself. Garden centres sell many articles which are not plants; we have heard today about the garden centre which sells pets and, no doubt, other items too. Of course, at present motor accessory shops do not sell other items but there would be nothing to prevent them from doing so in the future.

The House must determine whether or not it thinks that by restricting some shops—and we are only talking here about the large shops—to the six-hour trading period they are put at a disadvantage as against those shops which are to be, almost, let off and able to indulge in unfair competition. It does not apply to the small shops at all.

I believe that we should have this rather tighter definition. We are not going against what was decided at an earlier stage of the Bill; we are merely providing a tighter definition. It will mean that shops will sell only what people imagine that they should sell rather than many other additional items. I am sure that your Lordships will be aware that, for example, DIY shops now frequently sell furniture, kitchens, lighting, small electrical items, blinds, carpets and so on. That is very different from the items that one imagines to be for sale in a DIY shop. One thinks of a garden centre as selling plants but they sell many other items. A motor accessory shop could sell many additional items if it so wished. Therefore, that is driving a coach and horses through the compromise which was reached. For that reason, I hope that the House will not agree to a further whittling down of the compromise which has been reached.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I hope that the House will not agree to any further whittling down of the safeguards. We must remind ourselves that we are talking here about very large motor accessory shops which are larger than this Chamber. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, told us that this afternoon and it is worth repeating because that is quite a large area. Most motor accessory shops are either as big as that, or you could fit several of them into this Chamber. Most motor accessory shops are under 3,000 square feet and are therefore outside any control within this Bill. We should keep that in mind. We are talking about large stores like Halfords although I believe that many Halfords stores are content to open for the six hour period.

The argument used in Committee was that those shops should be open in case of breakdowns; that the motoring organisations would need a source of spare parts from motor accessory stores. In fact, KSS asked the RAC for its views and I believe that they are worth repeating. The RAC said that it has an 85 per cent. success rate in getting cars to go again by the roadside rather than having to resort to towing. That means that vehicles can be repaired by using spares from the kits carried by the patrolmen. Therefore, in those cases, motor accessory stores are not used on a Sunday. It says that spare parts may be required for the small minority. of cases in which it is not possible to repair the cars by the roadside and the vehicle has to be towed. However, the RAC says that it does not use shops like Halfords, which carry both car spares and a range of non-motor products, as a source for spare parts on Sundays. Rather, the RAC uses motor supply shops which sell only vehicle spares. Usually, those shops are likely to be less than 3,000 square feet.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that as I said in Committee, I am a member of the Public Policy Committee of the RAC. I assure the noble Lord that I have been in communication constantly with the committee about this matter and it is very keen that those large shops should be allowed to open, as they are at present. I am sad to say that my noble friend Lord Crickhowell is not here, but I think he would say exactly the same for the AA.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, of course the RAC is saying that it is not necessary for its purposes for those shops to be open because cars can either be repaired by the roadside or, if spares have to be obtained, they are bought from specialist shops which are likely to be small shops. That in no way detracts from what I said about the problem of roadside breakdowns.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, before l address the central problem of the amendment— namely, the words "wholly or mainly"—perhaps I may once again mention the historical background to this issue.

This Chamber showed itself to be a deregulatory Chamber and I was wholly with your Lordships about that. But the other place would not have it, with the result that we were once again relegated to the ignominy of the 1950 Act and its absurdities and its calculated appeal to law breaking.

We should not have had this Bill at all if there had not been a compromise. In an earlier debate it was suggested, faintly perhaps, that there was no such thing as a compromise. But we should not have had this Bill unless the contenders on either side had been prepared to give up something to the other. If your Lordships had had any doubt about that it should have been assuaged by the notable contributions of the noble Baroness, Lady Jay. Therefore, that is where we start; that there was a compromise.

It was suggested also that because we were not, individually, parties to the compromise, therefore we were quite free to disregard it; to add as we liked here, and to take away as we liked there. But the crucial matter is that we have taken advantage of that compromise. I ventured to remind your Lordships in Committee that a similar situation arose on the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill, on which there were very wide and strongly-held differences of opinion. However, the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, came together to work out a compromise. Thereafter, they stoutly stood by that compromise and all concerned regarded themselves, in conscience, bound by it. So it is here.

That being so, I very much deprecated the amendment which was strongly and ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, in Committee. But that was the first of a series of amendments and it cannot really be regarded in isolation. We then proceeded with a series of amendments dealing with garden centres and DIY shops. Evidently your Lordships are motorists whose cars are liable to break down. Therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, had a ready audience. I hope that noble Lords are also gardeners, and I fear that they may also be perpetrators of DIY operations. At any rate, your Lordships were very glad to assent to those additions. Today, we have added farm shops to the list.

Such matters must all be regarded together. As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, they amount to a substantial derogation from what was agreed on the basis of the Vote in the other place and, indeed, in this House on Second Reading. That being so, I have persistently either spoken against or voted against any derogation from that compromise from whichever side it came. That is where I stand today.

I turn now to the question of the words "wholly or mainly". It is partly a question of law and partly a question of fact. It is a question of law because almost always the meaning of a word in a statute is a matter of law for the construction of the court. The first step in ascertaining what the word "mainly" means is a very easy one. It obviously presupposes that other things can be sold. The next step is much more difficult. The words occur frequently in other statutes and, as the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, reminded us, they also appear in the statute now before us. Moreover, similar words such as "substantially" also occur in other statutes and amount to much the same thing.

The courts have generally approached the problem in two ways. Obviously, they might say, "It must be at least 51 per cent". But, then, 51 per cent. of what? That point was raised in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. Some times in certain circumstances the court has said, "Well, the context suggests 75 per cent., or 80 per cent". I was a little surprised to hear the noble Earl, Lord Peel, suggest 90 per cent. However, more often —and, indeed, more appropriately here—the court will say, "Mainly is an ordinary English word which you, Members of the Jury, are perfectly capable of understanding and applying. But, in doing so, you should take account of a number of circumstances, such as the size of the respective stocks, their value, the profitability, and so on". There are many other factors to be taken into account. It would then be a matter for the jury to decide.

In view of the latter, what are we to do with the noble Lord's amendment? Undoubtedly, it cuts down very severely on the scope of the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, carried in Committee. In doing so, it approaches the compromise more closely. On the other hand, the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, is fully entitled to say, "I am doing no more than maintaining the existing law", although there was not then the distinction between large and small stores. He is also entitled to say, "Your Lordships accepted my amendment in its amplitude in Committee without a Division".

That being so, it seems to me that the best course is for your Lordships to negative the amendment and let the other place decide whether it wants to accept the amendment, in its present context, with the other amendments dealing with DIY shops, garden centres and farm shops—and we have still to deal with books. It seems that the balance of advantage in this difficult situation is to reject the amendment and throw the issue at large to the other place.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I accept the noble and learned Lord's premises, but I do not accept his conclusion because I do not think it follows. The noble and learned Lord said, first, that the meaning of the word is uncertain but justiciable. That is what everyone has said who supported them and what everyone recognises who does not support them. He also said that the amendment carried in Committee takes us away from the compromise which was entered into not only by Members in the other place but also by Members of this House who took part in the Second Reading debate. Nevertheless, the noble and learned Lord advised your Lordships to cast aside the remedy to that weakening of the Bill offered by the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. Despite the great respect that I have for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, I hope that your Lordships will not accept his conclusion.

On the issue of size, questions have been asked about the origin of the comparative. I obtained from the Parliamentary Works Directorate the dimensions of this Chamber. I regret that I did not keep the details. In fact, if one goes from the Throne to the Brass Gates, that area is bigger than one of the shops. But, if one cuts it off at the Bar, one is just about there. However, between now and Third Reading I shall obtain the correct figures for your Lordships.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Elton, I accept the conclusion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, though I do not agree with all his arguments. However, I believe that his arguments, and those put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, earlier, show that this is a wrecking amendment. That is the simple truth of the matter. The purpose of the amendment is to negative the decision made by the House after very careful consideration on 14th April. That being so, all noble Lords who were able to support the amendment, now have no reason whatever in the context of the further amendment to change their minds. For that reason, I hope that the amendment is rejected.

The nub of the matter is the conclusion drawn by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. We have had an extensive discussion on the matter and we shall no doubt pursue further the question of whether or not there was a compromise. On this occasion, I forbear to make the point that those who were not, in the phrase of the noble and learned Lord, "contenders on either side", must surely be free to exercise their vote and express their views quite freely without any commitment to that compromise.

The House has discussed the matter very fully but is very divided. Having supported the amendment on 14th April, the right course must surely be to reject the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, and leave it to another place to make the final decision.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, I believe that one or two extra points should be made. I am not sure whether noble Lords know, but sometimes you can buy a mascot which you hang in the back of your car and, when you put your foot on the brakes, its eyes light up. You can also buy dacron leopard-skin car seats. Do such items count as car accessories? Indeed, what is a motoring accessory? Is it merely confined to a cylinder-head gasket, a water pump or a coil spring?

I move on now to DIY shops. What goods can be sold? For example, can a piece of wood that repairs a seat, the seat itself, or the sandpaper which goes on the electric tool be sold? Where can you describe in detail exactly what type of goods should be sold? As your Lordships know, I have a garden centre. I understand that it is just under the 280 square-metre limit, or 809 square cubic measurement. I do not believe that I am arguing from my own specific point of view. But what is something which is solely applicable to a garden centre? Is a cachepot, into which one puts a houseplant, or is it confined only, to hoes and spades, or seeds or fertiliser? Is it something with which one applies the fertiliser? We are going to get ourselves into even greater muddles if we take out "wholly or mainly". It seems to me that the provision that was accepted in Committee made this matter much easier to understand. A jury can take a global picture of what a shop is rather than arguing whether a teddy bear which lights up when one puts one's foot on the brake is a motor accessory or not. I hope that your Lordships will reject the proposal put forward by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy.

7 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Onslow with his fertile imagination has taken us into the realms of garden centres and cachepots, whereas the amendment refers to motor supply shops. Perhaps we could contain ourselves mostly to that. In Committee the Chamber decided to amend the Bill so that large motor shops should be allowed to trade at any hour on a Sunday. Some of your Lordships were concerned about the amendment and particularly about the looseness of the "wholly or mainly" test which the amendment applied and which in turn has provoked this amendment, and which in turn has provoked a number of your Lordships to be concerned about it. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, and my noble friend Lady Young were concerned about it. But I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, that this is a matter of law. There are precedents for the use of the words "wholly or mainly" in tax and planning legislation. For instance the Broadcasting Act 1990 states that one commercial radio station has to be devoted wholly or mainly to speech. These are not new words; there is a precedent for them. Ultimately it has to be a matter for the courts to determine as a matter of fact. The courts may take into account turnover where there is an established trading pattern and they may therefore conclude that a particular proportion—certainly more than 50 per cent—would satisfy the test. But in the case of a new shop, or where there is no established trading pattern, the court may want to take account of the space which is devoted to stock, for instance, or stock records, or any other evidence which it considered to be pertinent.

"Mainly" in this context takes its natural meaning; in other words, more than half—the majority.. Whether that is turnover or sales or stock, or space which is devoted to goods will depend upon the particular circumstances of the shop and is a matter rightly left to the courts to determine in the individual circumstances of the case. However, if one tries to define "wholly or mainly", there will always be something sticking out. If one uses turnover to define it, what about the new shops, or what about seasonal variations in sales? If one uses stock, one presupposes that stock necessarily is closely related to sales, yet it may not be. If one uses space which is devoted to items, what about the problem that some items are of extreme value but others are of smaller value? If one takes an absurd example, what happens if a shop were to sell a Rolls-Royce and at the same time sells 30,000 cans of baked beans? It would have to be a matter for the courts to determine whether "wholly or mainly" applied to the Rolls-Royce or to the cans of beans.

I shall return to the amendment itself. The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, said that this was a wrecking amendment. As my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara has said, it would hardly redound to the credit of your Lordships' House if we were to accept without demur an amendment in Committee—in this case to exempt motor supply shops from the six-hour restriction—only to add conditions at Report stage which then proceed to limit the amendment and make it less workable. That is the main question which your Lordships ought to consider. Does this amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, argues, merely close a loophole, or does it, as my noble friend Lord; Brabazon of Tara and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, argue, make the original amendment worthless? That is a matter for your Lordships to consider. But it is a fact that the amendment, if accepted, would cause difficulties. My noble friend Lord Onslow produced a variety of examples. I would add to that by asking: is a manual on how to repair a certain make of car a motor supply or accessory, or is it not? The amendment would oblige, in due course, local authorities and the courts to consider and to determine that sort of question. I would ask your Lordships to consider this simple point: does this amendment make the Bill fairer, or does it merely render it less workable? That is a matter for your Lordships to consider.

Lord McCarthy

My Lords, I thank everyone who has participated in this debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, because, as other speakers continued to debate, those who agreed with him more or less—it seemed to me—repeated what he had said. There are one or two other points, but for the most part he has said everything which has been said against this amendment. Therefore I shall try for a few moments to concentrate on what he said. First, he asked about alcoholic drinks and asked why I had not tabled an amendment on alcoholic drinks. I might well be tempted by alcoholic drinks. I am tempted to say that if I won on this matter I would table an amendment on alcoholic drinks. But I would not, because I am trying to honour the controversial compromise. I am trying to take words from the Bill. I am trying to honour the spirit, as I see it, of his amendment because although his amendment tried to do something which should be done—it may be that it was left out of the minds of those who framed the Bill—it went too far and could not be justified. It immediately brought about—as we have seen—a whole series of further amendments which, if they were all passed, would destroy the compromise. Therefore even if I won this amendment, I would not do anything about alcoholic drinks because that is on the face of the Bill.

Secondly, the noble Lord referred to "wholly or mainly". He said we must accept that phrase because it is in the Bill, but so is my phrase, "goods other than". That has been included in relation to pharmacy. That is where I got the phrase from. That is what I said to the noble Lord in Committee. I told him to look at the Bill. I asked, "Why do we not have the phrase that is used in connection with pharmacy"? Is that not a more suitable phrase and a better phrase than "wholly or mainly" to put into the Bill?.

Thirdly, the noble Lord said—or perhaps I should say he did not say—or rather, he did not repeat to me what he wrote in his letter about not being able to do something on Saturday if we do it on Sunday. I understood the noble Lord to say that any difficulties there might be with that part of the Bill would be dealt with by the Government. Therefore it seems to me that that particular argument that the noble Lord referred to in his letter no longer applies.

Finally, the noble Lord referred to doubt and uncertainty. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, also talked about doubt and uncertainty and said that my phrase produces doubt and uncertainty as regards whether certain things would be allowed. Of course all phrases will produce doubt and uncertainty. Uncertainty is worse than doubt because if one has doubt one can go to law and perhaps one will obtain a bit of certainty. What I do not understand is how one adds to certainty by having double doubt. It is just not true that one can on the face of the Bill avoid the goods test. One does not avoid the goods test by the phrase "wholly or mainly" because one needs it to decide the principal category of goods —for example, cycle and motor repairs—and the court has to decide what that means. If that has to be decided on the strength of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, one would have to add to the uncertainty of my amendment, the uncertainty of the meaning of "wholly or mainly". Therefore one would have double jeopardy, double uncertainty and double doubt. My amendment would get rid of at least one of the doubts, but of course we will never get rid of them all.

The only other point which was raised was mentioned by several noble Lords. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, raised it first. He was answered by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and cross-examined and disagreed with by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers. The House will not be surprised to know that I understood and agreed with the line of argument of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. It seems to me to make sense because we are trying to amend the Bill within the spirit of the compromise. That is what I am trying to do. Those of us who support the earlier amendment say that the House was not wrong to pass the amendment but that it went too far and moved outside the compromise. That might lead to a series of other amendments which it would be difficult to resist. Therefore, it would be sensible to fine tune the provision. That is what the amendment tries to do, and I commend it to your Lordships.

7.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 93.

Division No. 5
Beaumont of Whitley, L. McCarthy, L.
Boardman, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Caldecote, V. Mishcon, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Coleraine, L. Newcastle, Bp.
Dormand of Easington, L. Northbourne, L.
Elton, L. [Teller.] Plant of Highfield, L.
Gallacher, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Rea, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.[Teller.]
Harrowby, E. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Hylton, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Kilbracken, L. Young, B.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Aldenham, L. Butterworth, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Byron, L.
Annaly, L. Cadman, L.
Attlee, E. Caithness, E.
Bledisloe, V. Chelmsford, V.
Blyth, L. Clark of Kempston, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Cochrane of Cults, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. [Teller.] Colwyn, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Courtown, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Craig of Radley, L.
Burnham, L. Cranborne, V.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Milverton, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Monson, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Morris, L.
Downshire, M. Mountevans, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Munster, E.
Falkland, V. Mutton of Lindisfarne, L.
Ferrers, E. Norrie, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. O'Cathain, B.
Geddes, L. Onslow, E.
Gisborough, L. Orkney, E.
Glenarthur, L. Peel, E.
Goschen, V. Peston, L.
Greenway, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Hacking, L.[Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Reay, L.
Harris of High Cross, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Hastings, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Hemphill, L. Seccombe, B.
Henley, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
HolmPatrick, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Hooper, B. Slynn of Hadley, L.
Howe, E. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Jeffreys, L. St. Davids, V.
Kimball, L. St. Helens, L.
Kintore, E. Stewartby, L.
Kitchener, E. Strathclyde, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Lauderdale, E. Suffield, L.
Lawrence, L. Swinfen, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Tordoff, L.
Liverpool, E. Trumpington, B.
Long, V. Ullswater, V.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Lucas, L. Wilberforce, L.
Mack ay of Ardbrecknish, L. Wynford, L.
Merrivale, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving this Motion, I suggest that the Report stage be resumed not earlier than 8.5 p.m.

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