§ Mr. SHORT
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the National Union of Shop Assistants has written to him several times drawing his attention to the action of the Nottingham magistrates in December last in dismissing a number of summonses against shopkeepers for infringing the Shops Acts, 855W although the offence in each case was clearly proved; that no answer has been given to these communications beyond an acknowledgment of their receipt; and whether he proposes to take any action, legislative or otherwise, to secure strict compliance with the law?
§ Mr. SHORTT
I received the letters referred to, and after the observations of the magistrates had been obtained and considered, a reply was sent to the union last week. The enforcement of the Shops Acts is a statutory duty of the local authorities, who are required to institute any proceedings necessary for the purpose. The magistrates, however, have full discretion to dismiss any case in which, having regard to the trivial nature of the offence or extenuating circumstances, they consider it inexpedient to inflict any punishment, and it appears that in each of the cases at Nottingham referred to in the correspondence the justices were of opinion that the particular circumstances justified them in exercising this discretion. I do not think I can usefully take any further action in the matter.