HC Deb 26 October 1939 vol 352 cc1587-8W
Mr. Joel

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the serious effect of the 6 p.m. closing order on owners of one-man shops and small traders generally of whom there are 675,000 in the country; and whether he will receive a deputation from these traders so that they may lay their case before him?

Sir J. Anderson

The new Order, which is to come into operation on the 30th October, does not affect transactions which are exempt from the general closing hours laid down in Section 1 of the Shops (Hours of Closing) Act, 1928, and as regards any other transactions local authorities have been empowered to postpone the closing hour until 7 p.m. if local circumstances make such a variation desirable. I gave special consideration to the position of small traders and their customers, and from inquiries in various parts of the country I came to the conclusion that, for small shops as well as for larger shops, there would be advantages in earlier closing under present-day conditions, provided the Order made for that purpose gave reasonable elasticity to meet local needs. If experience shows that there is anywhere a genuine need for shopping facilities at later hours than are permissible under the new Order, I shall be prepared to consider how it can be met.

Mr. Mitchell

asked the Home Secretary whether, before closing all shops at 6 p.m., he will consult the local chambers of trade as to the effect of the regulation, more especially on the smaller and one-man businesses?

Sir J. Anderson

Before the Order was made I consulted, among other organisations, the National Chamber of Trade, which acquainted me with the views of its constituent members. I would point out that the new Order-in-Council empowers local authorities to substitute for 6 p.m. an hour not later than 7 p.m. for any class of trade or business; and where it appears desirable that this variation should be made to meet the convenience of the public it is open to any local chamber of trade to make representations to the local authority, who will be in a position to consider all the local circumstances.