I beg to move, in page 3, line 32, to leave out "Saturday as the, "and to insert "the Jewish."
The Clause refers to persons who observe Saturday as the Sabbath. It has been pointed out that Saturday is. observed as the Sabbath by Seventh Day Adventists as well as by Jews. It is proposed to make the words read "regularly observing the Jewish Sabbath."
I am a little astonished at the hon. Gentleman proposing to alter these words after the discussion that we had upstairs, because I understood that the position was this Saturday in this country is understood, under the Shops Acts, as a day comprising a certain number of hours. The Jewish Sabbath runs from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset. We have raised this point before, and I put it to the hon. Gentleman once again. Will it be possible, if we carry the Amendment, for a Jewish shop after sunset on Saturday to open? I understand that the Jewish sabbath ends about four o'clock on Saturday afternoon. In Manchester, where I live, the sun rises about seven o'clock in the morning, and sets again in about an hour and a half and consequently the period may be very short and the Jews will be able to call that a Sabbath day. The point is a very important one. The Jewish shopkeeper, under the Bill, is going to give up a Saturday, and now he has made representations to the Home Office and to promoters of the Bill that he wants to alter the word "Saturday" into "the Jewish Sabbath." The result will be that he will close when he likes on Friday night, but as soon as the Jewish Sabbath is over at four o'clock on the Saturday he will be able to open his shop and enter into afternoon competition with other shop keepers.
This looks like a proposal to extend the privileges to Jewish shopkeepers beyond that which was intended when the Bill secured a Second Reading. I would say to the promoters of the Bill, that if there is anything that they have done to help to make it an impossible Bill, it is to accede to every request that comes from everyone. Indeed, I am not sure that they have acceded to every request from everybody except from Members of Parliament, myself included. I request at this stage that they will adhere to the word "Saturday" in the Bill, because it is understood under the law as covered by the Shops Acts ever since they were passed. I am astonished at the Home Office accepting this alteration after what we did upstairs.
If it means, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) has said, that the Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday at sundown and that these traders are to be allowed to open on Saturday evening—the best part of the day—and then to be open all day on Sunday, one can imagine what is likely to happen, particularly in the East End of London. In view of the debates that we had in Committee, and the feel- ing that was expressed there, I am really surprised that the Home Office should come forward with a proposal of this kind.
I feel that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) and the hon. Member for Sedge-field (Mr. Leslie) have spoken under a misapprehension. They appeared to think that the insertion of these words would have the effect of allowing orthodox Jews to open at sunset on Saturday, but I would point out that the whole question of hours of opening is very strictly laid clown throughout the Bill. This is simply a matter of phraseology to meet merely the case of the Seventh Day Adventists and those who conscientiously believe that the Jewish sabbath must be kept. How can you include them if the phrase is, "observing Saturday as the Sabbath"? It does not cover the Seventh Day Adventists. Hon. Members will appreciate that fact.
It we are to regard this as a drafting Amendment, we must now have a definition in the Schedule as to what the Jewish Sabbath is. It is a perfectly well-known institution. It runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The universal custom, as shown by the Select Committee of this House of 1843 was then, and still is, for orthodox Jews to cease all forms of business from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, and thereafter to open their shops. Evidence to that effect is on record in the Report of the Select Committee of 1843, and again in the Report of the Select Committee of 1912. The Clause will not be regarded by the courts to mean what the promoters of the Bill imagine it to mean. This is not a drafting Amendment at all; it is a vital Amendment. It is another coach-and-four driven through the Bill in order to put Jews into a position, which the rest of the community do not occupy, of being able to open from sunset, which in Aberdeen may be three o'clock, till closing time on Saturday, providing they close from sunset to closing time on the worst trading day of the week, which is Friday. It is destructive of all the relations which we hope will continue to exist between shopkeepers of different religions. It will give Jews and Adventists a further great advantage, and I have no hesitation in urging the House to reject the Amendment forthwith as being completely inconsistent with the whole tenor of our discussions.
When this question was raised in the Committee we were solemnly assured by the Home Office that the administrative difficulties in giving effect to the provisions would make it impossible to apply them. I do not agree as to the administrative difficulties, but I am certain that we shall have very serious trouble with shopkeepers all over England if the Jewish shopkeepers are to have their shops open during the time of really good business on Saturday night and then again on Sunday morning. We have been discussing Southend. Something like half of all the shops on the sea front in Southend are occupied by Jews. What will be the result? Half of the whole of the shops in Southend open on Saturday night, and then again on Sunday morning until two o'clock. I can give no other meaning to the Jewish Sabbath. I have studied the question. I know the practice in Palestine to-day. The horn blows at sunset on Friday and then it blows again at sunset on Saturday, and the shops open, and business is done. This is a most dangerous Amendment.
tended, but it leaves me entirely unconvinced. The Bill is bad enough as it is. It is a piece of confused legislation in its present form, but do not make it worse by introducing a phrase which the draftsmen of His Majesty's Government have never been able to define, namely, the Jewish Sabbath. This is a new term. If we are to have it in the Bill, we must have a definition to show precisely what it means.
If there were anything in the law that my hon. and gallant Friend has expressed, I think that we should all share his point of view, that the Amendment, is most undesirable, but surely what my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) has pointed out is conclusive. It states quite clearly that the person who comes Within the benefit of this Clause may not open his shop on Saturday. All that we are now doing is defining those people who are liable to open on Sunday and are compelled, if they open on Sunday, to shut on Saturday. Altering the words from the people who regularly "observe Saturday as the Sabbath" to those who "observe the Jewish Sabbath" does not mean any removal of the prohibition against opening on Saturday. It is a means of defining those persons who are to be entitled to open on Sundays.
The number of orthodox Jews in this country who genuinely observe the Jewish Sabbath is, for practical purposes, negligible, and that is very well known. We are opening here a new door in legislation. It is a completely new precedent to make special allowances for Jews or others in regard to the Sabbath in this way. It is a most dangerous thing. It may not be technically correct to say that Jews observe Saturday, but it has been, good enough for them for the last 100 years, and it ought to be good enough for us now. I can only again refer to the Factory Act, 1871.
|Division No. 146.]||AYES.||[1.7p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Batey, J.|
|Adams, O. M. (Poplar, S.)||Ammon, C. G.||Benson, G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Barnes, A. J.||Broad, F. A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Holland, A.||Potts, J.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Rltson, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||John, W.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Chater, D.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Rowson, G.|
|Cocks. F. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short A.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Kelly, W. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Daggar, G.||Kennedy. Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Dalton, H.||Liddall, W. S.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Thorne, W.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||MacLaren, A.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Magnay, T.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Garro-Jones, G. M.||Malnwaring, W. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Marklew, E.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Mathers, G.||Walker, J.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Messer, F.||Williams. D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Groves, T. E.||Montague, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Hardle, G. D.||Muff, G.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Naylor, T. E.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Hicks, E. G.||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Banfield and Mr. Leslie.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. p. G.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Albery, I. J.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Petherick, M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Ponsonby. Col. C. E.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Hannah, I. C.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Ralkes, H. V. A. M.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Harvey, G.||Rankin, R.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Hopkin, D.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Bull, B. B.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Rowlands, G.|
|Butt, Sir A.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Jackson, Sir H.||Salt, E. W.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||James, Wing-commander, A. W.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Channon, H.||Joel, D. J. B.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Keeling, E. H.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Clarke, F. E||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Latham, Sir P.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st),|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Llewellin, Lleut.-Col. J. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lloyd, G. W,||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Lyons, A. M.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Denvllle, Alfred||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Taylor, Vlce-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Donner, P. W.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Touche, G. C.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon H. D. R.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ward, Lleut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton. E.)||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Elliston, G. S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Moreing, A. C.||Williams. H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Everard, W. L.||Morgan, R. H.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Frankel, D.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Ganzonl, Sir J.||Munro, P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Mr. Loftus and Colonel Goodman.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
I beg to move, in page 3, line 34, to leave out "two," and to insert "six."
In my opinion this is a Bill to legalise rather than restrict Sunday trading, and, therefore, in dealing with Clause 5, where provision is made for Jewish traders, one has to bear in mind the fact that whatever happens Jewish traders will lose considerable advantages which they have hitherto obtained because of a custom which has grown up during past years. Despite what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson), Bills which have been passed by this House have had regard to the Jewish faith. When the Bill dealing with the humane slaughter of animals was being considered, a Clause was inserted allowing the Jewish method of killing in order that the conditions of the Jewish faith might not be violated. It seems to me that in the Committee stage of this Bill a bargain of some sort was struck. Permission has been given to Jewish traders, under certain conditions, to trade on the Christian Sabbath, but they have had to relinquish certain rights in order to obtain a certain number of hours trading on Sunday. There was a recognition in the Committee of the religious difficulties and the conscientious scruples of the Jewish people, and for a relinquishment of 15 hours trading during the week-end they have been allowed by the Bill five hours trading on Sunday.
Statistics obtained from different quarters show that from 9 a.m. on Friday until Monday morning at the same time the maximum trading time allowed to the ordinary trader is 23 hours, but the orthodox Jew will lose from nine to 10 hours trading in comparison with his now more favoured competitors. In many districts where Jewish traders have carried on their work hitherto it has been a condition that there should be a closed shop during the whole of the Saturday. I submit that under retail trade conditions the week-end trade produces the volume of the week's turnover, and if a shopkeeper is willing to close down on a Saturday because of conscience he must be willing to make a big sacrifice—a sacrifice which can only be met by a spirit of tolerance. I am given to understand that over 50 per cent. of the week's turnover operates at the week-end, and for the loss of that Saturday the Committee have been prepared to agree to five hours trading on Sunday. Because of the habits of the people very little trade can be done on Sundays before 11 o'clock in the morning, and, therefore, you are actually restricting the trading time of the Jewish trader to three hours on the Sunday, which has to cover the week-end.
Many Jewish shopkeepers cater exclusively for a Jewish trade. In my own district, and in other parts of London, there are a great number of Jewish shopkeepers whose clientele is composed entirely of Jewish people, and Sunday to them is not the Sabbath day. That is a point which should be borne in mind. We are faced with a position where the Committee has recommended that the Jewish trader should be allowed to trade up to 2 o'clock on Sunday. He is to lose six hours of trading time as compared with the full day of the ordinary trader. In reading the proceedings in Committee I gather that there are hon. Members who feel that this constitutes an unfair limitation of hours, and I think the Committee was largely impressed by statements made concerning the views of the Jewish Board of Deputies, who, it was said, were in favour of a 2 o'clock closing on Sunday. At a later stage it was shown that this statement was not in conformity with the views of that body, and the Jewish Board of Deputies have since said that they feel it would be a fair compromise if the hour could be extended to 6 o'clock. Originally the Jewish Board of Deputies hoped that a position could be reached where orthodox Jews might be permitted to open from sunset to sunset, but, apparently, there were administrative difficulties which prevented this being done.
I suggest that these shops meet a need, particularly in some parts of London. A remarkable feature about London life is that where overcrowding is most rife you find these market places. In my own constituency, where an overcrowding survey has proved that more than one-fifth of the people are living in overcrowded conditions, where it is a commonplace for a number of adults to be living in one or two rooms, it is essential that there should be some opportunity of marketing for these people on Sunday. I know that the Committee endeavoured to surmount the difficulty in regard to the question of shop assistants, but I submit that adequate safeguards have been provided for them, even if the House is prepared to agree to a 6 o'clock closing on Sundays instead of 2 o'clock. The Bill provides safeguards against evasions, but we should welcome the most stringent regulations to prevent any possible evasions.
I submit that under these new conditions an orthodox Jew is placed at a trading disadvantage. It should be remembered that many of these Jewish traders were born in, and are citizens of, this country. The week-end is naturally the period of brisk trade, and because of their religious principles the Jewish traders have to forgo many of the advantages that would accrue to them if it were not necessary for them to close their establishments on their Sabbath. We in this country have always prided ourselves in our belief in religious liberty for all and our tolerance. I know there have been in the past, are at present and will be in the future, diametrically opposed points of view held by political parties in the House and the country, but on the whole we have met those differences with a certain amount of tolerance. There is a newer political philosophy which does not recognise tolerance and which particularly wishes to deal partially with the Jewish people. I hope the day will not come when this country will emulate the actions of that political philosophy which operates in other countries.
Legislation that may be passed by this House should embody a recognition of the right of people in this country to have religious scruples. We ought to be prepared to avoid the unfair distinctions that are enforced elsewhere, and I hope that after due consideration the House will be ready to accept this Amendment and, in a spirit of compromise, to give to the Jewish trader, in place of a nine o'clock closing on Saturday, a six o'clock closing on Sunday. They have made a measure of sacrifice for their religious beliefs, and, in my judgment, equity and justice can only be met by an agreement on a closing time that will not inflict too great a hardship upon the Jewish traders of this country.
I rise to support this Amendment on the ground, first, that it is the proud inheritance of this House and this country to give due credit and to make every allowance for the religious beliefs of the people of this country, no matter what their race or creed may be. I believe wholeheartedly in the main principles of this Bill, which are to safeguard the rest and the leisure of the workers of this country, and I believe it is of the highest importance that one day—the day which one's religious conscience desires—should be sacredly observed. If this country were Palestine, if there were a nation of Jews here and no toleration or regard for the Lord's Day, and if there were sufficient proof of there being Christians in the country, we would make to the Jewish people the same representations which, I as a. Christian, am now making on their behalf. The intention of this Bill is excellent, but in my opinion it involves a very grave injustice to the Jewish people and those who have zealously regarded Friday night and Saturday as their Sabbath Day.
That may be the hon. and gallant Member's opinion, but it is not mine. My experience is that there are many people in trading districts who close their shops on Friday night and all day Saturday, and they do not do that because of commercial greed.
There may be considerably more than my hon. and gallant Friend supposes. What is the position under this Bill? With the indulgence of the House I will read a table of the comparative trading hours during the week-end for orthodox Jewish traders and others. The orthodox Jewish traders will open their shops from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Friday; on Saturday not at all, and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., a total of nine hours. Other traders will open on Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sunday not at all, a total of 23 hours, while the shops of other traders in the scheduled areas may be open 28 hours. The table of the afternoon trading hours is as follows: the orthodox Jewish traders will not be able to open their shops on the afternoon of Friday, on Saturday or on Sunday. Therefore, so far as afternoon trading hours are concerned, on three days of the week, there will be no opening of their shops. Other traders will be able to open their shops on Friday from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m: on Saturday from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m., and on Sunday not at all. This makes a total of 13 hours of afternoon trading compared with no trading by the Jews. In addition, let me remind my hon. Friend who spoke of commercial greed that those people who close on Friday night and Saturday observe 13 other days during the year on which their shops are completely closed because of their religion.
I understand that orthodox Jews would be delighted to have them scheduled if they could obtain this privilege. I have shown that the orthodox Jews, because of their religion, are to he compelled to close their shops three evenings a week; in other words, on account of their religion they are to be deprived of the vital week-end trade.
Will the hon. and gallant Member say to what extent the table he has read will be affected by the Amendment which has just been adopted? That Amendment left out the words "Saturday as the" and inserted, "the Jewish," thereby enabling the Jewish trader to trade after sundown on Saturday.
No, it does not do any such thing. I am reminded, too, that a substantial number of assistants, estimated to be over 10,000, are employed in sales and office work in these shops and that their livelihood would be imperilled. I would also point out to hon. Members that, in addition to the hours which I have already mentioned, Thursday in many localities is an early closing day. I ask that orthodox Jews should not be placed by this House in the position of being compelled to choose between their religion and their livelihood.
I have not taken part in any of the Debates on this Bill, and I was not a Member of the Standing Committee, and if I should use arguments which have been used already, the House will forgive me. I come to the problem with a fresh mind. The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. J. Hall), in an eloquent speech, urged us to remove all disabilities from those who practise the Jewish faith and made a reference to the condition of affairs abroad. I think I have played my part, as other hon. Members have done, in denouncing the Nazi treatment of the Jews and I am sure that we all want to see that those who practise that faith receive as fair a deal as possible. Everybody in this country has acquired a high degree of religious toleration and the last thing we want to do is to penalise any one on account of his faith.
I oppose this Amendment because I believe that its effect would be to annul the whole purpose of the Bill. This country is blessed with the British Sunday and when one travels abroad, one realises how lucky we are in having one day of the week set aside as different from any other day. I appreciate the fact that the Saturday Sabbath of the Jews means the same to them as the Christian Sunday does to us. But I ask the House to consider the case of a Jewish shop being allowed to remain open until six o'clock on Sunday, especially in an area where the Jewish people did not predominate. All the people in the locality who wanted to make purchases would flock to that shop. Then the Christian shopkeepers would be up in arms and there would be a great movement which you might not be able to resist, for the opening of all shops throughout the country on Sunday. The House has gone as far as it can in. trying to meet the disabilities of those who hold the Jewish faith. Surely the supporters of the Amendment want to see this Bill workable and in operation. If they believe in the principle of the Bill, I ask them not to press an Amendment which would destroy it.
I oppose the Amendment. Far too many concessions have already been given, and if there is any further watering-down of the Bill, it will cease to be a Sunday Trading Restriction Bill and become a Sunday Trading Extension Bill. It is to be remembered that Sunday trading at present is illegal. This Bill will make it legal and therefore we must be careful not to extend it any further. However sympathetic we may be to the Jews on general grounds, we cannot forget our experience of the Hairdressers Act. I do not want to see any more of that sort of thing. If all these shops close at two o'clock nobody will lose by it. People will know that they must do their shopping before two o'clock and will arrange to do their shopping before that hour. If it be the case that Jewish shopkeepers, in many cases, cater only for their own people, surely, then, the defenders of the faith will see to it that Jewish traders do not suffer and will come out in time to do their shopping before two o'clock.
I submit that the statement made as to the comparative number of hours of opening is exaggerated. It is not the case that all shops remain open until 8 o'clock on Friday and 9 o'clock on Saturday. If there is a local closing order, the hour is 7 o'clock and in the case of the Cooperative Societies it is 6 o'clock. It is an exaggeration to suggest that the Jewish shopkeeper would lose so many hours. In my opposition to this Amendment I represent the organised Jewish workers. The Jewish workers employed by Jews in the East End of London want 2 o'clock closing and I am justified in saying that I represent the workers interest in this matter more than the Mover of the Amendment does. As there is no legal limitation on the working hours of shop assistants, except those under 18, it does not necessarily mean that when the shops close, whether at 2 o'clock or 6 o'clock, the assistants will necessarily be free. The assistants may be kept in the shop for many hours afterwards. The Government made a mistake when they did not put into operation the findings of the Select Committee of 1931. They could easily have done so because the distributive industry is a domestic one, with no foreign competition and involving no international complication. I hope the House will stand by the Bill as now presented and refuse to extend these hours beyond 2 o'clock.
I sincerely hope the Amendment will not be accepted. In Committee a large number of compromises have been arrived at, and a great many concessions have been made, with the result that the Bill now appears to be riddled with holes. It is like the Irishman's definition of a net—a lot of holes joined together by pieces of string. It would be unwise to go any further than we have gone in the matter of the opening hours for persons of the Jewish faith on Sunday. The Jews who close on Saturday will be allowed five hours on Sunday. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. J. H. Hall) said the Jews were giving up 15 hours on Saturday and getting only five hours in return.
If I said that they were giving up 15 hours on Saturday that was a mistake. They give up 15 hours at the week-end, namely, three hours on Friday night and 12 hours on Saturday.
But this is the point I am trying to make. If he opens on Saturday, he is subjected to very fierce competition indeed from Christian shopkeepers, whereas on Sunday, supposing he closes on Saturday, he has an absolutely free run and no competition from Christian shopkeepers at all. The five hours on Sunday are, therefore, incredibly more valuable than the hours which he gives up on Saturday. The general lines on which this Bill is conceived are, I take it, to try to enforce the sanctity of the Sunday in this country, and, acting on the general principles of toleration which have so happily distinguished this country for the last 200 years, a very important exception and concession has been given to those of the Jewish race. I think we should remember that it is an exception and a concession, and I do not think it is wise or right to try to interfere with this sanctity of the Sunday in the country as a whole. If we make an exception, as we are doing in this Bill, I think it should be taken as an exception and a concession and not as a right. I hope that we have no feeling of lack of toleration or wish to persecute the Jews in any respect. At the same time, this concession is a valuable one, and if you extend the permited hours of opening for Jews on Sunday for an additional four hours, you will be giving them a very great advantage over the great majority of the Christian shopkeepers of the country, and that, I think, would be very unwise and inadvisable.
I wish to add my voice very briefly to the list of those who oppose this Amendment and to hope that it will not be considered for a moment. In my view, it is impossible to over-estimate the damage that may be done in many areas by Clause 5 as it stands, and it will be very much worse if it is amended as is here proposed. There will be nothing to prevent the great majority of shops in all seaside resorts being open all day on Sunday, for who can doubt that some Christian will find some orthodox Jew, with whom he will associate himself in the form of a limited liability company, owning a shop, who will make the necessary statutory declaration that the majority of the directors, namely, two out of three, are orthodox Jews, and that the shop will be opened on Sunday and a very great advantage will follow? These things are inevitable, and I can visualise that Mr. Smith, of Brighton or Southend, or of Brighton and Southend, and many other resorts, will form a company, of which he is one director, the two other directors being orthodox Jews who have signed the so-called statutory declaration, and will thereupon have small shops which will open on Sunday and close on Saturday. Next door there will be a shop owned by Mr. Smith in another capacity, which will be open on Saturday and closed on Sunday. He may well take a large shop, divide it into two for purposes of rating and ownership, and thereupon have one opened by "T. Smith (1929), Limited," and the other shop opened by "T. Smith (1930), Limited," and he will have seven-days-a-week trading all the year round.
It is perfectly well known to us all that the great majority of Jews in this country are engaged directly or indirectly in retail trade, and it is also well known that their numbers are increasing more rapidly than those of any other community, for reasons beyond their control and ours. We are proud to think that they find in England a refuge and a home where they may enjoy freedom, but when they ask, or when persons ask on their behalf—and I notice that none of that community has said a word in favour of this Amendment—that they should have yet further commercial advantages under the guise of religious tolerance, I think they are doing themselves a great injury. It is suggested by one of the supporters of the Amendment that they would be willing, in exchange for this, to forgo their 13 holy days, but I very greatly doubt whether they would be prepared to put that into the form of a Clause. They have at least been careful not to mention it either directly or indirectly in Committee or elsewhere.
The Jewish orthodox community is not to be found only in this country. I have been at pains to ascertain what is the position in other countries, and I find that, with very few exceptions indeed, there is no provision in other countries giving exemptions to Jews from the general laws of those countries. As I have said before, the Fourth Commandment, under which our Sabbath day observance is based, lays it, down that we shall do no manner of work on one day in the week, neither our maidservant, nor our manservant, nor our cattle, nor our stranger within our gates, and interpreting the "stranger within our gates" as being one who is not of our faith, if he comes to England and lives here as a British subject and as a useful member of the community, he should observe the weekly rest-day like the rest of us. I do not believe the orthodox Jewish trader has any real grievances. He has retained his orthodoxy for the last 100 years. As so many Members were not here at eleven o'clock may I again remind the House that in 1912 the whole question of Sunday trading was considered by a Select Committee, not by a hasty Committee, but by a Committee which heard evidence, and they unanimously decided against any form of Sunday opening for Jews? How much more, therefore, should we now object to an Amendment which seeks to extend the hours until six o'clock and thus render nugatory, so far as it has not already been rendered nugatory, the whole purpose indicated by the Title of this Bill, namely, "Shops (Sunday Trading Restriction) Bill."
I think it would be wrong if the impression were to obtain that the opponents of the Amendment would for one moment consider anything that was in the nature of a hardship on either the Jewish or any other section of the community. In actual fact this Amendment does not do as much as is expected of it. The week-end trade is different entirely from the ordinary week trade. During the week the shopping public purchase in an indiscriminate manner those things which they need at the time. There is no settled plan; they purchase the articles that they want from hour to hour. But the week-end trade is of an entirely different nature. At the week-end the shopping public purchase stocks of commodities of a character that will last them during the week, such things as household necessities and those articles that will not be damaged by being left throughout the week. The week-end shopping, then, is usually conducted by those who know definitely what they want, and if you were to take a census, you would find that the housewife who shops on Saturday will compress into two hours the whole of the shopping that she does.
Some of them do it on Saturday morning, some of them on Saturday afternoon, and some profit by having their husbands with them to do it on Saturday evening, but those will be compelled to do it on Sunday, because now the Jewish public will be spending their money on the Sunday, as the Jewish shopkeepers will be open for that purpose. That type of week-end shopping will be exactly the same as is done by the non-Jews, and the Jewish housewife can get what she wants within the space of time allowed under the provisions of the Bill as it is. Opening up to 2 o'clock provides adequate time for all the shopping that is required to be done, and there can be no hardship in limiting the time to that hour. There is a certain volume of trade to be done and it will be compressed within those hours. The Amendment would extend the time during which that money could be spent, but no more money would be spent. We were told in Committee that such an Amendment would destroy the Bill, and we have given away far more than we ought to have done, but if at this juncture we are asked to concede 6 o'clock we shall destroy what value the Bill has.
I appeal to the proposer of the Amendment to withdraw it in the interests of the Jews. The last thing we want in this country is a racial or religious animosity against one section of the community. I can foresee that if a Jewish shop is kept open until 6 o'clock the Christian community will feel deep resentment. They will ignore the fact that it is closed the day before, and they will certainly resent it being open when others are compelled to close. We pride ourselves in this country on not having the Continental Sabbath, but my experience of the Continent is that even at 2 o'clock they close on the Sabbath day and very little is open after that hour. Yet we are proposing to extend to the Christian Sabbath in this country opening until 6 o'clock. As one who has worked for the proposals in the Bill for a great number of years, I say frankly that if the Amendment is carried I shall have very little use for the Bill, and the majority of shopkeepers will feel the same.
The evidence produced during the Debate is substantially against the Amendment, and I hope that the appeal made by the last speaker will be heard and that the Amendment will be withdrawn. For many years we had an agitation over the reduction in the hours during which shops could be kept open. We should discipline the public to shop at reasonable hours, and I am sure that the Jewish community will appreciate that cardinal point. As the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) has put it, people have a certain amount of money to spend and they should be able to spend it within the hours that are allotted if they discipline themselves. I can remember that when I was a youth shops were kept open until 11 and 12 o'clock on Saturday night and naturally people who were not disciplined to shop within reasonable hours would go along late at night regardless of the inconvenience to shop assistants and other people. I hope that the Jewish fraternity will realise that if they wish to avoid creating anti-Semitic feeling in this country they will not ask for privileges beyond those normally given to other communities.
I could agree with many reasons against the Amendment were we not faced with the existing opening on Sunday. The opponents seem to assume that there is no Sunday trading at present and that we are giving shopkeepers in this Bill fresh advantages which they have not hitherto enjoyed. The fact is that a large number of shops are open on Sunday up to 8 o'clock so that the Amendment, in fixing the hour at 6 o'clock, is in fact imposing a reduction. I would, however, join in the appeal to the Mover not to take the Amendment to a Division, for it is clear that the concensus of opinion in the House is against a change and we must accept the fact that we cannot carry it.
I want to support the appeal which has been made to the Mover to withdraw the Amendment. I am sure he must realise that the atmosphere of the House is against accepting it. The promoters feel that they cannot accept the Amendment because it is a difficult subject to weigh in the mathematical scale. It is hard to weigh up the advantage of having the right to open on Sunday if the shop is closed on Saturday. I can imagine many districts where the right to open up to 2 o'clock on Sunday would be far more valuable than opening on Saturdays. There is no universal rule; I think, however, that there is a universal opinion that it would create ill-feeling and possibly bring about bad feeling if the hour for Sunday opening were extended to 6 o'clock. In view of the position of the orthodox Jewish community and of the practically unanimous feeling in the House against the Amendment, I would ask the hon. Member not to press it to a Division.
I agree with a good deal of what has been said about this Amendment, but I disagree with one of my hon. Friends who said that it asks for privileges. I believe that when some of my hon. Friends voted on the last Amendment they thought they were giving the Jewish fraternity the right to open after sundown on Saturday. I am certain that some of them thought that. I did at first, and I found myself in the wrong Lobby, but I discovered my mistake and went into the other. I believed then that I voted for an Amendment which precluded Jewish shopkeepers opening after sunset on Saturdays. I take it that the House thinks that that was the fact. The present position is that the Jewish shopkeeper closes on Friday night, he closes all day Saturday and he is asked to limit his trading to 2 o'clock on Sunday. The only way to be just and to vote against privilege is to give the Jewish trader the right to open till 6 o'clock on Sunday. An hon. Member opposite said we might stir up a feeling that the Jews were being generously treated. In my opinion this Amendment should be carried in order that the Jews may be justly treated. Another argument was that it would interfere with the Christian Sunday, but there are two Sundays, there are two Sabbath days.
That is ridiculous, because this Bill provides for regulating trade by reason of the existence of more than one Sabbath. A drafting Amendment to the last Amendment was designed to cover people who believe that yet another day is the Sabbath. If we are concerned about religious sensibilities and about religious justice and fair consideration for all religious opinions we must remember that there are two Sabbath clays in the week. If we consider the sensibilities of the Christian who does not like to see his Sabbath desecrated, what about the position of the Jew who does not like to see his Sabbath desecrated? I am not a Jew, but I stand for justice for all religions. [Interruption.] It is not the case that I am taking up this attitude because of my constituents. In my constituency the Jewish vote is practically non est, and any suggestion that it affects my vote here to-day is absolutely wrong. I am concerned to get justice as between one section of traders and another section, justice as between the opinions of one set of religious people and the opinions of another section. If we feel concerned about privilege I say that in order to prevent privilege being legalised by this Bill we should vote for increasing the hours of trading to six o'clock. If the Amendment which has just been carried had meant that Jewish traders could open on Saturday evening then I should vote against the Amendment which is now before us; but the previous Amendment prevents the Jew from opening all day on Saturday, he is already prevented from opening on Friday night, and it is only justice to the Jew, both as a religious person and a trader, that this Amendment should be carried.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 40, after "authority," to insert, "in such form as may be prescribed."
A certain number of other Amendments to this Clause put down in the name of the Government are all related to this Amendment, and perhaps I may be allowed to address my arguments to the group of Amendments and not confine them merely to the Amendment which I am now moving. In Committee an Amendment was moved to provide that the Statutory declaration to be made by persons who desire to be allowed to open on Sundays instead of Saturdays should be prescribed by regulations made by the Home Secretary. The Home Office undertook to consider whether any further steps were necessary to tighten up the Clause. We have considered the matter and we think it is desirable that the Regulations should provide not only for the Statutory declaration but for any other declaration, undertaking or certificate which in practice may be found to be necessary in order to ensure that the conditions laid down in the Clause are all confined to genuine cases. At the same time we have taken power to prescribe also the notice to be given. A spokesman of a section of the opposition in the Standing Committee said they were prepared to co-operate with the Home Office in discussing the form which these Regulations should take, and we should like to take advantage of that offer, and no doubt, also, we should consult with the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventists. After such consultation we should be prepared to make the Regulations. The Amendments which have been put down are merely to give effect to the undertakings which I gave in Committee, and I think they are reasonable.
I hope the House will not allow this Amendment to go through without some further statement from the Under-Secretary on what is involved. Here we have, for the first time in the history of our country, a religious test which is to be applied by a Home Office prescription. There is no provision for it to be put forward as a Statutory rule or Order. It will be done privately, after consultation with the Jewish Board of Deputies, whom I do not understand to be accepted by the Jewish community as their unquestioned representatives in a matter of this sort. It will be a Statutory declaration which for the first time, as far as I have been able to discover in my researches in the Library, is not prescribed either in the Bill itself or by Statutory Rules and Orders, but is left purely in the discretion of the Home Secretary, in communication not with all sections of the community but with that section of the community to whose commercial interest it is to have this particular Statutory exemption. L say "whose commercial interest," because I must refer to the case of the, Hairdressers Act, which, unfortunately, went through this House in 1930 and gives statutory exemption to Jewish hairdressers to open on Sundays if they close on Saturdays. Within 12 months of the passing of that Act the number of hairdressers who had conscientious objections rose from 20 or so to 140. So great is the competition, and so great the anxiety to make the most of the opportunities of a day for good business, that the number of shops opened increased seven or eightfold straight away.
That is what I anticipate will occur in this case. We shall have a Statutory declaration which will have very little conscience behind it but a great deal of commercial motive. I make no reflection on these people for having commercial motives; it is equally true of any other community in the world; but we have to take cognisance of if and recognise the facts. There is yet a further difficulty. Will the Under-Secretary give us an undertaking that no persons will be allowed to make a Statutory declaration if they are at present engaged in retail trade and have hitherto found themselves in a position to open on Saturdays? Will the exemption be restricted to those who can be certified by good evidence to have been orthodox at all material times? Or will it be open to people to become more orthodox as time goes on and they grow older? What about the orthodox Jews who come into the country and find themselves at once in demand for commercial purposes? Here you will have a group who can honestly say that they are orthodox and wish to sign the declaration, and they will thereupon become rather sought after in the community as directors who, under this Clause, can honestly say that. they are orthodox. They will, therefore, have the very considerable privileges which this Clause will give.
A statutory declaration has to be made before the local authorities. Is it desirable in places like Southend or Brighton to have every Jewish trader required to go before the local authority to make a statutory declaration, to file his undertaking, saying precisely how many directors are Jews or not Jews? It is an ill day for us when we have this sort of legislation brought before us in the form of a private Bill which has received a Second Reading before the world at large has understood what this Clause involves. There are other undertakings and certificates which are not mentioned in the Clause. What may those certificates be? Are they to be birth certificates, showing that the applicants' ancestry is such as is suggested by the assumption that they are orthodox? The statutory declaration is in a form that no one knows. We ought not to pass an Amendment which gives the Home Secretary, in communication with the Jewish Board of Deputies, complete discretion as to what he does, and so enables him to impose on local authorities, particularly at the seaside resorts where most money is flowing and Sunday opening is most necessary, the obligation of going right against their own instincts and their own customs, a procedure which may compel a place to have not one but 20 or 30 shops open from two o'clock on Sunday, contrary to the desire of the local community, contrary to the custom which for many years has been current in the neighbourhood.
I shall not deal with the question of ill will, but it will be exceedingly unpleasant for local authorities to have to indulge in these religious tests. In any case, before we pass this Amendment we ought to know what is the nature of this declaration. Has it been discussed? Is it known? Has the Home Secretary got a formula up his sleeve? I see the word "certificate" and the word "undertakings." We have heard nothing from the Under-Secretary as to the nature of these things. He says that his Amendments will stiffen up the Bill, but nothing that he has said has given me any reason to think that they will stiffen up the Bill. Has the matter been seriously considered? Have the Law Officers been consulted about this unprecedented document? A man has to swear that he is an orthodox Jew approved by the Board of Deputies. It is something new and very undesirable, and we want more enlightenment on the matter before we go further.
I cannot allow the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) to pass unchallenged: It is only right that the House should know that the body of which he spoke, the Board of Deputies, has received on previous occasions statutory recognition by this House for certain purposes and has been recognised as the authority which is competent to speak for the Jewish community in this country. So far from it having any commercial interest in seeing that these matters are put through in this way, I think it right to say categorically that the Board of Deputies desires above all things that the example of the Hairdressers Act should not be repeated in this Measure. It desires to see that the evasions which were practised under that Act are not repeated under this Measure. The board is interested only in the conscientious, orthodox Jews who desire, not to trade on their Sabbath but to trade instead on the Sunday, and to make it as difficult as possible for any other person who belongs to the Jewish community to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill for economic reasons. That is why certain Amendments were put on the Paper to tighten up the Clause. I resent what the hon. Member has just said about the Board of Deputies, and I hope that the rest of the House will not feel that there is any truth in his allegation.
I rose, however, to ask whether the Home Office have considered a particular matter arising from these Amendments. It seems to me that if these certificates and statutory declarations and other undertakings are given, they are given only to the effect that the person making them conscientiously objects on religious grounds to doing this, that and the other thing. That does not seem to me to be sufficient. I hope we shall get an assurance from the Home Office that between now and the time when the Bill reaches another place, if it should get there, the Home Office will consider whether something can be done to ensure that a person who makes the declaration, gives an undertaking and gets a certificate cannot thereafter evade it. I am not sure whether the penal provisions in Sub-section (4) cover an offence of that character. I hope that the Home Office, when they have the matter under consideration, will see that a person cannot give a declaration on one occasion and then evade it, without losing the protection of the exemption granted under this Clause.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 33, after "shop," to insert "or any of them."
The purpose of this Amendment also is to tighten up the Clause against any possibility of evasion by persons who may occupy a shop and trade somewhere else with another shop. That practice has occurred under the Hairdressers Act, but by inserting these words we make it abundantly clear that the practice cannot be repeated.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 34, after "Saturday," to insert:
( ) no such occupier, director, or member shall work in any capacity on Saturday.
Again, the purpose of this Amendment is to tighten what was a loophole in the Hairdressers Act, by which persons were employers on one day and employed on another. It was felt that that opportunity should not be afforded under this Measure. Therefore the Jewish Board of Deputies, of which the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) spoke just now, have asked me to put forward this Amendment to prevent that evasion being repeated.
I have complete sympathy with the motives behind the Amendment. Anything we can do to tighten the loopholes which occurred in the Hairdressers Act should be done, but I submit to my hon. Friend that the phrasing of the Amendment is too wide. If you took the phrasing quite strictly I doubt whether any individual would be allowed to go out on Saturday afternoon. I appeal to him, now that he has ventilated the point, to withdraw the Amendment. I am sure it will receive attenin another place.
The Amendment is quite good enough as it stands, and I hope that we shall not put further obligations upon another place, in spite of the appeal which has been made. Apart from that, may I explain to my hon. Friends and to the House, and by way of apology, that had the Jewish Board of Deputies been in communication with me in the past fortnight, as they were a fortnight ago, and had I had information from them that they were taking the action they were, the phrases that fell from my lips would have been differently worded. I still do not accept the view that the Jewish Board of Deputies can wisely undertake this responsibility in regard to a Measure of this sort. I am well aware that they have statutory recognition, and that great responsibility rests upon them. I wish to say nothing against either the probity or the wisdom of those who constitute the board; but I question whether the declaration which they have given would be adequate to cover the very difficult, and almost casuistical, issues that are bound to arise.
The present Amendment seems quite adequate, and we had far better agree to it and let it be amended elsewhere, if need be. The question of not being allowed to work on Saturday is not one of substance. This is a perfectly good and clear Amendment, and commonsense will tell us, and will tell anybody who reads the Measure, that work in a garden and work for a third party for wages are two different natters. What we wish to avoid is someone working for wages on the Sabbath Day. I support the Amendment, and I hope that it will be agreed to forthwith.
I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) that this is a matter of commonsense. As I am advised, the Amendment would prevent a person from working on Saturday to make up his own accounts. The hon. Member who moved it and I are not lawyers, but I understand from those who are qualified in that profession that the courts may decide the meaning of the phraseology in a quite different manner, and we have to be very careful what we put in. I do not think that we should put in an Amendment which might have to be construed in that way.
In view of what has been said by the representative of the Home Office, I certainly beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. I only desired to ventilate the point, and I hope that the Home Office between now and the consideration of the Bill in another place may see whether some words can be inserted to cover the matter which I have raised. I appreciate the reference made by the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson), and I unreservedly accept it.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 36, at the end, to insert:
(7) The provisions of this Section shall not apply to any shop in which butchers' meat is sold other than any shop in which Kosher meat is sold by a person licensed by
the local Board of Shechita or, in the absence of any such board, by the local Jewish congregation for the sale of Kosher meat.
Under the Bill as it stands a person of the Jewish faith would be able to sell ordinary butcher's meat on a Sunday provided that he closed his shop on the Saturday. The object of the Amendment is to make it clear that the only premises which may be opened for the sale of butchers' meat on Sundays would be those where Kosher meat is sold by persons licensed by the local Board of Shechita. I do not believe it would be the wish of the House that a Jew, who might not necessarily be an orthodox Jew, should be able to open his premises for the sale of ordinary butchers' meat on a Sunday.
We appreciate the object of this Amendment. It is an attempt to introduce into the Bill the provisions of the Retail Meat Dealers Bill, under which the Sunday opening of butchers' shops would be limited to the sale of Kosher meat, but the Amendment is so worded that its effect would be that, not only would the butchers' shops in question have to be licensed for the sale of Kosher meat, but it would be necessary for them also to comply with all the provisions of the Clause as to notices, declarations, and so on, and we feel that perhaps the hon. Member does not really desire that. In the circumstances, we are wondering whether he might be prepared to withdraw the Amendment now, with a view, in another place, to the insertion of a provision which would meet his real requirements without any additional inconvenience.
When two Bills dealing with the same subject are going through at the same time, the matter is a little difficult, but I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether, if the other Bill becomes law, he would give an undertaking so far as he can to use his influence to see that whatever is necessary will be done in the matter?