Clause 9. — (Provisions respecting Shop Assistants.)

Orders of the Day — Shops (Sunday Trading Restriction) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 1st May 1936.

Alert me about debates like this

12.20 p.m.

Photo of Sir Walter Liddall Sir Walter Liddall , Lincoln

I beg to move, in page 9, line 16, after "half-holiday," to insert: and the person so employed shall not be employed on more than three Sundays in any one calendar month. There is a subsequent Amendment on the Paper in my name, in page 9, line 24, to leave out paragraph (c). These Amendments have been placed on the Order Paper at the instigation of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, which since its inception in 1919 has done much to raise the status of the trade of the newsagent and to improve the conditions of the employés. No one has striven harder than the president, the executive committee and the general secretary of that federation to achieve the ideals of the Sunday Closing Association. They were quite willing to accept the original Clause of the Bill, which provided that if an assistant or deliverer of newspapers was employed for four hours on a Sunday, he or she would have an additional half-day off in the week, and if employed for over four hours an additional whole-day holiday in the week. That Clause, however, was amended in Standing Committee, and as the Bill now stands a person employed on Sunday for any time, even if the delivery of newspapers takes only an hour or two, shall not be employed more than three Sundays in any calendar month.

I feel sure that hon. Members have a good idea of how the delivery of Sunday newspapers is carried out. In many parts of the country it is not a long job. But everywhere it is a job for the specialist; the sorting of the various publications and the delivery of them to the correct addresses is almost as important as the delivery of letters. Woe betide the boy who neglects to leave a copy of the "Dispatch" for the daughter who dreams of Randolph Churchill at the same time as he leaves a "Reynolds" for a father who dreams of a co-operative commonwealth. To improvise deliverers for this work on the off Sunday would be a difficult task. On behalf of a, well-conducted and efficient trade I ask the House to accept this Amendment, which will enable a person delivering newspapers for one, two, three or four hours to do so every Sunday, but if that person works over four hours he shall have one clear Sunday off in four, or two Sundays in five, as the case may be.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

I feel that my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has made out the case that it is a difficult business in dealing with seven or eight or even three or four separate newspapers which have to be delivered at one house—

HON. MEMBERS:

Agreed.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

I am glad to say that the promoters support the Amendment. Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 9, line 24, leave out paragraph (c).—[Mr. Liddall.]

12.26 p.m.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

I beg to move, in page 9, line 37, at the end, to insert: or(iii) to any person employed in connection with the sale or distribution of milk and other farm produce. This Amendment does not seek to alter the structure of the Bill, but is more in the nature of a machinery Amendment. It has as its object the remedying of a position which was not foreseen in Committee. I was not a Member of the Committee myself, but it has been brought to my notice by those who are affected by the Bill that in this respect it is impossible as it stands. We all agree that an adequate supply of milk and other farm produce on 'Sunday is necessary to the public. We do not wish to try to prevent that, nor is it the object of the Bill to prevent it, but if the Bill remains as it is, a certain section of the community which is providing the service would of necessity, under this Bill, have to give their employés a day and half's holiday during the week. That is absolutely impossible in the case of a very large majority of those employed in the service.

There are two classes of people concerned, the producer-retailer—who is the farmer—and the retail distributor, and in both these cases the position is practically one which could not be sustained. The producer-retailer is generally a small farmer, and where the delivery on Sunday is not carried out by a member of his own family, it is often done by the only other employé he has besides his own family. It would be impossible for such a man, who is very often employed on the other work of the farm, to be given a day and a half's holiday during the week.

Photo of Sir Francis Acland Sir Francis Acland , Cornwall Northern

Would such a man work in a shop? Does this Clause not apply only to people working in shops?

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

That is the point. It does not apply only to people who work in shops, but to those who deliver the articles. The second case is that of the retail distributor. Again, many of them do not employ many men and it would be found impossible to arrange for the employé to have the day and half's holiday. There is, incidentally, another reason which supports my Amendment; it is that many ladies when purchasing milk like to see the same man delivering it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who told you that."] Many of the ladies have said so themselves. That, however, is not the main point, which is that it is impossible to give this holiday of a day and a half during the week. I do not want the Committee to think that I or any of those supporting me wish to deprive the employés in either of these sections of adequate protection as far as the conditions of their employment are concerned. Let me remind hon. Members that such protection already exists. In the case of the producer-retailer, there is the Agricultural Wages Board, on which the employé is equally represented with the employer, there being an independent chairman. That Board regulates the conditions of employment in the industry, so that the employé is adequately protected. In the case of the retail distributor, there is a trade board which has the duty of looking after the hours of labour and conditions of work of the employés. This Board has already considered the matter and I am informed on the best authority that the resolution which was put forward in that Board concerning the regulation of the conditions of this class of work was not only moved but seconded by a representative of the employés.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Has the hon. Member a copy of that resolution, and if so, would he be good enough to read it?

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

I have not a copy of it, but I have been informed that that was the case. If I am challenged at all, will not press the matter, except to say that I have given the information in good faith and only on the authority which I have stated. There is no attempt whatever to deprive these employés of the best and most reasonable conditions of employment which can be given to them, but, as I have mentioned, a day and a half's holiday during the week, which the Bill as it stands would necessitate, would be impossible in the two sections to which I have referred.

12.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

The hon. Gentleman really cannot get away with his statement that his Amendment is nothing but machinery, for it raises one of the most important points that has arisen under this Bill. Moreover, the hon. Gentleman is wrong in assuming that the Standing Committee never had cognisance of this problem. I can assure him that some of us had this issue well in mind when discussing the Bill in Committee.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Was this question discussed in Committee?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Surely we were discussing the whole problem of employment on Sundays, and if the hon. Member does not mind my telling him so, I at any rate had in mind the fact that during the last 20 years or so there have come to be employed for wages on Sunday an enormous number of people distributing milk, and there are tens of thousands of them apparently working every day in the year. If this Bill means anything at all it means that we are going to do all we can to provide a six days' week for everybody including those who deliver milk on Sunday.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Would the hon. Member make arrangements that the cows should only give milk on six days a week so that nobody would have to milk them on the seventh day?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Surely the hon. Gentleman has not done what I did, worked three years as a farm servant, so that I ought to know what the cow does.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Probably I have worked longer on a farm than the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Length of service does not always denote knowledge and intelligence.

This Amendment is a very important one indeed, and I would like to tell the hon. Member that he must not use the resolution passed by the Trade Board—a resolution which I have seen—as an argument in favour of his contention. If any hon. Member intends to use that resolution, I would ask him to read every word of it, and then he will see what the resolution means. There is no reason why milk distributors should not provide a compensatory holiday for their employés who work on Sunday, as is done in every other trade under this Bill. I have yet to learn that those in the milk business are unable to afford decent conditions for their employés. Most of them in London are of my nationality. They attend Welsh chapels on Sunday and sometimes ask me to speak to them. If my speech here to-day has no influence, then the next time they invite me to speak I shall appeal to them from their own pulpits to put their Christian principles into operation by granting one day's rest in seven to their employés. We shall of course oppose this Amendment. The Trade Union to which I belong has succeeded in a great measure in securing one day's rest in seven for co-operative employés. People in the milk trade, if they care to do so, can arrange their business—as some of them already do—to provide for one day's rest in seven.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Only the large ones.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Why should not the small ones do the same? [HON. MEMBERS: "Because they cannot."] We are tying down by this Bill shopkeepers both big and small. We are legislating for the shopkeeper who only employs one assistant, whether his business pays or not, and we are saying that the provisions of this Bill are to apply to the small shop just as they do to Selfridges. I have yet to learn, as I say, that the people in the milk trade cannot afford to treat their employés decently. I am surprised indeed at the hon. Member moving the Amendment at all. Civilised countries like ours have to face the stubborn fact of unemployment. There are 2,000,000 unemployed in this country and they are unemployed, in part, because a goodly number of those who are employed, work too long hours and work overtime. Speaking frankly of members of my own people, the working class, I am afraid that some of them are employed far too many hours on jobs that could be performed by some of their own brothers who are out of work. I think Parliament ought to follow the modern tendency throughout the world towards a reduction in the hours of labour. At any rate we on these benches will stand up whenever we can for that principle. [Laughter.] We shall do what we can to maintain what is called the English week-end. We hope to defeat this Amendment and to see that people employed in the distribution of milk have their week-end or one day's rest in seven like everybody else.

12.39 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

It would help the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) and his friends to stand upright if they would agree to this Amendment, because it appears to me that, in the competition between intoxicating liquor and milk, it will help the latter. The person who sells intoxicating liquor is being exempted from the Bill. We want the man who is selling milk to be in the same position.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

But is not the employé in the other case mentioned given a compensatory holiday?

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

He is given a whole day.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) is referring to the provisions of the Licensing Act but I am referring to this Bill and under this Bill the seller of intoxicating liquor is being exempted by paragraph (i) and we merely ask that the seller of milk should also be exempted. I see the force of the argument in regard to the large combines which sell milk in London and which we are told—except for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander)——are mostly in charge of persons of Welsh nationality. Those big combines are able to work their employés in shifts and have no need for exemptions but I refer to the small producer-retailers, the small dairymen in country towns and villages and throughout the country districts. The big profits made by dairymen in London are not the common experience of those producer-retailers. I do not think that the same argument applies in favour of the second part of the Amendment which refers to farm produce. Those words appear rather too wide but I think we have a reasonable claim for such an Amendment as regards milk, which is a much-needed beverage. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West-houghton should have taken unkindly to a proposal which would have the effect of furthering the sale of milk. It is not a good omen for the Milk Marketing Board.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I am not objecting to the sale of milk, but I want those engaged in selling milk to be in the same position as shop assistants, in relation to holidays.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

I realise that the hon. Gentleman is not objecting in that open way to the sale of milk but what he proposes to do would hamper the sale of milk in the countryside and in the small towns and villages. I do not believe that his proposal would do any harm in big centres of population like London and Manchester but it will do a, great deal of harm in the country districts and for that reason I ask the House to take a contrary view to that of the hon. Gentleman and to accept the Amendment.

12.43 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland , Canterbury

I support the Amendment. I think that the hon. gentleman opposite may have overlooked the fact that if hs ideas were carried out the wages of the ordinary roundsman would be reduced. Those wages are calculated on the basis of a seven-day week, consisting generally of 51 to 52 hours. Taking the country generally, roundsmen are well-paid. I speak, not of London, but of the district which I represent, in which there are three towns none of them very large, acid quite a number of small dairymen. It would be impossible for them to allow their roundsmen a day off in the week and to continue to make a profit. If hon. Members wish to do away entirely with the small man, let them say so at once. They will certainly do away with the majority of the small dairymen if this Amendment is not carried. What hours do these men work to-day? I speak from personal knowledge of certain small dairy companies and I believe that their conditions in regard to hours and wages apply generally throughout the country. The men come in about 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. and finish the first round about 8.30 a.m. On Sunday they usually finish about 9 a.m. There is one delivery on Sunday and two deliveries on weekdays. The hours of work are about 8 hours a day on 6 days of the week and 3 hours on Sunday.

I am absolutely certain that the great majority of roundsmen would support our Amendment, because they would not like to accept a wage lower than they are obtaining at the present time. The present practice does not prevent their going to church if they want to do so, as they are always free from about nine o'clock on Sunday morning until the following Monday morning. Therefore that is no argument in favour of not accepting the Amendment, and when it comes to hon. and right hon. Members opposite attempting to fix the same working arrangements with regard to milk as they would with regard to the ordinary trade in the country, it is absolutely absurd. It cannot be done, and it would not work.

12.46 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

I think the last speaker must be incorrect when he says that it is not possible to regulate wages and working hours in a proper manner, because I think the trade board has decided what should be paid per week for persons engaged in the industry. If the Amendment were carried, it would mean that persons who are occupied in this way would be occupied for 365 days in the year.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland , Canterbury

No, the trade arranges with regard to all roundsmen that they should have every year a Summer holiday of never less than a week.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

I am afraid then that the effectiveness of the argument for the Amendment falls rather flat. If it is possible for the trade to find the surplus labour to take the place of any person for any given time at all, whether for a week or less in the Summer, although I have yet to find out that this is the practice, it cannot be difficult, because we know there is a surplus amount of labour in agricultural areas, for them to find persons to do this necessary work even on a Sunday for a few hours. It really comes to this, that if the Amendment is carried, these persons will be obliged to work for 365 days in the year and that for Sunday labour they will be paid on the same scale as for any other day. The trade board has decided that the working week should be of a certain length and that the wages for that week should be of a certain amount. If this Amendment is carried, it will cut across all the essential principles that have been laid down by the trade board as to the working week and the amount of wages, and surely this House ought not at this stage to accept an Amendment that will violently cut across all the principles that have been laid down by the trade board in this country.

I do not accept the argument put forward by my hon. Friend about appealing to persons of his nationality, either in London or elsewhere, particularly about appealing to them from the pulpit. If these persons were practising the principles of Christianity, they would not exploit people in this way at all, either on Sunday or any other day in the week. However, I am hoping that the House will reject the Amendment, because it certainly cuts across the trade board practice. We are not opposing the delivery of milk on Sunday, but I am not prepared to agree that that milk should be delivered by persons who are exploited specifically on that day and who work for 365 days in the year. This House sits on five days in the week, and a five-day working week should be adequate for all.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

A five-day week is sufficient for legislative purposes, and it should be adequate for industrial purposes, too, if we had anything like proper co-ordination in industry generally. I hope the House will reject the Amendment.

12.51 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN:

I wish to support the Amendment very strongly indeed. The numbers of producer-retailers in the country in this trade are approximately 70,000, and there are about 16,000 other retailers, and it is only the retailers with rounds of six or over who can afford to give this extra time, so that it will only be the large combines and co-operative societies who can do it. I expected opposition to this Amendment to come from the Socialist benches. I was certain they would oppose the Amendment on account of their desire to back up the Co-operative societies, but I do not wish to see all retailers put out of business by this Amendment not being accepted by the House. There is a very large number of producer-retailers who are small people, and they would have very great difficulty in working the Bill, if it became an Act, unless this Amendment were carried. I put it to the House that the small man is worth supporting, and particularly against the Co-operative societies.

12.53 p.m.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harbord Sir Arthur Harbord , Great Yarmouth

I should like to throw a little more light on the conditions that appertain to those who are employed in the dairy trade. Working under Trade Board conditions, they have a 48-hour week, and if they exceed a given number of hours on Sunday, they have to get double Sunday pay. My own workpeople for eight months in the year come to work from six in the morning, and the dairy is closed down for the day at half-past two in the afternoon, but in the summer, when, of course, they work longer hours, they get extra pay accordingly. There is a Trade Board regulating wages in the industry, and those employed do not regard themselves as either underpaid or overworked. The Bill as it stands would place more business in the way of the Co-operative societies, which are already so powerful and which might become even more powerful in the future, and thus put a great many people in the industry up and down the country out of business. I am sorry this Bill has been put forward, because the effect would be that where men work for more than four hours on Sunday, they would have 12 hours' recompense by being granted 1½ days' holiday during the week. If more onerous charges are to be inflicted on a trade that is already harassed enough, it will mean the death-knell to many thousands of those engaged in the milk industry.

12.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

This Amendment appeared on the Paper only this morning, and I have not had time to consult the promoters of the Bill about it although we discussed it with some of them last night. The Amendment is an instance of the appalling difficulties that are bound to crop up in trying to deal with such a complicated subject. We must be careful when cases are brought to our notice not to judge all England by London or city conditions. That is of vital importance. If we do—and we have done so in many kinds of legislation—it promotes justifiable discontent in the country. What I have to consider is whether a case has been made out for special exemption. The first point is, that the employés of the milk trade are protected by the trades boards, the Agricultural Wages Board and so on. The second is that cows give the same amount of milk on Saturday and Monday as on Wednesday and Thursday. The third and most vital point is the interest of the small farmer, the small struggling man who has gone in for milk because beef and everything else in farming has crashed. He has hoped great things from the Milk Marketing Board but he has been disappointed, and he is just struggling along. As a producer-retailer he can hardly keep going and he is just praying for things to take a turn for the better.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

If this matter is so serious, why was it forgotten in Committee?

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

I apologise to the House for having forgotten it. I did not realise that there are 70,000 producer-retailers, and I hope that, after the discussion this morning, the Milk Marketing Board will take up their case. I am not satisfied with the wording of the Amendment and I wonder whether, as time is passing and the chances of the Bill receiving a Third Reading are receding, my hon. Friend who moved it would agree to omitting the last four words, and other farm produce". If that were done we might then be able to accept the Amendment. I know that I shall be accused of making concessions, but in a Bill like this we have to be careful to meet beforehand legitimate grievances in order not to do injustice. I would sooner lose the Bill than consciously support any action which might cause a legitimate feeling of injustice.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

By the leave of the House, may I reply to the request of my hon. Friend? These words were put in the Amendment because it is the custom for eggs and butter to be sold by the same man who sells milk. If it will help the position, sooner than lose the Amendment, which is of vital importance to so many small men, I will agree to the omission of the last four words.

HON. MEMBERS:

No.

1 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

I hope that the House will not agree to the modification suggested by the promoter of the Bill and assented to by the Mover of the Amendment. It is vital that the feeling of the House should be taken on the Amendment as it stands. I assure the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) that I should vote against it if I thought that anything we put into the Bill would have any effect upon the trade boards or the conditions of the workers. There is a perfectly clear case for milk, but there are many other forms of produce which are sold by smallholders, of whom I have a goodly number in my constituency, such as butter, eggs, mushrooms and a great variety of minor farm produce, which is sold by the roadside to passers-by in cars. There is also honey, which is not easy to retail or transport. This Amendment will save a certain number of men who are at present dealing direct with the consumer. It will help to keep them from the clutches—a word I use advisedly—of the middleman and the wholesaler. I think it would satisfy a great number of persons in very influential bodies if this House passed a law which would have the effect of driving many more small retailers out of business. The Amendment would have the effect of keeping the producer-retailer in business, and it is for that reason that I support it so energetically.

I have repeated representations from my constituency, from persons whom I know, who, if this Amendment is not passed, will be driven out of business and compelled to sell their produce to middlemen, who will retail it at an excessive price to the public. The small man who has his stall by the roadside and his banner out announcing, "Butter, eggs, mushrooms, cheese, Devonshire cream, honey and all farm produce sold here", is a person whom we ought to protect. He has existed for hundreds of years, and I am informed that three-quarters of his business is done from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. He does not exploit labour in this way, for it is very largely a family business and mutual holidays are arranged. The world in the rural areas with which this Amendment will mainly deal is not such a flat place as the hon. Member for Ogmore thinks. There is a good deal of give-and-take, and I do not think any of those persons who would come under this exemption would wish to exchange their lives for the lives of the spiritless cyphers in multiple shops or even in the Co-operative Societies. There is a certain virtue still in independence and in being responsible direct to the owner, rather than being a mere item in a great army of men who are regarded as hands and are regulated by law. I beg the House to take the Amendment as it stands.

Photo of Mr Edward Williams Mr Edward Williams , Ogmore

Will not the Amendment apply to monopolies as well, and give them an advantage over the small men?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

My reply is that monopolies do not in practice sell farm produce. It is sold by farmer retailers.

1.5 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

We are now considering a proposal which will give privileges to the small producer-retailer which are denied in the Bill to a small shopkeeper. Those people will be allowed to sell what the grocer will not be permitted to sell. Already we have dealt with a request to permit the sale of butter and eggs. The Committee decided against that application, because it was felt that it would be unfair competition with the grocer. People can get butter and eggs on six days in the week and do not need to wait until Sunday to buy them. Then we have heard a good deal about the trade boards and what they have done, but a trade board, in fixing wages, fixes them in such a way as to enable the smallest trader in the meanest street to pay his way and a trade board wage is not anything like a trade union wage. Further, we were told about the generosity of these people, told that they actually give a whole week's holiday for 365 days' work. In the distributive trades the holidays are usually on the scale of one day for each month's service, and that means a fortnight's holiday with full pay. I hope this Amendment will be defeated.

1.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I must say a word on this Amendment, because the House is in a very difficult position. The fact that the House is in a difficulty over this Amendment is not anybody's fault. It is typical of the difficulties with which the House has to contend on this Bill. We had better be frank about the matter. It is a private Member's Bill and it has gone through its various stages rather quickly. I understand that the dairymen only realised the effect which might be produced by the Bill upon their trade a very few days ago—certainly they made representations to us only a few days ago. I am not necessarily blaming them, but thus it has come about that the hon. Member has put down his Amendment only to-day, and the House will appreciate that in the circumstances it is difficult for everybody concerned to examine the position closely and come to a definite and reasonable conclusion. Listening to the Debate today, I agree that the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) and other Members have made out their case that there are special conditions operating in certain sections of the dairy trade. I understand that the big combines and the co-operative societies have introduced a six-day working week for roundsmen, and I think we are pleased that they have been able to do so, but it must be remembered that it is easier for them, with their large staffs, to do that than it is for the small man, particularly one who is employing fewer than seven roundsmen. The technical complications are rather difficult to explain, but it all depends upon whether an employer has a man regularly available to do another man's work on that man's off day. To work such a system you need more than seven roundsmen.

Therefore, the small retailers are in a difficult position. It is true that there is a trade board in this case, and that there is, accordingly, a measure of protection for employés, and it is also true that the trade boards have sent round a letter recognising the difficulties the small retailent have in establishing a 6-day week for their employés. The farmer-retailer—the producer-retailer—is also in a special position in that very likely he employs as roundsmen those who are engaged at other times in agricultural work, and it would appear at first sight that the holiday provisions in this Bill would not he properly applicable in such a case, and the wages conditions there are also settled under another procedure. There is, in our view, a case for giving some special protection to the farmer-producers and the smaller retailers, but then comes the sort of difficulty which the House is bound to get into and which it is difficult to get out of by reason of the short time now available to us. The position is that the Amendment as it stands goes rather beyond what is required to meet that particular difficulty. It appears to us that the Amendment would not only exempt milk roundsmen and persons on farms engaged in distributing milk, but also exempt shop assistants and others in shops engaged in the sale of milk and farm produce and in corn merchants' shops. I do not think people would want to give exemption to shop assistants in those shops.

There is the difficulty, and I must say frankly that 1 do not believe, with all the wisdom at present available in the House, that we could work out a plan or devise a form of words which would accurately effect the purpose which I and other hon. Members desire, and at the same time not be open to the disadvantages which I have pointed out. The House is in a genuine difficulty. What is it to do? It, seems to me the alternatives are either to ask the hon. Member to withdraw the Amendment, or that the House should not pass it but leave it to another place to bring forward an Amendment in another form, or that the House should pass the Amendment now arid leave it to another place to put in restrictive provisions. I do not see any other alternative policy, and for my part, I should prefer to see the House supporting the Amendment as it is and relying on another place to amend it to meet the difficulties which have been pointed out.

1.13 p.m.

Mr. ALEXANDER:

Obviously this matter cannot be left where the Under-Secretary has left it. With all those who desire to see a tightening-up of the provisions regarding Sunday trading I want to see the Bill on the Statute Book; but the more we leave matters of great substance to be settled in another place, knowing the difficulties which will occur in getting Lords Amendments discussed in this House later in the Session, the more difficult it will be to bring about the object which the promoters of the Bill have in view. I would repeat what I have said privately to the spokesman of the promoters of the Bill, and that is that the more they give way to pressure for widening the provisions of the Bill the more unlikely they are to get it on to the Statute Book.

Next I should like to answer one or two points which have been put forward in favour of this Amendment. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Mr. Turton) asserted that the profits of milk distribution in the larger centres of population were far higher than the profits realised by smaller produced retailers. May I suggest to him, speaking not perhaps without a little experience, and having recently attended a long inquiry into milk prices, that he had better not rely too much upon that argument. In the main the town distributors of milk go in for expensive dairy plants for the up-to-date treatment of milk, whereas in the country districts and among producer-retailers, what is done in the main is to sell milk direct from the cow without putting it through any of these more up-to-date processes, and a sufficent reply to the hon. Member will be found in the prices asked for the goodwill of any of these small retail milk distribution businesses—producer-retailers or retailers on a small scale in provincial towns. One can see at once the margins which are available to them because of the lack of expense at which they stand through not treating the milk so hygienically as do the larger concerns. One can see in the milk trade papers cases in which £500 to £1,500 is asked for some small dairy business with a distribution of 30 to 40 or 50 gallons. On that basis there is no case whatever for saying that those people are not able to do the same as the larger people who have a more scientific plant and have extra expenses to meet.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland Lieut-Colonel Sir William Wayland , Canterbury

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us the figure of the net profits of the little businesses?

Mr. ALEXANDER:

I should be very glad if the hon. Member could decide what the profits should be, in view of what is demanded for goodwill by the sellers of those businesses. That is about the best commercial test that can be applied.

Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN:

Why do the trade boards say that the small retailer cannot afford to do it? If they say so there must be some substance in it.

Mr. ALEXANDER:

The trade boards say that because they are composed of representatives of the employers.

Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN:

There are 50 per cent. workpeople.

Mr. ALEXANDER:

From the point of view of the workers I quite understand that large bodies of employers do not want any discussion to bold up agreements which have been entered into.

Photo of Mr William Kelly Mr William Kelly , Rochdale

The matter is decided by the independent members.

Mr. ALEXANDER:

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) puts a very salient point. The balance is held by the neutral members. I do not wish to speak inconsistently about that. I feel I know a good deal about the distributive side of this trade, and the arguments which have been put up contain no real case against the Bill, which makes it incumbent upon those engaged in this distributive business to work a 6-day working week. The point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson), who, unfortunately, is not here at the moment, supports me in that. He says that he wants to have as much as possible of the trade in these commodities done between the small man and the consumer directly. He says that there is no difficulty in those trades because they are mostly upon a family basis, and are always able to arrange holidays. If that is the case, there is no difficulty as to one day in seven among groups of that kind. From my experience in the old days, in the West country and in Somerset, I would imagine that that is continuously done in farming families who have a retail milk business. I do not believe that the head of a farming family wants to work his family seven days a week all the year round. I believe those families would not be found in opposition to the Bill, which deals with a very different class of person, the one who handles milk as a middleman and who wants to make the largest amount of profit he can get by his middleman transactions.

I submit that the hon. and gallant Member for West Birkenhead (Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen) was unfair in his suggestion that the attitude of my hon. Friends is entirely due to co-operative societies being in die business. That is not so, and it is an absurd proposition to say so. My hon. Friends openly and legitimately represent the trade unions, who are organising in order to improve conditions as to working hours, reliefs and wages in all trades. The co-operative societies, with all their trade, are only doing about 23 per cent. of the trade, while the trade unions have negotiated agreements with any number of organisations, apart from co-operative societies, for a 6-day working week. It is not fair to say that we hold our view simply because of the co-operative societies. We want to see every worker in the country guaranteed a reasonable wage, a reasonably short working week and a reasonable number of days off during the working year. There is no reason why those conditions cannot be applied to any trade if the Government, the House and the country make up their minds that that shall be done. The argument which is being raised this afternoon is the same kind of argument as to difficulty which has been raised against any social reform carried in this country in the last 120 years. Every social reform has had the same opposition. I beg the Under-Secretary to have this question settled now. Let the Amendment be rejected now. There is no difficulty in carrying the Bill into effect as it stands. If there has been any difficulty, I cannot believe that the interests which have been so vocally represented here would not have moved long before the Second Reading and the Report stage of the Measure.

1.22 p.m.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

I agree with nearly every word that has been said by the last speaker, because he knows something about the distributive trade. I am connected with various dairy businesses throughout the south of England, some large, some small and some of medium size some are making profits and some are not. Much as I would like to get every penny of profit from the businesses, I do not see that there is any excuse for making a dairyman work seven days a week.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

I understand that the hon. Member is connected with the distributive trade. Is he prepared that a man shall milk cows for seven days a week in order that the hon. Member may retail the milk?

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

I am not talking about the milking of cows.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

No, certainly not.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

The man can have a day off in the week, as can any other worker. I do not see any difference. The hon. Member will remember that when child labour was abolished there was no looking into the cost to the manufacturers to see whether they would be able to afford to abolish child labour and long hours. Those humane reforms were carried through, and no ill effects have been found. The dairy business has very much to struggle against at the moment, and the margin is very small indeed. I can prove that to hon. Members who may doubt me. If you deal with milk properly and efficiently and if you put down machinery and see that the machinery is clean and efficient, you will not make much money out of milk, if any at all. If any hon. Member doubts what I say, I can prove it to him by showing him the accounts of the businesses to prove that he is wrong. The distributors may lose certain profits by allowing this six-day week, but I certainly welcome the reform. Perhaps the Government or the Milk Board may see fit to compensate the distributors for any loss which they may incur.

1.25 p.m.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

I agree largely with what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think we are whittling down the Bill a great deal too much. The object of the Bill is to restrict Sunday trading, but time after time we are giving a great deal too much—

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

May I point out to my hon. Friend that this Clause does not raise the question of restricting Sunday trading at all? It is simply a question of hours.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

I should be sorry to find myself in disagreement with my hon. Friend, with whom I am a joint collaborator in the Bill, but I think the House would be well advised to allow this matter to be discussed more carefully and thoughtfully in another place, as has been suggested by the Home Office. A case has been made out by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) on behalf of the farmer-producer, and it would be a pity if this House, by any Measure that it passed, were to inflict inconvenience and difficulty upon a class of the community who are having a very hard struggle to make a livelihood in agriculture in these difficult days. I think that the great majority of the House desire to get the Bill on the Statute Book, and I would appeal to hon. Members not to prolong the Debate, but to limit their speeches a little more than has been the case this morning, and to give every facility that they can for the progress of the Bill, so that it may, if possible, receive its Third Reading to-day.

Division No. 157.]AYES.[1.30 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. DykeFoot, D. M.Liddall, W. S.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)Ganzonl, Sir J.Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Assheton, R.Gluckstein, L, H.Lloyd, G. W.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)Goodman, Col. A. W.Loftus, P. C.
Bottom, A. C.Granville, E. L.Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Boyce, H. LeslieGrattan- Doyle, Sir N.McKie, J. H.
Bracken, B.Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Brocklehank, C. E. R.Gridley, Sir A. B.Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Bull, B. B.Grimston, R. V.Markham, S. F.
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Gunston, Capt. D. W.Maxwell, S. A.
Butler, R. A.Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Cary, R. A.Hamilton, Sir G. C.Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Cautley, Sir H. S.Hannon, Sir P. J. H.Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Channon, H.Harbord, A.Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Cobb, Sir C. S.Harvey, G.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.Palmer, G. E. H.
Critchley, A.Heneage, Lieut-Colonel A. P.Patrick, C. M.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-Penny, Sir G.
Cross, R. H.Holmes, J. S.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.Radford, E. A.
Denville, AlfredHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)Rawson, Sir Cooper
Dower, Capt. A. V. G.Jackson, Sir H.Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Dugdale, Major T. L.James, Wing-Commander A. W.Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Eastwood, J. F.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Edmondson, Major Sir J.Keeling, E. H.Ropner, Colonel L.
Errington, E.Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)Rowlands, G.
Findlay, Sir E.Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)Salmon, Sir I.
Fleming, E. L.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Sandeman, Sir N. S.

1.28 p.m.

Sir JOHN HAS LAM:

I should have liked the Home Office to have put the case the other way round. Why should the House include this Amendment at so late an hour, and ask the other House to whittle it down and send it back to this House for reconsideration? Would it not be far better to let the Bill go as it stands, leaving the other House to make an Amendment if the Home Office should find it to be necessary? What are we voting upon? I believe the Mover of the Amendment said that he would be prepared to withdraw the words "and other farm produce," but other hon. Members objected to that deletion, and I take it that our vote will include other farm produce. What comprises farm produce? Is there an article of human consumption that is not farm produce, and do we want people who produce farm produce to be exempted from the Bill? The complications of an Amendment of this description are, I might almost say, outrageous. I think we ought to reject the Amendment and get the injustice, if injustice there be, remedied in another place, and not create a greater injustice by including the Amendment and leaving it to another place to remedy the injustice that we have created this morning.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 103; Noes, 73.

Sanderson, Sir F. B.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.Wayland, Sir W. A.
Scott, Lord WilliamThomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)Touche, G. C.Wilson, Lt.-Co. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)Turton, R. H.Wise, A. R.
Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.Wakefield, W. W.Womersley, Sir W. J.
Stourton, Hon. J. J.Wallace, Captain EuanTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Strickland, Captain W. F.Ward, Lieut. -Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)Sir Joseph Lamb and M. Duncan.
NOES.
Adamson, W. M.Green, W. H. (Deptford)Mathers, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)Montague, F.
Ammon, C. G.Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Aske, Sir R. W.Groves, T. E.Oliver, G. H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Paling, W.
Banfield, J. W.Hardle, G. D.Parkinson, J. A.
Barnes, A. J.Harris, Sir P. A.Potts, J.
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)Pritt, D. N.
Benson, G.Henderson, J. (Ardwlck)Proctor, Major H. A.
Broad, F. A.Holland, A.Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A.Hopkin, D.Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C.Hume, Sir G. H.Smith, E. (Stoke)
Chater, D.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Sorensen, R. W.
Cluse, W. S.Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Daggar, G,Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Kelly, W. T.Thorne, W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.Thurtle, E.
Day, H.Lathan, G.Tinker, J. J.
Ede, J. C.Lawson, J. J.Viant, S. P.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)Leckie, J. A.Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)Lee, F.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)Mabane, W. (HuddersReld)Windsor, W (Hull, C.)
Frankel, D.Macdonald, G. (Ince)Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Furness, S. N.McGhee, H. G.
Gardner, B. W.Mainwaring, W. H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Leslie and Mr. Naylor.

1.37 p.m.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I beg to move, in page 9, line 37, at the end, to insert: or (iii) to any person wholly employed in the transaction of Post Office business. There is complete exemption so far as the Post Office and its employés are concerned. In Committee an Amendment was put in to regularise the position of postmasters who perform certain Post Office functions on Sunday. This is a further Amendment in the same sense to give that part of Post Office work the same exemption that ordinary Post Office work has.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

This is a reasonable provision, but there is one thing that ought to be put on record. Where there is a sub-post office and other business is carried on in the same room it is presumed, of course, that only Post Office business will be allowed under this provision.

1.39 p.m.

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

I beg to move, in page 9, line 37, after the words last inserted, to insert: (iii) to any registered pharmacist within the meaning of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933, employed in connection with the sale or supply of medicines or medical or surgical appliances in any premises required to be kept open on Sunday for the serving of customers in pursuance of a contract between the occupier of the premises and an insurance committee within the meaning of the National Health Insurance Acts, 1924 to 1935, if he is not employed for more than two hours on that Sunday, and has not been employed on the previous Sunday, and if on a week-day (other than the day of the statutory half-holiday) of the previous week or of the week commencing with the Sunday upon which he is so employed either he has not been, or will not be, employed before half-past ten o'clock in the morning, or has not been, or will not be, employed after six o'clock in the afternoon. The Amendment is in a. different form from that in which it appears on the Paper. As originally drawn it is ambiguous. Hon. Members may think this is another exemption to make it a Sunday trading rather than a Sunday Trading Restriction but on examination I think this will be found not to be the case. The Amendment does not drive a coach-and-four through the Bill, but provides something that is necessary. Under the contracts which National Health Insurance societies have with chemists a service must be provided at reasonable hours. Under the regulations a chemist is required to supply with reasonable promptness to an) person who presents an order for drugs on a prescription form provided by the committee for the purpose and signed by any practitioner on the medical list of the committee or his deputy or assistant, such drugs or appliances as are so ordered. It is clear, therefore, that a chemist must be in a position to supply medicines and urgent surgical appliances. I have here a copy of the arrangements which National Health Insurance committees enter into with chemists. It says that in each district for the purpose of supplying drugs and appliances places shall be open during the hours specified in the schedule to this scheme. The usual times for opening on Sunday are from 5 to 6, or 6.30 to 7.30 or some similar time. It is, therefore, quite clear that a service must be made available to the general public for this purpose. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that qualified assistants who are employed in this way shall receive time off. In the Bill as it stands, if a qualified assistant was dispensing for just that one hour, or for half an hour, some of these urgent medicines or drugs it would be necessary for the employer to give him an additional four hours off. It is clear that that would place the chemist, especially a small man in a small town, in an impossible position. He requires his qualified man during the week when business is at its peak and dispensing is most required. This service is not a dispensing service operated for profit; only urgent medicines and goods can be supplied upon a Sunday. It is kept open for the convenience of the public and in accordance with agreements.

Therefore, it is clear that some arrangement must be made along the lines indicated in this Amendment. The Amendment has the full approval of the various pharmaceutical interests, that is to say, the insurance committees, the National Pharmaceutical Union and the Pharmaceutical Society. The Pharmaceutical Society has 22,000 registered pharmacists in membership. The registered pharmacists are the only people referred to in the Amendment. It is not proposed that there should be any exemption for any unqualified assistant, or anybody other than the registered professional pharmacist. All these pharmacists are in membership with the Pharmaceutical Society.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

Can my hon Friend say what communication has been received from the insurance committees?

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

I have seen their representative, and he told me that they have, in conjunction with the other pharmaceutical interests, discussed this matter. Of the 22,000 qualified men in membership with the Pharmaceutical Society, about 8,000 of them are employers or in business on their own account. This Society agrees that this is a reasonable Amendment. It enables the dispensing to be done, and, at the same time, enables men to have compensatory time off. It has been put to me that the usual hours during the week for a qualified man to come in are from 9 o'clock in the morning, and in that case it may be that he may be dispensing for two hours and would get only an hour and a half compensatory time off. But in actual fact it will be found that the usual amount of dispensing time that he has to put in on a Sunday is just one hour. So that in actual fact, if he has not to come in until 10.30, lie will have an hour and a half at least of compensatory time for the usual hour's dispensing which is done, or, if he is able to go off at 6 o'clock in the evening, he will have off two hours compensatory time for the usual one hour's dispensing on a Sunday. If he is required to dispense urgent medicines on Sunday for more than the two hours, he will be entitled to his full half-day compensation.

These men are professional men and not ordinary shop assistants. They have to supply this urgent service to the public, and if the Amendment is not accepted by the House, I can foresee difficulties. It will mean that this service will not be available, because the chemists, especially the small men, cannot afford to give a half day off for an hour's dispensing. Therefore, to the employer working in the absence of his qualified assistant, it will mean that on every Sunday in the year, if he keeps his shop open for this urgent dispensing service, he will have to do the work himself. Under this Amendment, it means turn and turn about. The qualified assistant can only be employed on alternate Sundays. He gets his complete Sunday off, and takes it turn and turn about with his employer, and he has the compensatory time off as described in the Amendment. I hope, therefore, that the House will see fit to approve the Amendment, which has been approved by the various pharmaceutical interests and is necessary for the general convenience of the public.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

May I ask for your ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as to whether the hon. Gentleman the Member fox Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) can alter his Amendment without the unanimous decision of the House.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The consideration of manuscript Amendments is always permissible on the Report stage.

1.51 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

I was hoping the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) and myself might have found an accommodation, but we have had several interviews, and representations from representatives of the qualified men who are organised in a trade union. They feel that they cannot accept the Amendment, because if I read the Amendment aright—

Photo of Captain William Strickland Captain William Strickland , Coventry

Of what Union is the hon. Gentleman speaking as not being in agreement with the Amendment?

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

I am speaking for the qualified men who are organised in the pharmaceutical section of the Shop Assistants' Union.

Photo of Captain William Strickland Captain William Strickland , Coventry

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Pharmaceutical Society has approved the Amendment?

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

I am aware that the Executive of the Pharmaceutical Society have approved it, but I am not aware that there has been any plebescite taken of the members of that Society, and if I read aright the "Pharmaceutical Journal" there is a very strong body of opinion against any alteration of the Bill at all. I am informed that the usual time during which they have to serve on Sunday is for two hours, usually in the evening. They take the two best hours of the day away from the dispenser, and they give him in lieu of that, one hour and a half in the morning, because the average chemist does not open until 9 o'clock. We would not have objected if there had been a definite time off. The Bill as it stands at the present time has been welcomed by the dispensers—I mean by the employés—and by a growing number of the employers throughout the length and breadth of the country who do not want Sunday work. I will quote from one or two letters which appeared in the "Pharmaceutical Journal." Here is one, the sentiments of which are repeated in several letters: There is no real need for the opening of premises on a Sunday, as 90 per cent. of the requirements are toilet and similar articles. I am a director of a limited company, not because I want to be, but because I have to be owing to my employer being unqualified, and as a director of the company I am denied my weekly half-holiday and I am also denied the statutory holidays. Another letter says: For the last three years I have taken duty every Sunday morning, and evening; also Christmas Day and Good Friday, and we open all day on every Bank Holiday. This is for private, and not just a 'public service' as the N.P.U. so glibly puts it. On looking up our prescription book I find that in three years, on Sundays, I have dispensed fewer that half-a-dozen prescriptions. I can safely say that we have not dispensed more than half-a-dozen N.H.I. prescriptions". That is in three years. Many others could say the same. These letters are written by small men, employers, who appreciate what is being done in this Bill and say that they do not want to be open on the Sunday. Under the National Health Insurance Act they have to give certain service on Sunday, but they do not necessarily have to keep their shop open on Sunday. They have a door bell in order to deal with urgent cases. Doctors' surgeries are not open on the Sunday except to deal with urgent cases. That is the usual course throughout the country. If it is not considered necessary for the panel doctor to keep his surgery open on Sunday, why should it be necessary for the chemist to keep his premises open? If the doctor has a door bell and the chemist has a door bell and there is an urgent case, all that the patient requires to do is to ring the bell and the service will be given. Speaking from the dispensers' point of view, they feel that if they have to give their services on Sunday they should get the time off which is allowed to other assistants. I am very sorry, but I have to oppose the Amendment and I hope that the House will vote for the Bill as it stands in this respect.

1.57 p.m.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Rowlands Mr Gwilym Rowlands , Flintshire

I have listened very carefully to the hon. Member, and I have not heard better arguments in favour of an Amendment than those he gave. He obviously represents the pharmaceutical section of the Shop Assistants' Union. I understand that the pharmaceutical profession have an organisation of their own. Surely that organisation ought to deal with this question and not a political section of the Shop Assistants' Union.

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

It is not a political section. As a matter of fact there are very few of these people who have contracted in.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Rowlands Mr Gwilym Rowlands , Flintshire

Whether they have contracted in or not, they are associated with the Shop Assistants' Union, which has allied itself with the Socialist party. They have not associated themselves with their own profession in connection with the National Pharmaceutical Union. The hon. Member has quoted letters showing that only a few prescriptions have been dispensed by certain people in some particular shops. That is the best argument I know for exempting these people. If the hon. Member had been the only person who needed a prescription dispensed, and upon the dispensing of that prescription his health for the following week depended, he would consider the matter important enough to have the shop open to dispense that one prescription. The matter is very important. I do not think that in any village there should be such a condition of things that no prescription can be dispensed when required on the Sunday. The argument that only a few prescriptions are dispensed in such places, coupled with the fact that the pharmaceutical chemist has contracted to dispense these few prescriptions, is the strongest argument for the Amendment.

2.0 p.m.

Photo of Colonel Albert Goodman Colonel Albert Goodman , Islington North

I have sympathy with the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) who opposed the Amendment, but I feel that in the case of chemists' assistants this Amendment meets the case. These assistants will be on duty only every second Sunday, and where they have to work an hour—in country districts it is usually even less—provision will be made for them so that they may have a compensatory holiday. They are not being deprived altogether of the compensatory holiday, because they will get one and a half hour off in the morning, or two hours off in the evening during the week. I do not suggest that I should not like to see them on the same plane as other shop assistants, but this is a special case. In so many country districts where there is only one chemist shop and it is necessary for the shop to be kept open for the dispensing of prescriptions, the shop must be open for that purpose. It may be the case, as it so often is, that there is one chemist with one assistant, and we have to consider also the employer in this instance, where the shop must be kept open for the purpose of the National Health Insurance Act. The Amendment does, in a way, protect the interests of the assistant, because he has not to work every Sunday throughout the year and he does get some compensatory holiday, either in the morning or the evening during the week, as the case may be. Therefore, I suggest that the House will be well advised to accept the Amendment.

2.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I should have liked the hon. Member who moved the Amendment and the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) to have come to some agreement, and I am not without hope that that will be done. I had hoped that the hon. Member who moved the Amendment might have consulted the people he represents and given way a little in order to meet the point put by my hon. Friend. There is not much difference between them and there might be some accommodation made. Unless we can have some assurance that that can be done, we shall have no alternative but to vote against the Amendment, much as we dislike doing that. I do not know whether the hon. Member opposite thinks that it would be proper to withdraw the Amendment, in order to see whether he can arrange matters with my hon. Friend who represents the dispensing employés, and arrange with the Home Office to deal with the matter in another place?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

If we were discussing the value of a Second Chamber I should have something to say about it, but we are not discussing that subject. I should like to deal with the argument of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Rowlands). Both the hon. Member and the mover of the Amendment have made a fundamental mistake in the way they have dealt with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield. There are tens of thousands of persons who are members of the Pharmaceutical Society by virtue of their technical qualifications. It is obvious that those who are members of the Pharmaceutical Society are divided into employers and employés, and that those who are employed for wages will take a different view from those who employ them, although they belong to the same Pharmaceutical Society. It is just as if I were to say to the hon. Member for Flint that there are two classes of Members of Parliament, those who take the sensible view and those who do not, the sensible people, of course, being on this side and the other on that.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Rowlands Mr Gwilym Rowlands , Flintshire

Does the hon. Member mean to say that the Shop Assistants' Union is the only Union that is open for the qualified pharmaceutical assistant to join?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Certainly not. They can join other Unions. Those who are in the employment of the Co-operative movement belong to my Union. We are not seeking that the shop shall not be open for National Health Insurance prescriptions. That is not the point. The hon. Member must distinguish between the man who owns the shop and runs it for his own private gain, and the person he employs who receives wages. We have never been able to understand why the promoters of the Bill or the hon. Member who has moved the Amendment can put these highly qualified men in an inferior position, in respect to compensatory holidays, to the average shop assistant. Unless we can get an assurance that some accommodation will be arranged in regard to this matter, we shall have to vote against the Amendment.

2.6 p.m.

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

I will try to deal with one or two points raised by the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) and the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies).

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

I should like to ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether it is in order for the hon. Member to address the House a second time without asking permission?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

Yes, in the case of a Bill which has been referred to Standing Committee upstairs it is the right of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill or an hon. Member who has moved a new Clause or an Amendment to address the House a second time.

2.7 p.m.

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

The Pharmaceutical Society has 22,000 members, of whom between 8,000 and 9,000 are employers and the remainder employés. The employés, therefore, are a majority and it, is the Council of this Society which has approved the Amendment I have moved. The interests of the employés are studied because they are all professional men and members of the same society. They are not in an inferior position as compared with shop assistants. Their position, being professional men, is safeguarded by their society. They are in the same position as an assistant who is employed by a doctor. They- are looked upon more in the nature of partners, and in this respect a qualified assistant employed by a qualified man comes under the same description.

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

Can the hon. Member give us any idea hew many of the employés are on the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society?

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

I have no definite information, but they are in a position to elect whom they please. They are in the majority. In the letters which the hon. Member read it is said that certain employing chemists are opposed to the Amendment and wish their shops to be shut. Under the agreement which the chemist enters into with the insurance committee, he undertakes to keep his shop open during certain hours and if he does not provide the services required under the agreement he can be fined up to 250. It is obligatory upon him to keep his shop open by the terms of his contract. I suggest that the Amendment is in the interests of the people for whom the hon. Member spoke. If a chemist has to give a man a half-day's holiday during the week for half an hour's dispensing on a Sunday, which is not profitable, he will have to employ some one else and thus pay less wages to his qualified assistant. No one would like that to happen. There is also going to be great difficulty in small areas where there is only one chemist shop, and perhaps only one or two qualified men available. It is not possible to obtain qualified men to do this work on a Sunday in the same way as you could find a man to do a milk round. The Amendment has been moved with the approval of the Pharmaceutical Society.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

May I ask whether the owners of these shops are all certified chemists?

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

The owners of all these chemist shops—I am not speaking of the chain stores which are able to give compensatory holidays because they have sufficient men available—are qualified men, without exception.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

If the owners are qualified men, why cannot they work on Sunday instead of the employé?

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , Swindon

They do, and if the Amendment is not accepted it will mean that the qualified employer will never get a Sunday off. It is to enable him and his qualified man to take turns in supplying this necessary service for the public on Sundays during one hour.

2.14 p.m.

Photo of Major Sir Frank Markham Major Sir Frank Markham , Nottingham South

I am a little confused on this matter, and I should like some information before making up my mind as to how I shall vote. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) says that pharmacists are unanimously in favour of the Amendment. The hon. Member opposite challenges that statement. The employing section may be in favour of it, but the employed section is against it. I should like to ask what justification there is for the statement of the hon. Member for Sedgehill (Mr. Leslie). It has been said that the employés governed by the Clause are not all in the Pharmaceutical Society, that some are in the Shop Assistants' Union.

2.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

The hon. Gentleman must not misunderstand what has been said. They are all persons who are qualified, but as members of the Pharmaceutical Society they may be Catholics or Protestants or Freemasons or trade unionists. A goodly number of them are trade unionists, and my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) was speaking on behalf of those who are trade unionists.

Photo of Major Sir Frank Markham Major Sir Frank Markham , Nottingham South

That is the point. You have here a professional man who looks to his professional organisation in place of the trade union, or vice versa. My point is, is that portion of employés in the chemists' shops who are in the Shop Assistants' Union the dispensing portion or the non-dispensing portion? We all know that chemists' shops sell everything from pills to pearls.

Photo of Mr John Leslie Mr John Leslie , Sedgefield

The people concerned are the qualified men, and they had a special meeting on this matter as recently as last Tuesday.

Photo of Major Sir Frank Markham Major Sir Frank Markham , Nottingham South

That is exactly the sort of information I want to elicit. It is, then, a fact that a percentage of the dispensers who will be affected by this. Amendment are in the Shop Assistants' Union, and as members they have protested, directly or indirectly, against this Amendment? If that is the case, I would like to know what is to be said from the opposite point of view before I come to a decision.

2.18 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

I agree with the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) that we ought to have further elucidation before we can reasonably vote in favour of this Amendment. The figures are by no means as clear as they have been represented to be. The Industry Census of 1931, which I have looked up, shows (at page 8) 20,000 people who classify themselves as chemists' assistants, and there are only 8,000 retail chemists' shopkeepers. That may or may not be accurate, but it suggests that there are about 8,000 in the position of managers and rather more than 20,000 as assistants. These assistants, I gather, have shown themselves opposed to this Amendment. In Stand- ing Committee I myself had on the Paper an Amendment on a far more restricted basis, and I regret that the Committee decided in favour of discussing an Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) and rejected it by a very small majority. The good will of the House is now being sought to undo the good work that was done in Committee. I confess that while I see much strength in the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon, I also see that there is strong ground for reminding ourselves that this is a Bill to restrict Sunday trading and is intended to restrict employment on Sundays; and if the shop assistants have made their position as clear as the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) has suggested, and the Pharmaceutical Society has made its position as clear as the hon. Member for Swindon has suggested, I can only suggest a ballot of the Pharmaceutical Society be taken in same form to make the position still clearer before we can rely on the ex parte statements of either side.

There is one another aspect of the matter. The chain store chemists have been foremost, at considerable expense to themselves, in propagating in this House the doctrine of the five-day week. They tell us what a splendid thing it is. We have received expensive booklets declaring how virtuous it is to be able to produce things on five days and to let the employé have a two days' holiday; but when it comes to the retailer and the chain store retailer, how unwilling they are to apply the five-day week. There is a certain inconsistency between the repeated suggestions that a five-day week ought to be universal in industry and the indignant repudiation of the idea that a six-day week is good enough in the retail trade. I shall be compelled to vote against the Amendment, and I can only echo the desire of the hon. Member for Westhoughton that it be withdrawn, reconsidered, and put forward afresh in another place.

Division No. 158.]AYES.[2.25 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. DykeBalfour, Capt. H. H.(Isle of Thanet)Brocklebank, C. E. R,
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)Baxter, A. BeverleyBull, B. B.
Albery, I, J.Beaumont, Hon. R. E, B. (Ports'n'h)Cary, R. A.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.Cautley, Sir H. S.
Aske, Sir R. W.Bossom, A. C.Channon, H.
Assheton, R.Boyce, H. LeslieClarke, F. E.

2.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

My hon. Friend the Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Markham) and the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) have appealed to me to bring about, if possible, a reconciliation in this matter. Of course the hon. Member for Westhoughton knows that I have always to pay great attention to what he says. Therefore, I have seriously considered his point. But I wonder whether he has forgotten that this Amendment itself is the result of a certain agreed compromise? The first suggestion put forward was a general exemption for chemists who were supplying medicines and certain appliances. There were other suggestions of various kinds, resulting in the rejection of an Amendment which came before the Standing Committee. The matter was further considered by the various interests and the proposal in this Amendment is brought forward. Therefore it is in the nature of a compromise. Let us examine it on its merits. It is now proposed that registered pharmacists employed on Sundays in those shops which have to be open for the serving of customers in pursuance of a contract with an insurance committee shall not be required to receive the compensatory half holiday, subject to the conditions that the pharmacists must not be employed for more than two hours on the Sunday and have not been employed on the previous Sunday, that is to say must be employed on alternative Sundays only, and must receive compensatory time off in the week.. The Amendment is of a very restrictive character. It applies only to those chemists' shops which have to be open on Sunday under contract. It applies only to qualified assistants, and only to those who are employed for not more than two hours on alternative Sundays. After consultation with the Ministry of Health we think that the Amendment should be accepted, in view of its extremely limited character.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 120; Noes, 61.

Cobb, Sir C. S.Hudson, Capt. A. u. M. (Hack., N.)Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Hume, Sir G. H.Rawson, Sir Cooper
Critchley, A.Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.Jackson, Sir H.Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Cross, R. H.Jones, Sir G. W. H, (S'k N'w'gt'n)Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Crossley, A. C.Keeling, E. H.Ropner, Colonel L.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities)Rowlands, G.
Denville, AlfredLamb, Sir J. Q.Salmon, Sir I.
Dugdale, Major T. L.Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Duncan, J. A. L.Leckle, J. A.Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Eastwood, J. F.Lelghton, Major B. E. P.Scott, Lord William
Edmondson, Major Sir J.Liddall, W. S.Selley, H. R.
Emmott, C. E. G. C.Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.Shakespeare, G. H.
Errington, E.Lloyd, G. W.Shaw. Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)Loftus, P. C.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Findlay, Sir E.Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Fleming, E. L.Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)Storey, S.
Foot, D. M.McKie, J. H.Stourton, Hon. J. J.
Furness, S. N.Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Ganzonl, Sir J.Manningham-Buller, Sir M.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Gluckstein, L. H.Markham, S. F.Taylor, C S. (Eastbourne)
Goodman, Col. A. W.Maxwell, S. A.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Granville. E. L,Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Touche, G. C.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)Turton, R. H.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Grimston, R, V.Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.Wallace, Captain Euan
Gunston, Capt. D. W.Orr-Ewlng, I. L.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hamilton, Sir G. C.Palmer, G. E. H.Wayland, sir W. A.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H.Patrick, C. M.Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Harbord, A.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.Wise, A. R.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)Proctor, Major H. A.Womersley, Sir W. J.
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.Radford, E, A.
Holmes, J. S.Raikes, H. V. A. M.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.Rankin, R.Mr. Wakefield and Captain Strickland.
NOES.
Adamson, W. M.Groves, T. E.Naylor, T. E.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Oliver, G. H.
Ammon, C. G.Hardle, G. D.Paling, W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Harris, Sir P. A.Parkinson, J. A.
Banfield, J. W.Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Pritt, D. N.
Barnes, A. J.Holland, A.Simpson, F. B.
Benson, G.Hopkin, D.Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Broad, F. A.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Smith, E. (Stoke)
Burke, W. A.Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)Sorensen, R. W.
Charleton, H. C.Kelly, W. T.Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Cluse, W. S.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.Thome, W.
Daggar, G.Latnan, G.Thurtle, E.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Lawson, J. J.Tinker, J. J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Macdonald, G. (Ince)Viant, S. P.
Day, H.McGhee, H. G.Watkins, F. C.
Ede, J. C.Mainwaring, W. H.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)Mathers, G.Wilson, Lt-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)Messer, F.Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Frankel, D.Milner, Major J.Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gardner, B. W.Montague, F.
Green, W. H. (Deptford)Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Potts and Mr. Leslie.