Oral Answers to Questions — Sunday Entertainments (Wigs and Theatrical Costumes)

– in the House of Commons on 19th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the present illegality respecting the wearing of wigs or theatrical costume on Sundays during the holding of concerts for charitable purposes and as concerts are arranged that have had to be abandoned at the last minute, he is considering amending the law to allow wigs and theatrical costumes to be word, or defining more publicly for the benefit of owners of public halls and charitable organisations what type of concert or dramatic performance is legally permissible?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The question of amending the law so as to allow theatrical entertainments on Sunday has already been considered by this House and there was a majority against such amendment. As regards interpretation of the existing law, the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, provides that an authority empowered to grant licences for public music or dancing may allow on Sunday musical entertainments which are defined as meaning a concert or similar entertainment consisting of the performance of music with or without singing or recitation. The licensing authority is also empowered to attach special conditions to such Sunday entertainments and some licensing authorities prohibit by such conditions the use of wigs or theatrical costumes. The difficulties to which my hon. Friend refers may have arisen from failure to ascertain before the arrangements are made what conditions are imposed by the licensing authority concerned.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

In view of what the Home Secretary has said, does he not appreciate that, from the standpoint of democratic religious principles, it seems extraordinarily inequitable, undemocratic and anomalous that specialised costumes should be allowed in the pulpit but not on the stage on Sundays?

Viscountess Astor:

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the difference between the pulpit and the stage?

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

May I ask for a reply to the second point in my Supplementary Question?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The Home Secretary has replied to the Question on the Paper.