I beg to move, in page I, line 11, after "amusements," to insert:
on the second, third, fourth and fifth Sundays in any month, and with the amusements on the first Sunday of any month.
I understand that the first of the Amendments standing in my name with regard to the amenities for children has not been called on the ground that it is covered in the Amendments which have been put down later. I shall be very happy to fall in with that arrangement because the later Amendments seem to me to be a very much more appropriate way of dealing with the situation than the omnibus Amendment which I had sought to put down myself. Therefore, I am moving the second Amendment standing in my name, and I will, with the permission of the House, read how the Clause will appear if it is carried.
Nothing in the Sunday Observance Acts, 1625 to 1780, shall be taken to apply in relation to the opening on Sunday"—
I omit a few words—
(b) of the Festival Pleasure Gardens, without the amusements on the second, third, fourth and fifth Sundays in any month, and with the amusements on the first Sunday of any month.
I move this Amendment in accordance, I hope, with the best traditions of democracy, and I take as my text for all that I wish to say, some noble words, spoken by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) on the Committee stage. He said:
If hon. Members are right in saying that the majority of people want this fun fair, nothing could he easier than to be tolerant towards the majority of the people. The real test of democracy is whether we are going to be tolerant to the point of view of the minority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1055.]
The question which I am now asking him and others who took this view is on the quite simple ground that as we had a quarter of the vote on that occasion, we should have a quarter of the Sundays.
There are some decisions which one can only take once, and they must be taken one way or the other. But there are other decisions of a different kind which have to be taken over and over again and then if three-quarters of the House want to take the decision one way and one-quarter the other, a simple democratic principle is to take it three times one way and one the other.
This Amendment disposes of the argument which a very large number of hon. Members openly stated weighed decisively in their minds, namely, the argument that men should not unnecessarily be asked to work on Sundays if they do not wish to. If the fun fair were open every Sunday, one could imagine that many employers, while not exercising any compulsory rights or powers, would, none the less, convey to the staff that unless they came in with the rest they could be dispensed with, and could find another job. But when it is a question of having the fun fair open on one Sunday out of four it seems inconceivable to me that any fun fair employer would not be able to find at least 25 per cent. of his staff willing, at proper trade union rates, of course, to do the Sunday turn.
Then, again, this Amendment disposes of one of the strongest arguments which a section of hon. Members put forward as their main argument for opposing the fun fair—the question of annoyance. It was argued that it would be hard on the people if Sunday after Sunday their enjoyment were upset by noise. I personally do not believe that a great deal of noise is going to reach any of the houses in any case. But this Amendment disposes of three-quarters of that argument.
There is an even more serious point which I want to urge on behalf of this Amendment. It may be wondered whether there now remains any argument in favour of the opening of the fun fair which was not fully used either on Second Reading or on the Committee stage. I listened to both those debates from the start, and I think there are two arguments which were hardly deployed at all. I should like to deploy them now, not in the hope of converting any Sabbatarian or anybody who voted in the "No" Lobby when this point was put to the vote, but simply to give full weight to the vote, but simply to ask them: Will they at any rate give this fun fair a chance of being seen in operation on one Sunday out of four?
I was greatly surprised in those two debates that so little mention was made of the Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen, because ever since I saw that garden in 1938 I have longed with all my heart that we could see the same sort of thing established in Britain, not for just one year in one place only, but year after year in all the main cities of our land. I am absolutely confident that that form of charming garden with all its amenities financed largely by a fun fair is something healthier than any form of recreation which—
The hon. Baronet is getting rather wide of the point. We are only discussing the question of opening on one Sunday in four and he must limit his argument to that question.
I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, but my argument is that if only the British people could see on one Sunday in four what a healthy form of recreation, rest, fellowship and enjoyment is provided by this garden, then their views would be very rapidly changed about it. Hon. Members may say of course, "We know what a fun fair is like without going to Copenhagen." I wonder if they do. I wonder if the point has occurred to hon. Members that in a fun fair which is entirely operated by private enterprise one half, or thereabouts, of the appliances are purely gambling machines. But that is not the case when it is run by a quasi-public authority as will be seen by any hon. Member who looks at the plan in the tea room. There will be no gambling machines.
We shall be attracting to the fun fair a type of person quite different from the persons who are attracted by gambling machines. I submit that one cannot judge on weekdays what it will be like when it is open on Sundays, and that there is a difference between the people who will come on Sundays and the people who will come on weekdays. To begin with, they will be wearing their Sunday clothes, which in itself creates a different atmosphere. The opportunity to see this thing, if only on one Sunday in four, would give our people the chance in future years of having this form of recreation that is so much healthier than perhaps one half—that is only a rough estimate —of other forms of recreation that are now legitimately open on Sunday.
There is another point which, to my amazement, was not stressed at all on Second Reading or in the previous Committee debate. Almost all of those who spoke in favour of opening the fun fair spoke as if the only thing to be taken into account was that those who do not believe in religion anyhow would want to go to the fun fair on Sunday and that we should not stop them from so doing. The argument was advanced almost wholly in the name of liberty, and I must say the argument seemed to be a strong one. With the possible exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang), who made perhaps the most charming speech of the two debates, nobody was at all seized with the possibility of allowing this fun fair to be open, not in order to give people freedom, but in order to give to the innumerable doubters and unbelievers of our community today a little better chance of opening their minds to Christian truth.
It is on that ground, more than on all others, that I should invite those who have strong religious views to concede the advisability of opening this fun fair on one Sunday out of four. If I may say so, amongst the very large number of complex reasons which have given rise to the fact that so many people have today closed their minds to Christian truth, one of the foremost is that in the last 100 years and more the Church and the church-goers have appeared to be an organisation and a community of people who are tremendously enthusiastic about ceremonial observances and relatively unconcerned about the social well-being of ordinary people.
With great respect, I am trying to put briefly some points about which I feel very strongly indeed, and I earnestly believe that, in a matter of not more than a minute or two, I can explain why, on grounds of nothing other than Christian evangelism, I believe it would be a great benefit to pass this quite modest Amendment. I should like to take up the exact point which the hon. Member for Louth made. It is certainly true that many social reforms came from such men as Lord Shaftesbury, but the fact borne in on the consciousness of innumerable people whose minds today are closed to Christian truth is that throughout Lord Shaftesbury's struggle he had very little support either from the bishops or the generality of church-goers in our land.
Therefore, I suggest that, in demonstrating once more to our people that almost the highest concern of churchgoers is with merely a matter of ceremonial observance, we are doing something which just closes one more bolt in the closed door of the closed mindedness which is obstructing the Christian truth from coming into the hearts and minds of scores of doubters and unbelievers in our land. I suggest that if those who went into the "No" Lobby only last week, and thereby showed how strong their own feelings are, would now make a concession to the people who have different views, they would do a great deal to show their concern with other things than just ceremonial observance.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do not wish to add anything except to say that most of us have had to face a very difficult decision in connection with this Bill. Most of us have had to face the extraordinarily difficult decision of how to balance the opinions of a sincere and fervent minority against a large but probably not so convinced majority. It seems to me that the proposal which my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) has made gives us a real chance of making a practical test of the issue. All he is suggesting is that on six Sundays in one year we should open these Pleasure Gardens and the amusement park which should be controlled, without any loud amplifiers and so on.
I do not believe there is any religious feeling in the country which could be hurt by that, and it is clear from what has transpired in the last week or two that in the near future the House will have to consider the whole question of the Sabbath Observance Acts and the attitude which should be adopted to existing amusement parks, whether they are to be allowed to continue, whether the amusement park at Weston-super-Mare should be allowed to operate, and so on. In view of that decision which will have to be taken, I think it would be admirable to have a practical demonstration on a small scale of what is involved, so that Members interested should go along to the Festival fun fair and see how it works, and ascertain whether anybody is harmed by it at all.
I want to add a second ground for supporting this Amendment. One thing that troubles me very much is this plain and simple fact. Having tried to look at the matter from the moral point of view, I have to try to look at it from the constituency point of view as well. My constituents, working five and five-and-a-half days a week, will have no chance of visiting the Festival of Britain Exhibition except at weekends. They cannot travel from Oldham to London and back in a day and see anything of this great Exhibition. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says, "Wakes week." That is all very well; I do not know what the hon. Members for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), or Blackpool, South (Mr. Roland Robinson), would say about a proposal that people should come to London during Wakes week, but I should think it would leave Blackpool very empty. Wakes week is the week when a man, his wife and young children go for their annual holiday. It is a very great occasion in Oldham particularly, and the people want to continue to do that.
A man has to consider whether his children are of a suitable age to bring to the Exhibition; they may be too young. He has to consider how much he can afford, the availability of excursions, and so on. Excursions will have to be planned by British Railways to deal with the situation. Here is a real chance of giving the industrial North an opportunity of seeing this great Exhibition in London, and doing so in a way which cannot offend any religious principles; at least, I do not see how it could do so. In my submission, the House should accept this small Amendment. Here is a genuine attempt to test the matter, to find out the real strength of public opinion and ascertain what its effects would be on public opinion.
Whatever view we may take upon the merits of the Amendment, I think the House will agree that the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) made an extremely interesting constitutional suggestion when he laid before us the thesis that a minority of 25 per cent. should be allowed to visit this fun fair for a quarter of the time. A number of the Measures passed in the last five years, if operated upon that basis, would produce extremely interesting results. One has only to imagine the pits being operated by private enterprise for a quarter of the year and by the State for the remainder.
If I may conveniently mix two metaphors in a manner associated with our hon. Friends from Northern Ireland—I do not think there are any in the House at the moment—I would say that the hon. Baronet's Amendment falls with the greatest accuracy between two stools into the worst of both possible worlds. We have with us the right hon. and learned Attorney-General upon whose knowledge and experience we always lean on these occasions. I studied his countenance with care when the hon. Baronet was speaking, and I thought I detected a certain amount of uncertainty and mystery upon his face. I should like to ask him to assist the House by giving his views upon the consequences of this Amendment should the House decide to adopt it.
Surely, whatever view we may happen to take about this Amendment, the Attorney-General will tell us that it would be extremely difficult to operate the legal code of this country as a whole, and the penal code in particular, were these words to be inserted in the various Acts of Parliament. I can see the Home Secretary getting into difficulties when a murderer is arrested, when he has to decide whether the fatal blow was struck on the right side of midnight on the first Sunday in the month or whether it occurred just after. That is the sort of trouble that we should meet if this suggestion were generally applied.
May I put this point to the Attorney-General? With references to the famous Mosaic Decalogue to which reference was made during the Second Reading, were we to add to each of those Ten Commandments the words "except upon the first Sunday in the month" we should get some extremely interesting consequences and many social disadvantages. Surely what the hon. Baronet and his hon. Friend are trying to do is to upset a decision of the House which was made only a few days ago in the most emphatic manner. We were discussing whether it was a good thing or not to open the fun fair en Sundays, and by that we meant every Sunday. That question was decided by a majority which I suggest any Government, of any party, past, present or future, might well envy; it was certainly the most emphatic vote passed during the present Parliament.
Whenever I need advice on anything concerning the devil, I shall refer to the hon. Member who is always so well informed on these matters. We took the view, on the contrary, that the battalions which were defeated were those allied to the force in question. What I am trying to argue is this. The House should not allow this thin wedge to be inserted after a decision made so emphatically a few days ago. In my view, the Amendment is not only undesirable but ludicrous, and if it is not laughed out, I hope it will be thrown out.
I agree entirely with the point of view expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Bristol, North-West (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) as to the ludicrous position which would arise if our legislation were directed on the lines of the new democracy, which I suppose we ought to call the "new Acland" version of democratic practice. This amazing proposition is only excelled by that which astounded me as coming from my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale). As a member of the profession which he graces with such extreme distinction, and as one whom I have always been disposed to follow in the arguments which he has presented to this House, I was really astounded to hear him suggesting that, on this issue, we ought to have a trial and see how it goes. I can think of very many social reforms which I should like to introduce in the country, but I think that if I brought some of them forward I should have very great difficulty in mustering enough people to tell in the Lobbies for me. If I suggested that we might have a trial with them and see how they went, I imagine that I should meet fantastic opposition.
Hon. Members, and particularly the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), are trying in some way to confuse the voting in the Lobbies of the House, with the opinions of the electorate in the country.
The hon. Member's attempts to lead the people of this country to an acceptance of the Christian faith have been sadly misguided and singularly ineffective, it seems to me. There are other things in the Gardens which people will want to see. Many people who come from Oldham and Gravesend would like to see the House in session when they come to London. Are the hon. Gentlemen prepared to advocate that the House should be in session on one Sunday in order that the wishes of these people should be met? Of course, they are not. Without any disrespect, I would say that they are probably like myself—people who catch the earliest possible train out of London as soon as the business of the House will safely permit their departure on a Friday.
The hon. Gentleman is raising art interesting point. If the House could so re-arrange the accommodation, I should be very happy to consider that suggestion. At the moment the accommodation would not even provide for the visitors who would come from Oldham alone.
That is an even more amazing proposition—that because one cannot do justice to all the people, one should not do justice to any. How does that fit in with the suggestion that we should have a try and see how it goes? It shows the confusion of thought and mind of those who are responsible for it. I thought we had decided this principle last week and, without seeking to cast any reflection on the Chair, I was amazed to see that the same issue was before the House today—only now it is in relation to one Sunday in four.
No one can accuse me of introducing deep religious convictions, in the sense that most people understand them, and allowing them to weigh with me on this question. I am not one of those, to whom the hon. Member for Gravesend referred, who go to church very frequently but that is the end of their religion; I do not go to church very frequently. There has never been any doubt in my mind about how I should vote on this issue. That is not because of any electoral reason, because if I had voted as I believe the majority of the people in my constituency would wish, I should have voted for the opening of the fun fair. I am one who was brought up in a home where it was felt that nothing should be done on a Sunday which need not be done. My mother peeled the potatoes for the Sunday dinner on the Saturday. All the shoes were cleaned before Sunday and none on Sunday, and so on. That may be an extreme example, but I believe that the further we, as a nation, depart from that conception in its modern application, the poorer we shall become.
I have worked for seven years of my life for 14 days a fortnight. In those days it was a great advantage to work on Sunday because the economic circumstances of my home made the additional Sunday pay a valuable contribution to bringing up my children. On looking back, I realise that, mentally, morally and certainly physically and spiritually, I am immensely the poorer because, during those seven years. I was not able to set one day aside and say. "This is a day which is separate and apart from all the rest—a day on which I will refresh my soul and my spirit." Because of that, I have no hesitation in opposing the Amendment. I think it is inconsistent and nonsensical and that it would destroy what we did in the House last week. I hope that those who have supported the Amendment so far will now withdraw it, and that we shall not be compelled to defeat it in a Division.
I did not take the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) seriously. I think that in one respect and in one part of his speech he was doing a bit of fun-fairing on his own, especially when he enunciated this fantastic constitutional proposition. May I put this to him? If I am lucky enough next year to draw in the ballot the chance of introducing a public Bill, I shall introduce one to denationalise the railways and I shall expect the hon. Baronet's support at least in de-nationalising half the railways, because that would represent the voting strength of the House. I imagine that his proposition was put forward as an amusement and as a contribution to the amusements park itself.
What I think the hon. Baronet and his supporters do not realise is that in the minds of most people, and I think of the majority of the House, this issue has been settled once and for all, and we do not want any variants of it. The hon. Baronet suggested that if he had followed the wishes of the majority of his electors, he would certainly have voted to have the amusements park open. I do not believe that to be true, and it may interest the House to know what was the result of a Gallup poll which I conducted in my constituency. I wrote to the secretaries of over 100 organisations in my constituency—churches, chapels, rotary clubs, the British Legion, women's guilds and, in fact, every organisation I could find—and I asked them for their opinion on what ought to be done about the amusements park on Sundays. The answers were most illuminating. Over 80 per cent. were in favour of opening the exhibition but closing the amusements park. Eleven per cent. wanted both open and 9 per cent, were in favour of clos- ing both. Thus, so far as my constituents are concerned, nine out of every 10 were in favour of closing the amusements park on Sunday.
The hon. Gentleman will realise that all these Gallup polls have only a limited value. The hon. Gentleman said that he wrote to the secretaries of 100 organisations, but I submit to him that they are rather extraordinary people. I called on 100 ordinary people, first those living in a municipal housing estate and secondly those in the richest street I could find in my constituency; and the result was exactly the opposite of that mentioned by the hon. Gentleman—80 per cent. were in favour of opening on Sunday.
That may be so. All I can say is that I took the trouble to write to organisations which are regarded as representative of public opinion. Most of them gave their views after having consulted as many members as possible. Be that as it may, my opinion is, from my constituents, that the people of this country want the amusements park to be closed on Sundays.
I am willing to concede that those who take the opposite point of view have most of the logic on their side. I admit that. They advanced irrefutable arguments that it is illogical or even rank hypocrisy to do what the House decided to do the other night, but I believe this is one of the cases where instinct triumphs over logic. The British people are not logical and it is no good pretending that they are. They have an instinct that, for reasons they probably could not explain, they do not want the amusements park open on any Sunday. I therefore sincerely hope that if this Amendment is taken to a Division the House will resist it, because I am convinced that it is contrary to what the country wants.
I would suggest to the House, in regard to this particular Amendment, which is a perfectly legitimate one to consider, that we should not debate it for too long, because we are a little in danger of repeating the arguments that were expressed on the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), in the Committee stage. Nevertheless, there is point in what my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) has said, that the Committee, having decided there should be no Sunday opening, the House may yet say, "Well, 25 per cent. opening." It could so say. However, the principle has been argued out, and it leaves the issue whether, roughly speaking, a 25 per cent. compromise may be agreed to or not.
I am not going to advise the House on what it should do one way or the other. I feel rather more sympathetic about these Amendments. Personally, I shall vote for a good number of them. Others of my Ministerial colleagues will vote against them. The House will have a free vote, as far as I can see, on the lot of them. I will inform the House should it be otherwise.
I would add this further word. The other day I supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), and I did so on the ground that in the atmosphere of the matter, generally speaking—and, I may say, to stop any ill feeling thereafter—I thought it better for his Amendment to be carried and to deprive me or any other Minister of ministerial discretion. I still think that is right.
What the House is doing today is taking a series of test issues—the outstanding cases. The House will freely decide on each one whether it will carry the Amendment or reject it. I think that is the better way to do it—the clear, democratic, specific, Parliamentary way of deciding an issue. I hope hon. Members will listen to what I think could be fairly short discussions on each Amendment; then let the House freely vote whether it will permit a thing or not, as we go along. It may well be that the House will permit one thing and will not permit another, but let the House try to consider each one on the merits of the case and come to a decision as it thinks wise.
Personally, I feel rather sympathetic about some of these Amendments, but some of my colleagues will not. However, this is the right way to proceed. We could have a series of short discussions on the Amendments and then have a free vote. Let us hope that those who are not in the Chamber, when they come in without the assistance of Whips, will be able to find the way to the Lobby of their choice—which I think they had some difficulty in doing the other day. Possibly, that was my fault. I had to make careful inquiries myself, as a matter of fact, as to which way to go. Let us review these other Amendments briefly, and then let the House come to such conclusion as it thinks right and proper in the circumstances of each case.
I am sure the Lord President has given the House good counsel. We on this side, of course, will have an entirely free vote on each of these Amendments, towards which, as the right hon. Gentleman said, some will feel sympathetic and to which others will be opposed. I can give no guidance in respect of the party view on the Amendment which is actually under discussion, but I must say that I thought one of my hon. Friends behind me expressed very succinctly a series of views to which the House would do well to give attention. All I say is that we, like the Lord President, are not taking any party view of any of the Amendments. They will be considered entirely on their merits. For myself, I trust it will not be necessary to take this Amendment to a Division. Were there one, I myself would vote against it.
Also, I trust that we shall not take too long on these Amendments. I feel that they are slightly incongruous in relation to the enormous and grave issues which were raised in the statement by the Minister of Defence earlier in the day. I trust that we shall have a due sense of responsibility when we are discussing these things. and remember that this is only a tiny part of a tiny area, and that the issues themselves are not of first-rate importance, and that issues of very, very much greater importance have been raised today, and must be at the back of the mind of every one of us.
I, personally, should naturally like to go on arguing this Amendment, which I sincerely put forward, but I feel that if the discussion on it is prolonged, that will militate against other Amendments on which, perhaps, the House will be more likely to take the same view as I do, and in all the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, at the end, to insert:
and includes any vessel moored by the Gardens as a representation of Captain Bligh's Bounty.
The name of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) was inserted at the top of the list of the names of those supporting the Amendment under the impression, I suppose, that we were dealing with Queen Anne's Bounty; since when it has been found that it is concerned with Captain Bligh's Bounty. However, I ask the House to say that this is a very small matter. This is not an infiltration on any past decision. Let me explain the position.
There was intended to be moored in the Gardens a model of Captain Bligh's Bounty, and it was so arranged as to be an informative exhibition, for admission to which there would be a small charge, and from which people, as they went round, could learn something of the history of that ship's somewhat famous—or infamous—voyage. Surely, a four-masted barque must be something worthy of seeing for a naval nation. I cannot assure the House that it is a full-scale model, but as it is big enough to be on exhibition it is certainly a substantial model. There is no question of noise of any kind in connection with this exhibition. I ask the House to say that this is a small matter, to which it can agree without a Division.
I regret very much having to intrude myself again upon the House in regard to the legal aspects of this Amendment, and, if it would be convenient, of all the Amendments following this one. Without expressing any view about the merits of one or another of them one way or another, I should like to attempt a further and, I hope, a better clarification of the law so as to show to the House that it will be useful to have a vote, which- ever way it goes, on these various Amendments. The Government are very anxious to be completely loyal to whatever may be the general sense of the House in regard to these questions, and I think it would be convenient if the House had the technical difficulties in mind as it came to consider each of the Amendments.
The difficulties arise from two things. The first is the general state of the law. The second is the fact that on Second Reading the Lord President of the Council gave an undertaking, from which he has no intention of departing, in the following words:
I will … give an Undertaking on behalf of the Government that should the House … decide against the operation of the amusements on Sundays, I will, by administrative methods, ensure that that undertaking is carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 544.]
That administrative undertaking, of course, was quite different from imposing upon the Lord President or the Secretary of State, as I think the first Amendment on the Paper attempted to do, a statutory duty entitling him in some cases to prohibit what would be otherwise legal and in other cases to admit what would be otherwise illegal.
The question, therefore, is how the administrative undertaking should be applied on the assumption that the Bill were to become law in its present form without any of these Amendments. When I spoke about this previously I said that the law was in a mess. One view of the law, if the Bill is passed as it stands—a view which perhaps I did not stress sufficiently in dealing with the matter previously—is that the technical effect of subsection (1, b), which permits the Festival Pleasure Gardens to be opened despite the Sunday Observance Acts—we do not intend to administer it in that way, but it is the technical effect that I am talking about—is that since the Bill permits the opening of the Festival Gardens without the amusements, anything may be provided which is not expressly prohibited in the body of the Bill itself.
In Committee I said that except for the exhibitions and the Festival Gardens the Festival would be thrown back now on the ordinary law of Sunday Observance, and that is perfectly correct. At that time, however, I confess I had not realised the number of things that it had been intended to do, or that it was contemplated doing in the Festival Gardens but outside the fun fair section of it, although I did give a list of amusements which would be illegal under the Bill as it stood.
I want, therefore, to be sure that I correctly explain the whole matter to the House in the light of what it was contemplated might be done in the Festival Gardens but outside the fun-fair section. I think there is no doubt at all that a cinema would be legal under the Bill as it stands. It is not intended to have one, as a matter of fact, but I mention that just in passing. There, of course, the permissive power under the Bill simply achieves without licence from the London County Council what is already the law in London, and really there is not much in that. There is no doubt, I think, that concerts would be legal. I do not know whether it is intended to have concerts; it may be. There again the Bill achieves, in its own way, what is already generally legal without a licence under the Act of 1932. I do not think there is any difficulty in regard to those cases. They are quite clear.
The difficulty arises in regard to the various other things of a less obvious character from the legal point of view. Are they legalised under the general permission of subsection (1, b) or are they prohibited by the definition of "amusements" or by the specific exclusions in subsection (4)? Those are the things which I think have been completely listed, as far as I know of what was contemplated to be done, in the various Amendments which have been put down. The House will remember that in subsection (4) there are some express prohibitions. There shall not be authorised
a stage play. variety entertainment, circus turn or puppet or marionette show, … a contest or display of boxing or wrestling, … public dancing.
All those things will be illegal anyway. That is quite clear.
The difficulty in regard to the items which are set out in the different Amendments is really this: Are they amusements within the definition of "amusements" in subsection (3, b)? The House will remember that that definition includes swings, roundabouts or other fairground amusements. Before Festival Gardens Limited can decide whether they are legally entitled to do these things, and before the Lord President can decide whether, administratively, he ought to allow them to be done, even if they are legal, it is necessary to get some guidance from the House. Let me just go through them very quickly and refer to the legal matters.
The Amendment with which we are dealing at the moment involves the question whether a replica of the "Bounty" would be an amusement. It involves that question, and another to which I will refer later. Well, honestly, I do not know. I should have thought it might not be an amusement. I do not know, but I should have thought probably not. If there is doubt about it, it might be better to have a vote to decide one way or the other. There is an additional doubt about the "Bounty." The question is: Is it in the Festival Gardens? Well, it is moored alongside, and we have to be clear whether it is included. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is very anxious to maintain, as an enthusiastic yachtsman, that this is a boat on the Thames, and that it is perfectly legal to go in a boat on the Thames on Sunday. If having a boat on the Thames on a Sunday is an amusement, for which a charge is made, I must warn my right hon. Friend about the way he conducts himself on his boat on a Sunday, because if it is an amusement he would be breaking the law and I should have to look into the situation very seriously. He may have to submit himself to special rules on Sunday in regard to the matter. We obviously want to make quite clear whether this is intended to be included so as to avoid any technical argument by some gold-digging common informer later on.
I have expressed the view that I do not think this is a fairground amusement, although one might possibly see something of the kind on a fairground. I have not seen one, but I should not like to say for certain that it could not be an amusement. I therefore suggest that we decide one way or the other and relieve the Lord President of any difficulty he might feel in carrying out his undertaking to the House.
I cannot, but there is a general provision in either the original or the Second Act exempting the Festival from the necessity of obtaining licences. It may be that we come within that exemption, but I should not like to answer off-hand. I have not had the point put to me before, and I could not answer it with certainty at the moment.
I am quite sure that that point will be borne very seriously in mind, and I am obliged to the hon. Baronet for mentioning it. It has been mentioned in the hearing of officials representing the Festival, and I understand that it is actually under discussion at the moment.
The next proposed Amendment is in page 2, line 26, at the end to insert:
but shall not be taken to include any puppet or marionette show.
That, of course, is expressly excluded under the Bill as it stands, and the House will have to vote whether it wants to include it or not. I make no comment about that, because that is a perfectly clear legal matter one way or the other which does not give rise to any embarrassing consequences so far as the law is concerned.
The next proposed Amendment, in page 2, line 26, at the end to insert:
but shall not be taken to include any such vessel as aforesaid
again refers to the "Bounty." It is intended to make quite clear that the definition of "amusements" in subsection (3) does not include the "Bounty," in case anyone might think it did.
Then it is proposed, in page 2, line 26, at the end to insert:
but shall not be taken to include any children's pony-carriage drives.
This is a typical Amendment designed to limit and clarify the definition of what is meant by a "fairground amusement." Again, I personally do not know whether children's pony-carriage drives are a fairground amusement. They will certainly be found at some fairgrounds, but they are also to be found elsewhere—perhaps on the beach at Frinton. It might be as well to have a vote one way or the other on whether we should exclude it from the definition of a "fairground amusement." It may well be that some hon. Members will think there is not much harm in children's pony-carriage drives, always provided that there is proper segregation of the sexes, and so forth.
Next it is proposed, in page 2, line 26, at the end to insert:
but shall not be taken to include any special illuminations.
My opinion about that is that that is not affected by the definition of "amusements."
If this was rejected by the House—and, expressing my own personal view, I hope very much that it will not be rejected for the reason I will indicate—I think that the Lord President in implementing his undertaking will have to say that this must be forbidden, although it is legal. May I say this about it: I have very little doubt that it is legal. Nonetheless, I should like to see the Amendment passed in order to give guidance to the Lord President; but I think that anything like that which is a permanent and standing part of this Exhibition, and the illuminations will be, of course, is legal. If they were all turned out, I suppose there would be more or less complete darkness in the Festival Gardens on Sunday evenings, which might be an extremely undesirable thing. [Interruption.] I do not expect to be there myself on a Sunday evening. I think that the House may wish to vote on that, and I would suggest that as it is almost certainly already quite legal under the Bill as it stands, we should vote in favour of the Amendment, so as to put this thing beyond any possible doubt or any embarrassment for the Lord President in the administration of his undertaking.
The children's zoo is a different matter. That might be a fairground amusement. Zoological Gardens like Regent's Park are, of course, legal on a Sunday under the 1932 Act. I think myself that the general permission to open the Festival Gardens on a Sunday would probably be taken to cover this. On the other hand, there is a kind of children's zoo—a pet's corner—in fairgrounds sometimes. such as at permanent fairs at Blackpool, and we should like to get the clear view of the House whether it is desirable or not.
The next one is:
any underground grotto or series of grottos or elevated tree walk if designed for visual or scenic effect.
That is a doubtful one. It is not a moving thing at all. I should have thought that it might be legal and might not be embraced by the definition of fairground amusements, but it is doubtful, and we may have litigation about it. so perhaps the House would decide one way or the other what it thinks about the merits of it.
Next we come to "boating lake." I take a clear view that an ordinary lake, like the lake in Battersea Park as at present, would be perfectly legal and not regarded as a fairground amusement, and therefore perfectly legal under the Bill as it stands. It is, however, right to tell the House that this is not quite that kind of lake. It is a lake for little boats with paddles and some with electric motors. It is a little children's boating lake. We see these in permanent fairgrounds. I want to get that out of the way and make it quite clear whether we do or do not want that included.
As to the Punch and Judy show, as the Bill stands that is expressly excluded by the exclusion of marionette and puppet shows. But hon. Members may take the view that there are Punch and Judy shows and Punch and Judy shows, and that a Punch and Judy show is one of the things they do not want to exclude. That is a matter which the House will decide on the merits. It is quite essential to deal with that, or legally it will be excluded.
The next one:
Any miniature railway adapted wholly or mainly for children to ride in
concerns one of those switchback things that go up and down and make people either merry or sick, but as it is a little railway that meanders round the gardens, that may be a fairground amusement.
That gives rise to a difficulty. Is a thing a fairground amusement because one finds it sometimes in a fairground, although one may find it elsewhere? That is why we want to get a clear definition on the point. I think that it is a thing that we may find in fairgrounds, and I accept what the hon. Gentleman said about it. The House will have the opportunity of giving a clear vote on that, and that will also help us in the administration of the gardens.
leave out 'or puppet or marionette show'
and the next one:
after 'show', insert 'but not including a Punch and Judy show.'
are linked together. They are to permit the holding of a Punch and Judy show other than a marionette show. The last Amendment:
after 'wrestling', insert 'or'
is purely drafting.
I think that I have explained the position clearly to the House and in the light of that explanation the House will be able to forget about the law and vote on the merits of each one of these things. Whichever way it votes, it will very much help us in the legal position, in the actual administration, and in carrying out the wishes of the House.
May I ask Mr. Deputy-Speaker for guidance? It has been suggested that we should have a general discussion and then, if necessary, decide on one or other of the proposals separately. I think that perhaps that would be for the convenience of the House, rather than to debate each one separately, which, I think, might get us into a certain amount of difficulty and involve us in a certain amount of argument.
In view of the fact that one of the Amendments which I had on the Order Paper fell to the ground as a result of the vote when this matter was discussed previously on the Committee stage, I should like to say how gratified I am that a positive approach to the question of what is reasonable to be done in the Festival Gardens has been substituted for a negative approach which was originally the feature of the Bill. I voted against the Second Reading of the Bill. I should like to point out to the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) that on that occasion—
I think that is not going to prolong the discussion of the whole thing. Possibly some of the observations on one of these Amendments might be taken as read for some of the others. In regard to this particular one concerning the "Bounty"—
I am sorry to interrupt, but I only want to be helpful. I think that we all agree that the pigeonhole system with regard to the small factual Amendments is better and that if hon. Members would undertake to put before the House the very few facts which are desirable to describe each matter, general observations might take place on the first Amendment.
I think that it may save time if we could say in one go what otherwise might take twice as long in a series of debates. I would regard as disappointing if the outcome of all this business was that the Festival Garden would be closed on Sundays. The question of whether payment should be charged and so on is a relevant aspect of it. As I see it, a number of these proposals—and this one is an illustration of my point—will have the effect of making it easier for those in control of the Festival Gardens to keep them open. Therefore. I am biased in favour of the majority of the Amendments. They will tend to produce the result I had in mind all along. I hope that it may not be necessary to take a vote on each of the Amendments. Quite a number of the Amendments might be dealt with without causing confusion to Members who will not know into which Lobby they should go.
The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) was wise in insisting that we should not take a Division on each of these Amendments. There are many amusements which could be included for the entertainment of the general public on Sundays, in spite of the strong views the House has expressed In regard to the opening of the fun fair on Sundays. There is no difficulty at all about this Amendment. If we are to proceed by the positive approach, we must examine each Amendment in turn. Captain Bligh's "Bounty," as I imagine it to be, will look somewhat similar to vessels that are already in existence in places of amusement.
I have in mind the full-scale model of the "Golden Hind" which is to be seen at Southend. I do not know whether it was on a Sunday that I saw it, although I am told that it can be seen on Sundays. When I was there, I saw a stream of solemn personages, entirely Sabbatarian, passing to and fro, and I cannot imagine that there would be any offence to the memory of those who sailed that vessel, or to the Sabbatarian point of view, for people to look at that vessel on a Sunday. It was a good opportunity for those who wanted to see it from the historical point of view. I cannot imagine that Captain Bligh's "Bounty," if it is at all an honest representation, will provide other than good education on the way in which the Navy used to treat those who sailed in these vessels. It is a very good thing to see such a vessel from the educational point of view, whether it is during the week or on a Sunday. There cannot be any real objection to this admirable exhibition.
I shall try to satisfy my right hon. and learned Friend, who stated the law on these matters. I can tell him that there is no necessity to regard this sort of thing as an amusement, but that it is as much an educational exhibition as those strange things people will go to see in the South Kensington Museum, where wonderful things take place if a penny is put in a slot. I am told that it is a very valuable exhibition. I hope, for positive reasons, that the House will consider it right, despite the vote of last week, to include this vessel for exhibition purposes.
I hope that the House will agree to this Amendment. I suppose that this vessel is the vessel which was constructed for use in a film, a three-quarter size vessel. If this vessel is moored by the Gardens, a large number of people will want to see it. I ask the Attorney-General to point out to the Lord President of the Council the desirability of linking up this model of the "Bounty" with the Royal Naval Museum at Greenwich, which is open on Sundays. There is not much difference between seeing a model of a ship moored at Battersea and the model ships at Greenwich.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
but shall not be taken to Include any puppet or marionette show.
I was much moved by the reference made to the anomalous nature of our debate with more serious events elsewhere, and for that reason I shall keep my speech very short. I am convinced that, for anyone who wants to get an Amendment accepted, he must not bore the House too much. This Amendment is perfectly simple, although it raises an issue which is rather different from the other Amendments, as the Attorney-General has said. I want puppet or marionette shows included because I think that they are harmless and innocent. I understand that they are mentioned in the Sunday Observance Act because in those days they were not thought so innocent; but those who run marionette shows today are most respectable people, and they run them for most respectable objects.
This Amendment also includes Punch and Judy shows. I think that everyone will wish Punch and Judy shows to be included, both for their entertainment value and for the moral lesson that the awful fate of Mr. Punch teaches. I am ready to listen to any argument showing that puppet shows are immoral: but if we approach this matter in a real and constructive spirit, I suggest that it is reasonable to allow these completely innocent and instructive entertainments to take place on Sundays.
I am sorry to take a different view from that of my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). I regard this Amendment as being distinguishable from the other Amendments. Although I am speaking from memory, I think that the Lord President of the Council said that subsection (4) included a number of features which were automatically regarded as objectionable. That was the view of such an enthusiastic amusements person as the Lord President of the Council. It would seem to be quite logical to distinguish this Amendment from some of the other things which were proposed for the Gardens, and for that reason I hope that the House will not support the proposal to make this lawful on Sunday, as was done on the previous Amendment.
There is another point I want to make. I referred to the assistance to those in charge of the Gardens, if some of these attractions were made lawful in the Bill. I do not think that this particular one comes under that heading. Indeed, it was never contemplated originally, or it would not have been in the Bill in the first instance. What I should like to be told on this Amendment or subsequently is whether, if the bulk of these Amendments get through, the doubt as to the opening of the Gardens would thereby be removed. T think I am right in stating that one of the reasons for encouraging people to support a number of the Amendments is the prospect that it will make it easier for the Gardens to be open.
I do not think I can give any undertaking about that. The hon. Gentleman said that if this Amendment passed it would make it easier for the Gardens to be open, and I do not think I can go beyond that. The whole matter will no doubt, be investigated by Festival Gardens, Limited, and we all hope it will be possible to open the Gardens, though I cannot commit the company.
I was hoping that we might be spared a lengthy analysis of what is reasonable or unreasonable on Sundays. This particular topic has been gone over at very great length, and I am the last one to want to inflict my views in these matters. The Bill was given a Second Reading and this type of attraction was prohibited. I should have thought that this matter had been decided by the vote on Second Reading, although I myself was in the minority.
If the House will bear with me for two or three moments I will tell them of a puppet show which I saw, and which was very good entertainment, a few nights ago. In that we come very close to the theatre.
My hon. Friend says they are not living. That may be so and he may, therefore, have to classify them in terms of the cinema. I should have thought that they came sufficiently near to variety and to the theatrical category of entertainment as to put them over the border line of what it is really intended to do in the Festival Gardens.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the main feature of the children's hour programme on the television on Sundays for years has been a puppet or marionette show? So far as I am aware, there has been no protest to the B.B.C. by any clerical or other authority.
The hon. Gentleman is relying on logic as a number of other hon. Gentleman have been relying on logic. [Laughter.] Logic is always called in aid to fortify arguments when there is no other means of doing so. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) said he would prefer to trust to instinct than logic in a great many cases, and that is not bad advice. My hon. Friend may have logic on his side here, but I would prefer to trust to instinct and say that this is over the border line, and that it should not be permitted.
I want to put one or two questions. It seems to me that here we are trying to salvage something out of the wreck following the decision already taken. What I want to know is whether, if this Amendment is passed, we shall permit on Sundays certain entertainments which normally would be part of the fun fair. How far will the authorities be allowed to put into operation parts of the fun fair, that fun fair having already been banned on Sunday by a vote of the House?
I do not know if my hon. Friend was here when I made my speech on the previous Amendment, but I endeavoured to say that some of these Amendments are doubtful. No doubt some of them are outside the fun fair altogether, and I dealt with the definition of "amusements." Some of these proposals are pretty clearly outside, and some are doubtful one way or another. There might be a puppet show either inside or outside the fun fair, and whether it is legal or not is not altogether clear.
There is a certain amount of agreement here, because those who so vigorously opposed the Sunday opening of the fun fair seem strangely absent today. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have not heard very much against these proposals, but perhaps I shall now that I have raised the matter. It seems to me that some portion of the fun fair will be open if the most of these Amendments are carried today.
No, these things are outside the area of the fun fair. They were to have been provided in other parts of the Festival Gardens, but outside the fun fair section or whatever it is called. We have made no attempt at all to legalise anything in the original plan of the fun fair.
I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) not to press his objection. I think it would be a great advantage if we could pass this Amendment, and, indeed, all the Amendments put forward by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale). I should like to make it clear that I voted against the Second Reading and against the fun fair. I do not think my hon. Friend's objection to this Amendment should be pressed because he cannot have it both ways. If he welcomed, as he did welcome and as I welcome, the positive approach enshrined in these Amendments, then he has to answer the question, where does this Amendment differ from all other? I can find no difference at all in them. Indeed, if we had gone through the various aspects of the fun fair, as we are doing in these Amendments, the fun fair might well have got through this House, because it is extremely difficult to argue against, say, swings as one particular item.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury spoke about logic being on the side of the supporters of Sunday opening he was met with some derisive laughter. I agree with him. It is precisely that problem that is touched on in discussions of this problem because there is no logic in this matter. Logic never has been or will be a condemnation or a repudiation of a belief, and it is only in the big matters that at the end of the argument, however logical it may be, that we can say, "I believe." I believe that we have got ourselves into the ridiculous position of dancing on a pin about matters with which we are confronted this afternoon.
Lastly I should like to ask the Attorney-General one thing. I gathered that these Amendments have been framed to try to get—and I think they are an admirable piece of work—the sort of entertainment for the Festival Pleasure gardens which is in contemplation. Is the Attorney-General satisfied that these Amendments will be adequate? There is the possibility of this Bill being looked at in another place and additions made. But if we accept the positive approach, as I do, it might be argued in another place that, apart from this positive approach, there should still be a small measure of discretion to a Minister of the Crown, which would cover minor matters not covered by the detailed proposals put forward by the hon. Member for Oldham, West.
In my view of the law, the permission under Clause 1 (1, b) makes anything legal which was not expressly prohibited in this Bill, but it was not intended to administer the Bill in that way. That was why action on these lines will be needed. The Amendments that have been put down have been by Private Members on both sides of the House. When I looked at them this morning, as I did, and compared them with the list, which I also looked at this morning, of what Festival Gardens Limited had contemplated doing, it seemed to me that those Amendments covered all the things about which there could possibly be any controversy. That is really all I can say. In the light of the decision of the Committee on this matter, Festival Gardens Limited and the Lord President of the Council, carrying out the undertaking which he gave on the Second Reading, will do their best to administer the thing in accordance with the sense of the House.
When the Amendment was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), another of my hon. Friends the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) felt that this was very much a border-line case, and I was inclined to agree with him. One of the later interventions of the Attorney-General has rather forced me to change my mind. I want to be quite certain now that I have got it right. My first reaction to the Amendment was one that has not been mentioned so far, that it was somewhat unfair to the showmen in the fun fair itself to be precluded from Sunday activity if we were now to allow puppet and marionette shows to function, which are very much the same sort of thing. I now understand that in any case they are, geographically, outside the fun fair, in the Exhibition grounds. If that is so, it makes a difference to the issue.
I understood from my hon. Friend when he was speaking that he was seeking permission for any puppet or marionette shows to stay outside in the Gardens, outside the fun fair, whereas we have already refused permission for the fun fair itself to function.
We find in subsection (4) of this Clause that puppet and marionette shows are specifically mentioned as activities to which the Bill does not apply. That led me to oppose the Amendment, but if the Attorney-General assures us—I think he does—that all that this means is that something in the Festival Gardens is to be permitted to function on Sundays, my objections are largely removed.
That is the position. I think I am right in saying so. but perhaps I shall get a nod one way or the other from those who instruct me, whether I am right or wrong. All these Amendments relate to things which are geographically outside what is called "the fun fair area." Hon. Members who put down Amendments on one side or the other have, I gather, not attempted to go outside the decision of the Committee the other day and to legalise anything inside the fun fair. The fun fair is out, on Sundays, and that is an end to it. These shows are outside the fun fair. They will be functioning quite independently on ordinary weekdays. The question is whether they should continue on Sundays. That is all I can say without expressing a view on the merits.
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down will he tell us, because I am sure the House will be interested to know, why the Government, in the drafting of the Bill, sought to exclude these shows in Clause 1 (4)?
I am afraid of getting myself involved in the merits of this matter. If hon. Members like to look up my Second Reading speech they will get some indication of my views. I want to be loyal on this matter. This is a free vote, and members of the Government must not express their views. If I express my view one way other right hon. Gentlemen may express theirs in other ways.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman asking the House to say that it will be perfectly reasonable and logical to have marionette shows outside the fun fair but legally wrong to have them inside the fun fair? In the draft of the Bill they were absolutely excluded. Now the justification for allowing this Amendment is: "Though we still maintain what was in subsection (3), because it is outside the bounds of the fun fair we hold that this is quite permissible."
I must not express a view, although I have a very clear one. All I can say is that legally the only marionette or puppet show to which the Amendment applies is one which it was contemplated to have quite outside the fun fair. What was provided in the fun fair is another matter and does not arise.
With the permission of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] I want to make two points. The first is that I believe that the majority of hon. Members who voted four to one against this inclusion last week would feel if they were here now, that we were trying to do by Amendments and by a back-door[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am entitled to state my case.
The majority who voted freely last week, four to one, would, if they were in this House now, feel that we were trying to do by a back door method what was not permitted a week ago. May I state my other objection, which has not been stated at all? I am against this proposal on economic grounds. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Leslie Hale), when he moved a previous Amendment, said that something like 50,000 people from his constituency would want to come down to see the exhibition and the fun fair on Sunday.
I did not say anything of the kind. The precise words were, in answer to some frivolous speech from the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) who wanted to know where I stood, that I might be prepared to consider it if there were 50,000 of my constituents who wanted to see it on Sunday.
My point is that the hon. Member for Oldham, West, wants the fun fair and the Exhibition to be open on Sunday and this will be an additional attraction for his people to come from Oldham to London. He said that they could not come on Saturday because they worked a five-and-a-half-day week and that the only time they could come was on Sunday.
Very good, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I put it this way? A marionette show held on Sunday will attract the constituents of the hon. Member for Oldham, West, to come and see the Exhibition on the Sunday. I think that my argument is valid. The hon. Member said that his constituents could only come to see the show on Sunday because they were working five and a half days a week—
The hon. Gentleman must not consistently misrepresent me. I made a speech on an Amendment moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) suggesting that the whole thing—fun fair, amusement park and everything—should be open on Sunday, and I said that, in general, my constituents would want a week-end if the fun fair and the Exhibition were open. I made no reference to marionette and puppet shows or to Captain Bligh's "Bounty." The hon. Gentleman might as well refer his argument to what was said a week ago last Tuesday as to go on dithering with these observations.
I am obliged to the hon. Member for Oldham, West, but I think he will agree that if all these Amendments were rejected, including the one for the marionette show, his people would not come on Sunday because there would be less attraction for them, and that is my argument. The hon. Member said they would not come on Saturday because they would be working half a day. This is a serious argument.
I can quite understand that some hon. Members wish to get away and catch early trains—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—but I am trying to state a point of view. I was about to give the actual travelling time for the constituents of the hon. Member for Oldham, West, to London and back.
I bow to your Ruling. Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I shall not put that argument forward now, but shall try to make my point on Third Reading. I would, however, say that I feel that we are trying to do by Amendment what the House said last week it would not permit to be done—[HoN. MEMBERS: "No."]—and I hope the Amendment will be rejected.
I trust it will not be taken by the House that this is an attempt to go by a back door round what has been done before. For some of these things I have sympathy and I am not conscious of trying by a back door to elude a decision of the House. Indeed, I intend to vote against some of the later Amendments. A case for the Amendment which has not so far been put is that at present the Exhibition is prohibited from providing on a Sunday in any part of it anything which can be interpreted as a puppet and marionette show, and this would apply to every single one of the things we have decided to have open, the South Bank exhibition, the exhibition of science and so on. It is within the knowledge of all of us that in such things we not infrequently have working models of one kind or another against which some meticulous critic might inform as being a puppet show. Even more wounding, somebody might bring it up to the Lord President as an occasion on which he was attempting to elude the clearly expressed view of the House. I should be very sorry if by a vote of this House it was decided that every working model in every part of the Exhibition should be closed—
What the Committee decided was a clear question, but think the House has always been in a position also to make its own decision. We are now deciding as a House. In this I am speaking purely for myself and against the views of some of my hon. Friends for whose opinions I have the greatest respect and in favour of the views of others of my hon. Friends for whose opinions I have great respect. It is clear that there is no party question.
All I say is that the House should consider that it would also risk the shutting down of any moving apparatus in any other part of the Exhibition. In this the Festival Gardens Company will have to exercise a due and proper regard for the feelings of the people and the views expressed in this House. The responsibility is not the responsibility of the Minister; it is the responsibility of those who give the licence. This is not the licence for the show but an indication of views to the Festival Gardens Company. I trust that if they were to have a puppet or marionette show it would not be of the nature of some which have been described but the sort of thing which the House has had clearly in mind this afternoon. My personal opinion is that the company can reasonably be given that discretion and I shall vote for the Amendment if necessary. When I say that I am in no way attempting to give a lead from the Front Bench about the matter. Unlike the Attorney-General, who has given legal advice and no more, on this occasion I can only speak for myself, so I would again remind hon. Members who are here or are entering the Chamber that no official lead is being given to the party on this occasion from the Front Bench.
Amendment agreed to.
The following Amendment in page 2, line 26, in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), appears to be consequential upon the Amendment which, I understand, has been carried by the House. Perhaps it could be moved and seconded formally.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any such vessel as aforesaid.
So great is the speed of legislation that the Amendment as it appears on the Order Paper has now become slightly out of order, and I must ask you, Sir, to accept this very slight manuscript Amendment to the printed words. The Amendment is purely consequential, of course, to prevent Captain Bligh's "Bounty" from sailing astern out of the Bill. As by the passing of the last Amendment the words
but shall not be taken to include
have already been added to the Clause, these same words need to be omitted from the present Amendment, and only the words
or any such vessel as aforesaid
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any children's pony-carriage drives.
In this case the same point of wording arises as on the previous Amendment. I do not think it is necessary to explain the purpose of the Amendment except to say that it is proposed to have 10 Shetland ponies which will be drawing broughams, hansoms, etc., in order to give an atmosphere of 1851 to the main carriageway of the Exhibition. They will be purely for children, and I hope that no exception will be taken to the Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any special illuminations.
This is a very important Amendment and I cannot conceive that any Member of the House will object to it. The greater part of the illuminations are essential, and if they were not provided after dark much of the best part of the Exhibition would be out of action. It has already been arranged that various parts of London shall be specially illuminated, and it would be particularly unfortunate if the Gardens were the one part of
London which was not illuminated. I do not think anything more need be said. I commend the Amendment to the House as one which is innocent and essential, and I think that even those who take a different view from myself on certain matters will agree that the more illuminations there are, the better it will be for us and for them.
I beg to second the Amendment, particularly after the warning by my right hon. and learned Friend of the consequences which may arise in certain parts of London which will depend on special illuminations in the earlier part of the week. If they are not allowed on Sundays, probably the whole thing will have to be shut off and the Exhibition plunged into Stygian gloom. This in itself is sufficient reason why we should not contemplate turning off the special illuminations because of any Sabbatarian principle.
I agree that the further we go with these positive Amendments, the more illogical—as everybody now seems to admit—we become; but as the House of Commons now seems to have plunged into working according to instinct rather than according to logic, apparently logical argument is not sought regarding any of these Amendments. I have, however, at least tried to make a case that it would be illogical to turn out the special illuminations and to make this part of the Exhibition impossible by reducing it to darkness.
I apologise for that accidental error, which, I assure you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, was not meant to be in any way derogatory to the occupant of the Chair.
This Amendment does not go quite so easily and straightforwardly as was suggested by its mover and seconder. "Special illuminations" might contain fireworks. I honestly do not think that that is what the House had in mind when it voted last week. It might include a tremendous blaze of lights all over the place. As the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) said, this is now a matter, not of logic, but of instinct. The phrase, "lit up like a fairground" is not, I think, the thing which the House had in mind when it voted last week or has in mind when making the modification which it is now making.
I ask the Attorney-General two points. As far as I can understand, "special illuminations" might include fireworks. As I say, I honestly do not think that is what the House had in mind. Secondly, what would be the legal position if the mover were to withdraw the Amendment? Would it not then fall back, as he said earlier, on the general principle—that is to say, that a reasonable amount of illumination incidental to the Gardens would be perfectly legal? I frankly do not think that the widely extended use of illuminations is what the House had in mind or now has in mind. Furthermore, this matter concerns Sundays in mid-summer and under summer time, when the opportunity for special illuminations will be very small. I do not think it desirable that the Amendment should be pressed.
I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will reconsider his position on that point. This happens to be the one Amendment on which I express a view on the merits. It seems to me that it is absolutely legal to provide the illuminations of the kind contemplated, which would cause no breach of the Sunday Observance Acts whatever.
I can give an absolute undertaking that there will be no fireworks. There will be a certain amount of floodlighting, lighting of trees and that sort of thing, and a few fairy lights—that is all. They will be there all the week and will be continued on Sundays from May till October. On Sundays, I think, the place closes earlier, and I suppose that in June and July there would not be any question of lighting because it would still be daylight at closing time, but in October and in May, of course, the Gardens would be lit up on a Sunday.
These illuminations are intended to be an integral part of the design of the main features of the Gardens, including the main vista, which occupies, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman probably knows much better than I do, as he is a member of the Festival Council, a large part of the whole area, which would really cease to exist altogether after dark unless it was illuminated by floodlighting. It will be seen from the map that the main vista is one of the great features of these Gardens, and unless they are lit up by floodlighting and that kind of thing, the Gardens would really be quite unusable after dark on a Sunday. I think there is nothing objectionable there.
That is exactly what I said, but the difficulty we are in, as I explained to the House I think quite frankly, is that on Second Reading the Lord President of the Council gave an undertaking that we would not try to apply the technical position too technically, but would try to administer the matter in accordance with the sense of the House. There are illuminations of a quite different kind in some fairgrounds. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman talked of fairground illuminations. Although I am quite certain in advising the House that it would be legal to have illuminations in the Festival Gardens without this Amendment, we do not want to do what would be technically legal if it is against the sense of the House. That is the object hon. Members had in mind when they put down the Amendment. They want to get guidance for the proper and seemly administration of the Gardens.
The word "illuminations" is a term of art in certain parts of the country, and "special illuminations" is capable of a certain extension. I take it, from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that the illuminations which are contemplated on a Sunday would be nothing like the illuminations widely publicised in the northern parts of England?
I am in a difficulty there because, although I believe those illuminations are extremely popular in the northern parts of England, I have not actually seen them. I do not know, and would not risk saying without having seen them—although the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), is out of the Chamber—whether they are seemly or not; but, as far as we can understand from the description we have been given, all the designs have been specially selected having regard to their effect when illuminated at night as well as their effect when no illumination is necessary. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, the Gardens contain a layout of different designs which after dark would lose their effect entirely if there were not this kind of illumination.
I think it is also known that in other parts of London during this period special emphasis is to be laid on illuminations, floodlighting and matters of that kind. It would be odd if, although they are legally entitled to do it, as they will be, inside the Gardens they were not able to put on illuminations which they were able to put on outside. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that some of these floodlighting effects are exceedingly beautiful and make some of our lovely things more lovely at night than they sometimes appear in the daytime. I assure the House that there is nothing unseemly about this.
It may be that we were wrong in putting down the Amendment—I said "we" but I mean whoever put the Amendment down—but there were some cautious people who sit behind me who wanted to be quite sure that we did not get into legal difficulties. I do not think we should, but the Amendment has been moved and we would like to hear the sense of the House upon it.
We have received two useful assurances from the Attorney-General, first that this does not cover fireworks and, secondly, a description of what was in mind. Although these activities are not in any way illegal, he has now put an interpretation on them for the guidance of the House. I think that in the spirit of the proposals set out by the Attorney-General, I should feel he had given a clear indication of what it is proposed to do, and I should be perfectly ready to agree. I think that, as far as I am concerned, he has met my objections.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert, "or any children's zoo."
I am informed that it is intended to have what is called a "pets' corner" in the Festival Gardens. It will be completely operated and staffed from the London Zoological Gardens and I am told there would be no savage beasts of any kind and that the only animals there will be of a semi-domesticated nature. [An HON. MEMBER: "What are they?"] If anyone wants to know what they are, I would say that they include anything from a zebra to a domestic cat. This will be an ordinary pets' corner for the children. I am sure the House will not wish to debate the matter any further.
I hope that this Amendment will be accepted, but once again I rise to draw on the good temper—if it still exists, as I hope it does—and the knowledge of the Attorney-General. We have always to be careful in drafting an Act of Parliament. Are the words, "children's zoo" all right from the legal point of view?—[Laughter.] This is a perfectly serious question and I am sure that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale) will be the first to appreciate the point.
In the first place, "zoo" is an abbreviation which we have come to accept in our normal language and I am asking, as a layman, whether it is proper for insertion in an Act of Parliament and whether "children's zoo" is one to which children are admitted, or whether the explanation given by the hon. Member is in fact a definition of a children's zoo. We all know that the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park are opened every Sunday, and the hon. Member says that this is to be a pets' corner. That definition might be considered to embrace this honourable House in the opinion of some people. I am asking whether the drafting is sufficiently watertight to go into an Act of Parliament without danger of misinterpretation.
I would not say that this drafting is absolutely watertight, but I think it is quite sufficient for its purpose, which is to exclude the possibility of any common informer's action and to give guidance to the authorities on what they may do. I think, again, that this is a thing which may be legal without express permission and it is intended, I understand, that the zoo should be of a limited nature. The word "zoo" is all right, and I think the words "children's zoo" do not mean a zoo containing only children but that children may visit it to look at other semi-domestic animals.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any underground grotto or series of grottos or elevated tree walk if designed for visual or scenic effect.
This is a somewhat more unusual Amendment, requiring a trifle more explanation, although it is really the simplest of all and the simplest to explain. The grotto and the tree walk are to be rather special constructions. The former is to be a traditional form of grotto, rather on the lines of that in 1851. There are some additional scenic effects. I am told that people will walk through four beautiful caverns depicting earth, fire, wind and water. We shall all look at the third cavern with special interest. There will be no music in the grotto; it will be perfectly quiet. There is frankly some doubt about whether there will be a charge for admission on Sunday. Above the grotto is to be a beautiful tree walk, so designed as to afford a magnificent vista of the whole Festival Gardens. This is something of a horticultural chef d'ourre; there is no harm or vice about it. I hope that the House will accept this Amendment without hesitation.
I am afraid that I am not convinced. No one can say that this is a special children's amusement, and I feel that this is simply getting round to the ordinary fun fair. We all know that there are in fun fairs attractions with such names as the "Mysterious River Ride." I know that this is not supposed to be the same, but it has the same purpose—one goes into it to get away from the rest of the show. It might lead to undesirable consequences. All that I can say is that I am not in favour of the Amendment, and if it were pressed to a Division I am afraid that I should have to vote against it.
In that case I hope that it will not be pressed to a Division. I believe that in the Tea Room there is a plan of the layout of the Pleasure Gardens which is open for inspection by Members. If they look at it, they will find that there is not really any objection to this proposal. This is not the kind of thing one finds in a fun fair, with dark corners where odd things may or may not happen. This is really to be quite a feature of the Festival Gardens as a whole. Here, again, I am sure that the matter could be dealt with under the ordinary law and under this Bill. The reason for the Amendment is that we do not want to be involved in litigation throughout the Festival.
This feature would be perfectly legal under the ordinary law and under the special provisions of this Bill. It is not a showground feature. If the Amendment is defeated, we shall be in the odd position that although the law clearly permits it, and in addition this Bill clearly permits it, the Lord President of the Council will have to use his administrative discretion, which is rather a heavy burden, though I know he will bear it to the best of his ability. To forbid something which the law and this Bill allow would be a very odd state of affairs.
The tree walk is not in any way a stunt. It is really quite a novel and unusual feature. It will be a walk on boards, not underneath the trees but at the level of the first branches. It will be quite effective and pretty. I cannot see that it will be a source of any great immorality or of any tendency towards irreligion. The grotto is to be in the traditional form of a grotto. As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale), has said, it is to be provided as a direct link with the 1851 Exhibition. There is to be no music in it and probably no charge for admission. I venture to think, and I believe that here I have on my side—I would not express this view about it otherwise—the opinion of those who took the other view about the Sunday opening of the fun fair as a whole, that this feature does not come within the category of a fun fair feature.
It is undoubtedly legal under the present law. If Battersea Park resumes its old character as Battersea Park after the Festival, this feature may remain there and be open on Sunday without question. Apart from the ordinary law, this Bill, in its existing terms, again legalises it in Clause I (1, b). We desire the Amendment for the reason I have already explained to the House. I am not very much concerned about it because this is not one of the matters about which I think there is any legal doubt. The Members who put down the Amendment did so because they want to be sure that we have not to go to the extent of fighting actions brought by common informers in regard to this Festival. We shall be exposed to common informer actions from a nuisance point of view, even if there is little prospect of any penalties being obtained, and we wish as far as possible to clear away all doubts of anyone who may have an excessively technical approach. I consider that there is no doubt about the matter, that this is legal under the ordinary law, and is re-legalised, if I may so put it, by the express permission for the opening of the Festival Gardens.
I hope that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) will reconsider his view in this matter. So far as I can understand what is intended, this is to be merely a piece of landscape gardening. It is not even suggested that there should be a hermit, as there often was in grottos like this in the 18th century. I am sure that this is an innocent proposal, and that it is in the best Victorian tradition that there should be a grotto. It will have great charm. My right hon. and gallant Friend did not advance any reasoned views against this proposal; it just seemed to offend him. I rise expressly to ask him to reconsider his view and to allow this most harmless form of recreation.
I shared with my right hon. and gallant Friend the somewhat suspicious view which he expressed about this Amendment. After all, there can be various kinds of grottos, and this Amendment is so drafted as to include all kinds of grottos. I well recollect that the grotto at the Earls Court Exhibition and the one at the Wembley Exhibition were both of an amusing character, rather in the nature of a fun fair.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman probably remembers the one at Blackpool better. The explanation which the Attorney-General has given has, I must confess, satisfied my doubts in regard to the matter, although I was, like my right hon. and gallant Friend, opposed to the Amendment when I saw it on the Order Paper. Now it is quite clear that this is to be a grotto without any funny things or anything of an unseemly character happening as one goes round. Accordingly, I think we can allow this Amendment to be inserted without any further discussion.
I am still in grave doubt, due to the fact that I thought the Government had rather accepted the appeal which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) made to them. The Government are apparently willing, if he threatens a Division on this matter, to allow the Amendment to go, because they believe that they can deal with the issue by means of the ordinary law.
No. If I may speak again, by leave of the House, and if my hon. Friend will permit me, I wish to make it absolutely clear that if the House rejects this Amendment it will not be done, although I am quite certain that we could make this provision under the ordinary law. That was the whole point of the Lord President's undertaking on Second Reading. He said that we could not cover everything technically in this Bill, but that he would see that the sense of the House and the spirit of its decisions were carried out. If this Amendment is defeated—and I hope that it will not be—we shall not have a grotto.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any boating lake.
This is a consequential Amendment. It is a proposal to have a boating lake similar to those already in existence in many London parks which are open on Sundays. The boats are intended for children only. They are petrol-driven, they are specially constructed for the purpose, and, of course, they are under adequate supervision. I suppose there is no way in which we can guarantee that small men and women will not have a ride if they want to, but this is intended to be a children's boating lake. When I sat down a little prematurely last time, I found that I had failed to convince the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). I did not want to go on talking about a matter which I felt sure would be readily accepted by both sides of the House. If he would give an affirmative nod, it would enable me to resume my seat.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end, to insert:
or any miniature railway adapted wholly or mainly for children to ride in.
The railway mentioned in the Amendment is a miniature one entirely designed for children to ride in. It is not a railway which takes up much labour. It is known as the Peter Pan Railway, and I think that it will be a great attraction. It is not necessary to say anything more except that it is different from a scenic railway or a railway switchback. In addition, it is noiseless, which was not the case with regard to some of the other suggestions to which I had objection. It will provide a great deal of amusement for children, and I hope that the House will accept the Amendment.
I should like to have some information about charges. Can the Attorney-General say anything about a special charge? There is a difference between entertainments for which charges are made, which therefore tend to become sideshows, and attractions of this kind which are altogether desirable and which are designed to enhance the entertainment value of the Gardens. If this kind of thing enhances the entertainment value of the Gardens and attracts more people to pay admission, well and good; but there is a difference between that and a series of sideshows for which special charges should be made.
I think that there must be a special charge unless we were to raise considerably the charge for entrance to the Gardens as a whole, and thus spread the revenue so received over the different items which themselves involve expenditure. That would not really be fair, because if I go there on a Sunday I shall not want to use the children's railway, unless I take my children with me. Therefore, there is no reason why I should pay a charge for it. Lots of people will not want to use it; on the other hand, some will. Therefore, we have a comparatively low charge for entrance to the Gardens as a whole, and then an additional charge, which will not be high, for the special entertainments which involve additional expenditure.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
It is not necessary for me to say anything other than that I should like to thank the House for the careful consideration given to this Bill. I will not say that I agree with everything that has happened during the proceedings, but the House has been most attentive and I think it has been very considerate today. I should like to thank hon. Members for their co-operation in trying to improve the Bill according to their views on how it ought to be improved.
We have had an interesting series of decisions on the basis of a free vote. That is always interesting in the House of Commons. I confess that last week I involved the House—at least it was not me altogether: it was the House and the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) and one or two others—in a difficulty. On that date the House got into a rather chaotic situation. I was genuinely sorry for hon. Members who came into the Chamber and who, not having heard the discussion, found the greatest difficulty o in knowing how to vote. That was an interesting occasion.
I wish to thank the House for the consideration they have given to this Bill. Let us hope that the world situation will improve and that our people can have a time next year which will cheer them up, buck them up and make them happier than otherwise they might be. Let us hope that nothing happens to stop this great Festival. I am grateful to the House.
I am sure that we all echo the last words of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council when he expressed the hope that the world situation may be such as to permit us to go ahead with and to enjoy the Festival which was planned in happier times. I think that the country, and indeed the House, has been in sympathy with the general conception of the Festival. There have been aspects of the Festival to which criticism has been directed; but that is so with all human endeavour, and I am sure that the Lord President did not expect anything else.
On the whole this Bill has been of a non-party nature, and the vote to which the Lord President referred was a completely non-party vote. As he said himself, his own party was split right down the middle.
I meant the funny occasion where I thought we got into a difficult position. I meant the one on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) which finally I supported, it having been rejected previously by my right hon. and learned Friend.
Gilbert wrote a passage about what would happen if a lot of Members of Parliament got into close proximity and began thinking for themselves. This shows how wise the Victorians were and with what danger we go against any of their decisions, including the decision to respect Sunday with very great and meticulous observance. I can only say that we are, of course, overshadowed today by the world situation and by the news which we receive. I am sure that the Lord President has expressed the feeling and wish of the whole House in his hope that the situation may moderate and that it may be possible for us to go ahead with this Festival, and in the spirit in which it was originally planned.
I should like to make one or two observations which I know will be unpopular. The Lord President said that he hoped that the position in the world would improve to allow us to enjoy the festivities when the Festival is opened in six months time. It is tragic that here we talk about the opening of the Festival on Sundays when we are overshadowed by dangers both at home and abroad which may destroy everything we have got.
I voted against the Second Reading of this Bill, not merely on religious grounds, but on economic grounds. I say that, as things are at the present time, we have nothing whatever to be festive about. We are on the very verge of evils and dangers such as the nation has never before known, and it is not the duty of hon. Members of this House to close their eyes to obvious dangers, and, instead, say "Let us cheer up." By discussing here today the opening of a fun fair—[HON. MLMBERS: "We are not"]—well, the Sunday opening of the Festival, at a time when the whole of our civilisation may be endangered, we are ignoring the urgent and desperate position in which we now find ourselves, and I want to make my protest.
I want to ask the Lord President if he will be good enough to answer one question—what he thinks this nation has at the present time to be festive about? Nothing at all. On the contrary, the need is that we should fix our attention and that of our people on rearmament, re-equipping ourselves and increasing our production so as to get things into much better shape. By concentrating on this Festival idea, the Government are doing the country real harm in diverting attention to something that does not matter and failing to put first things first. I make my protest on those grounds.
If I may, as one who voted for the opening of the fun fair, I should like to have the pleasure of expressing my appreciation of the spirit of sweet reasonableness which has prevailed in the House today. I wish also to express my appreciation of the developments which have taken place in the course of this afternoon's debate, and only to add that, while I can understand and appreciate the point of view of those who have opposed this Bill on good religious grounds, I cannot understand any opposition to it purely as bad economics.
Before this Bill leaves the House for another place, may I, as one who, like my hon. Friend, voted against the Second Reading, when we were concentrating our attention on the Sunday observance issue, say that I do not share his lugubrious opinion in regard to the Festival as a whole. I would not quarrel with him in what he has said about the world situation, but it is characteristic of the British people and of this House that we can maintain a sufficient sense of proportion, so that, however dark the clouds, we can discuss children riding a pony in a Festival like this. It is a tradition of the British people.
I think our discussions have shown two things: first, that the House of Commons can shape legislation extremely well without the guidance of Ministers and the use of the Whips. The Committee and Report stages of this Bill have been admirably conducted, all the better for free expression, as in the way in which comrade often attacked comrade. Secondly, one moral lesson has emerged from the whole of this discussion, and it is this. Let this be a stepping-stone to a thorough overhaul of the Sunday Observance statutes of this country. The learned Attorney-General indicated, I think on Second Reading, that he would give sympathetic attention to a Private Member's Bill to be introduced by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Heald), and would give it facilities. I hope that is so, but that Bill deals only with the common informer, and I think that some Government—and it might as well be this one—should without delay tackle the whole question of Sunday observance legislation. I think they will be surprised by the amount of unanimity in the country to help them to shape that legislation, and, meanwhile, the Festival of Britain can go forward.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read the Third time, and passed.