asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to introduce legislation to amend the Shops Act in the light of the recommendations of the Gowers Committee; and whether he is now in a position to consult with the various interests in the trade, including the trade union concerned.
I am not at present in a position to say when legislation on shop hours will be practicable. I will of course consult the interests concerned when the time is ripe.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that most of our shops legislation is 40 years out of date and that even the more modern legislation is a quarter of a century out of date? Can he say when he hopes to tackle this matter?
Will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that the people who seem to be least consulted —the general shopping public—are consulted this time?
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Order was introduced on 9th July last year and that there is considerable concern among the workers in the trade whether the main attack on wages perpetrated by the Government a fortnight ago is now to be followed by a gross attack on their working conditions? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that, until such time as amending legislation on the lines of the Gowers Report is introduced, to abolish the Order would be a gross injustice to shop workers?
Again, I will not deal with controversial premises; but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree, and that the whole House would approve, that the first thing to do before making up one's mind on the subject is to consult the trade unions and the employers to get their views. That I am going to do next week.