asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what was the form and scope of his inquiry into the extent of the demand for the Sunday opening of public houses in Wales; and if he will publish the results;
(2) how many resolutions he has received from organisations and individuals for and against, respectively, the Sunday opening of public houses in Wales.
No inquiry was necessary to establish that there is a demand for, as well as opposition to, Sunday opening of public houses in Wales and Monmouthshire. Since the beginning of this year, my right hon. Friend has received resolutions from 37 organisations and from 377 individuals in favour of Sunday opening and from 131 organisations and 273 individuals against.
Is it not remarkable and disturbing that no real inquiry was made by the Department into the extent of the demand, if demand there be, for this major change in the law relating to Wales? Why did not the Home Secretary institute proper inquiries and consultations with representatives of the magistracy, the police, the local authorities, the youth organisations and the churches? Were only the brewers' interests and organisations consulted?
We are to debate these matters. I should have thought that the figures I have given produce evidence that there is a demand for, as well as opposition to, Sunday opening. The resolutions come from local authorities as well as from licensed victuallers; they come also from temperance bodies. There is a great variety of representation on this subject.
Why did not the Government think it wise or desirable to consult the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire which they have set up themselves to advise them on Welsh matters? Am I to understand that, on an important subject like this, which, in effect, repeals an Act relating exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire, the Government did not think it their duty to consult that advisory body which they themselves set up? Will the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend give an opportunity, which can be provided at a later stage in the consideration of the Bill, for the Members of Parliament elected by the people of Wales and Monmouthshire separately to consider this matter as it relates to Wales and Monmouthshire?
I think that the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question does not arise on this Question, which asks for information. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs has, of course, been consulted over this matter and has been in consultation with the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire.
I gather now that the right hon. Gentleman says that the Minister for Welsh Affairs has consulted the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire. Will we be told before the conclusion of the consideration of the Bill in the very near future what was the result of the consultations between the Minister for Welsh Affairs and the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire and what advice the Council gave him?
Will my right hon. Friend agree that probably the best evidence as to whether there is any real demand or not will be shown in the response to the Government's proposals when the various county and borough elections are held on precisely this question of whether there is a demand?