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Shops (Opening Hours)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1964.

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Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West 12:00 am, 23rd January 1964

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further consideration he has given to the need of small traders to be allowed to keep their shops open for longer hours; and if he will make a statement

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I have received no recent requests from small traders to be allowed to keep their shops open for longer hours. I propose, however, to invite the up-to-date views of interested organisations, including representatives of shop keepers, trade unions, consumers and local authorities, as to the need, if any, for further legislation.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

Now that resale price maintenance is to end, is there not a case for allowing much greater freedom to small traders to keep their shops open during those hours which best suit them? Is there not a justification for the total abolition of the existing Shops Acts and their replacement by a Measure which will allow much greater flexibility in trading hours?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I am sure that my hon. Friend will support the policy, which I have just announced, of obtaining the up-to-date views of all those who are concerned, including the small traders. I think that we ought to have those up-to-date views and then make up our minds.

Mr. J. T. Price:

Will the Home Secretary resist all temptation to respond to the blandishments of his back benchers in this matter without the fullest consultation with the trade unions which are responsible for the welfare of the people employed in shops, and will he bear in mind that, prior to the original Shops Act and its successors being put on the Statute Book, the most refined form of slavery in this country was to be found among shopworkers, going back to the days of H. G. Wells, who wrote about it eloquently in one of his most famous novels?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

This is 1964, not the time of H. G. Wells. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will approve my statement that I intend to consult the trade unions, but not only the trade unions. I intend to consult also shopkeepers, local authorities and, above all, the consumers.

Photo of Mr Charles Curran Mr Charles Curran , Uxbridge

In considering this matter, will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the great change in the composition of the working population of this country since the war? Will he bear in mind that nowadays one-third of our entire working population consists of women and that roughly one married woman in every three now goes out to work? Does not he think that this great social change since the war justifies a reconsideration of shopping hours?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I hope that women's organisations will be among those who will favour me with their up-to-date views on this matter.