I have, as usual, posted up my selection of Amendments. At the end of our proceedings last week, the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) was addressing the House.
We were advised on behalf of the Home Office that these words would make no legal difference to the Bill. I accept that, but it means that there can be no objection to their inclusion, and I hope that the Amendment will not be opposed. While the insertion makes no legal difference, the words would serve a useful purpose by making the legal position clear to the layman. This is very important, because reference has been made to various subterfuges which have occasionally been used to get over the provisions of the existing law and to enable payments to be made which are illegal. Of course, laymen may not be entirely clear about what in law constitutes and does not constitute a payment.
Laymen may have misconceived the legal position and have acted in good faith although infringing the law. If the Bill is allowed to proceed without the Amendment, laymen may be able to plead that they did not know that indirect payments were precluded. The Amendment would, therefore, remove any likelihood of a plea of ignorance of the law by a person who was accused of a breach of the law. It is important to make legislation as clear as possible, not only to trained lawyers but even more to laymen who may be genuinely trying to understand it.
This is particularly true when the criminal law is involved, as it is in this case, and I therefore strongly support the Amendment.
I also support the Amendment and ask the promoter of the Bill to accept it. I do not want to repeat what my hon. Friend has said, but whatever the strict legal position—of course, I accept the advice given to the Under-Secretary—it would be of great advantage to the public to have it made crystal-clear that, whether the payment is made directly or indirectly, it will be covered.
I strongly support the Amendment and hope that it will be accepted.
I cannot completely accept the Under-Secretary's interpretation that, if payment were made for a cricket scorecard, that would be a payment for entrance. That is questionable. Is it not rather payment after entrance? This is a small point, but there is some chronology in the argument which is important and cannot be disregarded.
My hon. Friend said that the Bill liberalises sport and entertainment on Sunday, so that there would not be the present temptation to fiddle, but I should have thought that, with more and more people feeling liberalised and attending these spectacles on more and more occasions, it would rather lead to more opportunities for fiddling the system of charges.
Undoubtedly more people will be involved, both in the spectacles and in the audiences, and in that case it will be much more difficult to have any sort of control unless the legal definition is water-tight. That is what I dispute. With the greatest respect to the Under-Secretary, I do not think that it covers this point. In another place, Lord Willis said:
…it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw a legal distinction"—
He spoke as the sponsor of the Bill, Mr. Speaker.
…it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw a legal distinction between amateur and profes-
sional sport and certainly difficult to draw a distinction in their ability to draw crowds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords; 21st November, 1966; Vol. 278, c. 18.]
Crowds require many services apart from the actual entertainment. They require parking facilities for motor cars and buses and, since during a fairly long entertainment they are apt to get hungry, they require catering services and this raises the question of charges for such services after admission. So it is not a new thing to find notices at the entrance to such places bearing words to the effect of, "Join our club and you will be able to come free every other time."
There will still be ways to evade this provision. Then people find that they are expected to pay for things which are thrust upon them after they have been admitted. When my hon. Friend interprets the sale of a cricket score-card as a charge for entrance, I doubt whether he can sustain that legally at present and I doubt whether it could be done under the provision which will be made.
The owner of a cinema chain came to see hon. Members when we were debating the abolition of the Entertainments Duty on cinemas. We were told by her that she could not make them pay if it were not for the charges for sales of things like tobacco, cigarettes, ice cream, lemonade and other soft drinks once people had been admitted. Certainly, a charge was made for admission, but the profit was actually made after the charge for admission inside the building.
I do not think that we have any guarantee to date from the Minister or from my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) that that will be eliminated. Therefore, something which would put into effect the spirit of these words—possibly another form of words, though I doubt whether that is necessary—is essential if we are to close this well-developed and traditional loophole, with which we are all familiar.
After all, these spectacles have to be financed by somebody. They have to be paid for partly in advance and, no doubt, partly afterwards. Because of the bigger number of such spectacles in future, accommodating greater numbers of people, there will have to be more and more selling of programmes, selling of cushions, high fees for parking, and all the other things associated with these events. Therefore, mere entrance of itself will not by any means be the most important item in these transactions.
This is my difficulty. The Minister's point was that either a person pays for the privilege of admission or he does not. That is impeccable as a mere statement of fact. It does not mean that either a person pays for admission or he does not pay for any goods or services after admission which are associated with his admission and with the purpose of his being there. It does not cover that point.
I should like the Minister to elucidate further his argument. It is not only a question of paying for admission or not paying for admission. It is a question of paying for services, and possibly goods, associated with a person's admission after he has entered without charge. Perhaps the Minister will say a few words about that, in which case I shall be more satisfied.
I think that all that needs to be said is that, if these words are added, the definition is tighter. It might well be that certain people who would not be caught by the present wording would be caught if the Amendment were made. Last Friday, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science, said that it had not seemed to be necessary but that he did not advise the House against the acceptance of the Amendment. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) has said that he is prepared to accept the Amendment.
Nothing that I have said adds to or subtracts from what was said by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary last week. The only new situation since my hon. Friend spoke last week is that my hon. Friend the sponsor of the Bill has accepted the Amendment. The advice of the Government on the legal implications has not led us to doubt the wisdom of my hon. Friend's acceptance.
The Amendment, together with the other Amendments which you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that it is in order for us to discuss in the course of this one debate, deals with what might be called the prohibited period, because the Bill is drawn in such a way that it relaxes the law in reference to certain classes of activities on Sunday. It does not relax the law for the whole period of Sunday, but seeks to do so from 2 o'clock in the afternoon until 2 o'clock on Monday morning.
This series of Amendments seeks to make three alterations. Two of them are alternatives the one to the other, but the third series is distinct from it. Series 1 and 2 deal with the question of what should be the commencing time for the prohibited period. Series 3 deals with what should be the concluding time for the prohibited period.
First, Amendment No. 3, and the Amendments associated with it, seeks to substitute 'the expiration of Saturday' for '2 a.m.'. We are dealing here with a period of two hours from midnight on Saturday until 2 o'clock on Sunday morning. The natural time for a prohibition affecting Sundays would be at the beginning of Sunday and not 2 o'clock in the morning. Therefore, unless a very good and sufficient reason can be given why the beginning of the prohibited period should be 2 a.m. and not 12 midnight on Saturday, I shall press this Amendment upon the House.
This matter was briefly debated, according to my recollection, in Standing Committee; and, again according to my recollection, no answer was given by the promoter of the Bill to the points which were then raised in support of substituting midnight on Saturday and to explain why he considers that 2 o'clock on Sunday morning should be preserved. I hope that in the course of the debate we shall be told why the promoter of the Bill thinks that the time he has inserted in the Bill is more appropriate than that I wish to substitute for it.
I want to look for a few moments at the effect on the major classes of activity which will become legalised on part of Sunday if the Bill passes into law. There are, first, the sporting events which under the Bill will be permitted in future within the permitted hours on Sunday, with people paying as spectators to enter, and with performers being paid for their services for taking part in them. It can hardly be seriously suggested that these great out-door sporting events, such as football cup matches and cricket test matches, will be held between midnight on Saturday and 2 o'clock on Sunday morning.
That would be unthinkable. Therefore, I submit that there can be no objection to the substitution of midnight on Saturday for 2 o'clock on Sunday morning and that all grounds of reason support this substitution. Making this alteration may cause hon. Members to consider such in-door events as cinema and theatre performances and entertainments of that sort. Some people may desire such indoor activities to go on until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, but it is not necessary for that to happen.
There is no reason why the entertainment in question should not start a little earlier on Saturday evening so that it concludes by not later than midnight on Saturday. This would result in those being entertained being able to get home at a reasonable hour and for the entertainers to do likewise, remembering that they will not be getting home until the early hours of Sunday morning, even if the Amendment is accepted. For these reasons, 12 midnight on Saturday is the natural, proper and expedient time.
The second group of Amendments seeks to substitute 1 a.m. on Sunday for 2 a.m. on Sunday. Here again, I would prefer 1 a.m. if I had to choose between the two, but I see little logic in substituting 1 a.m. for 2 a.m. and, therefore, if I must vote for either of the two alternatives, I shall vote for 12 midnight on Saturday.
The third series of Amendments deals with the other end of the scale and seeks to substitute 7 p.m. for 2 p.m. on Sunday, taking the view that Sunday afternoon should be preserved from these activities in the same way that Sunday morning is preserved. There are at least two sufficient reasons why we should accept 7 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. on Sunday. By limiting the provision to 7 p.m. we would ensure that only one performance of an entertainment would take place.
I tabled an Amendment the effect of which would have been to make it illegal to have more than one performance on Sunday, but that was not selected, with the result that if the Amendment to substitute 7 p.m. for 2 p.m. is carried, it would, as a practical matter, achieve the purpose which I had in mind, although my Amendment was a little more limited in scope.
If we take the view, as most people do, that we must look with care at what is involved in Sunday employment as a result of this Bill, we should consider the hours during which people will be compelled to work. I am against the Bill in all its main assumptions. I wish to minimise the employment of labour to the greatest possible extent during the whole of the 24 hours of Sunday. But if we accept that some concession must be made to those who support the Bill, we still have a duty, if we cannot entirely protect from Sunday employment those who will be involved if the Bill becomes law, to seek to reduce as much as we possibly can the number of hours during which they will have to work.
If the cinemas are to be opened on Sundays—as occurs in many parts of the country as a result of local polls—and if now, for the first time, the theatres, with the larger number of people who are employed in them compared with, for example, the cinemas, are to open on Sundays, it is not unreasonable to say that there should be only one performance during the day, which means that if there is a 7 p.m. start there will be ample time for that performance to occur. On the other hand, if the time of 2 p.m. remains in the Bill, there will be nothing to prevent there being a matinée on Sunday afternoon with a later performance in the evening.
Remembering that most of the people engaged in the theatrical business—whether they be actors or those employed in running theatres—must work hard and for long hours during the six weekdays, it is not unreasonable to say that if they are to be compelled to work on Sundays in addition, the period of their labour should be confined to one performance, and this would be accomplished by substituting 7 p.m. for 2 p.m.
The promoter of the Bill has explained that he made the starting hour for Sunday entertainments 2 p.m. in view of representations made to him that these entertainments should not overlap morning worship in churches and chapels. While that concession did not satisfy me and many others, we appreciate that it was sincerely made from a good motive and from a desire to meet the deeply held convictions of many people. In many parts of the country Sunday afternoons are occupied on a large scale in churches and chapels by those who attend Sunday schools, which normally meet at about 3 p.m.
Sunday school attendances as well as church and chapel attendances may not be as great as they were 50 or even 25 years ago, but they are still, particularly in some areas, very large indeed. What-ever views hon. Members hold about religion and its place in human life—and these are basically matters for individual judgment—it cannot be denied that the influence of the Sunday school movement in the past 100 years has been profoundly significant for good. The influence of Sunday school attendance on those who have attended has been a good one for the remainder of their lives.
We know that today the temptations for young people are infinitely greater than they were when most hon. Members were children. The counter attractions to the Sunday school did not exist on the same scale 50 or even 25 years ago. If, because of a desire to avoid infringing the morning hour of worship, it be logical to exclude the Sunday morning from the period in which these activities are to be legalised, it is equally reasonable to argue that the afternoon should be avoided because of the interference with the Sunday schools that would result if these great sporting events and other entertainments were then available.
I hope that it will be thought that I have advanced with moderation solid and reasonable argument which will appeal to the promoter of the Bill who, in some other respects, has not been unsympathetic to representations that have been made to him. What is, perhaps, more important, I hope that they may appeal to the House as a whole.
It might help the House if I were now to intervene in order to prevent those who have tabled this Amendment and Amendments 6 and 10 from being the victims of their foolishness. I hope quietly and moderately to show how absurd these Amendments are.
The Crathorne Report recommended that 2 a.m.—and 3 a.m. in the West End of London—should be the start of the close season for entertainments, but that the start of the close season for sports should be midnight on Saturday. The Bill adopts the same close season for both days, since that does away with any need to distinguish in borderline cases. It also avoids the risk of anomalies becoming apparent as between Clause 2 and Clause 3.
The Amendment would make the present situation even more restrictive. Cinemas in the West End of London at present open quite frequently at mid-night on Saturday and remain open until Sunday—the same thing applies to dances. I frequently go to dances on a Saturday night in my borough which do not finish until after midnight. The Amendment would prohibit that state of things and would lead to even greater restrictions than we now have. At the same time, it does not, and cannot, place these restrictions on drinking clubs, on strip clubs, and on licensed premises.
It seems odd that a Baptist should seek to limit reasonable and wholesome entertainment yet permit these other places to continue unhindered. It seems very odd for a Nonconformist to say that in future, in places such as the West End of London, all one can do between midnight on Saturday and 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. on Sunday is booze or sex—[Interruption.] Hon. Members may think this is rather amusing, but it is not. Thousands, perhaps millions, of tourists come to London every year from overseas. They seek reasonable entertainment on a Saturday night. At the present time they can obtain facilities for wholesome entertainment after midnight—perhaps until 3 o'clock on Sunday morning. The Amendment would drive them into a very restricted set of entertainments and pursuits.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend understands how young people enjoy themselves in the west of London on Saturday night. Many of them go to dance halls which do not close until after midnight. They say, "We are seeking to enjoy ourselves." If the dance halls and the cinemas are closed and they have to seek entertainment elsewhere, where will they go? They will go into drinking clubs, and perhaps into other places that you and I, Mr. Speaker, might not visit, and which some hon. Members quite clearly do not know exist. But those places do exist.
We must protect our young people from this kind of discrimination. The Amendments would prevent all reasonable sport and entertainment—
On serious reflection, does not my hon. Friend think that this is a most outlandish and serious castigation of young people who go into London without any such bad thoughts in their minds?
That is so. One can think of Liverpool up to 2 a.m. on Sunday—my hon. Friend knows that I come from Liverpool. I also know Green's Playhouse in Glasgow, where I have frequently danced on Saturday until turned midnight. The Amendment would prohibit that but would allow drinking clubs to remain open. I am surprised at hon. Members who, recognising the facts, say, "We shall not do anything about this, but we shall prevent whole-some pleasure."
In the winter months, we often have indoor professional tennis at Wembley—quite a reasonable entertainment and spectacle. I call it an entertainment, although it might be classed as a sport. The Amendment would forbid that, yet those who have tabled it seem to accept without much fear—not knowing the real world in which we live—that much less desirable sports and entertainments would be open.
Hon. Members should understand the folly of this sort of Amendment. If it were accepted, it would mean that in London and the other big cities the only entertainment available after midnight on Saturday would be drinking clubs, striptease clubs, and the like. I am astonished that Nonconformists should put that point.
I now turn to the second group of Amendments, which are equally foolish. They seek to prevent sports—including amateur sports—and entertainments up to 7 p.m. in cases where the spectators pay. There is a good deal of amateur sport in respect of which payment is made at the gate and which would be permitted quite openly under the Bill although it is at present carried on through fiddles. The Amendments would forbid the carrying on of such sports.
The great argument against the Bill is that it would make Sunday more commercial. But what are the supporters of these Amendments trying to do? The Amendments would not prevent the big commercial sports or entertainments from being held; on the contrary, they would prevent the small ones, which ordinary people go to see on Sunday afternoons. They would prevent amateur football, and certain county cricket, being played on Sundays. If anyone thinks that county cricket is a great commercial undertaking he has not studied the accounts of the Lancashire County Cricket Club, which I support. That is not a vast commercial undertaking.
Dance halls and cinemas could carry on after 7 p.m. The only kind of entertainment and sport which would be permitted on Sunday if these Amendments were carried would be the very commercial ones that their supporters seek to prevent.
The hon. Member says "Nonsense", but he should understand the logic of his argument. It is no good his calling my argument nonsense; he must understand the logic of his case; and the logic of his case is that very reasonable amateur sports, such as the Badminton Horse Show, would be forbidden. I do not know whether he regards that as commercialism—or whether he regards county cricket, amateur football or amateur cricket as commercialism, but the commercialism which the Amendments would permit is that which seeks to make money out of sport and entertainment in the evening.
Any amateur cricket match at which money is taken at the gate—[Interruption]. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman ever watches Blackheath play cricket. That club charges at the gate for people to watch. It is not possible to watch Blackheath play cricket without paying at the gate. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman has been living for the last 20 years.
Under these Amendments this kind of amateur pursuit would be forbidden. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It would. The intervention was directed to pointing out to me that this kind of amateur cricket would not be covered, because no charge is made at the gate. I was trying to rebut that argument. It is a relevant point.
The fact that hon. Members seek to intervene from a sitting position in this way indicates that they have not understood the Bill or the implications of these Amendments. They should do their homework before they take part in these debates.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that about 95 per cent. of all the amateur cricket that is played on Sundays is played without admission fees being charged at the gate? If he is not aware of that where has he been living for the last 20 years?
I do not know where the hon. Member gets his figure of 95 per cent. Admission charges are made to see a good deal of club cricket. Certainly a good deal of amateur football cannot be seen without the payment of an admission fee. I do not know whether the hon. Member knows anything about the Isthmian League, the Corinthian League, and similar leagues, but it is not possible to see teams in those leagues play without paying an admission fee. I am sure that the hon. Member will not say that Dulwich Hamlet or Walthamstow Avenue is a professional football club. I have already mentioned Blackheath, which is the club that I watch.
Does the hon. Member agree that the vast amount of cricket played in villages throughout England is played without any fee being charged? It is played by amateurs who get together just for the joy of playing.
I agree, but nobody can say, in respect of admission charges, "Amateur cricket—no; professional cricket—yes." It is not possible to draw a close distinction like that. The hon. Member may live in Northern Ireland—I understand that he does not. He lives in England, in which case he ought to know better. Many amateur clubs who take part in all sorts of sport charge admission fees. The Amendments would bar that sort of sport being played on Sundays, although it would permit the very kind of commercial entertainment or sport to which hon. Members opposite so strongly object.
The hon. Member talked about employment. Large-scale employment on Sundays is brought about by commercial entertainments which these Amendments would not seek to control. They would seek to control only those spectacles and entertainments for which the least amount of labour is engaged. I hope that hon. Members will try to understand the logic of the argument put forward in support of these Amendments, and will withdraw them.
I want to draw special attention to Amendment No. 18, which has particular reference to Wales and Monmouthshire. I raise this matter because of the differences which exist between Wales and England in respect of religious services. In England the most popular service is that which takes place in the morning; the Welsh tradition is quite the opposite. Most members of congregations try to attend the three services that take place in Wales on Sundays. I do not suggest that they are all able to go to all the services on every Sunday—but the leastattended service is that which is held in the morning.
In the afternoon in Wales we have our Sunday school, which never has been an infants' Sunday school. It has always been for adults, with the result that most members of chapels go to Sunday school in the afternoon and also to the evening service, which is the most popular. Consequently, most members of chapels go to services in the afternoon at 2 p.m. and in the evening at 6 p.m.
That is why I support the proposition that the time should be changed from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. so that, if sports take place, they take place after the evening service in Wales.
I want to make a brief comment on the remarks of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). I was a little disappointed with him because of the vehemence with which he sought to denounce Amendments which have been put down in good faith and with a view to achieving something acceptable to everybody. The hon. Member's present attitude is uncharacteristic of him. By nature he is a friendly and tolerant soul, but on this occasion he spoke with great vehemence when one would have expected all the vehemence to come from those who are digging in on religious grounds. On the contrary, they have been most constructive and moderate in their approach. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West will allow that customary smile to appear on his face a little more regularly.
I appreciate that the hon. Member feels strongly about this matter but he, for his part, must appreciate that there are hon. Members on this side of the Committee who have nothing but the most constructive and humane objectives in view and who feel very strongly about the fact that he is not able, apparently, to make a constructive and positive approach to what I believe to be very reasonable proposals. We feel strongly that he was in error in his vehemence in Committee upstairs that he could not meet us at all on the rather narrow point.
The hon. Member has not met us on the Crathorne proposals. He has not taken steps to see that there will not occur on Sundays great events in which large numbers of people will be involved.
I appreciate that there are many difficulties and that the hon. Member has tried fairly to point out some of the objections which he sees which would arise from the limitations proposed in the Amendments of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) and the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones). From the point of view of those seeking a Crathorne solution, the Amendments represent half a loaf which is better than no bread at all.
I acknowledge that the Amendments are unsatisfactory in many respects—and I am glad to see the smile back at least temporarily on the face of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West. But even though they may be unsatisfactory in many respects, from my point of view they are the half loaf which is better than no bread at all in an attempt to keep down employment on those occasions.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West is, I acknowledge, the great expert on the Bill. He can claim to know every jot and tittle of the Bill, backwards, forwards, inside out and upside down. But may I turn to his suggestion about people at dance halls on a Saturday night—people who paid for their admission before the hour of midnight. In most of these dance halls they would have entered before the magic hour and would have made their payment before the magic hour. If hon. Members turn to Clause 2—and I am not certain that I shall carry the lawyers with me on this point—they
will see that it imposes a restriction on those who "enter". I see that both the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science shake their heads. But the Clause reads:
If the occupier of any premises permits them to be used on any occasion for enabling members of the public to enter on them"—
I suspect that if one has already entered the premises and paid for entry before the magic hour—I see one or two hon. Members who are lawyers shaking their heads. Perhaps I am on the wrong ground.
Fortunately the hon. Member has not the whistle on this occasion. That is with you, Mr. Speaker, and you have not been blowing it. It is arguable that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West has been a little too sensitive about the impossibility, if the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon were accepted, of those who were in dance halls at midnight being able to go on dancing until the natural conclusion of that entertainment.
It seems to me to be odd that he should suggest that entertainment which would be described as healthy entertainment would be ruled out under the Amendment, as it would all stop at midnight, and then the gullible, sheep-like youth of this country would take part in all sorts of less desirable entertainment in clubs for which licences have to be obtained, or which have a restricted membership, where they could drink. It seems to me inconsistent for him to say that there would be that kind of entertainment which could get past the law and which could still carry on and that innocent, wholesome and straightforward events in the sporting world could not use exactly the same method of getting their membership and their support on a Sunday afternoon by subscriptions to the club, not involving payment for the event, which would enable them to carry on their activities, subject to Clause 2, which he kindly accepted. The law would provide the same opportunities for the county cricket clubs to get money other than by charging for admission.
The difficulty is that the hon. Member for Woolwich has not been able to find a method, which I believe it would have been possible to find under the much more constructive and limited approach of the Crathorne proposals. It is a matter of great regret to me that I shall find myself supporting the Amendments. I fully understand the difficulties which the hon. Member for Woolwich, West explained, but, on the basis that half a loaf is better than no bread, I shall support the Amendment put down and argued briefly and succinctly by the hon. Member for Wrexham.
We are dealing with three different types of Amendment, one which would introduce a new restriction on entertainment after midnight on Saturday, the second of which would bring into conformity the provisions under Clauses 2 and 3 so that sporting functions would also be restricted at midnight and the third of which deals with the suggestion that the close season should be extended until 7 p.m. It should be recognised that in two of these sets of proposals, rather than moving forward to liberalise our laws and regulations, we should be proposing additional restrictions.
I take, first, the question of entertainment and whether it should cease at midnight or proceed until 2 a.m., or 3 a.m. in the West End. Under the present law, dancing and functions of that kind may continue into Sunday morning until 2 a.m., or 3 a.m. in the West End, where liquor is sold under the Licensing Act, 1964. It is suggested that, even though such functions are permitted under that Act, other forms of entertainment should be restricted.
The House will recall that there are other forms of entertainment, midnight matinees, for example, held not only in London but in other parts of the country, which may start at 11, 11.30 or midnight. Charitable functions would in some cases be hit by a requirement that what may now proceed till the early hours of the morning should hereafter be prohibited.
The hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) said that all would be well if people had paid to come in before midnight. I am advised that the Clause as drafted would not have that effect, but would require the cessation of functions if this group of Amendments were carried. I hope, therefore, this being a restriction cutting back on certain functions which are now permitted, that the Amendments will not be accepted.
Now, the second group of Amendments would apply a different rule to sports and spectacles. It may be asked whether there is any good reason why, if the cinema may continue till 2 a.m., a wrestling match should stop on the brink of midnight. I do not suppose that many wrestling matches go on until the early hours of the morning, and I imagine that we would not wish to encourage them to do so, but there are some sporting functions in which it is necessary to reach a conclusion and in which extra time is granted until one side or the other is the victor.
For the purpose of clarification—the main purpose of this Measure is to bring clarity and conformity into a situation which is at present very confused—there is much to be said for having conformity in regard to the functions covered by both Clauses 2 and 3. For example, there is the question of deciding whether a variety entertainment consisting of an acrobatic display is or is not
a demonstration of prowess in a sport or game
under Clause 2 or is an activity covered by Clause 3. Difficulties of classification cannot be avoided, but the greater the measure of consistency achieved, the more is the legislation to be generally understood and observed without resentment.
My hon Friend said that wrestling matches do not take place after midnight. Does he not recall that, unfortunately, several wrestling matches have taken place after midnight within this Chamber during the past three years?
I follow the argument which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State advances about charity performances which take place after midnight. In Bristol, there is shortly to be such an occasion at a cinema in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. Very often, these functions cannot take place until after the normal cinema performance has finished.
But now comes the point I want clarified. If we write in another time—midnight, 1 a.m. or whatever it may be—shall we take away from the local licensing bench, where such questions at present come under local option, the right to permit a midnight performance? Should we take away from local licensing justices the right to grant an extension of time? The system seems to work perfectly well at present.
This is an important matter. May we be referred to the provisions in the Bill which repeal parts of other Acts and thus take away that right from local licensing justices?
I can only say that the advice from my legal advisers is that the terms of the Bill would carry that consequence. I should like a little notice of the question about the precise reference, and perhaps I might intervene later to give the answer.
The advantage of having a lawyer behind me is apparent. I am most grateful.
Now, the third group of Amendments which propose that what one might call the close season for sports and entertainments for which an admission charge is made should be extended till 7 p.m. on Sunday. The practical effect would probably be to prevent the staging of most commercial open-air sporting events, since most of them must take place in daylight, but it would allow indoor commercial sport and entertainment which could start after 7 p.m. Thus, most admission-charged cricket and football, amateur or professional, unless on flood-lit grounds, would effectively be prohibited on a Sunday, but boxing, wrestling, indoor tennis and swimming would be permitted in the evening.
There seems little logic in that, and, once again, we have to recognise that we should be imposing restrictions on events which now take place. Many hon. Members know that, by devious means, cricket matches take place on a Sunday afternoon, a form of charge being made by a programme charge, parking fee, or the like. It is precisely that sort of tacit evasion of the law which we are seeking to avoid by introducing a law which is clear and precise. If this group of Amendments were carried the effect would be not only to discourage and stop many quite modest open-air functions which cause no disturbance to the public and which people enjoy but also to encourage evening football matches on grounds equipped with flood-lights, thus involving ground staff in evening rather than afternoon work.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) was particularly anxious that we should not cause more work for workpeople on Sunday than necessary. This is an understandable point of view. But it must be appreciated that, if we say that these activities must not take place during the afternoon and may take place only in the evening, the effect will be to concentrate more work in a Sunday evening than would otherwise be the case.
I hope, therefore, that the House will not accept the three groups of Amendments before us.
The hon. Gentleman took a rather snap decision on the legal question put to him by the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins), because the answer was suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer). This is an important matter. The answer may depend on whether certain other Statutes are repealed, or would subsequently have to be repealed, under this Bill. Will the hon. Gentleman take advice from other sources and have the answer given to us later?
By leave of the House, because I had sat down, may I say that I have now taken other advice than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer), whose views I greatly respect. The wording of Clauses 2 and 3 is absolute and, therefore, they have an over-riding effect which up to now has not existed. Justices grant licences on certain conditions and could not do so if the Amendment were carried. Therefore, there could be no entertainment after midnight if the first group of Amendments were carried. This is the advice of my legal department.
The hon. Gentleman has made a cogent case in saying that the Amendments would impose new restrictions, which I would not wish to do. But neither he nor the sponsor have met the real purpose of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black), which was not to produce further restrictions. The fact that the legal interpretation supports the Under-Secretary's view does not destroy the validity of the case that the Bill should not make legal between midnight and 2 a.m. anything which is not now legal.
With great respect to the sponsor, his argument against the first group of Amendments does not hold water. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon asked, why seek to make legal certain things which are not now legal? The hon. Member said, passionately and sincerely, that it was to keep young people out of strip clubs, drinking clubs and dance halls. If he thinks the only way to achieve that is to make certain new things legal, that is a curious argument.
Therefore, perhaps the hon. Gentleman should do what he so generously did on Clause 2 and accept the first Amendment, perhaps improving it in another place so as not to impose further restrictions but to make it plain that nothing in the Bill makes lawful something which is not now lawful between those hours—[Interruption.] Of course it is. If I am wrong, I should like to hear now arguments about it, which I have not heard yet. Without such arguments, I am with my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon.
The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones) made a very fair case for the protection which the sponsor has already conceded with regard to the interference with Sunday morning services. In some parts of the country it is the Sunday evening service which many people think is most important. If the hon. Gentleman could devise some protection for that, even without accepting the second group of Amendments, we might look at the matter differently. But I cannot see the logic of accepting a "close period" until 2 p.m. for that purpose without extending it to other parts of the country. Some form of local option might be the answer.
The hon. Member has not made the case against this group of Amendments. The case put by the Under-Secretary has to be met, but the right way is for the sponsors to accept the Amendment and, in another place, to put it in a form which will give this protection.
The longer we consider the Bill, the greater insight we get into its full iniquities. My original opposition was not severe and related only to professional sports. I now find that my hon. Friend is seeking to establish a "midnight marauders' charter", I have known and admired my hon. Friend for many years, but he has been angry this morning and I must confess now to being angrier still. It should not be said in this House that people who are out after midnight are out to do something which they should not do. To malign our young people as he did was an injustice not only to himself but to the young people and to the House of Commons.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said that he would have ruled us offside. However, I think that hon. Members have been tripped up in the penalty area this morning. In considering this Amendment, we have been placed in a cleft stick. Even if they are out after midnight, well-behaved young people are not news. But hon. Members do not come to this House without having a great deal of knowledge of the frailties of human nature and of young people particularly. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West has been rather arrogant in trying to suggest that he understands the full implications of his Bill, whereas other hon. Members are not so wise. But we do our best. We do not lightly give up a day to come here which might be spent doing useful work in our constituencies. We come here because we take a very serious view of legislation passing through the House. I must say to my hon. Friend that, although he may not be very pleased with me, there are some who are not particularly pleased with him.
It is not my intention to attempt to pour oil on troubled waters, but one knows from one's own experience of introducing a Bill into the House what a difficult and responsible task it is, particularly if the Bill goes on for a very long time. If the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) was a little short-tempered this morning, he is not the first hon. Member introducing a Bill who has found it difficult. As this is a Friday and many others have come to hear the serious arguments involved in this matter, I think that we should get on with our debate on the Amendment rather than argue whether the temper of the hon. Gentleman is good. That is immaterial.
The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) says that he is anxious to get on with the Bill, but his was a very long intervention. The sponsors of the Bill have been most censorious, and I would remind the hon. Gentleman that he is not the only hon. Member to have had the privilege of introducing a Bill.
I was not able to be present last Friday, but I have had the pleasure of reading HANSARD and, quite obviously, one outstanding feature of the debate was the good-natured and efficient way in which the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) introduced his Bill, although I take exception to his suggestion in reply to my intervention about cricket that I have been nowhere in particular for the last 20 years.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) has just said, it is quite out of character for the hon. Gentleman to be other than thoroughly pleasant to hon. Members in all parts of the House, and that remark of his is best forgotten.
However, I regretted the way in which he referred to this group of Amendments. I detected the feeling that, when young people want to continue their fun and games on a Saturday night, the only place for them to go is a club if the Amendment is accepted. That is what he implied.
He is wrong in his supposition. At the moment, if an ordinary group of people want a party in the West End or anywhere else in London on a Saturday night, they go to a restaurant. There is nothing in the Bill which prevents them from continuing their evening's supper or party together in a restaurant after midnight.
I knew that the hon. Gentleman would seize on that point, and that is why I went on to say "or anywhere else in London". I was not referring specifically to the West End, although, when the hon. Gentleman referred to strip clubs and drinking dens, he implied that they were all in the West End. I agree that I mentioned the West End, but then I enlarged on it.
People who want a party on a Saturday night tend to go to a restaurant or hotel anywhere in London. If the Amendment is accepted, they will be able to continue their activities.
Has the hon. Gentleman thought of the implication which might follow from the acceptance of the Amendment? If the House were to say that it does not want entertainments or sport after midnight, increasingly it might become the custom of licensing justices, who are entitled to grant licences up to 2 a.m. or, in the London area, 3 a.m., to decide that, if the House had indicated that it did not wish to have entertainments, they would not grant licences. This might have the further effect of diminishing the opportunities for people to enjoy themselves after midnight.
I am grateful for that observation, which is an eventuality and possibility which those of us who support the Amendment have borne in mind.
Another point that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West made was that amateur cricket would suffer because admission charges could not be levied at Sunday games. One of my activities in the past 20 years has been to play amateur cricket on Sundays. Amateur club sides are the base upon which our national game of cricket rests. However, the number of games on Sundays which depend upon admission charges is minimal. I have said before that probably 95 per cent. of amateur cricket is played without gate money, with village green cricket and club cricket up and down the country. Practically every club exists on the enthusiasm of a group of young people who contribute together—
Then may I refer to the Amendment, which I support? It was introduced in a very able manner by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black), who expressed his desire to see professional sport finishing at midnight on a Saturday rather than continuing until 2 a.m. on Sundays. I support him in what he says. I cannot think of any sports which are widely supported that need to continue after midnight on a Saturday.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West may be a boxing fan—I do not know—but a year or two ago I went to High-bury Stadium to see Cooper and Clay fight their world heavyweight professional boxing contest. There were 30,000 or 40,000 people at Highbury. The match, unfortunately, terminated in the figth or sixth round. Had it gone on until the end of the final round, every one of those 35,000 people would have been clear of the stadium by half-past ten at night.
The hon. Gentleman's logic is getting a little tangled. I am seeking to prevent an entirely unnecessary change in the existing law which the hon. Gentleman is seeking to introduce in the Bill.
One other example of mass spectator sport on Saturday evenings is ice skating. There are many fine stadiums up and down the country. The hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. George H. Perry) is not here today. He was here last Friday and made a most impressive contribution. He pointed out that there were two league football clubs and the Notts County cricket ground in his constituency. He could have added a fourth spectator sport which is very active and prominent in his constituency, namely, professional ice hockey. Nottingham has a fine ice hockey stadium and on Saturday nights—
Order. If the hon. Member wishes to debate sport, he must link his argument to the prohibited hours which are suggested in the group of Amendments we are discussing.
I am going on to show that the people who participate in ice hockey and ice skating at Nottingham's fine stadium finish at ten o'clock on a Saturday night, chiefly because there is no transporation system to get them away from the city centre. If there was such a city transporation system available, in my view there would still be no demand by people to go skating through to the early hours of Sunday morning. Therefore, the time proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, midnight on Saturday, should be inserted in the Bill. I support his Amendment in that respect.
I now turn to the time of 2 p.m., which the hon. Member for Woolwich, West has put in his Bill, and the time of 7 p.m., which my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon has tabled in yet another Amendment.
I was impressed by the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham). He supported this Amendment largely because, if it was adopted, evensong or Sunday services would not be affected. He is right in what he says. Most evening services in the summer commence at 5.45 or 6 p.m. and they are generally over well before 7 p.m. This Amendment would enable those services to be conducted in reasonable tranquility in a church in a vicinity where professional sport is indulged in.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if professional sport begins at 7 p.m. a vast amount of traffic and movement of people and preparation would go on long before that time?
There always is traffic near a football ground. However, I maintain that it will not affect the conduct of church services so much as the roars and cheers when goals are scored. If what the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) says is true, he has a real case for putting a further Amendment in another place making it 8 p.m.
The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has not appreciated the logic of the case I tried to present when I intervened. If certain events—particularly sports—can only start after 7 p.m., this would mean a concentration of activities starting before 7 p.m. The transport facilities for people moving towards that particular area would coincide with the time when, as far as my church is concerned, Evensong is held, which is at 6.30. The effect of the Amendment would be to interfere more with the evening service than the situation envisaged in the Bill.
One thing that we learn in this House is to live in the greatest friendship with those with whom we disagree. I understand the hon. Gentleman's remarks, but his answer would be to ask his church to conduct evensong at 6 p.m. which it will still be able to conduct in peace and tranquillity. If the hon. Gentleman accepts the Bill as it stands, he will not be able to enjoy evensong in peace and quiet, because there will be the rumble of traffic and roaring and cheering from 2 p.m. onwards.
My hon. Friend's Amendment, proposing 7 p.m. instead of 2 p.m., will have an effect on certain professional sports. There will be nothing to prevent professional football matches being held under artificial lighting or in daylight after 7 p.m., but it will prevent the conduct of long-time running spectator sports such as cricket matches, motor racing and horse-racing.
I have had a lot of correspondence from county cricket clubs and many others interested in cricket, asking me to support the Bill. They tell me that cricket is dying, that it needs the money, that the only way it can live is by getting people to pay for admission on Sundays, and that the present game of sending the blanket round for people to throw money in is not satisfactory because they do not always pay up. My answer to these people—an answer which I sincerely believe to be true—is that I think cricket is too good a game to die. It is a wonderful game if played in the right spirit.
I wish to refer to a short article in The Times today which refers to the opening match of the season at Lords. The headline is, "Monotony at Lords".
Order. With respect, I am as keen on cricket as is the hon. Member—I have been all my life—but he must talk about the hours of opening. We cannot discuss the future of cricket in general.
With respect, Mr. Speaker, I know full well your enthusiasm for the sport. I am not seeking to talk about cricket in general. I am merely explaining that it is not necessary for people to pay to watch cricket on Sundays for the game to survive. That is the argument put forward in letters I have received from those who seek to allow the Clause in the Bill permitting the payment of admission on Sundays. I am seeking to show that the game can flourish and survive without Sunday gate receipts. I trust, therefore, that I may be considered in order in referring to this article which explains why the game is in a state of collapse.
I would not have intervened had it not been for the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). He said that those who supported the Amendments had no idea how young people lived, and that we expected young people to visit the vice spots of London. I have no experience of strip-tease shows and so on, but this is not a London Bill. It is a Measure which will affect the whole of England and Wales. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend's sensational remarks will be reported in the Press tomorrow, but that my comments dissociating myself from what he said will not be reported.
I regret that my hon. Friend did not give a proper explanation for rejecting the Amendments, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department for the information that he gave. If my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West wants to deal with the licensing laws, he should introduce a Private Bill to do so.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones) talked about Sunday schools being held before 7 p.m. I ask the House to remember that in addition to Sunday schools, churches in Wales hold services which include a sermon at 10.30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. In addition, the churches hold rehearsals for singing festivals. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West may not agree with the Amendments, but I think that he ought to be more reasonable in his outlook.
I agree with the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Tudor Watkins). If the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) was a little more temperate, we would make better progress. The hon. Gentleman began by saying that these were absurd Amendments. Many hon. Members who did not take part in the Committee stage of the Bill are here today. The hon. Gentleman may think that the Amendments are absurd, but many of us do not.
The hon. Gentleman went on to say that those who supported the Amendments did not understand the world in which they lived. That is an extremely arrogant assumption. The hon. Gentleman then went on to condemn young people and added that we did not know what young people did with their time. I suggest that the young people of today are very much the same as we were in days gone by, and very much the same as our fathers were in their time.
The Minister said that if we accepted these Amendments the justices might feel themselves restricted and would not grant licences when otherwise they might have done so. That is an extraordinary argument, because I think that the justices will do what they think is right in the circumstances. I do not think that they will be restricted in any way in exercising their normal jurisdiction.
I do not think that the Amendments are absurd. I think that hon. Members are seriously concerned about the problems facing us. If the hon. Member for Woolwich, West wants to make progress with the Bill, he had better be more accommodating and less arrogant.
I would have been more impressed by the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) if he had omitted some of his comments about Baptists, Non-conformists, and behaviour in the West End. Those who have religious beliefs recognise that they are living in a secular, and, to a large extent, pagan society, and they are very much in a minority in the views that they hold about Sunday. Nevertheless, there are powerful arguments for having one day of the week on which normal commercial activities are not practised, or at least are subject to severe restriction.
I am not persuaded that Amendment No. 3 is necessary. I think that it will create a new situation which will be at variance with what has been our social practice for a long time. The 2 a.m. rule is liberal in the context of the Bill, and I am not disposed to support the Amendment.
Amendment No. 4 represents a much more significant and serious proposal. I cannot accept that it will make no difference to the possibility of employing people if we have a period of five hours from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight rather than a period of 10 hours from 2 p.m. to
midnight in which commercial entertainment and sport are permitted. It seems fantastic to argue that within a period of five hours there can be as much disturbance and general commercial activity as there can be in 10 hours. Cinemas could put on three performances between 2 p.m. and midnight, whereas perhaps only one would be possible between 7 p.m. and midnight.
With regard to outdoor entertainment, if the permitted period were from 7 p.m. to midnight, it would be possible during a large part of the year, especially as we now have the new Summer Time arrangement for those who must have commercial sport on a Sunday, to organise whatever sport they wanted to provide. By floodlighting and other techniques they could get over the difficulty of a lack of daylight. I am not prepared to enter into a detailed argument about cricket. The 7 p.m. limit would rule out many of the disturbances which would be possible under the 2 p.m. arrangement suggested in the Bill. Therefore, while I do not support the Amendment No. 3, I think there are powerful reasons to support the other proposition, that the time should be 7 p.m.
|Division No. 129.]||AYES||[1.1 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Farr, John||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Bell, Ronald||Goodhew, Victor||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Bessell, Peter||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Body, Richard||Kenyon, Clifford||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Dempsey, James||Macdonald, A. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Drayson, G. B.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Mr. Joseph Hiley and|
|Mr. John Cordle.|
|Astor, John||English, Michael||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Ennals, David||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Howie, W.|
|Concannon, J. D.||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Gardner, Tony||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Hamling, William||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Ellis, John||Harper, Joseph||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Moyle, Roland||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W' worth Central)||Newens, Stan||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Lubbock, Eric||Pavitt, Laurence||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|MacColl, James||Peyton, John||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Rees, Merlyn||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Molloy, William||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)||Mr. John Parker and|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Ryan, John||Mr. James Dickens.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Sharples, Richard|