Before I call the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) to move the Second Reading of his Bill, may I announce that I have not selected the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson)—
That this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which does not exclude the Principality of Wales as well as Scotland.
The point of view expressed in that Amendment can be expressed during the debate, if anyone holding it has the good fortune to catch my eye.
It would help the Chair, as this is a non-party debate, if those who have not already done so would indicate what their attitude is to the Bill so that I can get a balanced debate.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a limited Bill. It does not deal with Sunday trading or with the opening hours of public houses on Sundays. It is limited to the question of Sunday entertainments. It does not cover either Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Most people will agree that the present law about Sunday in England and Wales is in a mess. It is mainly dependent upon the Sunday Observance Acts of 1625 and 1780. These Acts are obsolete and not in accord with either modern conditions or public opinion. For example, television had not been invented in 1780. The result is that plays or shows such as "Sunday Night at the Palladium" and cricket can be seen live on television, but the public cannot buy tickets in the ordinary way to see such shows or cricket in the normal way by going through the turnstile. The present laws on the Statute Book have either fallen into disuse or, if they are enforced, the enforcement of them is sporadic after either a court case or some police action, frequently as a result of pressure by the Lord's Day Observance Society.
We have an example in the Press this morning concerning Prince Charles. I personally would not pay for a ticket to go to see the Prince of Wales in an ash bin on a Sunday evening, but if people want to do so why should they not? What harm is there in people doing that?
To take an example that affects rather more people probably, the question of a table tennis tournament. For many years table tennis tournaments have been organised, usually in the off season, at Hastings. There has been payment by both competitors and spectators. The payment has been to cover the costs of running the tournament, but the Lord's Day Observance Society found this out and managed to stop the whole tournament, once more taking away innocent pleasure quite unnecessarily, in my view.
What the House has to face up to is that increasingly the law is being got round by a large number of subterfuges of a somewhat questionable kind. I will give some examples. Theatre clubs have been created so that people can see plays on Sunday without having to pay for a ticket at the entrance. Again, county cricket is now played over weekends and on Sunday. The law is got round by charging for programmes instead of for entrance, or by having high parking fees. People who want to go to Brands Hatch to watch motor racing, or elsewhere to see the Duke of Edinburgh play polo, pay high parking fees to cover the costs of the entertainment provided. In other cases charges are made for special enclosures or for reserved seats.
These subterfuges have increased, are increasing, and will increase further, unless the House is prepared to deal with the situation and reform the law.
The present law is quite unfair to chief constables. How can they know how to apply the law when it is in such a mess? It brings the whole question of the enforcement of the law into disrepute when it is in such chaos over such a wide field.
There have been widely changing patterns of behaviour on Sunday. These have taken place and are taking place and they affect churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. It is generally assumed now that Sunday afternoons and evenings are a time when people should enjoy their leisure. This change of attitude is due to a number of factors. The most important is the coming of the motor car and the motor coach. These had not been invented in 1780, either. They enable the seaside trip to take place in the summer.
Many people visit National Trust and Ministry of Public Building and Works buildings. Sunday is the best day for attendance at these places. The same applies to stately homes generally—people go to see the lions at Longleat, or vintage cars at Beaulieu, or whatever sideshows are put on by His Grace the Duke of Bedford at Woburn. Quite apart from these what might be described as more sophisticated pursuits, there are outdoor activities such as camping, rambling, sailing, and mucking about in boats. All these leisure activities on a Sunday have increased the pressure for a change in the law.
The general change of opinion is also shown by the more reputable of the public opinion polls. For example, the most recent Gallup Poll in the Daily Telegraph approved of sport, amateur and professional, after 2 p.m. on Sundays. In England, there was voting in favour of 64 per cent., and in Wales of 62 per cent. The vote was taken from adults over the age of 16.
The National Opinion Poll of the Daily Mail came out this morning with figures of 60 per cent. in favour of all sports, a drop on the figure of two years ago just after we had won the football cup, which probably explains it. There again, this is much the same figure as the figure found by the Gallup Poll and shows the general trend of opinion.
There has been a very big change in public opinion. When I first brought in a Bill on this matter in 1953, there was not anything like as much support as
there is at present. I take the question of theatres. In 1953, Equity, the actors' union, was split fifty-fifty as to whether it favoured or did not favour Sunday plays. Now it is almost 100 per cent. in favour. In 1953, most of the big sporting organisations were not interested in this question. There has been a further big shift in opinion since the Crathorne Report came out five years ago in 1964. The Report says, on page 31:
To sum up: the evidence we received from these governing bodies showed no clear majority either for or against spectators' sports on Sunday.
Three of the most important sports bodies in 1964—the Football Association, the Football League and the Amateur Athletic Association—were against competitive matches or events on Sundays. All of the major sporting organisations, including those three that I have just mentioned, are in favour of the provisions of the Bill. The only sports organisation which still shows no interest in the matter is Rugby Union. May I quote a letter from the Football Association of 14th February this year, written to me:
We feel it right that association football interests, be they amateur or professional, should have the possibility, subject to such safeguards as are considered proper, of presenting matches and charging for admission on a Sunday.
At present, the following sporting organisations are in favour of the Bill: the Football Association, the Football League, the British Amateur Athletic Board, the M.C.C., the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Union Football Association, the Table Tennis Association, the British Horse Society, the British Show Jumping Society, the R.A.C., the Autocycle Union and the Football Association of Wales.
Why are the proposals put forward in the Crathorne Report to try to meet this problem not reasonable and acceptable? Many hon. Members have said to me, "I will support your Bill if you try to carry through the Crathorne proposals." Let me read from page 32 of the Report:
We recommend that the promotion of spectators' sports should be prohibited "—
if the participants receive either directly or indirectly any reward in money or kind for taking part.
That is just not on. It is not a practicable policy to put before the House. There is no hard and fast distinction between amateur and professional sport today. Every day the distinction between amateurism and professionalism in sport gets less and, in my view, quite rightly. We have always had a wide measure of criticism of "shamateurism", and a change in the law on those lines would increase "shamateurism" and would make the law impossible.
There are already three important sports bodies which are both amateur and professional. Take cricket, lawn tennis and rugby union football. County cricket matches on Sunday have now come in. They are popular with players and spectators. Nowadays the amateurs in cricket usually have to earn their living. They have to work at ordinary jobs. They can get off for weekend play with considerable ease. No firm would employ somebody who wants time off regularly in the middle of the week throughout the summer. Therefore, Sunday cricket has made it possible for people who otherwise would not be able to play to do so.
I should like to read a letter from the Glamorgan County Cricket Club:
The Glamorgan County Cricket Club played Sunday first-class cricket in 1968 for the first time. There was only a minimum of objection and most of this came from the nonconformist churches. Very few members objected and less than three dozen resigned. An estimated 35,000 people watched the games, which was 10,000 more than the hitherto best day of the week. Saturday. The afternoon's sport created a pleasant family diversion. It created no problems in the areas surrounding the grounds and we have had no objections from anyone on that score. It is therefore clear that there is a genuine wish from the public for sport on a Sunday.
How has cricket developed in this period? I would have said that county cricket has been saved from extinction by the coming of weekend play. If we had not had weekend play and the possibility of considerable numbers of people seeing cricket on a Sunday, county cricket would have collapsed. It is done by the selling of programmes and by other subterfuges for getting round the law. Most hon. Members, I believe, will take the view that cricketers and spectators of cricket are normally law-abiding people, and it must require a lot to force normally law-abiding groups like that to get
into the position of deliberately trying to get round the law because they believe the law to be wrong and not in accordance with present day conditions.
The same applies to lawn tennis and rugby union. There are rugby union football matches on Sundays, and subterfuges are also used to enable the games to take place. The Crathorne Report does not meet the needs of any of these three sports which, as I say, are both amateur and professional.
The real problem which Crathorne did not face is that of noise in and around the sports grounds, particularly in a built-up area such as around Chelsea football ground. That is an important issue which must be faced and I try to face it in the Bill. Last Session we had a debate on this question. Clause 3 of the Bill is an attempt to deal with the problem. I should like to indicate how it arose. It is rather long and complicated. I took the various suggestions made in the House last Session to the Home Office, where I discussed the matter. The Home Office then discussed the various proposals with the local authority associations and the Magistrates' Association. A scheme was drawn up which the Home Office, the local authorities and the Magistrates' Association believed would meet the problem. As such, I commend it to the House.
The major problem is connected with first-class football. It is very unlikely that first-class clubs would want to play both on Saturdays and on Sundays. They would normally play on one day or the other, and the day on which they played would depend on local circumstances. But if they do play on a Sunday, the problem of noise must be faced. I believe that the suggestions put forward in the Clause, which I will describe at rather greater length, are workable.
The idea is this. If residents complain about noise and possibly disorderly conduct it is proposed that they shall go to the town council which will check the facts, and then go to the Magistrates' Association and obtain a ruling on the matter. It then either lays down certain conditions on which the sport is to take place, or it is forbidden for three years, if that is what the people wish.
I will make this promise to the House. Some hon. Members think that the Clause does not go far enough. I will listen to any suggestions that may be made, and if any practical proposals can be worked out to deal better with the problem I shall certainly support the proposals. This is a vital question which must be faced and we must find a workable scheme to deal with this difficulty, for we do not want nuisances of this kind.
Clause 5 deals with the question of local option in Wales. I believe that there is strong public opinion in Wales in favour of the Bill. As I said, according to the Gallup Poll, 62 per cent. in Wales are in favour and 64 per cent. in England. The poll showed a majority for the Bill in all age groups under 65 and in all the political parties in Wales including the Welsh Nationalists.
There is one important difference between Wales and England, and it is this. The opposition to spectator sports on Sunday, again according to the Gallup Poll, is stronger in Wales than in England—31 per cent. in Wales compared with 25 per cent. in England. Also, there are regional differences within Wales on the matter. Therefore, although I generally agree with Crathorne and do not like the idea of local option, I have taken over the proposal which was adopted in Committee last Session, and I believe that the present provision in the Bill would meet the situation in Wales.
There would be a ballot this autumn in Wales in each county and county borough so that each would decide for itself whether it wished to implement the Bill's provisions. In other words, it is only right and proper that we should give the Welsh people freedom to decide for themselves in each area what they think about it and how they wish to spend Sunday afternoons and evenings. My impression is that the industrial areas would probably vote one way and the rural areas would vote another way.
I should like to finish my speech in my own way.
Another important issue which must be faced is the question of work on Sundays. There has been a big change in recent years, especially with the development of the motor car and the cinema, regarding Sunday work. There has been a considerable increase in the number of people selling petrol, serving teas, attending car parks, acting as guides round houses, selling programmes at cricket matches and so on. When all is said and done, however, the total number of people employed in these services is fairly small, though I agree that it has risen enormously. It is kept in check by the general practice of double pay and another day off in lieu during the week if necessary. There has been no difficulty in recruiting staff for these various activities.
What the House does not always realise, however, is that the real increase in Sunday work has come in industry. It is estimated now that about 18 per cent. of adult male workers work at some time or another on Sunday, most of this work being done in, for example, road construction, building construction, jobs done to try to send exports off on time, and so on. This is where the big increase has taken place, but, as I say, this is kept in check by the usual arrangement——
It is estimated that 18 per cent. of adult male workers work at some time or other—I do not say every week—on a Sunday, and most of it is in industry, not entertainment. It is kept in check by the arrangement for extra pay on Sunday and other time off. None the less, we have to admit many people enjoy the opportunity of making some extra money in that way.
Of the various industries and occupations which might be affected by the Bill, I take theatres first. The theatre managers and Equity have already come to an arrangement that, if the Bill becomes law, they will operate a six-day week, closing for another day instead of Sunday. All the details will be agreed between the union and the managers. Cinemas already work a five-day week. As regards sport, one has to recognise that, if a fixture is moved to Sunday, it will probably be taken from some other day in the week. Here again, the general practice already is that, if there is a Sunday match, with a six-day week double pay is given for Sunday work.
There would be some small saving in Sunday labour, I think. At present, the great majority of groundsmen, a very large army, work on Sundays to put the grounds into condition after play on the Saturday. Again, therefore, if there is Sunday play, that work would come on another day of the week. I do not think that there would be substantial difficulty in getting the extra labour for these occupations, but I give this promise to the House.
The unions concerned do not at the moment want any statutory provision which limits their freedom to negotiate on these matters, which they think they can deal with satisfactorily from the point of view of their members. Nevertheless, if any union approaches the T.U.C. and wants something in the Bill to safeguard its position, I shall be prepared to accept a workable proposition.
Will my hon. Friend consider the situation of those people who have deep and profoundly felt religious views about working on Sunday? Will he explain why he has not found it possible to include a conscience Clause in the Bill allowing such people to opt out of work on Sunday? My hon. Friend must realise that many of us find it difficult to support his Bill solely for this reason.
I think that it would be very difficult to do that. People take on a job, and, if they do not want to work on Sundays, they can take other work. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Certainly. In all the various occupations I have mentioned so far, there has been no difficulty of recruiting people to work on Sunday. If they do not wish to work on Sunday, they must take work in another occupation.
Does my hon. Friend appreciate that that argument has been used throughout the generations to oppose factory legislation, safety legislation and safe-guarding hours of work, in virtually every direction which he would applaud?
I have given a promise to the House. If there is a feeling that there is need for some restriction dealing with the question of a seven-day week, and the unions concerned raise the matter with me and the T.U.C, if they reach a workable proposal, I shall gladly accept it and incorporate it in the Bill.
I recognise that this is a controversial Measure. The controversy goes across party. Some people have asked why the Government do not bring in a Bill. I have to admit that there are religious differences within the Government. I regard this as a matter on which private Members must take the initiative. But the Home Office has given every possible assistance in the drafting of the Bill and considers that, if the Bill becomes law, it will be workable. I recommend the Bill to the House as a Measure to clear up the present legal mess and deal with the problem of excessive noise and disorderly conduct.
It is not an anti-religious Bill. The majority of churchgoers, and people like Dick Sheppard, Lord Soper and Cardinal Heenan, take the view that people should be able freely to spend their Sunday afternoons and evenings as they wish, provided that they allow others freedom to have a quiet Sunday afternoon if they wish. I think that that is the general feeling in the House, too.
There is, however, no possibility of an understanding with the Lord's Day Observance Society and its supporters, who have taken a very different line. What they want is clear from the literature which they have sent me. They acknowledge, they say, the need for clarification of the present law. But what does that mean? They want to tighten up the law. They would like to end television on Sundays; they have tried hard to find legal objections to television on Sunday. They would like all sport and entertainment to be stopped on Sunday. They want to laws of 1625 and 1780 to be fully operated, and to extend them to all inventions which have taken place since 1780. That is the solution which the Lord's Day Observance Society wants.
We all agree that the members and supporters of the Lord's Day Observance Society are devout and sincere, with every right to hold their own opinions. But, in my view, they have no right whatever to try to use the power of the State to dictate to other people who do not agree with them how they should spend their Sunday.
I know that hon. Members have had a great flood of letters engineered by the Lord's Day Observance Society all over the country.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I know from experience that it is one of the most powerful pressure groups in the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—a very powerful pressure group. But I ask hon. Members to remember that, although they are noisy, vocal and aggressive, they are only a minority of the population. From extensive correspondence which I have received from members and supporters of the Society, it is clear that they have pronounced and definite views. They do not accept the right of individual judgment. They have very little Christian charity and less human tolerance. They have no respect for the rights of others, and I ask the House to end their tyranny once and for all.
This is a matter of principle. We should give to all our fellow citizens, whilst respecting the rights of other fellow citizens, the right to decide for themselves how they will spend their Sunday afternoons and evenings, according to their own conscience.
Order. May I make one observation. No fewer than 20 hon. Members wish to speak. Yesterday, I was able to call 26 in a similar debate because Members made reasonably brief speeches.
I oppose the Bill, and I hope that the House will reject it.
Had I had any doubts about the unwisdom of the Bill, this week's economic turn of events would have convinced me completely. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but their Govern-have issued a Green Paper which says that we must all spend less money. The only result of the Bill will be that we shall spend more. That is the great conflict that faces us. I should like to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Dispatch Box telling the House that the Bill is quite contrary to the public interest.
When all is said and done, the Bill merely proposes to allow more money to be made on Sunday than is now made. Take that factor out of the Bill, and it would collapse, despite all that we have heard so far.
I should like to quote what the Daily Express said about the Bill two days ago.
The Daily Express said on Thursday:
If Mr. John Parker's Bill for a Brighter British Sunday goes through we could be spending Sunday shouting for our favourite football team or popping into the theatre."—
and paying for both.
Mr. Parker's Bill would provide freedom for professional sport and the stage to treat Sunday as a weekday.
I am fundamentally against having two Saturdays instead of one Saturday and a Sunday in a weekend.
Daily Express also said:
There are powerful opponents to Sunday shopping,
which, of course, would increase under the Bill—
the shopworkers. At its last conference their union overwhelmingly opposed Sunday opening, feeling it would deprive shopworkers of a 'recognised day of rest and relaxation with the family'.
That is what the last union meeting of the biggest number of men who will be affected by the Bill felt about the proposal. The Daily Express continued:
… despite the fact that both sides claim massive public support,"—
which the hon. Gentleman seems to claim—
a Daily Express poll taken earlier this week of people in all age groups, of varying
religious persuasion or none, and in all walks of life, showed marked indifference to change.
There is no demand for the Bill. Some of the rather harsh things that the hon. Gentleman said about people who oppose it will have done it a great deal of harm.
I admit that there is a good deal to be said for removing certain of the present absurdities, but I do not think that it justifies the sweeping changes that would inevitably result from the Bill. Much of the support for it comes from people or organisations who hope to make money from the proposals.
As a generality, I am all in favour of people making money, provided that they make it honestly and it is not made against the public interest. It is because I believe that the proposed changes and the money-making that lies behind them are against the public interest that I oppose the Bill.
Obviously, the restrictions of 1677, which the Bill intends to sweep away, are not good today. Some changes should be made, because we live in a completely different world. But that does not justify all that lies behind the Bill, and all that would come out of it. Much more would come out of it than the hon. Gentleman seems to think. It is clear to me that if admission charges were not allowed, and money could not be made directly or indirectly from the proposed changes, the Bill would not receive half the support that it has. The House should recognise the Bill for what it really is—a money-making proposition.
The rights of the individual and the cause of personal freedoms are pretentious smoke-screens behind which the money-maker hopes to operate. If the Bill were in the public interest, I would fight for it, but because I think that it is against the public interest I am bitterly opposed to it.
Like other hon. Members, I have had many letters from the Football Association, which strongly supports the Bill. I like to watch a good soccer match. It gives me great pleasure, and I usually stay up on Saturday nights to watch "Match of the Day", which, I think, is great entertainment. If the Bill were passed, it is quite probable that there would be two days of weekend football. But I doubt whether the Football Association would get bigger gates, which is what it wants. We must face the fact that it is more money that people are after. People could not afford to go to two matches every weekend. The appetite for soccer would become cloyed. There would be two inferior games instead of one, half-supported by half-indifferent crowds. I believe that the F.A. would bitterly regret the changes the Bill would permit.
I should like my friends in the F.A. to have a thought for the police, who are overworked. They have to deal with demonstrators, and so on at weekends, and to add to their burden would be unfair to them. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department laughs, but they are entitled to their weekend at home with their families just like anyone else. If the Bill goes through they will have to help both inside and outside the ground and in dealing with the traffic.
My objection to the Bill is economic more than moral, though I have strong objections on moral grounds. Yesterday's announcement about Bank Rate—and this is not a party matter; we are all in it together—shows that the Government are determined, I believe rightly, to cut personal expenditure—[An HON. MEMBER: "On a Sunday?"] Whether it be Saturday or Sunday does not matter.
As a nation, we are living beyond our means. The Government are courageously determined to cut down personal expenditure through their current economic policy, including the use of Bank Rate. It is the only salvation for our country, and I support the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what he is trying to do. The Bill goes contrary to that policy. It must inevitably make people spend more money. If it did not, the Football Association and the actors' association would not be interested. It is more money they want. I beg hon. Members to remember that we cannot afford it. Since the war, there has been a tendency in all walks of life to demand a higher and higher standard of living. I am not against that—so long as we earn it. But the demand is for automatic increases, whether we earn them or not. That problem faces every Government of either party.
The Bill would tend to increase the movement for more and more in order to spend more and more, to have two Saturdays instead of one Saturday and one Sunday. That would increase the Government's terrible problems in trying to convince the nation that we do face an economic crisis and that we must all make an effort to overcome it.
The Bill could not have come at a worse time, or—I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, since I do not mean it personally—from a worse quarter. I remind him that, at present, in his constituency, 12,500 workers at Ford's——
I was giving the background to the position, Mr. Speaker. All I am saying is that I think the Bill would be wrong and could not have come at a worse time nor from a worse quarter. But I will not develop that, although I would very much like to have done so.
I want to meet the case made by the hon. Gentleman on moral grounds. I hold strong views on Sunday observance and I am entitled to do so. But I have no wish to ram those ideas down other peoples' throats. The general moral background is that, since the war, we have had many small Bills like this which have helped to produce the permissive state, one thing after another. If this Bill were by itself then, from my point of view, it would not be so objectionable. But it is only one more step, though a small one, towards a permissive society.
But a permissive State in itself is a contradiction in terms. Every State has to have rules and restrictions. Even the most permissive State the sponsors of the Bill could imagine would have to have some "thou shalt nots". We cannot run society without them. Lawyers are well aware that "thou shalt not bear false witness" is the basis of our legal system. Perjury is still the greatest of crimes.
I am endeavouring to show that the Bill would destroy another of the landmarks which we value so much. One after another of those landmarks has gone and, ultimately, if a completely permissive State were erected, someone would have to invent some new "thou shalt nots" because, in my opinion—although I may be wrong—the Bill would sweep away one of the fundamentals which have made our country so great.
The hon. Gentleman made the point that those opposing the Bill were in a minority and it is a fair point. I admit that, regrettably, perhaps not more than 10 per cent., possibly only 5 per cent., of our people are regular churchgoers. But we must accept the fact.
The hon. Gentleman is making rash and sweeping assumptions. Not only are there objections to the Bill by churchgoers There are powerful social objections to it by people who have nothing to do with churches.
If I am leaving anyone out, the hon. Gentleman can remedy the omission.
The hon. Member for Dagenham put the point that those who oppose the Bill are a tiny minority and they should not be allowed to put their objections before other peoples' desires. But I remind him that party politicians are the last people who should be against what are called "activists", because both parties depend on a tiny minority to keep them going. But for a tiny minority our political parties could not exist.
The same is true of those who work for the Churches. They may be a minority, but they represent what is best in our country, the very conscience of our nation, and to say that their point of view should be swept aside because it is expressed by a small minority would be overstepping the mark. I want their view to be properly represented and, therefore, I am speaking on their behalf.
The House will remember that, about 10 years ago, the then Home Secretary, Mr. R. A. Butler, introduced a Bill not unlike this one, hoping to tidy up old laws which were outdated. He wanted to sweep away the anomalies of street betting and make things better by establishing betting shops. If only he could have foreseen results! He has turned this country into a gambling hell. Yet that was a well-intentioned Bill, from a very good man.
There was support for him on both sides of the House. We cannot blame him alone. The Bill he introduced was trying to do what this Bill is trying to do—bring us up to date, do away with anomalies and make things better. As to the Betting and Gaming Act, it has resulted in much worse conditions and that is what I fear would happen in this case. I advise hon. Members to read the speeches made when the Act was before the House. I only wish that I had time to read some passages from them now.
If it were passed, the Bill would, I believe, over the years help to destroy part of our national characteristics. It would help destroy the Englishness of the English people. We are ceasing to hold our characteristics. We drove our motor cars on the wrong side of the road; we had the wrong sort of currency; we had Fahrenheit instead of Centigrade; but we still have different Sundays from the Continent. I would regret it if the English race ceased to be different—and part of our way of life, part of our thought, comes from the traditional English Sunday that is different from Sundays anywhere else.
In the English character throughout the centuries, there has been a streak of the Puritan which, throughout the ages, has stood the nation in very good stead. I do not want to destroy it, but retain it. It is because I fear what might result from this well-intentioned Bill—the evil that I believe would come out of it—that I urge the House to reject it.
If I were against the Bill, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) I would say, "Save me from my friends". But I am one of the sponsors of the Bill.
I understand the deep objections of those who oppose the Bill. There is a balance of interests here. In the trade union movement, I understand the history of the matter. The objections in the movement to working on the Sabbath spring from physical rather than spiritual feelings. That goes back to the days of the transitional period of the Industrial Revolution, between 1780 and 1832, when children were suddenly brought out from the countryside and the villages and put into factory, mine or mill. Hon. Members opposite should recognise with humility that it was their ancestors who imposed the worst on the trade union movement and the children of the working classes in those days.
I will not give way at this point. If I cannot get out an opening statement before being asked to give way, it is a bad day. I am merely making a few prefatory remarks. After I have finished them, and before coming to the controversial part of my argument, I will give way to my hon. Friend.
Those were the days before the 10-hour Act and all those other considerations, when the trade union movement had to insist that one day a week was kept free from work. Trade unionists were willing to use any argument or device to ensure that. It was reasonable that they should call the Lord in on their side for the observance of that day. Anybody who has studied social history knows that this is true.
We have moved a long way from the 19th century and from the worst days of savage unemployment. I ask people to consider the matter in the context of modern days, when there is a wholesale departure from and an ignoring of the law. It is not a permissive society that we are talking about. We are talking about the strategems which are used by lawyers and other advisers of vested interests to circumvent the law. The law as to observance of the Lord's day has fallen into contempt.
My right hon. Friend will agree that although working conditions have greatly changed since the days he has described, one of the most serious problems of the mid-twentieth century is the growth of the stress diseases. Doctors are extremely worried about this. A day of rest is widely regarded by doctors as being absolutely essential.
I recognise that statement for what it is, but as 18 per cent. of the population already work on Sunday it hardly applies. These specious arguments were never advanced during the war, when we kept Civil Defence workers, for example, working seven days a week.
The hon. Member for Louth referred to the Gaming Act. No voices were raised by Tory Members against that Act or against its consequences.
We could not object to its consequences, because we had not seen them. It is only because we have learned the evil effects of the Act that some of us are now opposed to this Bill.
The hon. Gentleman did not vote against that Bill. Worse things are taking place under the Gaming Act than are envisaged as occurring under the Bill if it becomes law. All the strip clubs operate under the present law. The Victoria Club, which many people say is controlled by the Mafia, operates seven days a week, and every game under the sun is played there. Some of the publications of the variety world advertise the strip-tease shows that can be attended on Sunday by those who have a fancy for that sort of thing.
The law should be taken out of the field of contempt where it now is and put on to a rational basis. It is ridiculous that a Shakespeare play in costume cannot be seen on a Sunday when so many other things are allowed. Football matches can be watched on television on Sunday afternoons. These things have come into our homes and they are the realities of the present day. The Crathorne Report found that there was no theological or ethical reason why anything should be prohibited on Sunday. If it was proper on Sunday it would be proper on weekdays and vice versa.
I hope that the police will not be dragged into this argument. I have no doubt what any policeman would opt for if he were asked to choose between stewarding at an Arsenal football match or controlling the thugs in Grosvenor Square. I hear someone muttering sotto voce that he might have to do both. One is in the interests of free speech and the other would be in the interests of free activity.
Is there not a third choice for the policeman—this is what we are seeking to preserve—that he should not have to deal every Sunday with demonstrators or football matches, but should be free, like most other people, to spent the day at home?
Certain things are completely inseparable with people's activities. Crimes will continue to be committed on Sunday, whatever we do about the police. What I object to is their being called in aid to bolster up a specious argument.
We all know that the hon. Member for Louth is very sincere in his beliefs on economic policy. Nobody who has listened to him over the past 20 years, as I have, could fail to respect his deep feelings on this matter, even though disagreeing with him. However, this is not an occasion on which those beliefs can be used to bolster up opposition to the Bill. They have nothing to do with it. It might even be said that we could get a better spread of economic activity if there were more recreation on Sundays.
I believe that, if there could be a conscience clause to the Abortion Bill, which everybody claimed and which I voted for, there can be a conscience clause in this Bill. I remember how, when I was quite a small boy, Harold Fleming, the great Swindon player of about 50 years ago, was an observer of the Sabbath and pleaded a conscience clause. His position was respected and he was rather admired for it.
I do not think that it matters whether a man is a professional or an amateur. I could name professional players who have the same view. My hon. Friend should not be obscurantist.
I could name professional players who take this view, and their view is respected. There should be a conscience clause in the Bill.
Then there is the question of noise. If I had to choose between noise and Sunday observance, I am all in favour of avoiding the noise and doing away with professional football matches if necessary on Sunday. I hope that Clause 3 sufficiently covers that. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should know that I am on his side. I would be in favour of a strengthened Clause making this possible. When the Bill goes into Committee we shall look at this. I support the Bill, but I am against the noise of football matches. I am not prepared to have communities wrecked on Sunday afternoons because others want to see a football match.
There is a great deal of that under the present law. I would put the noise provisions above anything else. Greater than the need for this Bill is the need for a Bill which takes a more truculent attitude to noise generally. We would have to start with Government, the row from Heathrow Airport and all sorts of military and defence considerations, which are completely spurious in this context. I put the abatement of noise rather high.
I support the Bill, because the law needs to be rationalised, and I want to see it held in respect rather than contempt.
The Bill is very important. It is not only concerned with such things as whether we shall play football on Sunday, or anything of that kind. It is a very profound Bill because it could change the whole social pattern of the country. It may be desirable that it should be changed, but we ought to appreciate as a House that that is the depth of the Bill.
When the gaming laws were allegedly reformed by this House, the greatest argument put in favour of the reform was that they were held in contempt. The right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) will remember that that phrase was bandied round the House in the 1959 proceedings. Subsequently, when that Act was passed, there had to be others to tidy the whole thing up, ending with the 1963 Act. Those Acts have had a profound social and psychological effect on the country which no one, not one Member of the House, accurately foresaw.
We are dealing with something of the same nature today. If the gaming laws were held in contempt then, and they certainly were, they are in even greater contempt today. That is an indictment on the whole of this House, on our inability to have appreciated in depth exactly what we were doing, and the social, psychological and political effects of those Acts on the life of the country. All that has happened within the period of 10 years.
Whether we like it or not, we are a basically Christian country. We have always regarded the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. People may regard this as a Christian tradition, but it is a social and political view of life, even if they do not accept it on the first basis. I accept that there are many who do not do so. This has affected the whole social attitude of people over the centuries.
Of course, the right hon. Member for Leeds, West was right when he said that it was a tremendous indictment on 18th and 19th century industrialists, the way that they used labour, and nothing that anyone can say in retrospect can justify some of the things they did and expected. This is the background to the fact that throughout history we have had a day of rest. As evolution has taken place Saturday has become a day of entertainment, and Sunday has become a different kind of day. If we are to change it let us be aware of what we are doing. We will basically change an attitude that has developed over the centuries.
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that it is much more fundamental than that, and that the principle of a Sabbath, not necessarily a Sunday, antedates the Christian period, and is also present in most of the great religions of the world?
There were certainly signs of a great appreciation of social events, and the human personality and character in Genesis, in what is ordained to be a day of rest. If we are to clear up the anomalies of Sunday, and there are many, although I do not take an extreme view of this at all, my first objection to the Bill would be that it creates many more anomalies than it removes.
Let me invite hon. Members' attention to Claus; 2, which refers to
… any spectacle which is designed for the entertainment of members of the public and consists in a competition in a sport or game or a demonstration of prowess in a sport or game.
How is that to be interpreted? What exactly is a spectacle? It must be designed "for the entertainment of members of the public" and consist in a competition in a sport or a game. It has already been said that the lawyers have got over Sunday legislation. My goodness, they would have an absolute heyday with that Clause. One does not have to be a very profound lawyer to see the argument that one could advance that the spectacle was not mainly designed for the entertainment of members of the public.
Dealing with the second part, about consisting in a competition in a sport or game or a demonstration of prowess, one could drive a coach and horses through it. That is one brief glimpse of the anomalies which would be created here.
The promoters of the Bill are trying to meet, by Clause 3, an objection which they obviously appreciate. I imagine that the public at large is largely indifferent about whether a great football match is held on Sunday, say at Goodison Park. I know that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) has a great interest in the team there——
To accommodate the hon. Gentleman, let us move to Anfield. There may be many people who would like to see a match in Anfield on a Sunday, and it may be that the public at large would be in favour of it, but the people in the immediate vicinity of Anfield would have the greatest objection to it.
The argument is used that we must not ram things down people's throats. There is a world of difference between a television set in someone's house, because it is a private matter, and having the square mile immediately around Anfield football ground being affected, because the people have no option, and the crowds will come.
Clause 3 provides that there can be an application to the magistrates. Suppose that there is a bench of magistrates, and this is a matter entirely in their discretion, who are pro-football and they decide that the complaint is not valid. In their discretion they disregard it. On the other side of the country, in Leeds, to take the right hon. Gentleman's city, the magistrates may think that the same complaint is valid; they may have more sympathy with the householders. There would be a situation for the next few years different in Liverpool from Leeds.
I have listened to what appears to be a slur on magistrates' courts. May I draw the hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to the fact that the courts would consider the evidence only?
With the greatest respect to the hon. Member, there are many cases, not only affecting magistrates' courts but judges, which can be cited. This might be a High Court judge, who has to make a value judgment. What is anticipated in Clause 3 is that they will make a value judgment. Without doubt, their values will come into it. I am not casting any slur on magistrates. A High Court judge might equally differ on this kind of point when it comes to making a value judgment.
Because the Bill creates anomalies throughout the country. There would be discontent in one place as compared with another. The promoters' main argument in favour of the Bill is that there are so many anomalies that they should be removed. I believe that the Bill would create more anomalies.
The Clause is even more ingenious than the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. An appeal to the magistrates' court must be sent there by the local council. Take a council like Bristol with 128 members. There would be a great difference of opinion on such a council and the appeal might well never reach the court.
The hon. Gentleman is praising the promoters and misrepresenting my point of view by describing the Clause as ingenious. I do not regard it as ingenious.
The second objection is this. A most difficult situation would be created for those who have to be employed on Sundays. Take the professional footballer who is a star and whose team plays regularly on Sundays. He might have religious objections to playing on Sundays, but it would be tremendously difficult for him to refuse to play. He is on contract. This is only one example of the many difficulties which would be created.
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman give the same consideration to the steelworker who might object to working on Sundays on religious grounds? There are probably 200,000 steel workers in Britain who are working on a rota system, which includes Sunday working.
Certainly I would.
I turn to the Amendment in my name and that of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans), which has not been called. It relates to Wales. It is clear from the Bill that the promoters regard Scotland and Northern Ireland as separate social entities for this purpose, and rightly so. But they do not so regard Wales. I should like to know from my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West—and I call him my hon. Friend because he knows my views and I appreciate that he is trying to meet certain Welsh objections—why he regards Scotland and Northern Ireland as being different from Wales in this respect.
I think that there should be a complete review in depth of the Sunday observance laws. It is no use the Government contracting out of this. It is an impossible task unless the Government take it upon themselves or at least give all possible help, and it cannot be dealt with in a Bill as flimsy as this. Wales has a separate tradition. It is different from England in many respects, and it should be dealt with differently. I do not say that the result would be so different in Wales; we do not know. But what about the local option Clause as drafted? I know that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West is trying to meet certain objections, and I am grateful to him for his sensitivity, but this is not an adequate way of dealing with the matter.
Without doubt there are great commercial interests behind the Bill. What will happen if there is a local option? A vote will be taken every now and then, with, on the one side, a financial incentive and an ability to call on a good deal of money to try to achieve a given result. Other people who might have opposing views might not have those resources. Presumably the money which the promoters would spend on promoting a certain result in a local option would be allowable against tax, whereas if a man dips into his pockets to object as a citizen that would not be allowed against tax. An unreal result is often obtained because many people are indifferent to what is proposed and do not appreciate what is going on.
I am a great believer in the view that we are here not to represent a point of view, but to exercise our judgment on behalf of our constituents. The practice of taking votes locally should not be extended. There is only one issue on which this sort of vote should be taken, and that is on a great constitutional issue, which should be dealt with by means of a referendum. I do not like such votes on all kinds of social issues. If the Sunday laws in Wales are to be reformed—and they should be, although I would not go about it in this way—the representatives of Wales, Members of Parliament, should do it. This could be dealt with in the Welsh Grand Committee. It is highly objectionable that the promoters of the Bill should have included Wales and excluded Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I was astounded by the tone of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), in introducing the Bill. He assumed a tone of moral arrogance in discussing the Lord's Day Observance Society, for which I hold no brief. It has often expressed views which I have sometimes found extreme. However, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman had any right to make a moral judgment on a group of people of whom he had very little personal knowledge. His tone was markedly different from the tone adopted by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West when he introduced a similar Bill. The promoter of this Bill today did its cause no good.
I preface my remarks by saying that I agree with almost every word of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). I would perhaps modify his last few words a little, because I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) intended to be arrogant. It may be that he was just too emphatic.
On the other hand, my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham's criticism of the Lord's Day Observance Society in general was, I thought, rather inconsiderate and very unjust. Whatever he personally may feel about the policy or the leadership of that organisation, it is grossly unfair to say what my hon. Friend said about so many of its members, some of whom are known to me as constituents and friends and some merely as casual acquaintances. Many of them hold their views very sincerely and are very good practitioners of Christianity and good citizenship at its best; and should not have come in for the sort of harsh general criticism which my hon. Friend made of them.
I think that it is also worth reminding my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham that it is not the Lord's Day Observance Society which was responsible for all the Sunday observance legislation which has been framed and passed here over the decades, the generations, and the centuries. Parliament passed that legislation. It is not the product of the Lord's Day Observance Society or of any organisation of that kind outside this House. I agree, incidentally with the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery that it seems odd to delegate to outside bodies what is the responsibility of Parliament—even in respect of the Welsh part of this Bill, though it is a Private Member's Measure.
The Bill is inadequate. It is inadequate even for its own purpose, because it cannot serve that purpose. Nothing less than Government legislation after a full study of our present Sunday observance legislation can deal effectively with this very wide subject. Therefore, I do not think that a Private Member's Bill is the right way in which to deal with this whole matter, which goes back over a mass of old laws, of improving legislation, of consolidating legislation and, indeed, quite a lot of more recent legislation. We are dealing not only with so-called "antiquated" Acts. We are concerned also with some legislation which is as recent as 1949, 1950, 1963 and 1964. We are almost up to this present Government's term of office and certainly it covers legislation from the previous Labour Government's period of office.
The Bill affects the Shops Act and other legislation passed through this House to safeguard the rights of millions of our citizens. It is not just the oft-quoted 35,000 members of the Lord's Day Observance Society who are affected by the Bill. It concerns millions of people throughout the country. Almost every working man and woman is open to attack against their liberties and their freedom from exploitation. They are faced with the real possibility of being on call for seven days of the week—not necessarily working all seven days, but on call. Every trade unionist in the country should be extremely anxious about the effects of the Bill. It is not a matter involving just the members of the Lord's Day Observance Society.
This Bill is a much worse document than the one presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) in 1967 and 1968. When his Bill was on Report, we were discussing a proposed Measure which included a Clause making provision for the rights of conscientious objection against Sunday work on religious and other grounds. It also made provision for ensuring that, if a man had to work on Sundays under a contract of service, he would be compensated by a full day's holiday during the week apart from normal holidays if he worked more than four hours, and to half a day if he worked less than four hours. There was also provision for the payment of overtime. None of these protections appear in this Bill. There is no attempt to cover any of the matters which were dealt with in Clause 4 of the proposed measure which was sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West, Clause 4 is out. There is no safeguard, no compensation, no conscientious objection—nothing. This Bill, therefore, is worse than the one which we considered before.
In presenting his Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham seemed almost to suggest that it had the approval of the Home Office. This was hinted at time after time in the course of his speech. The truth is that the Government were good enough to provide drafting facilities, which is quite normal with many Private Members' Bills. To try to make it look as if the Government approved of it is quite misleading. It is not a Labour Government or party Bill. His claim, therefore, should come under misrepresentation and false advertising. It is quite absurd to present it to the House as if it had official blessing.
I hope that no one in the Government has any thought of giving special favour to the Bill ahead of better and more acceptable Bills which are waiting their turn and which, I believe, would command support on all sides of the House but have not yet had the opportunity of being presented or debated on Second Reading. I know that efforts have been made to change the Standing Orders, to work by arithmetic that which cannot be worked by rational argument, in favour of this Bill. I am sure that those who have sought to modify Standing Orders would not even pretend that that is not what they are after. I make no complaint about that as a minor tactic. It is all part of their game. However, I hope that the Government will give no special favours to the Bill. It is not part of their official programme, and no Labour Member is committed to it in any way as official Government legislation.
In December, 1966, in relation to Lord Willis's Bill, which is very much the same as this one, the Minister said:
We have made drafting facilities available to Lord Willis.… But the collective view of the Government is one of neutrality, because we feel that it would not be right in a matter of conscience for the Government to try to impose a view."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st December, 1966; Vol. 738, c. 1489.]
I am sure that that is still the attitude of the Government. Unfortunately, when we considered the previous Measure on Report, one if not two Ministers gave a rather different impression by the enthusiasm with which they were impartially but clearly in favour of several parts of that Bill.
I have been asked why an hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency should be speaking in a debate on the present Bill which does not include Scotland. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West himself answered the question in the Second Reading debate on his own Bill. He said:
Those who say that an Englishman should not legislate for Wales missed the point. We here are all Members of this House. We all have equal rights, and it would be a sad day if we established the principle that Scottish Members should not be entitled to speak on English Bills.
I accept that from my hon. Friend, who was moving his own Bill at that moment. This Bill today is substantially the same, though my hon. Friend's proposed Measure on Report had become a little better than this poor affair. Then there came a magnanimous pat from him on the back for the Scots:
After all, the Scots are very generous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 1902.1
An acceptable and impeccable sentiment and extremely apperceptive.
Nevertheless, this Bill does affect Scotland. In so far as we believe that it harms England, it affects Scotland. In so far as it endangers Wales, it is bad for Scotland, too. Potentially, its dangers cannot be contained within the borders of England and Wales or outside the frontiers of Scotland, and we have a right, as representatives of the United Kingdom Parliament, to feel a general responsibility for defending ordinary people everywhere against this Measure.
Indeed, nearly all the activities which the Bill will permit and promote, if it is passed, are international matters in themselves. Sport has become international. It is impossible to contain a season's course of great football matches within the boundaries of any one country. People flock to them long distances by road, rail and air, from all over the country. Clearly an international effect is created by a Measure affecting radically the whole broad question of Sunday observance and the rights of people under the Sunday Observance Acts.
The Bill is an attack upon people's rights, liberties and their freedom from exploitation. It attacks their privileges during a very important part of the week and affects important aspects of the way of life of many ordinary people.
One hon. Member asked where should one draw the line between professional and amateur sport, professional and amateur entertainment and professional and amateur activities of various sorts. The answer is that, if it is amateur, it is voluntary. If it is professional, it is paid. When it is paid, the man or interest who pays the piper calls the tune.
There is tremendous pressure, tremendous financial temptation to start with, but also great moral pressure, on anyone involved in a team or any group activities to remain actively a part of the group and of all its activities whether on a Sunday or any other day. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery made a valid point indeed. I have here a note, though I shall spare the House repetition from it, on this very point, exactly the same point as he made.
If a man is involved in a team and the team decides to go into battle—in football, cricket, anything, any time—he is under tremendous moral pressure to take his part and to remain with the team. Of course he is. He can hardly contract out of it. Of course, if he is a professional man—paid—he is under more than moral pressure: he is under a contract of service, under a legal obligation, unless there is some provision put into the contract to protect him. Even what protection there was under the previous Bill for his protection in Clause 4 is taken out of the Bill. So there is not even that provision made in this inadequate handbill we have before us today—this leaflet, rather than a Bill.
I believe, too, that many of the objections which have been already made, and rightly, to the tremendous congestion on our roads, with the increasing accident rate, the increasing death rate, increasing troubles of all kinds which arise in consequence of the congestion on and the over-use of our inadequate roads at the weekends, would be greatly increased if we made another Saturday out of a Sunday.
There is no doubt that is the purpose of the Bill or what its effect would have to be. The right hon. Lady speaking for the Government on 21st December, 1966, said:
Broadly speaking, the effect of Lord Willis's Bill is to remove all restrictions under existing Sunday observance laws concerning sport and entertainment on Sunday afternoon and evening and to impose restrictions on Sunday morning only in respect of entertainment and spectator sport that the public have to pay to watch."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,21st December, 1966; Vol. 738, c. 1490.]
That is still the scope of this Bill, minus the safeguards which the Standing Committee had provided on the last occasion when the similar Bill, almost the twin of this, was before the House. So the effect of suddenly throwing open all these floodgates is to create a mass movement of people on our roads and transport services to and fro in the country to aggravate still further our present weekend problems.
The supporters of the Bill have again greatly emphasised that they want to repeal and wipe out all the antiquated, ancient laws, as they call them. But they are not content only to say that. They go on and say, "Oh, no. We want to do more. We want to preserve certain things. We want to preserve the family values and the love of Sunday and to keep Sunday as a different day."
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) said:
My… Bill seeks to give Sunday a character entirely different from that of an ordinary weekday."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 1900.]
Unfortunately, he also said to the Sunday Times":
the same Bill—
will put the English Sunday on a par with the English Saturday.
What I should like to know is, what day of the week it will be different from if it is not to be different from a Saturday? If the Sunday of the Bill is to be the same as a Saturday it would certainly be the same as the very worst day of the week so far as bad traffic conditions, and congestion and accidents, and the rest are concerned. My hon. Friend has never yet answered that question. Of course, he could not, because he was seeking to provide for two entirely contradictory things, or claiming to try.
My hon. Friend said that gambling would not be allowed on a Sunday. But gambling on Sunday events could be allowed on Saturday or a Wednesday, Thursday, or a Friday as it is today on Saturday games. There has been increasing and massive gambling involving very considerable expenditure of money, to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) quite rightly referred, at a time when there are restraints on public and general expenditure. This hardly seems consistent with the further massive increase in gambling which the Bill would promote.
Of course, it is possible to legislate against unlawful gambling by making gambling official and lawful, with betting offices, and so on, in the front streets; but we do not thereby wipe out unlawful gambling in the back streets, and therefore, as we have always said, this weak assurance is simply not operative in fact.
There is less and less need for this Bill as time goes on. With the five-day week the type of Bill became less necessary. We are moving towards the four-day week, towards the shorter working week and the shorter working day, and should be providing more and more holidays with pay for all the working people of our country. I was among those fighting this battle long before the war—for two week's with pay, then.
Yes, if they like.
We have been working for longer, better paid holidays for the working people and I am sure that the profession of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) will support him in any movement of that kind. But there is now less need or excuse than ever there was to do away with the invaluable protection and safeguards for the seventh day, with protection against mass Sunday employment and mass exploitation on any of seven days.
The very old Acts of which we have heard so much, are to be repealed by this Bill. That, even in itself is bad, because there are some very good provisions in some of the old Acts. There may be some provisions which are obsolete, unused, ignored, even absurd, in present conditions; and there are other provisions subject to evasion, but that is no reason for repealing the whole of those Acts. Certainly, apart from the old Acts, there is also a whole range and body of legislation, improving Acts and consolidating legislation, based on the experience and changing conditions of centuries. Now it is proposed to emasculate it by means of one single Private Member's Bill on one short Friday afternoon. It really is quite unthinkable that this should be allowed to happen, and that this ill-thought out leaflet should take the place of all that safeguarding and protective legislation made over the centuries.
Not only those older Acts but also modern Acts which reform the older Acts are to be abolished to a large extent, to be repealed and to be chopped in the process of the passing of this Bill. Even the Shops Act is to be modified, the Licensing Acts are to be, in part, repealed.
I appreciate what my hon. Friend says. I do not dispute that. I understand that the trading position is now, still some years later than when it was last said, under consideration by the Government, partly based on the Crathorne Report and other studies of that wider subject.
I am afraid that my speech does not require very much intervention to lengthen it; but, anyway, I am coming to an early conclusion now.
The Bill itself is less acceptable because of the absence today of all the reasons which were debated in favour of Clause 4 of the earlier Bill. I do not think that we can just sweep aside the whole of the considered views of a Committee of this House on matters as important as were discussed on Clause 4 of that former Bill in the House and in Committee.
This, today, is one of the additional, bigger weaknesses in the proposed legislation. Clarify in the old Acts, certainly, the archiac phraseology; modify, improve, consolidate, modernise and make effective—yes. I do not think that anyone would say that that is not desirable. But to sweep away, obliterate all that past body of laws in favour of this inadequate little document, with no protection whatsoever for the millions who will be affected by it, is certainly not an acceptable proposition for this House to adopt.
The minor provisions in the old Acts which are no longer in force and which, in any case, could not be enforced, and many of the other minor matters to which the sponsors of the Bill object, are only weeds that happen to have grown and continued along the roadside of the centuries. But, even if it is a cliché, perhaps, to say so, one still does not try to destroy the sun in order to prevent the growth of weeds. Yet that is what this little Bill seeks to do.
On behalf of those who would be involved in compulsory labour on Sundays in catering for the people who would go to see the mass spectacular sporting and entertainment events—the bus drivers, the train drivers, the police—and all those who would be involved in the disturbance of an established and preferred and settled way of spending the Sunday which ordinary people normally enjoy, I say that the Bill ought to be rejected. It should be rejected not least because of the absence in it of any attempt to substitute some of that protection which was attempted by the Committee which examined the previous Bill.
We in this House take a very great pride in looking after minorities—racial, religious minorities and other minorities of every sort. I am in favour of that; and the House is broadly very liberal in that respect—and this country probably more so than most countries. But it is also good to look after majorities. I am quite certain that if the Bill had been presented without any of the safeguards connected with the ban on sport for pay before 2 o'clock—on Sunday—which is the main protective principle in the Bill—and, instead, it had been proposed that sport, all the vast entertainment and spectacle of sport, dancing, theatre and the rest, involving mass travel and catering, should take place from early on Sunday mornings, every Roman Catholic in the country would have been against the Bill, and rightly so. And so would many others.
No hon. Members of the House have taken a better stand in defence of the conscientious and religious rights than have the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Peter Mahon) and his brother the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey). They have fought, but not in terms only of the wishes of their own Roman Catholic minority—because they are protected largely by the Bill regarding the minimal Sunday observance rules of their Church. The Council of Christian Churches and the Roman Catholic Body in England gave evidence before the Crathorne Committee in favour of maintaining the traditional Sunday. They would, I am sure, all far prefer to have no Sunday observance legislation than legislation that would damage that tradition and institution, and in that sense be retrogressive and undesirable. Between them, they put what must broadly be the view of the majority, who are Protestants, as well as of the minority who are Catholic. It is time that the voice of the majority was heard in this House as well more clearly. I am sure that the overwhelming majority, representing the Protestant voice as well as even many non-Christian interests and people who do not practise religion but seek social justice and freedom from seven-day exploitation are in favour of this Bill's being rejected and to preserve all the present safeguards against the exploitation of millions of our people.
The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) several times complained about this being a very short Bill. I do not believe that length, bulk, or even height, is necessarily good in itself, and or that the brevity of the Bill is an argument against it.
The hon. Member said, quite rightly, that there was no reason why Scottish Members should not speak on English Bills, and I would agree with him. At the same time, there is a great movement in Scotland for the Scots to have a greater say in their own affairs, and I think that many English people would think that the same could well be said on behalf of England.
I thought that the hon. Member was on his weakest ground when he said that what happened in sport in England would affect Scotland, because international matches would involve travelling on Sundays. The hon. Member must realise that when there is an important football match being played in England on a Saturday, those Scotsmen who attend it must also travel on a Sunday.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made a very remarkable point. The Liberal Party is the great party of regionalism as against central control. To me, in fact, that seems to be the most sensible part of its policy. Nevertheless, he thought it would be anomalous if what happened in the City of Leeds was different from what happened in the City of Liverpool. What he said in this respect was not consistent with the rest of his thinking——
The hon. Gentleman must not misunderstand me. The main argument put in favour of the Bill was that it would get rid of anomalies, and I said that it created more anomalies than it removed.
If the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks it anomalous that people in Liverpool should act differently from people in Leeds, his idea of an anomaly is very different from mine.
My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) kept stressing that this was a great money-making Bill. I suggest that he knows more about business and industry than he does about sport. Those closely connected with sport are not great capitalists, and do not make a great deal of money out of sport. It is sheer fallacy to think that people wanting to make big money go into sport.
Like other hon. Members, I have had a number of letters from sporting associations in my constituency. I received one from the Norfolk Lawn Tennis Association. It is a rather small association. The big lawn tennis associations, such as the association in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black), are quite all right, but the smaller associations are not such money makers. Again, the Norfolk County Cricket Club is not a large organisation which will spin money out of playing on Sundays—it may just survive better because of it. The same applies to the Norfolk County Football Association and the Norwich City Football Club.
It is to misconceive the whole object and result of the Bill to think that it will be a great capitalist bonanza. I should have thought that from the Conservative point of view, the preservation of county cricket would be, if not the main object of the Conservative Party at least high on the list.
Reference has been made to the objection about people having to work, perhaps, seven days a week. With all respect to those who have put forward this argument, I do not think that working too hard is one of the most pressing dangers now facing the country. That is a very remote contingency. In an intervention, the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) said that the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) was the sort of thing put forward in the last century. That may be true, but conditions have since changed greatly, and it is quite plain to me, at least, that the trade unions are more than powerful enough to watch over the interests of their members and to safeguard them from exploitation.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said that the Bill would make profound social changes in what had been going on for centuries, but has he noticed what goes on now? Does he think that there will be a profound social change if the Glamorgan Cricket Club, instead of making people pay for programmes, makes them pay at the gate? That is not bringing about profound social change, but merely bringing a degree of sense into the law.
I can well understand the Sabbatarian argument but I think that it is too late for that argument to be advanced, because Sunday is already being used for work and play in many ways. In my view, if I may say so, the major fallacy in the argument put forward by the opponents of the Bill is that if people are stopped doing on Sunday what they want to do they will do something which, for instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth would like them to do. There is no reason to believe that people who want to watch a football match on Sunday but are not allowed by law to do so will do something much more admirable than attending a football match.
My hon. Friend says that he was not born then; I accept that. The "Book of Sports", hon. Members will remember, enjoined that after going to church it was lawful for people to play games. The Bishop of Bath and Wells said that the reason for the "Book of Sports" was that if people were not allowed to play games they would go into inns and talk over ale. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon would not like that. The alternative would please him more was that they might have gone into conventicals. But the Government of the day wanted to avoid that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Louth said that the permissive State was a contradiction in terms. I wonder whether he would say that the free State is a contradiction in terms, or that a free society s a contradiction in terms. I do not think he would. He was playing with words. Those supporting the Bill seek to take away what they consider unreasonable and out-dated restrictions on people's freedom and ability to enjoy themselves on Sunday. That does not mean that the supporters are against laws of any kind. But there is a freedom point here. One cannot say that merely because tidying up the gambling legislation did not work no other reforming legislation should be introduced. I do not think that the gambling laws are in any way analogous to laws about Sunday entertainment.
For all these reasons I support the Bill.
Perhaps it would be appropriate if at this point I give the Government's view on the Bill. The question of entertainments on Sunday is one that has been very much alive since the Report of the Crathorne Committee was debated, four years ago. My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has given Parliament yet another opportunity to discuss, and perhaps finally to resolve, this problem.
I am sure that hon. Members who have been here on previous occasions when the subject matter in this Bill has been discussed will be already aware of the Government's attitude. It was expressed clearly by my hon. Friends. The observance of Sunday as a special day set apart from other days of the week, not only for religious reasons but also for the purpose of quiet family reunions and relaxations, is supported by centuries of tradition.
This is a matter on which widely different views are sincerely held and these are often passionately defended. It is a question which closely affects individual religious beliefs. In these circumstances, there can be no doubt that the Government's attitude throughout the passage of the Bill should be one of neutrality. Government supporters, whether Ministers or back benchers, will be free to vote as they wish since the Government take the view that in a matter such as this it would be wrong for the Government to try to influence the vote in any way.
But this does not mean that the Government are disclaiming any interest whatever in the Bill. If the Bill is passed, it will replace legislation, dating back as far as 1625, by a new law which we hope would not require amendment for a good many years to come. It is, therefore, essential that in sweeping away the old anomalies new ones should not be created; that in the desire for rationalisation, practicability is not overlooked; and that the provisions of the Bill should be workable and in an appropriate form. For these reasons the Government have provided drafting assistance for my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham and will make the services of Parliamentary Counsel available to him if this should become necessary at a later stage.
Similarly, if the House gives the Bill a Second Reading, I shall, if necessary, comment on the practicability of any proposals put forward during the Committee or Report stages.
What the practice has been in the past I know not, but, speaking off the cuff, it would seem to me that we ought to treat all Members equally in the House. I am not aware of the precedents, so perhaps the hon. Member will give me the opportunity to look at his suggestion.
This Bill is very like the one which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) last Session, but there are two significant changes to which I shall refer later. There are differences in detail from the recommendations of the Crathorne Committee, but the broad purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the principle behind those recommendations. The aim is to sweep away the obscure and often illogical statutory restrictions on Sunday entertainments and to replace them by a more straightforward and logical system which, while preserving the special character of Sunday, will give some relaxation in the present law, but, at the same time, will make the law easier to enforce.
The complexity and piecemeal nature of the law and the difficulty of enforcing it constitute the major part of the case for reform. From both sides of the House the legal aspect has been stated. The hard core of the Bill is the proposal that there should be no restrictions whatever on any Sunday sport or entertainment except that during the hours from 2 a.m. on Sunday morning—3 a.m. in London—until 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon we should prohibit any sport or entertainment which spectators have to pay to watch. If the House decides that this is what it wants, it would be a clear, and, in our view, a workable law.
The two main differences between this Bill and the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Woolwich, West last Session are in the Clauses dealing with a Welsh option and with the remedy against unreasonable disturbance. I need say nothing about the Welsh option since this was discussed at length last year and I am sure that everyone is reasonably familiar with the arguments put forward for its inclusion. I am not saying that the wider aspect which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) mentioned is not important, but the detail is, I think, well known to us.
The question of unreasonable disturbance is a different matter. This is something upon which very strong views were expressed during the proceedings on last Session's Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham has faced the difficulty and suggested in his Bill what seems a rational compromise between those who would prevent all kinds of noisy entertainment and those who would allow Sunday afternoon to become indistinguishable from Saturday or any other day of the week.
The remedy proposed by my hon. Friend is simple. In brief, if a magistrates' court is satisfied on the complaint
of a local authority that local residents have been
unreasonably disturbed in their enjoyment of Sunday as a day of rest and quiet
it may prohibit particular premises being used for commercial sports or games on a Sunday afternoon for a period of three years.
There is provision in the Clause concerning how an appeal can be made and once an appeal is dealt with those who feel hard done by could immediately go back to the local authority. In other words, everyone is free to spend Sunday afternoons in the way he wishes, provided that his way does not encroach upon someone else's freedom to enjoy Sunday afternoon as a time of comparative peace and quiet. It is not enough to suppose that any particular way of spending this time will be unreasonably disturbing. It has to be proved as a matter of fact that it has already been so before action can be taken. The House may feel—it may not—that this would provide an adequate safeguard for everyone concerned.
I personally am very interested in this because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) knows, I live alongside Elland Road Football Ground, the home of Leeds United, which is now top of the First Division. One would want to look very carefully at this. I know the reasonableness of the directors of this club, who help a great deal to smooth over any problems that occur round there, but this is an example where, if people felt that there was too much noise from a match on Sunday afternoon, they would appeal to the local authority.
This is a very important Clause and is perhaps not quite so easily interpreted. Is not the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum more clear that it
may only be made if residents in the vicinity have, in fact, been unreasonably disturbed as a result of the premises being used in the previous six months in a way which would have been prohibited if clause 2 had then applied until midnight"?
The resident will be able to make his protest only six months in arrear. He will have to tolerate six months of terrible nuisance, because as those who live near football grounds know that
is what it is, before he can even ask his local authority to go to the magistrates. This is why I say that this is an ingenious Clause. It is designed to frustrate.
I was on the principle. I think that the question of the length of time could well be considered later. The principle is that people will be able to complain to the local authority.
Following on the Under-Secretary's comments about the local authority's approach to the magistrates, does not he think that it would be only right that the individual should have redress direct to the magistrates?
The complaint is made to the local authority. As I understand, any individual who felt himself wronged could go to the local authority, which would visit the area and find out. I accept that there are differences of opinion, but on this it is not for me as the Government to define or otherwise this aspect.
I did not want to get involved, but the individual does not have to wait for six months. The complaint must be made within six months of the offending incident. These are matters which can be considered later.
My hon. Friend has not mentioned a third omission from the Bill, namely, the conscience Clause. He must be aware that the Abortion Bill contained such a Clause and that last time this subject was discussed that Bill contained such a Clause. What will the attitude of the Home Office be if a Clause is introduced in Committee to make it a matter of conscience? My hon. Friend said that people were free to do as they liked on Sundays. They will not be free to do as they like if they are obliged to work and if a conscience Clause is not included in the Bill.
The role of the Government is one of neutrality. The Bill which has been presented by the private Member is that which is before the House. This is the one on which I am commenting. My own personal view on this is immaterial at this moment. There is a proper time for my hon. Friend, who I know has strong views on this, to raise these matters; but there is not a Government or a Home Office view on this.
To conclude, as I said earlier, the Government's view is one of neutrality. This need not prevent me from saying that I personally think it necessary to attempt to rationalise archaic legislation which is in contempt, to use the phrase employed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West, and to produce a law of Sunday observance which is clear and straightforward.
Equally, I wish to preserve the special character of Sunday. These are personal occasions. I owe too much to nonconformity in the wider sense of the term not to know that I derived a great deal of benefit from it, not only in the strict chapel sense, but all that went with it within the Labour movement on Sunday. I see the need for a day of rest in the modern context in the way that I think is being deployed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley). It is for Parliament, on a free vote, to decide whether to proceed with the Bill and to judge whether the Bill is acceptable to the great majority of the public.
I am sure that we are all very grateful to the Under-Secretary for his observations. Like him, I do not suppose it would be the end of the world if the Bill became law. Nor, perhaps, would it be the end of Sunday Entertainments Bills on these lines.
This is one of the things that bothers me. I intend no mistrust at all of the perfectly honourable intentions of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), but it is one of the consequences of social reform by Private Members' Bills that one tends never to reach a finite point. It is reform by instalments. That said, obviously this Bill should be dealt with on its own merits.
I start, as I think the Under-Secretary did, with a feeling of considerable sympathy towards those—and there are plenty of churchmen among them—who feel that the character of Sunday, indeed of religion itself, is not best defended by a facade of archaic laws which seem to many reasonable people to be out of touch with the needs of people at this time.
It is not simply a matter of moving with the times—on which sometimes the Churches appear over-anxious. It is more a duty of perpetually examining one's own motives. Those who do not like the Bill have a duty to examine and re-examine their objections. It does not seem to me that on this issue dogmatism is any better defence of Sunday than archaism.
I try to keep in my mind a story, which I hope is not apocryphal, of a discussion between Colin Cowdrey, Captain of Kent Cricket Club, and the Archbishop of Canterbury on the merits of county cricket on Sunday. Colin Cowdrey, a strong church man, was very doubtful about whether it should take place. The Archbishop of Canterbury favoured it. The Primate seems to have prevailed, because Kent now play some cricket on Sunday. That is a story I bear in mind, because although one has, or may believe one has, principles about the observance of Sunday, even these must be submitted frequently to the test of social change and present realities.
Two, at least, which have been discussed in the course of this debate and which must be weighed are mobility, which means the motor car, and the taste for mass recreation. Both, incidentally, give rise to the problem of disturbance, with which Clause 3 attempts to deal. Accepting these two social changes, there is bound to be some pressure to increase recreational facilities on Sunday. The hon. Member for Dagenham said that he sensed that there was more support since he first introduced a Bill of this nature in 1953. That may well be so, though I would not myself exaggerate the public urge at this moment for changes on Sunday. It exists in some quarters. Let us say that some pressures exist, and that some of them go a good way beyond the scope of this Bill.
That is one difficulty, for there is a countervailing view. This is not that a Sunday activity is necessarily bad in itself, but that such activity is bound to create more work for some people and ultimately increase the number for whom Sunday work becomes a condition of employment.
I have taken note of what was said about this. The hon. Member for Dagenham said that 18 per cent. work in industry on a Sunday anyway, and I heard what the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) said. I am one of the few Members of the House for whom working on Sunday has been a working condition throughout my professional life. What troubles me about Sunday employment, given this freedom to worship if one wishes, is not that it breaks a Commandmant but that it does to a degree limit the individual choice of how Sundays shall be spent within present limits. This choice strikes me as being important. Heaven forbid that the law should attempt to prescribe how we spend Sunday, but the freedom to do as we please for the greatest possible number seems to me desirable in itself. Therefore, we have this dilemma.
However we argue it, it is inevitable that this area of choice—the numbers free to decide how they wish to spend their Sunday—is diminished by certain forms of activity, and by some forms of activity more than others. This is difficult to quantify. Last year when a similar Bill was discussed, I asked the Football Association for an estimate of what the requirements in manpower would be for what it sought to do. Quite reasonably, it was unable to enlighten me.
It is relevant to mention a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), namely, the police. I would say to the right hon. Member for Leeds, West that I do not think they are simply being called in aid here. These provisions would lead to an increase in police funded overtime on Sunday. I have no doubt that the Home Office will take note of it and, indeed, for all I know, they may have made an estimate of it.
A kindred point concerns the railways. Have the railways been consulted? Sundays, normally for the railways, are for repair and maintenance, particularly of the track, over which some of the football specials which I envisage as a result of the Bill not not travel smoothly. This is a point to be borne in mind.
We have the factor of work—by itself perhaps not a decisive one. I am not myself wholly convinced by the argument that Sunday activity in itself is inimical to the health of an industrial society, that society must have a day of total rest. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Mr. Ian Gilmour) here. In any case, total inactivity is not always the best sort of relaxation. Winston Churchill believed that a change of occupation was the best therapy, and that may be the experience of many hon. Members.
There is another element here which, if I may express a strong personal view, should be weighed. Increasingly—I am speaking here in the context of an industrial society as it is—Sunday is the only day on which in many households the whole family can be together. Shift work increases, and in many households in industrial regions families, particularly with adolescents, are working round the clock for six days of the week.
A third of the married women have jobs outside their homes, and a third of our labour force now consists of women. There is no need to talk sententiously about family life. Let us simply say that some families sometimes like to be together, to do things together, and that they ought to have one day on which they can be reasonably sure of being able to do so.
This right, I think, is an important element in the freedom of choice on Sunday, and it seems to me no less valuable—perhaps it is more valuable—than some of the other things we want and which this Bill seeks. Conversely, to deny this freedom even for a minority seems to me more serious than the denial of some amenities even for the majority. Many hon. Members will disagree with that point of view, and admittedly the argument is a very narrow one, but it is one on which today each one of us is free to decide. What I have just said is the basis of my own reluctant opposition to the Bill.
As a sponsor of the Bill, I am delighted to have the opportunity to support my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) in the way that I supported my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) when he introduced his Bill last year. But I get the feeling that the whole debate is going on in a somewhat unreal atmosphere, and that the speeches against the Bill so far do not really bear examination.
It is extraordinary that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) can stand up in his place and object to anyone wanting to make more money—which is the gist of his argument—and that there are commercial interests behind the Bill which are anxious to make more money by permitting more activities on Sunday. But this cannot be an activity to which anyone on the other side of the House can object. Of course, the hon. Gentleman himself has been adept at making much profit in his line of activity.
In the same way my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) showed a considerable disregard for the ability of the trade unions to look after people who are now working on Sundays and who may be required to work on Sundays when this Bill becomes law. I do not think he really meant that at all. I do not think this was an argument that was intended to convince anyone. He put forward one of the objections that the Lord's Day Observance Society sent round to us—we have all had a copy of it——
I should like to finish what I am saying. My hon. Friend brought forward the argument about more traffic on the roads on Sundays. A good deal of the traffic on the roads on Sundays arises from what the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) said about the desire of families to do things together on Sundays. Very often the only thing they can do is to go out in the car and drive along the roads to the consternation and danger of many people who suffer from Sunday drivers. This is not the only reason, but it can be one reason for saying that there is nothing else for people to do on Sunday afternoons. This can be exaggerated, and if more people were entertained on Sundays there would probably be fewer people on the roads not only on Sundays but also on Saturdays because they would be able to go out on Sundays instead.
I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend was commenting on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) and she was saying that she thought that because a number of people are already compelled to work on Sundays, this is a reason why we might extend that category to people who at the moment do not have to do so. I was wondering whether her reasoning was really as I understood it to be, that the fact that this has to happen to some people and that it is undesirable is a good reason for extending it to others.
I am not going to give way again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Well, we want to get on, do we not? I do not think there is any serious opposition to this Bill. I have received only three letters in opposition from my constituents, and I do not regard that as much opposition.
I have received letters in favour of the Bill. As other Midlands Members have, I received a letter from the Birmingham County Football Association. I am not a tremendous enthusiast for football—though I must be careful here because I do not want the "Wolves" chasing me. I understand that there are 20,000 Midlands footballers who enjoy playing football on Sunday, and they hope very much that I shall support the Bill. They need not have bothered to write to me, since I am a sponsor of it. There is a great deal of support for the Bill in the West Midlands among people interested in football.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham referred to the ancient Statutes which control our Sunday activities. To remove an Act almost 350 years old is not to show undue haste in this day and age. I hope that we shall have the support of the House. There are many anomalies and some real hypocrisy in our attitude to entertainment on Sundays. Museums are open, cinemas are open, picture galleries are open, and zoos are open. Hundreds of people, an enormous audience, can go to the Palladium on a Sunday evening to see a show which is televised and which even more people can see at home.
I wish to enlarge the scope of the debate. We have spoken mainly about football and cricket so far, but I wish hon. Members to note, not unwillingly, I hope, the other activities which now take place on a Sunday and which will be affected when the Bill goes through. Sunday orchestral concerts are commonplace. I suppose that even those hon. Members on both sides who oppose the Bill sometimes go to a Sunday concert. Theatrical performances using costumes and make-up are possible on a Sunday at private clubs. This is done provided that the place is, or is supposed to be, a private club. It is dodging round the law.
Theatre managers are another group of people who support the Bill. The West End Theatre Managers, the Theatrical Managers Association, the Association of Touring and Producing Managers, and the Council of Repertory Theatres of Great Britain all favour the Bill. I do not say that there is no pecuniary interest there. But why not? I am anxious that there shall be a lifeline—I hope that I carry the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) with me here—given to theatres, both those which we support with grants from the Arts Council and also commercial theatres. The Arts Council is much occupied at the moment in trying to work out ways by which the theatre can be rescued.
Monday is probably the worst day of the week for the theatre. There is no doubt that if theatres were able to open on a Sunday as they are on a Saturday, they would bring in additional income thereby, and most of them would be delighted, particularly in small towns, to close on a Monday and work from Tuesday to Sunday. In some large towns and cities, there is, by good fortune, a choice of theatre. Unhappily, this state of affairs does not obtain in all large towns, since so many have closed over the past few years, turned over to bingo, dancing and so on—a situation which I regret enormously. But in towns where there is a choice, it would be possible to have a theatre open somewhere every night of the week, because they could close by rota. In Birmingham, for example, there are only three theatres now, and two are kept open only because they are supported by the local authorities and the Arts Council, but even there the same system could work; there could always be a theatre open each night of the week if people wanted it.
Let us think of the likely casualties in the near future if a lifeline of this kind is not provided either by allowing theatres to open on the most profitable days of the week, which include Sunday, or by additional help from the Arts Council and the local authorities if they can be persuaded to give it. I hope that the House will feel that the Bill is worth supporting on that ground alone, in order to save the living theatre in this country. The theatres in danger at the moment are the Alhambra, Glasgow, the Grand Theatre, Leeds, the Royal Court, Liverpool, the Manchester Opera House, the King's Theatre, Southsea, the Theatre Royal, Bath, His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen. The Grand Theatre in my own constituency is only just managing to keep going by the skin of its teeth. The Lyceum in Sheffield is another theatre in danger.
Those are all long-established theatres which have made a great contribution to theatrical life and the standing of the theatre in this country, and all are in danger of closure unless they are able to do better at the box office.
No. The studios are working, the studio staffs are working, and in many cases they are live performances. I have already mentioned the example of the Palladium Sunday show, which is a live performance. Actors, actresses, singers and dancers already work on Sunday. It has been part of the theatrical tradition, that work goes on. The National Theatre, for example, has a resident established company which works on a Sunday; rehearsals go on on a Sunday. These arrangements have all been negotiated with Equity and they give rise to no difficulty. The matter has already been sorted out by the unions, and the same would apply to other unions which would be involved in Sunday work as a result of the Bill.
Let us consider the other side of theatrical life, another reason why I hope to persuade the House that it is essential to give the Bill a good majority. There are the less fortunate members of the theatrical profession who are not employed in established repertory companies for long periods, for several months at a time, but who have to do a great deal of travelling on the road. They work through the week from Monday to Saturday and then, with monotonous and dreadful regularity, they spend Sunday travelling by train from one town to another. They have no opportunity for any social life. They cannot even do their shopping. They can certainly never go to see another theatrical performance because they work throughout the whole week and travel on Sundays.
No one likes travelling on a Sunday. I imagine that most hon. Members try to avoid it if possible, because Sunday trains are not the same as weekday trains. There are often no refreshment facilities on the trains or at stations. The trains take longer. There are reduced services. Travelling on a Sunday is an extremely wearisome business.
When the Bill goes through, Monday will become the travelling day. It will be the day when travel is much easier for members of the theatrical profession who have to do it. If we have some thought for those who work extremely hard to entertain the public throughout the week, we must recognise that as an argument in favour of the Bill. Their life will be easier if the problem of getting from one town to another ready for the next week's performance is eased by falling on a different day of the week.
There has been some slight argument on religious grounds, though not very much, and I hope that that aspect of the matter will not be brought into the debate. The Bill will not prevent people going to church on Sunday if they want to. It will not interfere with those who wish to have a quiet, restful Sunday at home. The Bill will not compel anyone to go out and seek entertainment. It will not prevent people from going to church as many times as they want on Sunday. It will give people opportunity and freedom of choice.
Ireland is a country that has pretty strong religious views.
They are not necessarily one-sided. I do not want to become involved in a discussion of the Irish religious problems. In Ireland they have Sunday entertainment; they go to church on Sunday morning and go to watch football matches and all sorts of other things on Sunday afternoon. There is an argument that if people have football matches and theatres to go to they may not go to the "pubs" so much, which I should have thought desirable, though I do not want to have the publicans chasing me either.
The Irish have the attitude that Sunday is a gala day, a day that they love and look forward to throughout the whole week. They go to church in the morning and can enjoy themselves in the afternoon. The Bill is an attempt to introduce gala days into England. Why not? Let us introduce something that will improve and brighten our lives. I hope that there will be a resounding majority in favour of Second Reading today.
I have thought a great deal about the Bill. I was unable to take part in the debates on an earlier similar Bill, but I could not restrain my desire to speak briefly against the Bill now before the House.
I have no wish to be prohibitive or unfair to any section of the public, and it is because I feel that so strongly that I must oppose the Bill, for it would be prohibitive and unfair to a section of the public even though, paradoxically, unthinking support for it springs from the general notion that one must not be prohibitive. It is only when one examines carefully what the Bill would do to our lives that one realises just how prohibitive it would be. It would prohibit peace and quiet and restfulness. It would prohibit, or make very difficult, travel on buses in many areas, while, for example, football matches were going on. Many people would have great difficulty in going to church in many areas because it would not be possible to get on the buses to go there. The Bill would prohibit those who would like to keep the Sabbath from doing so.
A group of well-known and perhaps some not so well-known extreme Left-wing supporters recently joined in signing a letter to the Sunday Times glorifying the Bill. They said:
Nobody objects to those who wish to treat Sunday as a holy day and not a holiday, but in a democracy they must recognise that this is simply a matter of personal behaviour.
If what is proposed in the letter were simply a case of live and let live, I would support it and the Bill. I accept that whether or not people wish to treat Sunday as a holy day is a matter they must decide for themselves. But it is the height of naivete to imagine that one can have football crowds, race meetings, other public sporting promotions, public dancing and so on and still have peace and quiet. For anyone to deceive himself that the Sabbath would still be a holy day is just not on.
The letter also said in quite a glow of self-righteousness:
Already the Bill has made a major concession to traditionalist feeling by retaining restrictions on Sunday entertainment before 2 p.m.
At present, virtually nothing much happens before 2 p.m. on a Saturday. Yet what is Saturday like for those who live near a football pitch? I can tell the House very vividly, because I live near one, and Saturdays are pure hell. We cannot park our cars anywhere near our homes. Visitors will find nowhere in a vast area of dozens of streets in the neighbourhood in which they can park when they want to call and see us. Over-enthusiastic football fans have a charming way of throwing all sorts of things, like toilet rolls, into one's garden
in an exuberance of spirit. There is a great deal of noise from rattles, chanting, and goodness-knows-what. I suffer this every Saturday.
It is not a bit of use the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) laughing. If she lived near a football ground she would know that there is nothing to laugh about.
People who go to football matches—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady has made her speech. I hope that she will permit me to make mine. It is sadly true that some of the people who go to football matches do not care much about the convenience of those who live near the pitch. At the back of my house we have a private entrance way to our garage, kept up entirely, financially, by those who live in the block, and the public should not be there. But this does not deter the football fans, who park nose to tail right across it. There are three doctors in the block, and often they cannot get their cars out until the end of the match. That is the kind of inconvenience that is borne constantly every single weekend by those who live near football pitches.
When I discussed this yesterday on the B.B.C. with a Labour Member he hotly retorted that it was all very well, but church bells were just as inconvenient to atheists as football supporters were to residents of the areas near the grounds. That is totally untrue, but I am sure that even if it began to be true people who wish to keep the Sabbath holy would gladly trade keeping their bells silent for keeping Sunday as it is.
The House must be made aware that people who live near a football ground suffer considerable inconvenience and loss of peace and quiet on Saturdays; and it does not happen only on Saturdays. Since the introduction of floodlighting it often happens during the weekday evenings as well. People put up with it because they know that there are many who enjoy watching football, and they have no wish to be prohibitive. Let people enjoy their football, but our attitude to inconvenience is largely dependent on the fact that we know that it will not happen on Sundays. The thought that if the Bill is passed it will happen every day of the week is more than I can bear.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department suggested that this problem will be covered by Clause 3, which permits a local authority to apeal to the magistrates. But we have heard enough today to illustrate that this would not happen. The problem would not be covered. As has already been stated, one could drive a coach and horses through the Clause. It is not good enough to say to people who suffer this kind of inconvenience that it will not happen on Sundays because of Clause 3. I beg hon. Members not to underestimate what this means to people who live near the ground.
Most of us work a five-day week these days. There are then two days at the weekend. Let us have one for sport and Saturday razzmatazz by all means, but let us have the other day for those who want peace and quiet.
The hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) should have stayed here rather longer than he has bothered to do. He has been absent more than he has been present during the day. I was distressed that he seemed to suggest that only a minority opposed the Bill, and that minorities do not count. I think that they do. Imagine the uproar there would be if it were suggested that things went the other way and we had Saturday quiet instead of Sunday noise. I am only asking for fairness. Let us have one day at the weekend for those who like one form of enjoyment and one for those who like to pass their time rather more quietly.
I have always felt that the advice, "Six days shalt thou labour and on the seventh have a rest", is, despite what my right hon. Friend said, sound medically as well as theologically. There is tremendous rush and bustle in life. We are all in the rat race, and I think that one day of peace and quiet is of genuine benefit to our people. I sometimes think that they do not know how much benefit it is, but they would soon realise it if it were taken away.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) is right in saying that it is not only churchgoers that we are talking about. A great many people appreciate peace and quiet. I should not like to guess at how the coronary rate would rise if we had this Bill and no day of peacefulness. One day out of seven is all that the lovers of peace and restfulness ask for, but the Bill would deny them even that.
It has been suggested glibly by some hon. Members, who have quoted letters from football clubs, that a lot of people go to football matches and that they all want the Bill. I do not think that is true. I have here a letter from a football supporter, which reads:
My wife and I would like to urge you to vote against the Sunday Entertainments Bill which is before the House of Commons at the present time.
As the parents of two small children and having seven nephews and nieces, several of whom are keen supporters of Aston Villa Football Club, we strongly feel that if this Bill becomes law then the counter attraction of Sunday afternoon football will provide a very strong and detrimental force against the attendance at Sunday morning worship and Sunday School. Several of our nephews are teenagers and although at present regularly in attendance at Church … we feel that so keen is the attraction of football at a time in their life when young people are most inclined to 'go their own way', they could easily become detached from organised worship in favour of the football club.
Whilst we are keen supporters of the local football club ourselves, we do not feel that this is anything but a retrograde step…
That is the view of two keen football supporters. We should not accept the argument that because so many people like to go to a match on Saturday, all of them want to go on Sunday as well.
I have noticed something interesting about the lobbying letters that I have received urging support of the Bill. There has been a tremendously strong lobby from the football associations, Mecca and organisations of that sort. It has been an organised lobby, with a lot of money behind it. As opposed to them, I have had a very much larger number of ordinary, simple, personal letters from people who have felt badly enough to take up their pens and phrase their own letters.
We all know that there is infinitely more weight in a letter personally phrased and written than in a typewritten circular to which people are more or less coerced into adding their names. Judging from some of the signatures on some of these letters, I am bound to say that some people were not always in the full possession of their faculties when they signed.
I beg the House to recognise that this is not a Sabbatarian lobby working unceasingly in a sort of demon desire to impose religion on the rest of the country when the country does not want it. This is a stand for the peace and quiet of the British Sunday, which honestly never hurt anyone.
Among opponents of the Bill the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) is undoubtedly the most charming but so far as the content of the opposition is concerned I have found myself rather more impressed by the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), who described himself as a reluctant opponent of the Bill. I am a qualified supporter of it. I did not find myself at all convinced by what my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) had to say. In charm of manner, he almost competes with the hon. Lady but that could not conceal a certain element of bigotry behind his attempt to impose views which might be appropriate to the Western Isles but not to the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) gave us a brand of lawyer's chop logic that was particularly specious.
I speak as the sponsor of Clause 4 in the previous Bill, to which my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles referred. This is one point in his speech with which I agree, although I think that he is wrong to say that the Bill is worse than the previous one, in some respects it is much better. It goes as far as can be gone in dealing with the legitimate objections raised by the hon. Lady—the interruption of Sunday. Although this is an extremely difficult problem to deal with, I think that new Clause 3 goes a very long way, and if it does not go as far as it should, we can improve it in Committee.
There are two points with which we were concerned in old Clause 4. The first is the matter of conscience. It is true that actors generally are in favour of the Bill but a minority of people are worried about the
consequences of it. Mr. Littler, in his letter, says:
'"Nobody will be asked to work more than six days a week.
I take leave to doubt that. Already it is not unusual for performers to work seven days a week. Suppose, for example, that a leading actor has to be changed. Rehearsals will have to take place on Sunday, although there is no public performance that day. Therefore, the statement that no one will be asked to work more than six days in the week is one that Mr. Littler is not entitled to make because it would not be carried out in the event. But he is entitled to say—and I hope that we shall put such a provision into the Bill—that there shall not be more than six performance days in a week, that there shall always be one day free of public performances. I think that we could do this in Committee because it would be a characteristic relevant to those affected by the Bill—the performers. In a way, all athletes are giving performances as well.
I should have thought that Mr. Littler's letter meant just that. I think that Mr. Littler meant precisely what the hon. Gentleman says should be in the Statute. That is the way I read the letter.
He may have meant it, but he did not say it. Presumably, when one says "work" one means work, and if one is rehearsing on a Sunday one is working as much as if one is giving a performance. It is important, as this letter may carry some weight, that the position should be clarified.
Before leaving the subject of what we tried to get into Clause 4 of the last Bill I want to refer to the question of conscience. This is much more difficult than the other questions. I do not know whether it is possible to devise a valid legal protection for the individual in these circumstances. I hope that it is possible to devise a workable provision, and I was happy to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) say that he hoped that it would be possible. Let us by all means try to achieve that if we can, but we ought not to sacrifice the provision for extra remuneration in the event of a seventh-day performance in any event. We should hang on to that, but let us have a conscience Clause as well if we can. The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) said that the Bill was a money-making Bill. He is a great expert on money and, therefore, anything he says on the subject must attract the attention of the House. However, if he were to ask his stockbroker how to invest £100 in entertainment, whether to put it into television, films or the theatre, I have no doubt that his stockbroker would say first that he should put it into a commercial television company, or, if he did not like that, into films, but that for goodness sake he ought not to put it into the theatre. This is not a Bill solely concerned with making money, because in the area where money is being made the provisions of the Bill already apply. Television programmes are shown on Sunday and films are shown on Sunday. It is only in the theatre, where money is being lost, where there are not performances on Sunday. The hon. Gentleman's argument was upside down; instead of being against the Bill, it was in favour of it.
Another factor to be remembered is change. It is true that when a Measure of this sort is introduced it is difficult to frame it so that it will not result in some disadvantage to someone. Any improvement, if it is an improvement, in the generality of the situation is difficult to make without someone suffering as a consequence. I hope that we shall try, but it is difficult. However, we must remember that it is not a matter of legislating to change the nature of our society. Our society is changing, whether we like it or not, beneath our noses, and it is for us to make the legislative position more rational by recognising the changes which are taking place.
When we can see television on a Sunday showing things which we are not entitled to go to the theatre to see, when we can switch on a television film of a football match on a Sunday but are not supposed to see it on a Sunday in reality, we are entitled to point out that the changes are taking place. We must, therefore, alter the law to recognise the reality of these changes, but in so doing we must take the utmost care to make sure so far as we can that we make no change which will disadvantage or inconvenience people or which will offend their consciences.
It is in the belief that the Bill endeavours to do that and in the belief that in Committee we should be able to make the change more effective that I shall go into the Lobby in support of the Second Reading this afternoon.
In considering the Bill we have to have regard to feeling in these countries against Sabbatarianism. It often seems that the sponsors of the Bill assume that those who oppose it, as I do, oppose it on Sabbatarian grounds. This arises from the confusion between Sunday and the Sabbath. The Sabbath was never a Christian institution, but we have seen signs of this confusion in the debate.
The Sabbath was a very important Jewish institution. It was a day on which all work was prohibited, a day on which there were many other prohibitions of all kinds. It is also true that some Christians, especially in the 17th century in England, and later in Wales, too, identified Sunday with the Jewish Sabbath. As a result, some gloom crept in to what had been a very happy day and what was to be still for the majority of people the happiest day of the week. But the early Christians certainly never identified the Sabbath with Sunday.
Their attitude was typified by one of the greatest fathers, Eusebius, who said of Sunday that it was a day for public worship and spiritual and physical refreshment, too, and the teaching of divine truth. Eusebius, like his predecessors, was not a Sabbatarian. Sabbatarianism was certainly not a Christian phenomenon and it is very important that those who believe that Sunday has a great value should continue to distinguish clearly between Sunday and the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is the last day of the week and a Jewish institution, the seventh day, while Sunday, the first day of the week, is a Christian institution. The multitude of prohibitions which enveloped the Jewish Sabbath certainly do not attach to the Christian Sunday.
Nevertheless, the Christian Sunday has a very long and venerable history which goes back to the earliest days of the Church. In Wales, it is so deeply embedded in our history that it has been regarded there as a Welsh institution and we think of Sunday as y Sul Cymreig, as something peculiarly Welsh. I am glad to hear that my English friends think of it as an English institution, but it is certainly so deeply embedded in our lives that we still speak of a Welsh Sunday and it was venerated in Wales—and I am glad, to remind the House of this—before many of the ancestors of the people who now live in England left the forests of Northern Germany, or the dunes aid fjords of Scandinavia. It is an institution which has greatly contributed to the stability of our society, and it should not be in any way devalued.
Throughout the centuries—and we can almost speak of millennia by now—its value has been beyond measure, and its value has been not only for practising Christians; its benefits have been incalculable for the whole of our society. This is something which needs to be emphasised. Humanists can appreciate the value of Sunday as much as can Christians.
Throughout the centuries, it has provided a clean break from the tyranny of the daily round, and it is not only for the élite but for the masses. Indeed, the élite do not need it as much as the masses of the people need this break. For the masses of the people, it has been a source of refreshment and a source of renewal, not only spiritual, but physical. In speaking of spiritual refreshment, one should emphasise that this means not only religious, but cultural and intellectual refreshment.
None should be more aware of their debt to Sunday than trade unionists. They should consider how much poorer would be the lot of the workers by hand and brain but for this way, which automatically reduced the seven-day week to the six-day week and, therefore, prepared the way for the five-day week. It is a very great institution indeed.
Two things must be avoided. One is to deny to our fellow men the benefits of this day. The Bill proposes to do so, at least for many thousands of people, who would have to work so that others could enjoy themselves. This is an injustice which should not be inflicted upon them and it would be a most unhappy consequence of some of these proposals. The other thing to avoid is so to change the conditions of this day that Sunday loses its character and becomes just like Saturday.
There has been for some time a tendency in this direction. It has gone far enough, and should not be pushed any further by the House. Many of the sponsors of the Bill would agree with me that Sunday should retain its character, and they have on other occasions said that Sunday should be different from Saturday. The difference between the sponsors of the Bill and its opponents is where the line should be drawn. If the supporters of this Measure want to keep Sunday as a different kind of day, they, too, must draw a line somewhere. Where do they draw it? If the Bill becomes law there will quickly be pressures for other concessions. We know that; it is inevitable.
They will be concessions which might whittle away more of the differences between Sunday and Saturday. Perhaps the supporters of the Bill are not in favour of these other concessions. They may draw the line there. My point is that the line has to be drawn somewhere, and I want to draw it where we are now, and not see great rowdy crowds going to professional games on Sundays. In saying this, I have in mind particularly the loss to men and women of every faith, and no faith at all, if the character of Sunday were completely altered. How foolish we would be to let this happen at this time in our history, when the need for it is in some ways greater than it has ever been. In a highly industrialised and centralised State such as this, the pressures of technological society are especially heavy.
The individual feels more and more suffocated by these pressures. The results of them are to be seen in so many stress diseases, in mental and physical disorders. We see the results in hospitals, including mental hospitals, and we see them in the long and growing waiting lists of the psychiatrists. We see it in all kinds of protest movements, and in prisons. There was never more need for a day to be completely different from the other days of the week than there is today, a day when the pressures are lifted a little, when the tensions are relaxed a bit, a quiet restful day, a day of physical and spiritual refreshment and renewal. Sunday, therefore, meets a deep human need. It has already been greatly eroded, and this Measure would cause further erosion. Humanitarians, Christian or not, should unite in their resistance to the Bill.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's".
This firm injunction has symbolised the cornerstone of the Christian faith for almost 2,000 years. With the promotion once again of a Sunday Entertainments Bill we are seeking only to serve the God of Mammon. The title of the Bill has a benign ring. One might ask: what is wrong with Sunday and what is wrong with entertainment? Sunday is God's appointed day and entertainment is necessary to life itself.
I have tried to be a man's man—at least I can say, I think, with deep humility, that I am no fuddy-duddy. I can scarcely say that I graced the boxing ring, but I was never afraid to enter it. I have done most of the things that men who love life do. I have played football, I still swim, I have camped, I have hiked, I play a musical instrument and, God willing, tomorrow week I will make a journey of around 800 miles from Liverpool to see one of my sons play for Lancashire in the Rugby Union county Championship.
The hon. Gentleman will be disappointed. He will be gratified, and I feel that he will profoundly agree with me, when I say that this will be a game for men. I am grateful that it is not being played on a Sunday.
During the war I was in the R.A.F. I have lived in a man's world all my life and always have thanked God that I was not born a woman. I believe that they have the worst part of the bargain. I will bring no bitterness or rancour to this debate. It will suffice for me to give voice to the opinions of my constituents who have written to express their concern that such a Bill is being considered by the House.
I have in my hand more than 30 letters written from obviously very nice people who are terrified, to put it mildly, at the prospects of the passing of the Bill. There is only one letter, from the Football Association, stating that its support for the Bill is undiminished. We accept that. Is that not just about the size of it? Once again, it is the people versus the vested interests. It goes on to say that there are thousands of footballers who equally support the Bill. This is a very large sheaf of letters, but there is not one from a footballer or for that matter any other participant in a sport.
For my sins, I was once manager of a side that played fairly high-class football. Have hon. Members even had a close-up of 11 players, particularly professional footballers, coming off a field after giving their all in 90 minutes and sometimes, in this competitive age, after 120 minutes of strenuous, competitive football? Fine physical specimens as they are, they have very little left. Even bullfighters are not reduced to such a sad physical plight. My far from ludicrous opinion is that this Bill will be followed by the establishment of a society for the prevention of cruelty to sport.
We are legislating for human beings. Why did footballers revolt against football on Christmas day and Good Friday? It was primarily because they are flesh and blood, and, secondly, because they are human beings. On occasions they like to be home with their wives and children. My advice to the House is not to introduce legislation which will have the effect of extending our sportsmen too far. We are in their debt. The present glut of fixtures due to postponed games must represent a giant-sized nightmare not only to the players, but to all concerned in the management of football. If the professional footballer believes in his dignity then his watchword should be "Never on a Sunday".
Sport helps to keep people sane. Sadly, it also induces insanity on occasion. However, that is another point with which I shall deal later. We must look facts in the face. It would be the height of folly for hon. Members to support the Bill. I believe that at the end of my life I shall have to render an account of my stewardship. Hon. Members will also have to render an account before the end of their lives. We hope that when weighed in the balance we shall not be found wanting. Without adopting the rôle of Jeremiah, may I say that it would be as well if we tried to demonstrate a little foresight and strove mightily to weigh up the situation.
The people who do the work become sick and tired and weary of it all on occasion. Perhaps that is natural. They are not ciphers or rubber stamps; they are human beings. In view of the exigencies of the industrial and economic situation, we should seek to make their lot easier and not harder, as I believe the Bill will undoubtedly do.
By passing such a Bill as this, we would widen the area of possible industrial dislocation by placing an inordinate amount of physical strain on the people who take part in sport—the players. The natural corollary is that in demanding too much physical effort from sports people we inevitably deprive our work people, who man the services needed for excessive activity on Sunday, of rest and relaxation from their normal work.
Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that, in addition to the bus crews who are required to work on Sunday, the shops would be required to open? The distributive trade union and the Co-operative movement in Scotland have from time to time asked for legislation to prevent Sunday opening.
I readily agree. My hon. Friend is a great humanitarian and always has the interest of the people whom he represents at heart. I am at one with him in saying that the Bill would indubitably place a very great strain on a tremendous number of working people. If five-day week arrangements are not serving to placate working people, what will be their reaction to being called out on Sunday to satisfy the insatiable appetite of an ever-growing number of people who, in all conscience, often spend more time and money in their quest for sport than is reasonable? Too often this approach to sport is to the detriment of the over-enthusiastic follower and, unfortunately, far too often to the detriment of his dependants.
Some followers of sport are outside the jurisdiction of the law, and hope that they will always be so. What protection they feel they should have because they consider themselves sportsmen of a kind I cannot imagine. But hooliganism and blood lust are becoming the stock-in-trade of many people who have the cheek and effrontery to call themselves sportsmen. When crime is on the increase, when people are demonstrating and becoming violent at the drop of a hat, when it is not possible to man our dwindling police services anywhere, when there are sit-ins in educational establishments at weekends, when 55 per cent. of crime is undetected—is this the time to pile on the agony by introducing a Bill such as this? In fact, are we not going mad?
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), when he engaged the attention of the House on a similar Bill some months ago, referred to the young people from the provinces misbehaving themselves in London at weekends and indulging in unseemly behaviour.
In preparing my notes for this speech, I carefully referred to HANSARD in which my hon. Friend's speech is faithfully recorded. I should hate to do him an injustice. I would not do that for the world; I revere him to much, We have stood on too many political platforms in the City of Liverpool over the years for us to try, at this late stage of our lives, to misrepresent each other. I should hate to do that. However, I think that that is what he said.
There is another side to the coin. Four weeks ago, while I was on my way to my political "surgery" in Preston, at 11 a.m., I was sitting in my car in a long line of traffic when I saw an influx of Chelsea supporters doing alarming and tremendous damage to private and commercial property. I saw it for myself. People were horrified. Incidentally, the damage cost the community many, many hundreds of pounds.
The police say that if the ladies and their husbands who had been doing their shopping earlier had been on the road, these untoward incidents would not have taken place.
In humility that is an important and significant point. If the Bill meets with the approval of the House, hordes of football supporters will crowd into our towns and cities in the early hours of Sunday morning. I think that there will be not a diminution, but an increase in this sort of behaviour.
We all feel that we are true sportsmen. In this House, we have to give and take, and sportsmen realise that the other person counts and that the opinions of others count as well as our own. This is an exceptionally nice aspect of being a Member of the House.
But often we lost heart, always there is some kindly friend, irrespective of political allegiance, who will say that it is not so bad and that it has its points here. When someone is in genuine difficulty, we see the goodness emanating from the hearts and minds of people who are supposed to be hard-hearted politicians. There should be such moderation in all things.
Unfortunately, a great many people treat sport as though it was a religion. Some are becoming idolatrous in their approach to sport. This is very wrong; it is damaging to the well-being of our people. Britain will be poorer if it sheds its belief in the sanctity of the Sabbath.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) likes to try to dictate to hon. Members how they should present their case. I am not a strict Sabbatarian, either, but I like what I do on a Sunday. It is good to be with one's family. After all, the best things in life are free and, on one day of the week, it is nice to stand apart and take stock of what has happened in the days previously and perhaps reflect on what is going on in the world. Some terrible events are taking place in the world today.
The trade union movement has been referred to time and time again in the debate. That movement is having difficulty in managing its day to day affairs——
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the real basic cause is that, since the war, there has been a virtual collapse of moral Christian principles in the country?
I could not agree more. However, I have had my turn, and I am grateful for having had an opportunity to put forward my point of view.
The edict of our Lord and Master was
… seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
One endeavours to pursue this course every day of one's life. If we are sincere in our outlook towards life and the people whom we love, we try to carry out that edict not only on Sundays but throughout every minute of our lives. Those who say that we have a joyless Sabbatarian outlook are very wide of the mark.
Many of my constituents have written to me to say that they are afraid of the Bill becoming law and that they believe that Sunday is a very special day. They hold the views that Members of Parliament especially should recognise it as such, and I agree with them.
My original instinct on reading the Bill was to support it, as it was when I first read the previous one. It seemed to me that, with the protection given for church-going, acts of worship and peace and quiet for the family up to two o'clock on Sundays, the rest of the day could be left with comparative safety to people to enjoy themselves as they wished.
Since then, I have received many letters from my constituents. It is notable that all those opposing the Bill have come from individuals, whereas all those in favour of it have come from organisations. I for one have not been aware of such a feature in my correspondence before, and undoubtedly it has had some effect upon me.
I am not entirely convinced by it, because there are still the people of England who have not spoken yet. I would hazard a guess that many hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens would be happy to see the Bill pass, even though they have not taken the trouble to write, because they do not feel as strongly about it as some of the more enthusiastic supporters of Lord's Day observance.
Nevertheless, I believe that there has been a great deal of muddled thinking over the whole issue. The real difficulty before us has not yet been stated. The problem is a matter of numbers. This kind of distinction has been drawn in other respects recently in this House, more especially with the problem of Commonwealth immigrants. What is objectionable on a Sunday afternoon is not that people are able to pay to see entertainment or to watch sport. No one with any reason would object, say, to a few hundred people paying to watch a table tennis match. It would cause no disturbance to anyone. It would happen quietly in a more or less obscure hall, and most people would not be aware of it. There could be no objection to that taking place on a Sunday at any time. It would be a private affair which would not impinge on Sunday or the lives of citizens.
However, when one considers the bigger sporting events, such as football matches, the situation is quite different. The City of Liverpool, part of which I have the honour to represent, has been referred to by many of its honorary citizens, but not yet by one of its own Members. To large numbers of people in Liverpool, football is almost a religion. It is beginning to replace the older divinities. Players are becoming almost demigods in the eyes of football enthusiasts. When that sort of attitude prevails, any provision written into Clause 3 of the Bill will be inadequate to protect the lives of the minority of people who live in the vicinity of football grounds. The situation has been described eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight), but perhaps I may add a few remarks to what she said.
Normally, football matches take place in residential areas. Cinemas, theatres, concert and other halls usually are in areas which are not much frequented on Sundays. Being non-residential they are empty, and people going into them have few residents to disturb. The big football grounds, on the other hand, are in residential areas, and it is shocking to see the effects of large football crowds on the lives of the residents of those areas. It is not only a matter of car parking and of rubbish thrown into gardens. It is very little a case of noise coming from the grounds: that is not a particularly disturbing feature. It is the marauding bands of supporters, both of the home and of the visiting teams, who, on big occasions, seem to lose their sense of responsibility and regard for the rights of others.
For that sense of responsibility also to be given the opportunity to be lost on a Sunday, and for residents in the vicinity of football grounds to be exposed to these nuisances on a Sunday, would be intolerable. Fighting and even murder are, unfortunately, not unknown among football crowds.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), the sponsor of the Bill, has attempted to provide for this aspect in Clause 3, but I very much regret to have to say that what he proposes would be entirely ineffective. In the Clause it is said that a local authority can complain to the magistrates if persons resident in the vicinity are unreasonably disturbed. How many persons? Two persons? I suppose it could be said that two persons could complain to a local authority, but an elected local authority in a great city, where football plays a great part in the city's life, knows that many of the voters would be very antagonistic indeed if an injunction were granted preventing professional football being played on a Sunday.
I for one therefore fear that there would be very little likelihood that the local authority would make any complaint to the magistrates' court, however strongly the complaint was put by the people who lived in the area of the football ground.
It is odds against the residents of the neighbourhood of a football ground being protected by anything in the Bill. They are the minority I wish to protect and I very much regret, therefore, that I shall have to vote against the Bill.
If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) had made the speech which apparently he originally intended to make I might have followed him. Since I do not follow him in his present speech he is entitled to assume that silence implies unqualified assent.
The point with which he was dealing was one which was dealt with in Committee on the corresponding Bill brought forward last year by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). In the train yesterday I was rereading the OFFICIAL REPORT of that Committee's debates. It does not always reach the pinnacle of English literature, but it is pleasant reading. Those debates were a profitable and instructive experience.
I even read my hon. Friend's speeches with pleasure if not always with assent.
One thing which did emerge from that Committee's debates was that even in matters on which we differed, and we differed on matters on which there were deeply held convictions, those differences did not eliminate either charity or common sense, and perhaps even during to-day's debate more and more ground is emerging in common among us.
If I begin by a comment which might not command the unqualified assent of all my Christian colleagues inside and outside the House, it is because I believe that there is no duty on Christians to be less than fair. I cannot speak for others, but my reason for opposing the Bill is not that I believe that Christians have either a duty or a right to compel others who are not Christians to behave as though they were. I do not believe that legislation will enable us to gather grapes from thorns. We shall be deciding on Monday whether criminal sanctions may be a method of inducing co-operation. I am quite sure that they are not a method of saving souls, and whatever may be the proper limits of government, they do not extend to making collective provision for eternity.
I am fortified in that view by my own Nonconformist forebears. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend, the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell)—Leeds United—is no longer in his place. I thought at one stage he was a little less than fair to the 18th century Nonconformists. They did not persecute trade unions. They founded them. I am fortified by the thought that they denounced the principle that the majority or the establishment is entitled to impose conformity of conduct upon any minority, and I am sure that if we were to assert that principle it might one day be used to justify the persecution of Christians, which, in some countries, unhappily, is taking place already. That is not my reason for opposing the Bill. I wanted to make that clear.
Incidentally, since I am in a mood for conceeding things, I should like to concede to some of my hon. Friends that I would not argue that the present Sunday observance law in this country is a model of clarity or consistency. But even if the Bill were to rectify it I am not sure that I would regard that as a total justification. The law, after all, is made for people, and not people for the law, and one may achieve clarity and consistency at too high a price.
But I would have thought that the answer to that point was made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who pointed out that even if occasionally the legal profession benefits from inconsistencies and obscurities in the present law, its pocket is not likely to suffer considerably if the present Bill becomes law as at present drafted. But I would concede that at some stage we ought, and perhaps the Government ought, to look closely at the present law to see if it can be improved.
We discussed this matter so exhaustively on the previous occasion that we are perhaps in some danger of repeating ourselves, though it would be more significant if any of us had not repeated what was said on the previous occasion. So far I have not changed the view I expressed earlier.
What I think is common ground between us is that while we would all concede the right of individuals to spend Sundays in accordance with their own inclinations and their own consciences that right is matched by the similar right of other people not to have their similar freedom invaded, and as I understand we are all of us in agreement that that right is liable to be invaded at two points.
The first is that people who would otherwise wish to spend Sunday as a day of leisure or of recreation or spiritual refreshment might find that right denied by having to work in the ways of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Garston, was talking. I do not believe that it is an answer to that to point out that many people already have to spend Sunday at work whether they like it or not. It seems to me the worst possible argument, to say that, because some people already have this experience inflicted upon them, therefore more people ought to suffer it, too.
The second point at which this freedom can be impinged upon is the freedom of people who want to spend Sunday peacefully, to find that peace shattered by public events which are taking place elsewhere.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), if I may say so, made an introductory speech in which I did not find a great deal which could be regarded as unfair. Except for one purple passage, which I do not hold against him, I thought that he introduced his case fairly. I think it only right to say that he has left the Chamber because of an urgent message which he received: I know that, because I passed it to him. He has tried hard to meet the objections on this point which some of us voiced on a previous occasion, but it seems to me that, what is perhaps central to this debate, he has not succeeded.
It is very tempting to say that points on Clause 3 and the disappearing Clause 4 are Committee points. But I fear that they are not. I am sure that my hon. Friend would be only too anxious to amend the Bill if it could be improved, as was my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West last year, on his Bill, but the difficulty then was that every time we agreed upon what might have appeared to be an improvement we were advised, no doubt perfectly accurately, by the Home Office that the suggested improvement was impracticable, or too wide, or immoral or fattening; there was some watertight objection to it. We shall be making a profound mistake if we permit this Bill to proceed on the understanding that we might improve it in Committee. I know: I have been there before.
I would have thought that Clause 3 fails to achieve its purpose, partly for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Garston, and partly because it seems to me wrong in principle to place two obstacles between the individual and his right of protest. It would be difficult enough, in all conscience, to persuade the magistrates' court that a case had been made out for an order. But if that were possible and practicable, and if that had been proposed in the Bill, perhaps we would have no complaint.
First of all, however, the unhappy resident has to go to the local authority; he has to confront councillors who are, no doubt, having all kinds of pressures placed upon them from all sorts of other directions. He then has to break through all the other matters that are weighing down on their minds, and I am quite sure that councillors will not thank us if we impose on them another burden to weigh them down. If he succeeds in his persuasion, he himself does not go to the magistrates' court to present the case—the local authority does that.
It seems to me to be wrong in principle that a person should have to rely upon the way in which someone else presents his objections. There may be occasions in our law when it is virtually inevitable that an objector has to listen to someone else presenting his objections—there are cases in which he cannot have direct access—but I believe that the number of such occasions should be reduced to a minimum. If, here, it is inevitable that he should not, then we should eliminate anything to object to: that is the only safeguard we can ensure. I am quite certain that, however fair a local authority tries to be in the proceedings, there will be objectors who will come away convinced that they would have presented the case differently, and with a different result.
In those circumstances, Clause 3 is not an adequate safeguard. But we have to take a decision on the Bill as it exists now, and while I fully accept that my hon. Friend has done his best, we have to decide whether his best is good enough——
The question arises whether it can be overcome in Committee. To my recollection, we spent the best part of three whole mornings in the Committee stage of the previous Bill trying to overcome the difficulty, and every time we made a proposal we were told that it was not workable. If my hon. Friend, who has now had the best part of nine months in which to reflect, now thinks that he can bring forward a further solution that might be workable, I am more than willing to listen to him. We did not find anything last time, and nothing has since occurred to convince me that we might find something now.
I turn to the question of those who might otherwise wish to spend Sunday as a day of rest finding themselves compelled to work. When I found that the old Clause 4 had disappeared, I was a little puzzled, until I recollected why it had disappeared. It was introduced previously in Committee, and then my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West, no doubt on the best obtainable advice, told us that it was not workable. He gave all sorts of reasons against it, and advised us to reject it. Admittedly, against that advice, we included it, but we were told that the advice would be repeated when the Bill returned to the Floor of the House. My hon. Friends the Members for Woolwich, West and for Dagenham cannot complain if we now take them at their word.
I can fully appreciate why they were given the advice that it would not be workable. But, if that be so, we are left with a Bill which offers no protection at all to people who will find themselves, against conscience or against inclination, compelled to work on Sundays. They will not be in the least degree satisfied to know that a lot of other people have to do it.
Finally, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, we seem to be comparing notes about the respective amounts of support which exist for and against the Bill, and it is only right that we should do so. Like the hon. Member for Garston, every letter I have received from individuals has invited me to oppose the Bill. Those letters were not stereotyped——
My experience was that in terms, phrases and sentences, many of the letters I received from individuals opposing the Bill were exactly the same, and had obviously been handed out by some national organisation.
Perhaps we have all had different experiences in this matter. But I am fairly accessible to my constituents. Most of them know where to find me, certainly on a Saturday evening—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where? "] If hon. Members want to know where I am, I will tell them exactly, and invite them to come along next Saturday. Like my hon. Friend, I move among sporting circles, yet I have not been approached by one constituent to support the Bill. The letters I have received were not always in good literary style, but they were obviously written from hearts.
That is not conclusive. I cannot deliver my conscience into the hands of my constituents. I cannot place on their shoulders the responsibility to take a decision on the Bill. But if their right to send a letter to their Member of Parliament is to have any significance at all, I must take their views into account. Rather to my relief, and very much to my encouragement, their conclusion agrees with mine.
The practice of the House is that if one intends to attack an hon. Member one gives him notice of it, but when an hon. Member moves a Bill one expects him to be present to hear criticisms. The hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) may have been called away on a very important matter, but I feel that House of Commons business is the most important business of all. I gave the hon. Member notice of my intention, and I think it not discourteous now if I attack some of the things he has said.
The hon. Member gave as his first reason for wanting to allow for payment for county cricket matches that amateurs could play only at the weekends. He is very much out of date, I think, because we no longer have amateurs and "pros"—they are all players.
The hon. Gentleman also said that the theatres had agreed to open only on six days. If that is so, why not leave Sunday as the one day when they are not open? I agree with the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) that it is false to argue that because 18 per cent. of the adult population has, perhaps, at some time or other to work on Sunday it does not matter if the percentage goes up to 19 or 20, as would be the result of the Bill.
The hon. Member seemed to get some comfort from the figures published in the Daily Mail this morning showing that those in favour of the Bill had gone down 20 per cent. I believe that what has happened is that people are beginning to understand what is behind the Bill. Their support for it is dropping, and I believe that in a very short time, instead of there being 60 per cent. support, there will be less than 50 per cent.
I am worried by the provision in Clause 3 that before a local authority can move this nuisance must have gone on for over six months. That represents the whole period of a football season——
Clause 3 is fraught with difficulty.
I am sorry that the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading, and whose speech for the first 20 minutes was perfectly fair, spent his peroration in abusing those who oppose the Bill. He suggested that we were influenced by pressure groups. I do not agree that that is so. If I did not know that he had pursued this course for many years, I should have thought that he was under pressure. In a debate such as this, the House of Commons is at its best. There is no party feeling in the speeches from either side of those for or against the Bill. This comes very well after a week when there has been much dissent by back-benchers against what was said by those on the Front Benches. This is what the House of Commons is for, to debate subjects such as this which involve no party allegiance and on which hon. Members can speak from their consciences and express their own minds.
Like many who have spoken, I do not approve of many laws which I think are archaic and should be brought up to date. I always tell my constituents that I would vote for a Bill which says it is wrong or illegal to shoot with bows and arrows outside a village on a Sunday. That was a great pastime of our forebears. Now this sort of thing needs bringing up to date. This Bill deals with commercialised sport, not with individual efforts. I should have some sympathy for the Bill if it meant that more people could take active exercise. Even on the news this morning we heard of a director who is concerned with our health and the taking of more exercise. In its commercial aspects this Bill appears to be more concerned that people should take less exercise and should watch sport.
We all enjoy watching professional football. I enjoy it very much when my local team in Ipswich is kind enough to invite me to do so three or four times a year. Most hon. Members have some team in which they are interested. Nowadays, professional teams have at least 12 opportunities a week on which to stage a match. I think the only afternoon when there is no professional football match is on Friday. Every evening football is played under floodlights, including Friday evening. Why should it be necessary on the 13th or 14th occasion, a Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening, to stage a professional football match? I agree that we are moving towards a shorter working week, but why should we want to have professional matches on a Sunday?
I endorse all that has been said about the extra work that would be involved for some people. We think of the police, but we sometimes forget the special police who go on duty without reward. We should think also of those very good citizens, members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, whom we always see at these matches. They would find difficulty if they had to go on duty in order to help anyone injured in the crowd.
My conviction is that I should oppose the Bill in its present form. I have had the honour to be a Member for 18 years. In that time many questions have been debated. I usually try to evaluate letters I have from constituents referring to the subjects that are raised. We are not delegates; I am glad that we act on our own opinions. I have always found that those who want to change the law write to us in greater numbers than those who prefer the law to remain as it is. We therefore have to discount a number of letters from those who want to change the law.
I have been a Member of this House a great deal longer than has the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and this is my opinion. It is true of teachers, farmers or anyone else that those who want the law to be changed write in greater numbers than those who are happy with the law as it is. I stand by that opinion. I had two letters urging that the law should be changed. They were from societies. One was from a tennis club. It suggested that it would be useful if a tournament which could not be finished on a Saturday because of bad weather could be finished on the Sunday. That was understandable because no doubt most of the players would want to engage in some other tournament on the Monday. The other letter was from a football association. I did not have letters from young people, the 18-years-olds we hear so much about, asking for this change.
On the other hand, those who do not want this Bill to be passed but are quite happy with the situation as it is are in greater numbers. They are not in any one section. They have not written because of some pressure campaign by an organisation. I defy any hon. Member, looking through the letters I have received, to say that they have been written under pressure. They have come from rectors or vicars of the Church of England, members of the Congregational, Methodist, Baptist or Strict Baptist persuasions in my constituency. They are all concerned about this inroad on what we regard as the rest day. Many of them are not bigoted about this matter. I shall not read these letters because I know that many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. Many of the writers realise that Sunday is a day of rest, even if they do not go to church or chapel then.
I agree with the intervention which was made by the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins). He pointed out that this is not necessarily a religious question. It is one of family life. If we believe in the unity of family life, we recognise that on Sunday the family is together. Even if all its members do not go to a place of worship, they often go out together. The father is with his wife and children, at home, at the seaside, or elsewhere. If a match in which the father's favourite team was playing were on, it would be hard for him not to go. This, with travelling time, would involve an absence of about four hours. I believe that the Bill would bring about the destruction of family life.
I believe that the views of those who have written to me—God-fearing, decent people, who are concerned about this— should be given expression to. I am giving expression to it on behalf of those who live in the Eye division. We regard ourselves as a Christian country. These people who are leaders in religion have a very difficult time in these days, with the disruption of village and town life for various reasons. These are the people who support law and order and preach the difference between right and wrong.
I do not want to become involved in an argument on the whole subject of crime, but we cannot be other than concerned about crime and the difficulties facing the police in combating it. We must not make it harder for those who are doing a useful job by passing the Bill, which they believe will undermine their position and authority. I have a high respect for these people in my constituency who are doing this job in religion. We in East Suffolk have a good record. I must oppose the Bill. The object of the Bill is to commercialise Sunday. I believe that there is a money interest behind it.
That is what I object to. I object to the Bill because it will encourage more people to watch rather than to play an active part, just like the hon. Gentleman. I am all for people taking exercise in their private capacity, but there: is nothing to stop me from sailing a boat, playing golf, playing tennis or playing cricket on a Sunday in a private capacity under the present law.
It is either right or wrong. Of course it is not illegal. I believe strongly in family life. In spite of divorce and juvenile delinquency arising from broken homes, there are far more happy homes now than we have ever had. Those who do what I consider to be good work by maintaining law and order and by preaching Christianity deserve the support of the House. I believe that the Bill would undermine the efforts these people are making. I have a high regard for those who have written to me and others like them in my constituency. Fortunately, their view coincides with mine. I support them and I shall oppose the Bill.
I detest religious bigotry because I know how much harm it has done in this and in other countries. I am uneasy about a tendency which seems to be developing towards secular bigotry—an attack on religious institutions and social practices based on religious beliefs for their own sake. This is a dangerous trend which we need to examine and combat.
The promoters of the Bill suggest, although they have not had the nerve to put it explicitly, that people are oppressed by antiquated Sabbatarian laws which prevent them from indulging in relaxation and recreation of their own choosing. This is rubbish. Great play has been made of the fact that two of the statutes concerned date from 1625 and 1780. The most recent legislation on the subject dates from 1932, but nobody has referred to that Statute. The 1932 Act took a cautious approach to the precise question of the commercialisation of entertainment. It related primarily to cinemas, but it was a cautious amendment of the then law. It is a 20th century law, and those who assume that all our laws relating to Sunday observance go back centuries are incorrect.
There is also a kind of implication that those who oppose the Bill are out-of-date fuddy-duddies, not "with it", and not in tune with the existing trend; but they have not established, against all the evidence given by earlier speakers, that there is any demand at all for the Bill from the ordinary citizens. There is a powerful demand from the commercial entertainment lobby, and my experience squares exactly with what other hon. Members have said; I have not had a single letter from an ordinary citizen in favour of the Bill. I have had representations from pressure groups in the Football Association, Mecca Dancing and the local discothèque, but I have not had a solitary letter from an ordinary citizen saying, "Will you please support the Bill?" or, "I feel that the Sabbatarian laws are oppresive and difficult."
I am struck by the contrast with the "pop" radio dispute. When we had the great row about the radio pirates I had scores of letters from housewives, teenagers and sixth-formers saying, "It is absolutely disgraceful to try to suppress these radio pirates." Although I did not agree with them, I recognised that there was a powerful surge of public opinion in favour of that activity. There is absolutely nothing of that kind whatever on this issue. Not a single teenager or youth club or anyone like that has suggested that this kind of legislation is necessary or desirable.
While I do not wish to be objectionable to my hon. Friends, I must say that it seems a bit odd that it is the greybeards who are supporting this legislation this afternoon. [Interruption.] If "greybeard" is an unparliamentary word, I will withdraw it.
The fact is that as the proposers of the Bill have admitted, it is possible for the ordinary citizen in search of diversion or recreation, without the aim of profit, to play cricket, to go to a theatre club, a dancing club, a cinema, a museum, an art gallery or a concert, to indulge in camping, rambling, sailing, ski-ing, sledging, skating, climbing, canoeing, pony trekking, hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, driving, riding, cycling, to play tennis and bowls for private amusement, to go swimming, to play golf, or to stay at home and indulge in music, painting and reading, to watch the television, or listen to the radio, or play dominoes. That does not exhaust the list.
All these pursuits in the ordinary way of personal recreation are perfectly lawful and require no change in the law and no legislation. If people tell me that it is essential that people should enjoy themselves, that we have got to pander to the commercial entertainment lobby, my answer is "No" and I am not going to do so.
I am bewildered that my hon. Friends, whose social and political philosophies are in tune with my own, and for whom I have a great respect, should wish to promote a Bill whose main object is to put money into the pockets of the commercial entertainment people. This is the only fundamental point at issue, and the Crathorne Report made this point very explicitly when it distinguished clearly between what it called players' and spectators' sports. It made a clear distinction between not wishing to prevent those who wish to play cricket, football, or golf from doing so, and those who wanted to go in droves to watch these activities as a commercial spectacle. That is the fundamental issue here.
I am concerned with the people who want to amuse themselves by participation in sport. There is nothing against that. There lies the fundamental difference, and that is the sole point on which the law hitherto has turned. So far, the law has come down on the right side, putting no inhibition and no penalties in the way of those who wish themselves to play.
There is another point to which my hon. Friends should pay attention. Excluding television and radio, which are a special and peculiar case, there has been a trend in recent years towards what one might call "do-it-yourself" recreation as opposed to mass commercial recreation, the growth of activities like sailing, climbing, rambling, the enjoyment of our national parks and the seaside. I am sure that that tendency will continue. On the other hand, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) said, the commercial entertainment world has suffered somewhat. I, too, regret the decline of the theatre.
I come now to the "sop" Clause—it is pure sop and eyewash—which is supposed to cover protest against noise and disturbance. The idea is that anyone aggrieved by racket, noise and disturbance, cars, traffic, and all the general hubbub caused by mass entertainment spectacles, must first convince his local council—it is difficult enough to convince some of them of anything—and then the local council must convince the magistracy that the particular spectacle must be stopped. Can anyone seriously imagine the local council in any of our major cities going along to the magistrates and saying, "We want the city football club to be stopped from playing"? It just is not on. It will never work. It is rubbish for the sponsors to say that there is any safeguard there for the ordinary individual.
Finally, I come to the question of work. If they are fair, the promoters of the Bill must recognise that they have been too light-hearted in dismissing the argument that it would greatly extend the area in which people are required to undertake work on a Sunday. It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) to say that 18 per cent. of people work on some Sundays now. I work on some Sundays. I could not put my hand on my heart and say that throughout the twelve-month I never do any work on a Sunday. But I do not regard myself as a Sunday worker in the ordinary sense.
I suppose that, if one stretches the definition in that way, 18 per cent. of people do work on Sundays, but let us face the facts. If the Bill goes through, it will put an extra load on the police—and that cannot be lightly dismissed—an extra load on catering, transport and other public services. Moreover, I believe that it will lead to a substantial extension of active gambling and of the gambling business.
There is a social principle that one day of the week should be set aside for recreation and leisure in the widest sense, active leisure and recreation or passive leisure and recreation. That social principle, which goes back many centuries and is not exclusively Christian, remains of the highest importance, and we should resist as strongly as possible a Bill of this kind the main purpose of which will be to extend the commercial exploitation of our Sunday.
This is a very important subject, and I am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words about it.
I have given the matter much thought since the last Sunday Entertainments Bill came before us, and having considered the present Bill, I say, "Please come back. All is forgiven" to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling). His was a much better Bill, and he presented the case in a very pleasant and helpful way. That is not so on this occasion.
I have questioned my right to interfere and oppose this type of Bill. I have been subjected to many pressures in my constituency and elsewhere, and I have listened to the further arguments presented today. I have seen a number of stupid anomalies which I agree must be removed. Many of our Sunday observance laws are out of date and need to be changed, but I have not changed my views on the basic need for Sunday to be a different day, a day of rest and relaxation, and for those who desire it—and I sincerely wish that all would—a day of worship and respect for God and his laws. That is why I still oppose the Bill.
I have tried to be charitable and see things from the point of view of other people who have strong feelings. But I still think that, on balance, it is right to oppose the Bill. It is important to have a specific day set aside for rest and relaxation. Whether or not people misuse their leisure on that day does not affect the principle. How much they use for leisure or constructive work at home and how much they set aside for the direct worship of God is for them to decide and not me.
The desire to protect Sunday from the encroachment of big business in trade and entertainment is right and, in the long run, in the best interests of the community. Whatever people say, I believe that it is big business that is really interested in the promotion of such a Bill. This is not only a religious question but one of ordinary social and personal welfare. This is where we have a bridge between those who believe in the religious angle and those who are concerned about the problems that would arise for many people working in the industries concerned.
It is the Christian's business to care about his neighbour, whether or not his neighbour is a Christian. It is our solemn responsibility to guard our neighbour's good in the matter of protecting Sunday. I make no bones about this, although many will disagree with me. Social justice demands that we care about the ordinary man in his need for leisure as much as in his need for employment or any other human right.
I know that Sunday trading is not really dealt with in the Bill, but there are pressures for it, and we could see an extension of it if the Bill went through. The pressures from professional sport and entertainment are also enormous. The supermarkets have a strong lobby in Parliament. Behind this lies the desire to keep retail outlets open seven days a week. Profit-making is enhanced by maintaining a constant flow of goods. The more patrons of entertainment come into the theatres and cinemas, and the more customers come into the shops, the greater are the profits.
Many of those who desire to change the Sunday from a day of rest, relaxation and worship to a normal working, commercial day do so because of the profit motive. It is no wonder that the constant pressures are on us. When we have this pressure, people are bound to be hurt; they will have to work against their will, whatever people say. Others have what they consider the right to a little rest, which should not be disturbed. I do not think that anyone can deny that it would be disturbed if the Bill went through.
These pressures come not only from the commercial world of entertainment, shop-keeping and so forth, but from sport. Let us strip away most of the nonsense we have heard—that this is purely a question of giving people freedom. It is nothing of the sort. The naked truth is that promoters see a way of increasing their profits. I say that this is so because I do not believe that it is the ordinary small match that is at stake. What is at stake is that the Football Association wants to see permitted very large scale football matches—perhaps inter-continental matches or the World Cup series—which are a very profitable business. But it would mean many people having to work very hard, and many would have to work against their will.
It would be much easier, in dealing with these problems, if we were all a little more honest about our aims. It is true that many people are against the national religious observance of Sunday. They say that Christians have no right to push others about or impose their views on others. But, just as we recognise that law-keeping and sex are perfect gifts of God to perfect men, we should also recognise that leisure on one day in seven is a perfect gift in the same way and that if we try to keep one day different for everyone we are no more pushing Christian rules on others than when we say that marriage is ideally a life-time contract or that work is every man's God-given right.
One day's rest in seven, at the same time as other people are having theirs, is a God-given idea which is in the best interests of the whole man, and that we should seek to follow. I am not alone in my fear of what the Bill would do. The promoters, as I believe they have, may have the best intentions in the world but, nevertheless, there are genuine fears of what may happen. I have seen the results of such legislation—the Betting and Gaming Act, for example. That was introduced with the best intentions in the world, but look at what has happened!
I believe that this Bill would cause a lot of people trouble and difficulty and force them to work on what had been a day of rest. The trade unions are concerned. Those hon. Members who have spoken on their behalf have shown that, and we should take their views into account. The Crathorne Committee was convinced that Sunday should not be regarded just as another day and I believe that that is the correct view.
Again, the evidence we have had from very many people writing to us all in their own simple way, expressing their fears, ought not to be disregarded. If it were just the case of a circular from the Lord's Day Observance Society—and I do not agree with all that Society says—I would not take much notice, but when ordinary people, in their own simple language, making many spelling mistakes, write to us, we should heed what they are saying.
I believe that legislation must protect people from commercial interests for otherwise they will deny the people the right to not only a day which, I believe, is of benefit to those who believe in Sunday as a holy day, a day set apart for the worship of God, but a day of rest which is of great benefit to the nation.
I am certainly opposed to the Bill. When we discussed the subject recently, it was said that the Bill would not apply to Scotland. I recognise that, but in Scotland we think that if the Bill were passed it could become the thin end of the wedge of a similar Bill for Scotland. If the Bill is passed, the additional sports facilities will mean additional public services, which will have to be paid for, and Scottish taxpayers will be making their contribution towards the cost of providing such services for Sunday entertainment. While in Scotland we are more generous than many would make out, we feel that we should, therefore, have something to say about the Bill.
Representations have been made to me by individuals and a number of churches in my constituency which are alarmed by the possibility of the Bill becoming law. There are powerful religious, social and humanitarian reasons why the Bill should not have a Second Reading.
It is well known that we are a Christian country. We have centuries of the Christian tradition behind us. We are very proud of our Christian civilisation which we can match with any civilisation even known and any civilisation in other parts of the world today. That civilisation becomes endangered once we fail to honour our obligations to it and to the Almighty on Sunday. That is what is likely to happen, because the distraction of all these other interests is bound to affect church-going attendance.
The moral fibre of the nation is being gradually lowered because of the neglect of the teachings of the Almighty, especially on Sundays, although it is hoped that we live up to them for the rest of week. Sunday has been regarded and treated as a sabbath day. The beautiful murals in this building show how the Ten Commandments were handed down by God to Moses on tablets of stone, and one of those Commandments was to keep the sabbath day; that would be impracticable if the Bill became law.
Some of my hon. Friends and some hon. Members opposite seem to forget that people do not worship only on Sunday mornings. They also attend services on Sunday afternoons and in the evenings. The social problems which would arise if other events were to be permitted would be bound to affect the right of people to worship and to meditate as they please. I have in mind some of the events which occur in my own area. One is speedway. I am sure that hon. Members can imagine the efforts of people trying to worship in accordance with their consciences while the deafening roar of motorcycles is going on as the motorcycles race around the track with thousands of people cheering and counter-cheering.
No one in his senses could honestly say that that would not distract people from worship. It is not possible to worship in circumstances like that, and yet that is what the Bill would mean. That is why I am so much opposed to it.
Apart from bus crews and policemen, we have also to consider shopkeepers, who would have to keep their shops open. We have been campaigning for the compulsory closing of shops on a Sunday to give our people a guaranteed day of rest to spend as they wish.
Most of them like to spend it in true serenity, attending a church if they wish. The Bill would mean a complete departure from the tradition that has come to be not only respected, but which has come to belong to most people. That is why I feel that it would be very dangerous to approve the Bill. We would have a very serious situation in Scotland, touching the conscience of all Scottish people. If the Bill were to pass into law and extend north of the Border it would raise the great controversy about opening the pubs on a Sunday, which is tantamount to creating a dynamite-like situation there, as it would raise the question of the sale from public houses of excisable liquor. We know where we are going; we are not so sure where the Bill is leading. I hope that we will err on the safe side by ensuring that the Bill does not get a Second Reading.
I am not greatly enamoured of Clause 3, which seeks to provide certain safeguards. I do not believe that they are enforceable. By the time the application goes through the local authority machine, even if presented within a week of the event, the event itself would have been passed months ago. By the time it comes to the magistrates' court another few months would have elapsed. In the meantime there would have been all this noise, bugles and rattles, and bottles—yes and violent offences against persons in the neighbourhood of people who are anxious to have a serene Sunday.
This is not a good Bill, it is not nice for the country to adopt. For these reasons, I shall certainly oppose it.
I hope that the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) will forgive me if I do not follow his remarks directly. There has been more passion about this Bill than there has been about a great number of other Bills which have had, and will have, far more effect on people's lives. I strongly support the Bill, but I wonder why such passions have been aroused. In the light of the differences in the pattern of Sunday life over the last 10 years, this Bill will make very few additional changes. This point has been mulled over considerably already and I will not cover the same ground.
In an important debate such as this the House is entitled to have an explanation of what the hon. Member means by "few additional changes". Should he not enumerate them so that we can be quite clear about what he means, and whether he has understood the position?
I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman has been present for the whole of the debate, but this point has been covered fairly adequately already.
I want to take up a point made by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), who said that a number of hon. Members have told him that they would support the Bill if it followed the recommendations of the Crathorne Report. I have two observations to make to such hon. Members. Surely it is not the invariable practice of this House to legislate to the letter of the recommendations of any departmentally-appointed Committee. Secondly, over the four years that have passed since Crathorne reported, a large number of changes in the pattern of Sunday sport and entertainment, even within sport itself, have taken place. These have cast doubt upon the basis of the Crathorne recommendations.
As the hon. Member for Dagenham has said, there is now no hard and fast distinction between amateur and professional sport. Nevertheless, Crathorne drew this distinction, not because it was against professional sport as such, but purely because it was against it as it engendered crowds and the possibility of public disturbance. This distinction has become less and less supportable as time has passed. The fact is that there has been a tremendous growth in sport of all kinds on Sunday. Therefore, more and more anomalies will arise from the existing law as the growth continues. I should like to give one or two examples of what can and does happen already.
Under the Crathorne recommendations, I understand that it would be possible for an amateur international football match to be held at Wembley Stadium, but not a professional international match. It is impossible to hold a League football match on Sundays, but I understand that if the players on both sides said that they were playing for charity it would be in order.
But people can pay for programmes and other things.
Take tennis. Wimbledon used to be an amateur competition. Now it is open. Under the Crathorne recommendations, it would have been possible to hold a competition on Sundays if it had remained amateur, but apparently not now that it has become tainted with professionalism. The Crathorne view has become almost as anomalous as the law. That is borne out when sport which is already played on Sundays is considered. In cricket, it would apparently be in order to have a gentlemen versus gentlemen match, to use an old-fashioned phrase, on Sundays, but not a players versus players or gentlemen versus players match.
Take equestrian sport. Last year it was at Wembley, but previously the Royal International Horse Show was at the White City and for the past four years the final day has been held on a Sunday. During all those years charges were made for car parking, programmes and the like. Under the Crathorne recommendations, it would be possible to take money at the gate, but the professional show jumper apparently would not be allowed to compete. Surely, it would be invidious to allow a 7-day jumping week for the amateur show jumper but not for the professional. This kind of division is absolute nonsense.
I could go on giving examples from virtually every sport. Rugby League and Rugby Union have been mentioned. What about professional and amateur golf? Last summer, I spent a Sunday afternoon at a motocross meeting. There were between 5,000 and 10,000 cars there. The previous year there had been 15,000 there. This year the heavens opened and it was a filthy day, but there was a great deal of noise and a large number of people attended this sport. A charge for their motor cars was made at the gate.
I realise that some sports are extremely popular and could create not only crowds, but disturbance. But if they do, Clause 3—and I accept that there are imperfections in it—surely is the safeguard.
I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. The law has been brought increasingly into disrepute and it is high time that it was revised. Let it be replaced with something simple and sensible like this Bill. If it has imperfections, they can be ironed out in Committee. I believe that the Bill would give people a little more freedom to do as they wish to do while the freedom of others would be safeguarded.
Mr. William Handing:
We have been listening to a fascinating debate in which the arguments have been presented on both sides with eloquence and good humour, illustrating that right hon. and hon. Members have considered the pros and cons fairly.
I was struck particularly by the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison), who, I thought, began to talk about the real world and not the world as some hon. Members would like it to be. The fact is that, over the last 20 years, the traditional Sunday has been invaded, and it is being invaded more than ever. It will be invaded to an even greater extent in the future unless the Bill is passed——
To illustrate what I mean, I will enumerate the sports and entertainments which take place already on a Sunday, before my hon. Friend shouts "Bunkum" even louder than he did just now.
What is Sunday like, particularly in London Let me draw the attention of hon. Members to a publication entitled "What's On in London", price Is. 6d., which they can see free in the Library. It retails the vast number of sports and entertainments which take place already on Sundays in London, and I do not think that London is all that unusual. I know that Rugby League games do not take place in London, and that is perhaps an example of the undiscriminating attitude of Londoners, but county cricket is played in London. If the Bill became law, county cricket would be restricted. I do not see where the licence is in that respect. Show-jumping already takes place, though whether Ted Williams will be able to jump is perhaps another point——
They moved no Amendments. On the last occasion when the matter was before this House, a Bill went through on the nod, having an unopposed Second Reading, Committee stage, Report stage and Third Reading. That was in 1963. There was not an Amendment about employment, noise or nuisance put forward by anyone.
Dancing clubs are open on Sundays throughout London and the rest of the country. They have been for years. Strip tease clubs advertise in this publication. They, too, are open on Sundays. When it comes to drinking, I do not need to tell the House what facilities there are for drinking on Sundays in London, both inside and outside licensing hours.
Then there are seaside entertainments. Anyone going to the seaside on Sunday will find pretty well everything open in such places as Eastbourne, Bournemouth, Hastings, Brighton, Blackpool, and, I was about to say, Chatham.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) spoke about his visits to working men's clubs. I wonder whether he has been to any on a Sunday, when they provide entertainments in costume and frequently in "drag". They are common throughout the country. Speaking of "drag", I am reminded that Danny La Rue appears in clubs on Sunday nights in London——
I do not go to any of these clubs—ever. Here they are. advertised, but I do not go to them.
What I am pointing out is the extent to which the law is being evaded, avoided, and broken. That is the point. What I am doing is helping to sponsor a Bill which will limit evasion, which will bring to an end the present sham. There are, for example, many sports taking place already on a Sunday—motor racing and motor cycle meetings, bowling in clubs which are open in London and elsewhere, and golf.
Mention was made by the hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) of people playing golf on a Sunday. What he ought to have pointed out, also, is that there are thousands of people who pay money on a Sunday to watch other people playing golf. That is apart from those people who play privately. For instance, the Alcan competition, which 20,000 people witnessed. They were not charged for admission; they were charged for programmes. This is evasion of the law. What we are seeking to do is to bring rationality into the law, to bring honesty into it, to end the shams, to end the evasions.
Polo is played on a Sunday and people pay to watch. One can go to Cowdrey Park, Cirencester Park, Windsor Great Park on Sundays to see polo. It is not seen by only a few hundreds of people; it is seen by thousands of people. They pay 10s., £1 each to go in. They do not pay at the gates. We know what happens. They pay for car parking.
It is no good right hon. and hon. Gentlemen talking about the Bill opening the floodgates. The floodgates are open now. The purpose of the Bill is to prevent them from being opened even further, to produce rationality, is to end abuse of the law. That is what is happening now: the law is being widely abused; the law is in complete contempt. Otherwise, none of these things would have taken place.
Take, for example, the Act of 1780, which has already been referred to. Under that Act it is illegal to hold any of the entertainments or spectacles I have mentioned and to charge admission for them—any one of them. Yet we all know it happens. We know it happens because people have completely lost confidence in the law. We seek by the Bill to bring back again respect for the law, to end this system of shams and evasions.
What do not take place at the moment are a great many wholesome activities, and I want now to turn to some of those which do not take place now but which will do so if the Bill becomes law. One of these is the amateur athletic meeting. The A.A.A. and the women's A.A.A., because they respect the law, do not hold meetings on a Sunday at the present time. The great commercial interests do not respect the law—they never have done. We have the great commercial interests of the brewers—the public houses are open on Sundays. The millionaire gamblers are open for business on Sundays, and so are the commercial interests behind the strip-tease and dancing clubs. West End clubs open on Sundays. Those are the commercial interests. No one will pretend that if we permit the A.A.A. to hold championships at Crystal Palace on Sundays it will advantage great commercial interests. Hon. Members who talk about great commercial interests in this respect know that they are talking nonsense.
What are the great commercial interests in sport—Kent county cricket or my own county? They do not exist. The Lancashire County Cricket Club has lost money for years—who would describe that as a great commercial interest? No one will pretend that the live theatre is a great commercial interest—it has been declining for years. But the really big commercial interests have been breaking the law, with or without the consent of Parliament, for a generation, and every hon. and right hon. Member knows it.
The Bill has nothing to do with the great commercial interests. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) talks of football teams, but no one will persuade me that the shareholders of Ipswich, Tranmere Rovers or Preston North End have been benefiting a great deal lately. These are not the millionaires, the people who are making thousands every year.
The Bill is not sponsored by anyone with any commercial interest in the matter at all—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I defy any hon. Member to tell me of any sponsor of the Bill who has any commercial interest in these matters at all. I have none——
Would not my hon. Friend agree that if the Bill were to go through, the door would be kicked wider open; and that the commercial interests are just waiting to move into the new situation?
Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Kerr), I have listened to the whole debate. Had she been here all day, she would have known that neither today nor when we debated the Second Reading of a similar Bill, has any evidence been produced from either side that great commercial interests are in the wings waiting to take advantage of this Bill. I will give any hon. Member an opportunity to tell me of one great commercial interest, which has not been mentioned, which is waiting in the wings and ready to take advantage of the Bill.
I do not know what the hon. Member knows as big business; I believe that he has been in the City. If he can tell me of one professional football team which has made even a quarter of a million pounds profit during the last 12 months, I am prepared to give him £10.
The hon. Member appears to be begging my point. When big business ceases to make profits it tries to change the circumstances under which it operates. That is why it would try to operate on Sunday.
Now we have a new definition of big business. It is that it has not made a profit. What we recognise as big business—it is no good hon. Members quibbling about it—is big business in entertainment, people who have crossed the Atlantic to make millions.
No, I will not give way. The real big business in entertainment is in bowling pin alleys in which big business people have invested millions and are determined to keep their places open. Everyone knows that they open on Sunday, and have done so for years. [Interruption.]
—that there have been and are continuing interruptions of the present law. The Bill seeks to rationalise it and to control it. That is what the Bill is about. I am very surprised that all those who have got very excited about the Bill are not excited about existing interruptions which are taking place.
A great deal has been made about employment on Sunday. The remarkable thing is that thousands of men and women are employed in the entertainment industry on Sundays and not once has any hon. Member who has complained about this Bill tried to prevent the exploitation of those employees. I speak with advice on this matter. Yet on this harmless, modest Bill they work themselves into a great tizzy of excitement about the freedom of the individual. When did they think about the freedom of the staff of the Victoria Sporting Club who work seven days a week? Not once. Yet on a modest Measure like this, which seeks to rationalise Sunday, they get very excited.
I hope that hon and right hon. Members will read the Bill, look at what it says and vote for it because the purpose of the Bill is to close the floodgates. The purpose of the Bill is to control Sunday sport. The purpose of the Bill is to rationalise Sunday and I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. Just before I sit down——
|Division No. 103.]||AYES||[4.0 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Blaker, Peter||Conlan, Bernard|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill|
|Archer, Peter||Booth, Albert||Darling, Rt. Hn. George|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)|
|Beamish, Col. fur Tufton||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||d' Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Binns, John||Channon, H. P. G.||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John|
|Dickens, James||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Peart Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Dunnett, Jack||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, w.)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Ellis, John||Kelley, Richard||Rankin, John|
|Emery, Peter||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|English Michael||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lipton, Marcus||Roebuck, Roy|
|Foster, Sir John||Luard, Evan||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lubbock, Eric||Ryan, John|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackie, John||Scott, Nicholas|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Marquand, David||Sheldon, Robert|
|Goodhart, Philip||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mayhew, Christopher||Silkin, Rt, Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mendelson, John||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Griffiths Eddie (Brightside)||Molloy, William||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Hamling, William||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Taverne, Dick|
|Harper Joseph||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hastings, Stephen||Murray, Albert||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Hay, John||Newens, Stan||Weitzman, David|
|Hornby, Richard||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Whitaker, Ben|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oram, Albert E.||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Orbach, Maurice||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Howie, W.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Wilson, William (Coventry. S.)|
|Hunt, John||Pannen, Rt. Hn. Charles||Winnick, David|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras.S.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Mrs. Renée Short and|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pavitt, Laurence||Mr. William Hamilton.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Baxter, William||Hawkins, Paul||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Body, Richard||Higgins, Terence L.||Percival, Ian|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hiley, Joseph||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hooley, Frank||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Roberts, Rt. Hn, Goronwy|
|Clark, Henry||Kenyon, Clifford||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Cordle, John||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Royle, Anthony|
|Crowder, F. P.||Lane, David||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Leadbitter, Ted||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Dempsey, James||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Elliot, Capt. Waiter (Carshalton)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Macdonald, A, H.||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Wall, Patrick|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Maclennan, Robert||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fortescue, Tim||McMaster, Stanley||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Giles. Rear-Adm. Morgan||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maddan, Martin||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Grant, Anthony||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Sir Cyril Black and Mr. Ron Lewis.|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Murton, Oscar|
|Division No. 104.]||AYES||[4.9 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Conlan, Bernard||English, Michael|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Darting, Rt. Hn. George||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Foster, Sir John|
|Binns, John||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Blaker, Peter||Dickens, James||Freeson, Reginald|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dunnett, Jack||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Ginsburg, David|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Ellis, John||Goodhart, Philip|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Emery, Peter||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Lubbock, Eric||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mackie, John||Richard, Ivor|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Marquand, David||Robinson, Rt. Hn.Kenneth (St.P'c'as)|
|Hamling, William||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Harper, Joseph||Mayhew, Christopher||Ryan, John|
|Hay, John||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Scott, Nicholas|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mendelson, J. J.||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Molloy, William||Sheldon, Robert|
|Howie, w.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Hunt, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Murray, Albert||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Jeger,Mrs.Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Newens, Stan||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Oram, Albert E.||Taverne, Dick|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orbach, Maurice||Urwin, T. W.|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull.W.)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Kelley, Richard||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Weitzman, David|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'woth, Central)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N,)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Pavitt, Laurence||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lipton, Marcus||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Mrs. Renée Short and|
|Luard, Evan||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Mr. William Hamilton.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Murton, Oscar|
|Archer, Peter||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Baxter, William||Hastings, Stephen||Percival, Ian|
|Body, Richard||Hawkins, Paul||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Booth, Albert||Higgins, Terence L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hiley, Joseph||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hooley, Frank||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Clark, Henry||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Royle, Anthony|
|Curdle, John||Kenyon, Clifford||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Lane, David||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Leadbitter, Ted||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Dempsey, James||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Longden, Gilbert||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Wall, Patrick|
|Fernyhough, E.||Macdonald, A. H.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mackenzie,Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Fortescue, Tim||Maclennan, Robert||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||McMaster, Stanley||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Goodhew, Victor||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Grant, Anthony||Maddan, Martin|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Sir Cyril Black and|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Captain L. P. S. Orr.|
|Division No. 105.]||AYES||[4.16 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Currie, G. B. H.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Harrison Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Drayson, G. B.||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Body, Richard||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Hastings, Stephen|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Foot Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Fortescue, Tim||Hiley, Joseph|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Hooley, Frank|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Goodhew, Victor||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Grant, Anthony||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Chichester-Clark., R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Cordle, John||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Percival, Ian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Maclennan, Robert||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wall, Patrick|
|McMaster, Stanley||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Weatherill, Bernard|
|MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy||Wellbeloved, James|
|Maddan, Martin||Roebuck, Roy||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Royle, Anthony|
|Murton, Oscar||Russell, Sir Ronald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Sir Cyril Black and|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Captain L. P. S. Orr|
|Albu, Austen||Hunt, John||Pannen, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Allason, James (Hemet Hempstead)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Jeger,Mrs.Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)|
|Binns, John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Booth, Albert||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Kelley, Richard||Rees, Merlyn|
|Conlan, Bernard||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. Georgs||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Richard, Ivor|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Lestor, Miss Joan||Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth (St.P'cas)|
|Dickens, James||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Ryan, John|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Luard, Evan||Scott, Nicholas|
|Emery, Peter||Lubbock, Eric||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|English, Michael||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert|
|Fletcher, Raymond (llkestone)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marquand, David||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mayhew, Christopher||Silkin, Hn. S.C. (Dulwich)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Mendelson, John||Urwin, T. W.|
|Ginsburg, David||Molloy, William||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Weitzman, David|
|Cresham Cooke, R.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Murray, Albert||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Newens, Stan|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Oram, Albert E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hamling, William||Orbach, Maurice||Mr. Ioan L. Evans and|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Mr. Ernest G. Perry.|