Sunday observance

Part of Petitions – in the House of Commons at 1:36 pm on 17th February 1989.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 1:36 pm, 17th February 1989

No. I wish to press on because I am trying to keep my speech to a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes to allow other hon. Members to speak.

A number of hon. Members have been worried about the effect of the Bill on Sunday trading in general. The Bill is not a stalking horse for Sunday trading legislation. It stands wholly separate and wholly apart. Hon. Members can express their prejudices in a debate of this kind, but there is nothing in the Bill that has a direct impact on Sunday trading. It does not have even an indirect impact on Sunday trading. It deals with a particular problem—the prohibition of a variety of sporting events for which a charge is made on Sunday.

To turn to the employment protection clause, a number of hon. Members including my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley, have expressed anxiety about those with existing contracts of employment. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East has tackled the problem in an extremely responsible way. He has provided that those with existing contracts of employment should not be prejudiced as a result of the legislation. That is right. However, he has also said by implication that we cannot build similar safeguards into prospective contracts of employment. That is quite right, too.

There is a variety of occupations in which people have to work on Sundays—the fire service, the police, hospitals, power stations, garages, the transport industry. Even hon. Members—whom some people may suppose are not essential—have to work on Sundays. We cannot say that they are obliged to do that, whereas jockeys and stable lads are not. It is for them to decide whether they want to go into an occupation that may have that consequence.