A number of differing views have been expressed to my Department about public holidays, including the first Monday in May. The question of any changes raises several complex issues, which my right hon. Friend is considering.
My hon. Friend will have noted that there are no bank holidays whatever from the end of August until Christmas and that we have a plethora of them in the spring, which is disruptive for industry. Will he consider resiting or allocating one of those to the autumn? Perhaps we could do our duty by Nelson and make Trafalgar Day a national day.
My hon. Friend makes a persuasive point, but there are probably two difficulties. One of them is to try to find some consensus about how the bunching of bank holidays might be accommodated, and the other is to find a place in the calendar to which a bank holiday might be more suited. Many people, probably the overwhelming majority of people, would rather celebrate a British occasion, such as Trafalgar Day, than some inappropriate foreign import such as May Day.
Does the Minister not agree that the important issue is not which days are being celebrated but how many days' holiday workers are entitled to? Does he further agree that holidays for British workers compare unfavourably with those in other European countries, both in terms of bank holidays and annual holiday entitlement? Is it not time that we had a minimum statutory requirement of six weeks?
The issue is rather narrower than that. It is a question whether the present spread of bank holidays is appropriate or whether there is such a bunching that it would be better to dispense with the bunching. It is difficult to find a consensus about how the arrangements might be altered, and that is why my right hon. Friend is considering the matter.