Christmas Day (Trading) Bill [Money]

Orders of the Day — International Criminal Court Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 10:38 pm on 3 April 2001.

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Queen's recommendation having been signified—

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office 10:59, 3 April 2001

I beg to move, That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums so payable under any other Act. As drafted, the Christmas Day (Trading)—[Interruption.]

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. Will hon. Members leaving the Chamber please do so quickly and quietly so that this debate, can commence?

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

As drafted, the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill may have some small expenditure implications for the Treasury purse, and a money resolution is therefore required. The small amount of extra expenditure would be in respect of inspectors to enforce the prohibition on the opening of large shops on Christmas day.

Only a handful of such shops have so far opened on Christmas day, and enforcement should be assisted by the fact that advance local publicity would almost certainly be required if large shops intended to open in future. Although the implications are relatively small, it is none the less appropriate to put this motion before the House.

11 pm

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

At least the Minister has taken the trouble, on this occasion, to come to the House and give a brief explanation of the money resolution. For that, I suppose we should be grateful, but I am not sure that the Minister said enough to persuade me that the resolution should be approved—at least, not without some further thought.

The Bill has far-reaching ramifications. It may be short, which is commendable in a private Member's Bill, but it has substantial implications. Clause 1 is entitled "Large shops not to open on Christmas Day", and that gives a fair idea of what the Bill is about. The schedule to the Bill gives some indication of the ramifications.

I shall pass over what I believe is a grammatical error in the first line of the schedule, which states: It shall be the duty on every local authority to enforce within their area". I should have thought that the phrase "its area" would have been more appropriate. Perhaps we should vote money for literacy lessons for parliamentary draftsmen and Home Office officials, so that the Bill could be got right. That would be a proper use for money flowing from the money resolution.

I exonerate the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) from any blame for that error, as I suspect that the Bill was drafted either by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers or by the Government, or a bit of both.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

I do not always rise to the right hon. Gentleman's bait, but I cannot let him get away with something on which he is totally wrong. The Bill was not drafted by USDAW or the Government.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

In that case, the hon. Lady must plead guilty to the grammatical error that I have pointed out, but I shall not hold that against her.

The resolution would allow the effects of the responsibilities outlined in the schedule to be carried out. The schedule states, grammar notwithstanding, that local authorities are to be given an additional responsibility to enforce the provisions of clause 1(1) in their areas. It continues: For the purposes of these duties under paragraph 1 … it shall be the duty of every local authority to appoint inspectors". It adds that those inspectors may already have been appointed as inspectors by the local authority. However, they may not have been so appointed, which means that additional inspectors might have to be appointed so that local authorities can properly discharge the duties laid on them by the Bill.

Therefore, the Minister was not right to brush aside or minimise the Bill's financial impact. How many inspectors would be required adequately to police shops on Christmas day? People paid by the hour would be on double or triple time. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, will know more about that sort of thing than I, and the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich certainly knows a lot about it. Perhaps she will tell the House later in the debate whether inspectors would be paid triple time on Christmas day as they go around ensuring that all the large stores do not open in defiance of the Bill.

Straight away we have the potential for considerable expenditure. I presume also that inspectors would be on expenses, so they would be paid triple time and expenses in order properly to discharge their duties. One can just imagine a veritable army of inspectors plodding around large stores on Christmas day to ensure that they were not opening in defiance of the Bill.

That is bad enough. When we come to paragraph 3 of the schedule, which states: Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule 2 to the 1994 Act (powers of entry and obstruction of inspectors)", we realise that we are getting into much more serious territory. Here we have the possibility—the financial implications can only be guessed at, but that is what we are here to do—of inspectors seeking to enter the premises to see whether they are open. Presumably, premises would be quite easy to enter if they were open, and if they were not open, the inspectors would not have to enter them, so the provision may be otiose.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) that the Chamber is not the place for doing work that is not to do with the debate.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

We are faced with a conundrum as to whether the powers of entry and obstruction would carry with them any financial implications. I am, I confess, somewhat confused as to whether that would be the case. I suspect that the inspectors, frequently mentioned in the schedule, would be the Bill's largest financial implication. However, we should take into account a contrary factor that may contribute to a minimising of the financial implications.

As right hon. and hon. Members will know, because they will have studied the Bill very closely, clause 1(3) provides that, if subsection (1) is contravened, the occupier of the shop shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50,000. Were that to be the case, the Bill could be almost self-financing. The fines imposed on large stores opening in contravention of the Act—were the Bill to reach the statute book—might well pay for the peripatetic inspectors. We would be in the rather satisfactory position of the shops opening in defiance of the Act, being found out by the wandering inspectors and paying the fine, which would go to pay the triple time and expenses earned by the inspectors.

The whole thing would have an elegant simplicity, and the self-financing aspect might well render the money resolution otiose. Perhaps we could talk ourselves into not passing the money resolution in the secure knowledge that the Bill would be self-financing. I do not know whether the Minister, the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich or some of my colleagues find that an attractive idea. However, I think that these matters should be considered before we rush into deciding whether to vote for or against the motion.

All in all, we should be grateful to the hon. Lady for giving us a chance to consider the Bill. She can be sure that we shall have a good old go at it on Report when it comes out of Committee—I envisage most of a day spent debating it then. However, we may want to give a little more thought as to whether the money resolution is as onerous as I first thought.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

Is the right hon. Gentleman's objection to the Bill that he would prefer people to work on Christmas day when it does not fall on a Sunday?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

My preference is for people to work whenever they want to. I am very keen on people doing lots of work on lots of occasions. I am very much opposed to heavy-handed interventionist regulation, especially when it is driven by trade unions and especially when it would deny people the freedom to choose to work on any day of the year on which they wanted to do so. That is my view, and it remains unaltered.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I fear that my right hon. Friend's prognosis is a triumph of optimism over reality. I challenge him to tell me whether he can enumerate, in the course of a 10-minute speech, the number of occasions on which a money resolution has proved to be self-financing. As the declaration of interests is of paramount importance in our proceedings, may I just say that I speak from some experience on the subject of working on Christmas day? For 20 years at least, I worked on Christmas day teaching my mother how to play tennis, which was an extremely burdensome way in which to make a living.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

My hon. Friend seems none the worse for the experience.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

We shall leave my hon. Friend's mother out of it for the time being. The money resolution has more to it than might at first have met the eye, and it illustrates the value of these debates. I pay tribute to the Minister because, all too often, his colleagues believe that these matters should just be quietly nodded through or do not require explanation. However, the Minister—typically of him—has taken the trouble to come to the House and set out his view briefly.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

My right hon. Friend has paid a generous tribute to the Minister. Perhaps I missed it, but has anyone explained to us how much the measure will cost?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Perish the thought; my hon. Friend asks too much. We cannot expect Ministers to put figures on these matters. Money resolutions are essentially blank cheques; the Government say that they need some money, but they do not know how much. They ask us to sign a cheque, hoping that the grateful taxpayer is looking the other way, not noticing what is going on. Our job is to try to winkle out of Ministers how much is involved. We usually fail, which is why I hope that we shall vote against the motion tonight, if only on the basis that we do not believe in blank cheques.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield 11:13, 3 April 2001

It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate. I served on the Committee that examined the Sunday Trading Act 1994. I remember at the time that the Shopping Hours Reform Council tried to argue with me that there ought to be some compromise on the issue. However, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) that it should be up to people to decide for themselves when they can or cannot work.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are discussing the money resolution and that debate should be limited to that.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Of course, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I was just outlining the position. During our debates on the 1994 Act, I was in discussion with the John Lewis Partnership, which is owned by the 45,000 partners who work for the company. There was considerable debate as to whether stores should open on Sundays. The John Lewis Partnership's stores remained closed on Sundays, including its Waitrose supermarkets, whereas other stores, such as Tesco—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman once again—his contribution would be far more appropriate to a Second Reading debate than to a debate on a money resolution.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I agree, of course, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I would argue that some of these points have direct relevance to the motion.

I am surprised that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst did not mention clause 1(2)(b), which refers to shops occupied by persons observing the Jewish religion". Those shops would be exempt, but how are inspectors to know—this is directly relevant to the cost of enforcing the Bill—whether the shopkeeper is of the Jewish religion? We discussed that at some length in Committee on the 1994 Act.

We are approaching the time of Pesach, the Jewish Passover. Should people be exempt—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. This is the third occasion on which I have had to remind the hon. Gentleman to confine his remarks to the money resolution.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Inspectors have to be paid for by the state. How are they to ascertain whether a shop is owned by people of the Jewish religion? It is no longer an easy point. The Jewish religion is not a race

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Conservative, New Forest East

Let me assist my hon. Friend. He and I are both members of the Jewish religion. Does he not think that the mezuzah placed on the doorway of premises occupied by Jewish people might just give the inspectors a clue?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I disagree. I do not want to be ruled out of order for a fourth time, but let me say that I do not have a mezuzah on any of my properties.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I am none the less of the Jewish religion. I believe that a cost will—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. These matters could well be debated in Committee rather than under this resolution.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I am sure that they could be debated in Committee, but this matter relates directly to the money resolution. There is no question but that, if there is difficulty in ascertaining the ownership and the religion of the owners of a shop that may be open on Christmas day, let alone Pesach, Chanukah or any other Jewish holiday, a cost will arise. However, I will move on from that point, as I have explored it to the limit of your patience, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I take my right hon. Friend's point about schedule 3, on powers of entry: it does seem otiose. There is a very large John Lewis store in Bluewater. The employees there voted two or three years ago to open on a Sunday, which they are permitted to do under the 1994 Act. Had they voted differently, the store would have remained closed on a Sunday, which reinforces my right hon. Friend's point that it is up to the employees in many organisations. Indeed, it is up to the employees in all organisations not to be victimised if they—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. We are fully aware of the provisions of other pieces of legislation. Once again, will the hon. Gentleman please confine his remarks to the resolution?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

My point is that there are costs arising from inspectors' powers of entry. My right hon. Friend said that inspectors have to be paid for, and explored the matter at some length.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Is not the essence of our objection to the money resolution that we have a preference for specificity, whereas the Government insist, apparently, on generality? The modern and rather vulgar term is "voting for a pig in a poke". Does my hon. Friend, who is of an historical turn of mind, agree that the words "riddle", "mystery" and "enigma" readily spring to mind?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Indeed. My hon. Friend knows, because we have served together on several Committees, that I object to the blank cheque syndrome. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst said, the motion is a blank cheque. Yet again, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is asking the House to consider such matters—although we are delighted to see my constituency neighbour, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, who introduced the resolution. However, if we were to ask the Under-Secretary what the costs of the resolution would be, I doubt that he could answer because, as my right hon. Friend has already pointed out, many such money motions are not costed.

The main point of the Bill has direct relevance to the resolution. Paragraph 3 of the schedule refers to the inspectors' powers of entry. It is clear that no analysis has been made of the number of inspectors that may be required; of the wages that they might have to be paid; or of whether the inspectors might be on double, triple or even quadruple time. As my right hon. Friend pointed out—and as I was about to say before my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) intervened—if a store such as John Lewis at Bluewater has chosen to be open, I cannot see why there should be a power of entry. If a large department store is open, people can go in and see that for themselves, so why does the state have to pay—more to the point why does the taxpayer have to pay—for inspectors under the motion? I have to ask that question.

I confess that I support the Bill itself; it is promoted by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), for whom I have the greatest respect—as she knows. However, I must ask why the Bill needs a money resolution. The matter is disturbing, because when the Under-Secretary moved the resolution, he gave no reason for its introduction.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I fear that my hon. Friend may be missing the point. Even though the shop in question would clearly be open to the public as regards its trading area, surely the powers of entry under the Bill would apply to private areas—perhaps the offices or staff areas. It may be necessary to obtain access to those areas to ascertain whether the proprietors are of the Jewish faith.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I have to disagree with my hon. Friend—this is a rare occasion. He will note that paragraph 3 of the schedule relates to schedule 2 of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which refers specifically to whether the selling floor is open. That makes my point: if the selling floor is open, that is clear for everyone to see. We do not need inspectors; nor do we need to give them powers. That begs the question: why is motion No. 7 on the Order Paper? Why is a money resolution needed for the Bill?

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I readily admit my error and my hon. Friend's superior knowledge of the Bill, and I am grateful to him for making that point. He is asking whether it is necessary to have inspectors at all and, therefore, whether the resolution is necessary. Has it occurred to him that given that the stores involved doubtless advertise the fact that they will be open on the day in question, that fact could be ascertained from the advertisements, without the need to retain inspectors on Christmas day?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

My hon. Friend makes a powerful, sensible point that directly relates to the cost of implementing this laudable Bill. An inspector need not be employed if it is apparent to all whether a shop is open. I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst takes exception to my support for the Bill, and I can understand that. Nevertheless, I do not believe that inspectors are necessary to ensure that it is implemented.

I come now to clause 2, which relates directly to the money resolution. It refers to the 1994 Act and the expressions "large shop", "retail customers" and "shop", which should have the meaning given to them by paragraph 1 of schedule 1 to the Act. I may be wrong, but I recall that a large shop is defined as 5,000 sq m.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I wondered whether it was feet. I recall that the original definition given by the Shopping Hours Reform Council was in feet, but sadly—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman surely knows that this is in no way related to the money resolution that we are discussing.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

The argument about whether the measurement is in feet or metres has nothing to do with the money resolution, as you rightly say, Madam Deputy Speaker, but the exact size of a shop has every relevance. What if a shop were on the margin? Would an inspector be expected to go into John Lewis at Bluewater, if I may give that example again? May I say that I do not have to declare an interest—I have no involvement whatever with the John Lewis Partnership, other than having many friends who work for it. Are the inspectors meant to enter the store and measure the size of the trading floor? If they are—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. The simple answer to that question is no. We are discussing the money resolution, which has nothing to do with the size of the store.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

Would my hon. Friend like to say that he fears that one of the big problems with the money resolution is that the figures that have been given are lamentably lacking and likely to be totally wrong? We have seen that so many times with the regulatory rubbish that the Government come out with. They tell us that it will not be very costly, and then a year or two later we discover that it is massively costly. Would my hon. Friend like to give the House his thoughts on that point?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

My right hon. Friend makes a relevant, salient point, as always. What would be the cost of a team of inspectors going into the menswear department of John Lewis at Bluewater and measuring the floor size? If the floor size were such that it was not defined as a large shop, the inspectors would be acting ultra vires. The Home Office could be prosecuted, the Minister could be dragged before the courts and there could be a judicial review. All those costs would come under the terms of the resolution.

My point, which I want to make very clearly so that there is no misunderstanding, is that the definition of "large shop" is important to the cost covered by the money resolution. If there were any doubt, an inspector would have to determine whether the shop was large, in which case it would come within the ambit of the Bill, or whether it was small, as defined by the 1994 Act, in which case it would not. Someone will have to determine the size of the shop. In case of dispute, someone will have to measure the selling area, and that will cost money.

I challenge the Minister to tell the House precisely how much the Bill will cost to implement. Let there be no doubt that a cost is always entailed when the Government introduce a Bill—or, indeed, when a private Member introduces a Bill with Government support. The money does not come from a bottomless bucket. The cost is not borne by the Government—it is borne by you, Madam Speaker; it is borne by I—

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I am sorry, I should have said that it is borne by me. I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for correcting me. The preposition is always followed by the accusative.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Far be it from me to interrupt my hon. Friend's oration—or, more particularly, what might be described as his peroration—but does he agree that the lacuna in the money resolution is that it is as gloriously vague on the cost to the taxpayer, as is clause 3(1) on the likely cost to the retailer?

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

There is more than one lacuna; there are several lacunae. That is the problem—"there's the rub." Yet again, the taxpayer has to cough up the cost of a Bill. Once again, when challenged to tell us the cost, the Minister is unable to do so. He is unable even to give us an order of magnitude. Does he think that the Bill will cost the taxpayer £10,000, £100,000, £1 million or £10 million a year, or will it cost more than that? The Minister benevolently smiles at me, but let Hansard and the people note that there is no indication of what the Bill will cost to implement.

I believe that not just the John Lewis Partnership but all organisations must, in effect, have the co-operation of their staff to determine whether to open on Sundays—which is dealt with under the 1994 Act—or, if the Bill is enacted, whether a shop opens on Christmas day. Without the co-operation of the staff, shops, especially large ones, cannot open on those days. I have to question whether it is necessary to have inspectors, whether they need powers of entry, whether rules against obstruction should exist and whether the inspectors will have to measure the size of shop floors to determine whether they fall within the ambit of the Bill.

If the Minister were to assure the House that inspectors are not necessary, or that there would be a small number of them, it would have a direct impact on the resolution. Clearly, with few or no inspectors, there would not be a major consequence on the taxpayer. However, if the Minister envisages teams of inspectors marching around the country with their measuring tapes, paid on double, triple or quadruple time, determining whether shops are large under the terms of the 1994 Act, that would place an appropriately large cost on the taxpayer.

As I was saying about five minutes ago in my peroration, Madam Deputy Speaker, we in the House should always remember that the Government do not stump up the money for such Bills and that the state does not stump up the money for them; it is you and me and, more importantly, our constituents whom we represent.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 11:34, 3 April 2001

I shall be brief. These debates serve a useful purpose—after all, Parliament was created to hold the Executive to account on money; that is what we are about. Often a worthy Bill—this is a worthy Bill—goes through because there is no great opposition to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is."] There is some opposition to the Bill, because my hon. Friends make that clear, even though the fashionable view may be that it is distasteful to trade on Christmas day.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

I will, but I was just getting into my stride.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Is my hon. Friend aware that when there was a vote on the Bill, 37 out of 659 Members of Parliament voted for it?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

I was happy to assist my right hon. Friend in testing the will of the House. On money resolutions, on Second Reading, in Committee and on Report, it is important that people outside know that the House has properly debated the issues and that a considerable number of Members have bothered to turn up to consider and vote for the Bills. However small or worthy a Bill, it is right that we should have a propel debate on its money resolution and hold the Executive to account. That is why we are here.

What worries me is that a convention has grown up in recent years—I do not blame this Government entirely—that private Members' Bills that entail the expenditure of public moneys can be introduced in the. House. In the long term, large sums of public moneys may be involved. Previously, it was generally understood that the Executive—and not private Members—would introduce Bills that entailed the expenditure of public moneys. That is why we have our procedures for private Members' Bills. Now, year after year and month after month, private Members bring Bills to the House and the Executive have to step in to provide money for those Bills. I am not sure that that is the right way to proceed. If the Executive get involved, it is incumbent on them to provide a full explanation of what they are doing.

The resolution is framed in the usual format, but no information is given. We are completely in the dark as to what moneys will be expended on promoting the Bill. I do not blame the Government, because such motions have gone through Parliament in this form for many years, but we might have expected the Minister to explain the cost of the measure. That is not difficult. The Bill involves trading on one day—Christmas day occurs once a year—so we should have a fair idea of which stores are involved. Although the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) about the size of the stores caused some merriment, it was perfectly serious. It is not impossible for the Government to work out roughly and in broad terms what the Bill might cost. Is that an unreasonable question for Parliament to ask?

Will the Bill cost a few thousand pounds because it involves a few inspectors? Perhaps it will not be necessary for any inspectors to be on the road on Christmas day because, once the Bill comes into force, no large stores might want to take on the Government. Therefore, the costs might be absolutely minimal. Would it not have been easier for the Minister, in a few brief opening remarks, to have made that clear to the House?

The Minister could have said that it would be an easy Bill to administer and that he did not expect any extra expense to be incurred by local government or central Government, so the cost of the measure would be minimal. However, he provided no details at all. Alternatively, he might have said that the cost might be £100,000, £500,000 or £1 million—it would have been nice for Parliament to have been told.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I wish to challenge my hon. Friend about the money resolution. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), I regard the Bill as a miserable measure, despite the magnificence of its mother, the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). Will my hon. Friend help me to evaluate the money resolution by saying whether he thinks that the proceeds of fines levied under clause 1(3) will be ring-fenced to offset pound for pound and penny for penny the costs incurred elsewhere to the Exchequer?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

No, of course they will not. It would have been nice had the Government made that clear. I should be amazed if the proceeds were ring-fenced. Presumably, fines incurred on Sunday or Christmas day traders will go into the general Exchequer pot and be lost. Again, there is a lack of oversight. It is no good Ministers saying that the Bill is small and affects only one day so it is not important, because it is the principle that is at stake. Parliament has a right to demand further and better particulars.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

Will my hon. Friend comment on the socialist heresy advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), who suggested that if the money from fines is ring-fenced—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman is an experienced Member. I am sure that it is an oversight not to face the Chair.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

I beg your pardon, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I was shocked by the suggestion about ring-fencing the fine money to finance the proposal. That would create a self-funding regulatory agency, of which we would disapprove, and would remove from Parliament the right of approval of such financial burdens.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

The gradual enlargement of the principle of ring fencing is regrettable. Many people in local government are alarmed—

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going wide of the motion, which is about additional costs to be incurred because of the Bill. It is not about ring fencing.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

I take your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker. There will clearly be additional costs. All we want is to be given more information in this short debate.

The tenor of some remarks was that we are only talking about Christmas day. My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) made an interesting contribution from the perspective of a Jewish Member of Parliament. The Minister is a good Catholic Member of Parliament and views with great distaste people trading on Christmas day, but we live in a multicultural society and people might demand similar legislation for days that are as holy to their faiths. The costs could escalate. Where would it all end?

The House needs to be aware that we are not just talking about one day in the year and a limited cost. Pressure will undoubtedly be put on the House for other equally important holy days in the Muslim and Jewish faiths to get similar treatment. Why should Christians alone have the great privilege that if stores open on Christmas day, they must be closed down and the inspectors' costs sent to Parliament?

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

Does my hon. Friend agree that any money that might be expended on enforcing the Bill—and the Minister needs to clarify how much will be spent—would be better used to provide more hospital operations over Christmas for people who are in agony and cannot wait any longer, rather than wasting it on inspectors in case an illicit Father Christmas is still trading a day after everyone else has stopped?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

My right hon. Friend makes a fair point. However, the strict guillotine procedure that is always imposed on us means that time is running out. In the remaining minute or so, perhaps the Minister will explain how much the measure will cost. That is all we want to know.

It being three quarters of an hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(b) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills).

Question agreed to.

Resolved,That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums so payable under any other Act.