Clause 1 - Sunday working: shop andbetting workers in Scotland

Part of Sunday Working (Scotland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 26th March 2003.

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Photo of David Cairns David Cairns Labour, Greenock and Inverclyde 9:30 am, 26th March 2003

It seems that I have already blundered.

We are about to discuss the only substantive clause in the Bill. It is the mechanism by which the intent of the Bill will be realised. I shall not rehearse the arguments that were advanced when it was discussed on Second Reading, when many excellent speeches were made. Its purpose is to harmonise the law as it applies to the rights of shop workers in Scotland not to work on a Sunday if they do not wish to do so—a right that applies already in England and Wales.

On Second Reading, the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) said,

''one of the reasons why the Bill has an excellent chance of succeeding is that it is a classic private Member's Bill—it is modest in scope, identifies a real problem and sets out in a succinct and uncontroversial way to solve that problem''.—[Official Report, 7 February 2003; Vol. 399, c. 572.]

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that comment. I was relieved by it. Clause 1 is, indeed, a succinct and uncontroversial way to solve the problem of the lack of statutory rights for shop workers in Scotland.

Subsection (1) amends the Employment Rights Act 1996. The rights enjoyed by shop workers in England and Wales are enshrined in that Act, which is a consolidated measure that incorporates the rights outlined in the Sunday Trading Act 1994. Shop workers in Northern Ireland enjoy similar protection to that enjoyed in England and Wales, although under different legislation, which will not be affected by the Bill. Clause 1 would delete ''England and Wales'' from the scope of the Bill at the appropriate points.

Subsection (2) amends the relevant part of the 1996 Act to modify the definition of the commencement date. That Act has been in force in England and Wales

for seven years and obviously it needs a fresh commencement date if it is to take effect in Scotland. That is achieved by the inclusion in the Bill of section 36(8) of the Employment Rights Act. Subsection (3) covers the thorny issue that was debated at length on Second Reading—why there is a distinction in Scottish legal terminology as opposed to England and Welsh terminology about the definition of alcohol. In Scotland, it is referred to as ''alcoholic liquor''. In England and Wales, it is referred to as ''intoxicating liquor''. The measure would include the description ''alcoholic liquor'' to avoid any doubt that it is covered by the 1996 Act.

Subsection (4) refers to betting workers, who are covered by a different part of the 1996 Act. The subsection simply deletes the phrase ''in England or Wales'', which refers to the scope of application of the rights in section 233 of that Act. Subsection (5) acknowledges the fact that Scotland starts from a different point. We already have deregulated Sunday trading in Scotland; in fact, it has never been regulated.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), among others, pointed out at the time of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, although in practice there was no statutory ban on Sunday trading in Scotland, in reality such trading was not that widespread. When the market was substantially deregulated in England and Wales, there was a knock-on effect on Scotland and Sunday trading there has mushroomed. As the law allowing such trading did not extend to Scotland, the protections did not extend there, either. It was pointed out at the time that that could have an impact.

Nevertheless, many people in Scotland work in shops on Sunday and many other contracts already exist. That was not the case when the 1994 Act was enacted for England and Wales. Therefore, the Bill makes various amendments to the 1994 Act to deal with types of contract that may have been applicable in England and Wales at the time but that are simply not applicable in Scotland. We will not introduce those provisions of the 1994 Act into Scotland, as they are simply redundant.