§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Clynes)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I invite the House to give this Bill a Second Reading in the hope that the consideration of its details in Committee may eventually enable Parliament to reach a settlement of this question which will be generally acceptable to the country and will enable us to remove the difficulties and complexities which have arisen from a recent decision of the Courts. It is commonly said of this House that it is seen at its best on occasions when it is not moved by party considerations and when class distinctions and divisions do not shape the actions of its Members. I ask that hon. Members shall not regard the subject of this Bill as a trumpery or unimportant matter. It will be my duty mainly to inform them, if I can, and to explain its outstanding details, but, to some extent, I shall stand here in the character of an individual advocate of the Bill, although in no sense committing my colleagues either officially or personally to support of the Bill.
We can recall a memorable occasion a few years ago when there was complete freedom on the part of Members and Ministers as to what they would say, and the particular Lobby into which they would go. I cannot, of course, believe that the issue raised by this Bill will rouse the same depth of emotion, or the same religious fervour as were exhibited on that occasion, but there are considerations involved in this Bill which require our close personal attention, and I would particularly urge Members of the House to imagine what the position will be if this Measure is rejected, and if no steps are effectively taken before very long to harmonise the law with present day practice. I submit the view that either the law ought to be modified, or that it ought to be enforced, and I ask the House to show courage in the sense of proving that it is either willing to have the law strictly enforced, or ready to have it modified on the lines of this Measure.
634 There are very far-reaching social and other effects from the law relating to cinematographs and Sunday entertainments. Two Private Bills have been introduced quite recently, as denoting the range of interest in this matter, before the Government felt compelled to take up the question. The urgency of the problem could only be met, in our view, by the introduction of a Measure, not so much for the purpose of advocating a change as for the purpose of affording the House of Commons, this free opportunity of saying what should be done upon the issues which have been raised. I say that in a matter like this it is the duty of the House of Commons to harmonise the law with the general mass opinion on this subject as we know it.
The Government's view, therefore, is that the most convenient and practical starting point for a free discussion of the subject is to take the position as it existed up to the early part of this year. In the early part of this year a decision in the Courts was pronounced against the legality of a practice which had gradually grown up during the last 20 years. It will be for the House to decide whether the existing law as declared by the courts should remain unaltered, or whether the practice of recent years should be legalised. Whatever difference there may be as to the course which the Government are taking concerning the terms of the Bill, I think there will be general agreement that that is a fair starting point to submit to Members on All sides in order to give them every opportunity of discharging what is their common duty.
The law relating to the opening of places of entertainment on Sunday is contained in the Sunday Observance Act of 1780. There are other Acts, I know, raising certain matters and covering certain subjects prior to the year 1780, but that particular Act provides thatany house, room, or other place which shall be opened or used for public entertainment or amusement or for publicly debating on any subject whatsoever upon any part of the Lord's Day, called Sunday, and to which persons shall be admitted by the payment of money or by tickets sold for money, shall be deemed a disorderly houseand the Act provides the substantial penalties of £200 for every day on which any place is used in contravention of that provision. Notwithstanding that statutory provision, the practice has grown up 635 in modern times under which no steps have been taken to set the law in motion against persons responsible for giving certain classes of public entertainment on Sunday; and the reason for that is clear and patent to all, the reason being the great difference between the conditions as they were known in the year 1780 and the conditions as we know them in the year 1931.
That difference requires a present-day view to be applied to present-day problems. I do not believe that Members will vote either way on this Bill because of any single feature or any particular item in it. They will vote for or against It, I imagine, upon the broad grounds of whether the law should be altered in harmony with public opinion or should be enforced in accordance with the views of those who take a very rigid stand in respect of Sunday observance. The Bill does not try to satisfy every interest. It proposes to give Members of the House of Commons the opportunity, having consulted, as I am sure they have, their own constituents—at any rate, we know that large numbers of their constituents have consulted them—of reconciling their constituency duties with their own personal views.
In 1889, the London County Council became responsible for the grant of music and dancing licences in London, and the council decided to take no action to prevent Sunday concerts which were not given by way of profit. In 1897 the Council were fortified to some extent by a case in the High Court, "Williams v. Wright," in which it was held that the Sunday Observance Act was not infringed by the giving of a, concert to which admission was free, though a charge was made for reserved seats. On the basis of this decision, the practice of holding concerts on Sundays has nowadays become common in London and by no means infrequent in other parts of the country, especially in seaside towns. We have recently discussed the question of whether we should attract to our shores foreign visitors, and we cannot altogether dismiss that consideration.
Cinemas are, of course, a modern development and did not come under public control until 1909. A few years after that, some of the cinemas in London began to give performances on Sunday in 636 aid of charity, and in 1916 the London County Council, who are the responsible licensing authority under the Cinematograph Act in London, decided to exercise control over these Sunday performances. The substance of the council's agreement with the cinemas was that the council would take no action to enforce against them the provisions of the Act of 1780. I invite the attention of the House to that proceeding, that this large, representative, and authoritative body, the London County Council, gave an assurance that it would not seek to enforce that hoary Act of Parliament. A great deal of importance lies behind a decision of that kind.
The number of cinemas opened on Sunday in London has steadily increased since 1916, and in recent years the practice has spread to other parts of the country, although I do not argue that it is anything like universal; indeed, in the provinces, cinemas are more often closed than not upon the Sabbath day.
Stage plays and music-hall entertainments have never been allowed on Sunday, and a year or two ago the managers of the theatres and music-halls began to protest against the unfair competition of the cinemas as regards Sunday entertainment. They were unable to obtain from the responsible licensing authority any satisfaction for their demands for equality of treatment, and they took proceedings in the High Court. The High Court held that, in view of the provisions of the Sunday Observance Act, 1780, the council had no power to make any arrangement by which cinemas might open on Sundays. This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal, whose judgment made it clear beyond dispute that all forms of Sunday entertainment to which the public are admitted on payment are prohibited by law.
Following that decision, there was a great deal of agitation, well conducted. Opinions were reasonably expressed, and the alarm and annoyance of large numbers were conveyed to the Home Office by deputation, by memorial, and by letter. In due course, I took occasion to obtain the views of the leaders of the other parties in the House, and I reached the conclusion that, whatever we did, such a matter as this ought to be left freely to the decision of Members in all quarters.
637 4.0 p.m.
There are very mixed opinions, just as there is a very great variety of convictions, upon the most profound aspects of this matter. There are some who, from sincere religious conviction, look upon Sunday entertainments as contrary to Divine law; there are others who regard all restrictions based on Sunday observance as an unjustifiable interference with the freedom of the individual. Between these two extremes is the large though less vocal body of moderate opinion which, while willing and even anxious to maintain the traditional English Sunday, recognises the need for providing reasonable recreation, especially in the large towns. No Government could hope to reconcile these diverging views or to suggest a satisfactory compromise, and it did seem to the Government that the problem was eminently one for which a solution could only be found by the collective wisdom of the House and by discussion of the details of this Measure in Committee upstairs. The Bill is, in essence, an enabling Bill. That is to say it does not by itself legalise any form of public entertainment on Sunday. It merely proposes to enable the local authorities to take action according to local circumstances. The question of Sunday entertainment, therefore, is left to be determined in accordance with the principle of local option. There are matters of interest arising from what ultimately may be decided on this subject which must not be disregarded. I understand that, as a result of the opening of cinemas on Sundays, in London alone annually a sum of nearly £200,000—I have heard various figures from £180,000 to £200,000—is placed by the cinemas at the disposal of various charities for their assistance. Let me read this letter which, a day or two ago, I received as a single instance of how important is this financial aspect of the question upon the future conditions and comforts of elderly people. This is from an organisation representing aged, needy pensioners. It is the Jewish Aged Needy Pensioners Society, and the President in writing said:As President of the above society, we have received the sum of £375 per annum from cinematographs in Sunday performances, and we urge you to vote in favour of the Sunday Performances Bill. On behalf of our 106 aged pensioners, to whom we 638 distributed over £2,000 last year, I beg of you to vote in favour of this Bill.Just before I entered the House to-day, I received a telegram from the operatives and workers in the cinema houses strongly urging us to carry this Measure, because, as they assert, the closing of the houses on Sunday would even increase the number of our present-day unemployed.
The scheme of the Bill, as I have said, is to empower local authorities to permit the four main types of entertainment which have been given on Sundays in recent years. It is well known that Sunday entertainments have been limited to cinemas, the concert platform, lectures, and speeches and debates, although I would not urge that all of the latter come under the head of entertainments. It will, no doubt, be argued with great force in the course of this Debate that it is unjust to single out this limited class of entertainment for preferential treatment, and, in particular, that the theatre is no less worthy of consideration than the cinema. The Government have no wish to express any opinion on the relative claims of the cinema and the theatre. Theatrical entertainments are not included in the Bill, because public performances of stage plays have not hitherto been allowed on Sunday, and the Bill only purports to set out and legalise what is the existing practice. It is, of course, open to any Member to propose that the application of the Bill should extend to theatres or to any other class of entertainment, and the free vote of the House will determine, in the light of the arguments advanced in our discussion, in what direction the existing practice might be modified.
Sunday concerts of one kind or another are given in the majority of urban areas, but on the Sunday opening of cinema houses, opinion and practice differ very strongly from one area to another, and I think that that amply justifies the course we are taking of leaving the ultimate action to the local authorities, who better know the position than we may claim to know it. In London, almost all the cinemas have given Sunday performances, but in the adjoining areas in Middlesex, no cinemas have been allowed to open on Sunday. I understand that, outside London, only about 200 cinemas have given regular Sunday performances, 639 and that this form of Sunday opening has been unknown in many of the larger towns, even in such important centres as Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Leeds. I think the House will, therefore, agree that the only possible way of dealing with this question is to leave the responsibility of decision with the local authorities.
Clause 1 provides that a local authority must pass a resolution, after taking such steps as are open to it to acquire a knowledge of local wants. It further provides that authority to open a cinema cannot be given unless there is proof of a substantial demand in the locality for Sunday entertainment of that kind. The local authorities are required to take steps with reference to the disposal of profits, and to see that charities are assisted by whatever benefit may accrue from the opening of the houses on Sundays. The local authorities are also required to safeguard the workman's working time, and to make it impossible for him to be employed for a seven-day week. In that we have the whole-hearted support of the workmen who are concerned in these very large cinemas. I do not know how many hon. Members have been, as it were, behind the scenes at one of these cinemas, or in the front part of the house and seen the projectors and all the mechanism. I have recently been favoured with an opportunity to see the extent of the employment provided by these great houses. On Saturday night, for instance, I went to see a particular film, and found at that house, in a London borough, 108 men employed in the general working of the mechanical side of the cinema.
The Bill is designed to ensure that before Sunday entertainments are allowed in any area, attention as I have said, shall be paid to the needs of the people. That does not mean that we are seeking to compel anybody to do anything. It means that we are seeking to permit an authority to enable the people innocently to enjoy themselves. We can argue that it is essential that the authorities entrusted with this great responsibility should be a democratically elected authority, and in the very nature of things, therefore, a body responsive to local needs, and likely to conform to the desires of the inhabitants of any particular locality. I have said that pro- 640 vision is made to safeguard and protect the workers' rights. I am not, therefore necessarily arguing in favour of Sunday labour, but, again, present day experience means to all of us that there is a vast amount of unavoidable labour on a Sunday, and no step ought to be taken unduly to check it where it is necessary for healthy and wholesome purposes.
Just a word on the question of the disposal of profits. It will, no doubt, be represented that in requiring the authorities to impose this condition only in respect of Sunday cinema entertainments, the Bill is discriminating unfairly against the cinema industry. On the other hand, it cannot be emphasised too strongly that the Bill only purports to set out what is the existing practice, and the course voluntarily arranged as between those in the cinema industry and the local authorities themselves.
There are penalties, details of which are given in Clause 3, and I shall not trouble the House by going deeply into them. But there is one aspect of this question of finance to which again I invite attention. Clause 4 deals with the actions recently instituted by common informers to recover penalties for infringements of the Act of 1780. It is understood that the total of the penalties claimed in these actions amounts to several millions of pounds. One duty of a Member of Parliament is to prevent any law descending to the level of absurdity. The penalties follow automatically upon proof of the complaint. I do not know what might be the result of trying to enforce them, but, again, I repeat that this House has the choice either of enforcing the law or of recognising the necessity for changing it. It is true that there is power under the Remission of Penalties Act, 1875, to remit any penalties awarded, but there is no power to take any action as regards the costs, which the plaintiff, if he wins his action, is entitled to recover on the full scale.
Lastly, as to the terms of the Bill, it provides—and this I regard as a matter of the very highest importance—that the pending actions for penalties in connection with the Sunday Observance Act shall be discharged and made void, subject, in the case of actions instituted before the introduction of the Bill, to such order as to costs as the Court may 641 think fit to make. The Clause, which is drafted on the lines of the indemnity Act, 1920, has the further effect of abolishing in all cases the right of private persons to sue for penalties under the Sunday Observance Acts, and no proceedings under any of those Acts shall in future be possible unless they are instituted on behalf of the local authority.
The problem which has been raised must be solved very soon, or else we shall be faced with very widespread irritation, in addition to the other serious financial and social consequences to which I have referred. To those who have said, "Why not take the short cut of repealing the old Sunday Observance Act?" the answer is that we do not want, say, prize-fighting, boxing, football matches, gambling or horse-racing. We can go too far, and this middle course is therefore suggested. Indeed, this middle course is very strongly supported by a representative body of the churches and the chapels of this country. I will not read the document at length. It is a manifesto issued on behalf of the Council of Christian Ministers on Social Questions, men attached to different denominations having one view as to what our law should be regarding social conditions. This is what they say:The sense of the British people is on the whole against Sunday opening, but we feel strongly that the decision in the matter should rest upon local public assent, and, therefore, our proposals are advanced as preferable to a merely negative method of dealing with this question. In sending out this manifesto, we have in mind the various social conditions in different parts of London and throughout the country.That manifesto is signed by a group of clergymen acting for the Church of England, the Free Church, the Methodist body, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterian Church of England and the Society of Friends.I have said on this subject all that I have to say, unless, in my closing words, it is to ask hon. Members to regard this matter as a serious and far-reaching one, which will not be brought to an end merely by rejecting the Bill on Second Reading. If this Bill be rejected, and if no other step be taken, the law will have to be administered, whether it be the Home Office or by the Law Officers 642 of the Crown. Whoever be the responsible officers, the rejection of this Measure will be taken by them as an instruction to enforce the law as it is, and as this House has left it. Therefore, big centres as well as village institutes, whatever the class or whatever the locality, will be faced with the certainties of this decision, taken by those who are responsible for deciding in accordance with their duty to the State. In these circumstances, in order to avoid the technical controversy which would arise by rejection, and in order that we should avoid this question becoming an issue in our elections and in our political arguments, I invite hon. Members freely to give support to the Second Reading.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
On a point of Order. In view of the large number of hon. Members who have given their names in as desiring to speak on this Measure, might I ask whether preference could be given to those whose constituencies are affected by the Bill, over hon. Members whose constituencies are not affected?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the House had better leave it to me to use my discretion to see that all views in the controversy are represented.
Is it your intention, Sir, to allow me to move the Amendment, which stands in my name and in the name of other Welsh hon. Members?—to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which is in direct opposition to the religious feelings and beliefs of a 643 large proportion of the people of this country and particularly of the people of Wales"—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think we had better have a. Division for or against. The views of hon. Members who have Amendments can be expressed during the Debate.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
It is always difficult to follow the Home Secretary, for his suavity and gravity are most difficult to emulate. As I understand his speech, it endeavoured to justify this Bill on the ground, and upon the ground only, that it is a bold attempt to legalise an illegality and to regularise an irregularity. I doubt whether any Bill has ever been introduced in circumstances more strange or more disquieting. Its most outspoken supporters have accused the Government, not only of nervelessness but of cowardice; while, on the other hand, those who oppose it, for whatever reason, have every justification in assuming that the Cabinet could never in this form, and still less in wider form, give the Bill united and unqualified support.
If the Bill reaches a further stage in its unhappy existence, which I very much doubt, it must be definitely supported by the Government, or it must die. If the Government sponsor it, are they going to commit the country to legislation for which no party or part of a party dare accept responsibility, on a question which arouses, and is destined to arouse, in all parts of the country a bitter conflict on grave moral, social and industrial issues? I use the expression "all parts of the country" advisedly, for I see that in the plethora of pamphlets hurled at hon. Members in the massed attack by the supporters of this Bill during the last few days and by interested corporations, no small use, for the sake of prejudice, has been made of the fact that I, for one, happen to have the privilege and honour of representing a Scottish constituency.
Wales and Scotland, it is said, should not interfere. This is surely a new principle in the Imperial Parliament. The late Lord Oxford was always, all his life, a Scottish Member of Parliament; is it contended that on any occasion where a Bill affected the great moral interests of the country as a whole, that he should 644 have been precluded from speaking? I feel that I speak, as I am entitled to speak, as a Member of the Imperial Parliament of longstanding, to whom representations have been made from every corner of the United Kingdom, by large and representative organisations, as well as by the humblest of individuals. If I were not a Scotsman, I should still consider it my duty to speak if possible, and to vote, on an issue of this kind.
This issue has not arisen in Scotland, although when the question of legislation in this connection was first of all mooted, there was every intention of including Scotland in the Bill. But a concentrated attack was thought more advisable, and for the moment a slight concession has been made to Scotland, in that it is left out of the Bill. But what may happen at any moment? My Scottish colleagues must not be lulled into a sense of false security. We know that for strategic purposes we are left out for the present moment. But what guarantee have we that a rank and ruthless commercialism will not carry its power and influence across the border, as surely as it is attempting now from London, octopus-like, to extend its power and influence into the boroughs, small and large, of England and Wales, as well as to the countryside where the peace and calm of the traditional day of rest has for centuries brought quietude and comfort to the hearts of men? As one paper said this morning, and as the Home Secretary admits, this is predominantly a London Measure. Although there was 4,000 cinemas in this country, only 500, I believe, open on Sundays, in the various parts of the country, and 50 per cent. are in London alone.
One thing, in my judgment, Parliament should not do in a grave matter of this kind, involving as it does these tremendous issues: it should never legislate in advance of public opinion. [Interruption.] I am going to endeavour to prove what I say. The Home Secretary says that, as far as he knows, he has behind him the general mass of opinion. Believe me, and I will produce arguments in support of this, that is not true. He has the organised opinion, the powerfully-expressed opinion, of the Press, and of organisations in London and round about it, hut, if he will examine what has been happening in the 645 rural districts, and in the large and small boroughs of England and Wales, he will find that, instead of the general mass of opinion being in favour, it is directly and rampantly against him. Not only is there no mandate for a Bill of this kind, but there is no demand, in the sense that there is no disinterested demand. On this point, there was a very significant statement in a leading article of the "Times" the other day to which I may refer now. I intend to refer to it again, because in my judgment it puts the whole case for and against this Measure comprehensively, logically and dispassionately. What it says with regard to the "substantial demand" which is the condition precedent referred to by my right hon. Friend before a local authority takes action, is equally true of what my right hon. Friend calls the "general mass of opinion" behind him in the national demand. This is what the "Times" says:In considering the 'substantial demand,' the authority would need to estimate its substance with due attention to its source. Far lees of the demand than commonly is supposed comes from the populace, and far more from powerful syndicates which exist to stimulate and to satisfy a taste for perpetual amusement.That is the contention of those who support me in the rejection of this Bill.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I used to see the "Manchester Guardian," but I am dealing with authentic expressions of view from the highest Press sources that I know in the vicinity of London. Let me see what justification my right hon. Friend had for saying the general mass of opinion in London was behind this Measure. It is true that nearly 200 cinemas in London are open on Sundays, but what have the Middlesex County Council done? They have strenuously resisted any attempt to have cinemas opened on Sundays, and in 131 boroughs in the country where an attempt has been made to have cinemas opened on Sundays public opinion has been dead against the step. 646 What are the real facts of the case with regard to Sunday opening and Sunday labour? Public opinion has for a long time sought to give expression in this House to the opposite view to that taken by the promoters of this Bill. There is a steadily increasing movement in the country against Sunday labour and in favour of legally protecting the worker against the loss of Sunday. He has no wish to be amused on that day by his brother workers. He knows only too well that Sunday opening will mean for his fellows more work, but not more employment, a seven days' opening on a six days' wage. Deep down in his heart he has a cheerful reverence for the association of one day of common rest and common worship—[An HON. MEMBER: "Then why does he not go to church?"]—a day when he can call his soul his own, when he is his own master, freed from the trammels and tyrannies of labour.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Hon. Members hold very strong views on this subject, and I hope they will be given the opportunity of expressing them.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
In proof of my contention, it is but yesterday that a late respected Member of this House gave expression to those views, his indomitable spirit in a frail body pleading vigorously for his fellow workers who for seven days in the week had to work in the hairdressing and barbers' business. His last words, practically, were a plea for a day of rest. On that occasion Parliament, in its wisdom, excluded the Jews from that particular Bill, which affected the Christian Sunday. We excluded them from the hairdressing Act, and they are excluded under every similar Act, because they have their own. Sabbath; and it is my contention that most of the syndicates which are behind the opening of cinemas on the. Christian Sunday are not unconnected with the Jewish persuasion. Believe me, no week-day holiday which is allowed him can ever be an equivalent substitute for Sunday to a working man. As well ask this country to observe the two minutes' silence on any day except 11th November; it has a special and spiritual significance on that day, and on that day alone. You may tell the workers that they may have 647 another day in place of Sunday. As I said, it is not the same thing, and never will be the same thing.
Legislation of this kind is, in my judgment, in advance of public opinion and contrary to it, and is unsound in itself; and, so far as this particular Bill is concerned, there are other considerations which deserve attention. There is, first of all, the manner of its initiation; its substance is unfair and discriminating; and the means by which it seeks support are vicious, reprehensible, and contemptible. The Home Secretary told us exactly how this Bill originated. Private Members introduced, first, a Bill for an indemnity; then another Bill was introduced to get rid of a particular Clause in the Act of 1780. The need for these arose primarily because of the common informer. I, for one, think the common informer is a sore on the body politic. I have no sympathy with him and would gladly see him abolished. I have, therefore, no sympathy with any of those who claim the damages which they are entitled to claim, and so far as these two things are concerned I will unhesitatingly give my support if a Measure is introduced in order to end them. But what has actually been done?
There is no doubt that the strongest supporter of the right hon. Gentleman is a league called the Freedom League. It is one of the principal scoffers at those who take the moderate view, which I am attempting to take. They believe that all the old Sunday Observance Acts are archaic stuff and rubbish—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—and they, I see, have some support. This Bill does not deal comprehensively with all these Acts, though it reinforces them. No doubt the Government believe, as I do, that whatever may be said about the crudity of some of these Sunday Observance Acts they have attempted to preserve for the worker a certain privilege and a certain peace on the seventh day of the week. Their purpose and general effect have been to preserve a weekly day of freedom and opportunity for the worker. The main point of this Bill is not the abolition of the common informer or the abolition of the penalty, but the bolstering up of what our ancestors held to be wrong and to be detrimental to the best interest of the welfare of this country, the attempt 648 to commercialise its Sunday, which so far has never been commercialised. And in response to what? In response to what I call interested clamour. The main effect of this Bill, if it is not rejected, will be that in future Sunday will have a commercialised value for certain syndicates and corporations in this country.
Another point against the Bill is that it is unfair, because it discriminates between one form of entertainment and another. What special significance or sanctification has a film, tinned and canned, very likely, in a foreign studio, that it should receive special treatment on Sunday in this country? In other words, why should Hollywood get a preference over Stratford-on-Avon? Why should the delinquents who have broken the law for 20 years receive a special preference, and a premium be thus put upon lawlessness? On what principle of logic or economics can we leave out theatres, boxing, dirt-track racing, greyhound racing, and even shops? Here arises one of the grave evils and dangers of the Bill. What happened immediately it was introduced? At once a Motion was put down that it should be an instruction to the Committee that theatres should be included. Everybody in the country, whether in favour of the Bill or not, dislikes the idea of one inroad being followed by many more inroads into the sanctity and quiet of the seventh day. If such action is taken on behalf of theatres it will be taken on behalf of almost every amusement which can be run at a profit on Sundays.
The Home Secretary said at once that there was no need for such an instruction to the Committee, because as the Bill stands the door is left open for the introduction of theatres. That is one of the main reasons why we so strenuously oppose the Bill. It opens the door to discreditable wangles and intrigues of interested parties. The moment the Bill gets a Second Reading, if it ever does, those who are in favour of the inclusion of theatres will say to the others, "We will support you, if you will put us in"; the supporters of dirt track racing will take the same course; and so it will go on through the whole gamut of amusements which can be run for profit on Sundays. They will all he in the bargain—to do what? To break down what has been carefully preserved as a priceless 649 heritage in the history of this country. This inroad is only the thin end of the wedge. Where can it end? That is no trivial or oratorical question. Here is what appeared not long ago in one of the principal daily papers in London, a paper strongly supporting this Bill. Its leading article said:Why stop there?Namely, at the stage of this Bill.Now that true reform is on the wing its flight should not be checked.That is the spirit of some hon. Members below the Gangway and of some above the Gangway in this House, but it is not the spirit of the country. If the people of this country seriously thought that this Bill meant that the flight should not be checked, and that every conceivable thing should be brought into the Sunday life of this country for a profit, there is not a single man in this House who would not be compelled by his constituents to vote against any such proposal. I read in the "Times" to-day a letter from a distinguished actor-manager, Mr. Basil Dean. I do not know what his personal views are with regard to the general question, but he ends up the letter by saying—and from his point of view I see no answer to it—It is a surprisingly new application of the old criticism, one law for the rich and another for the poor. It may be political expediency, but it is not justice.That is the view of a theatre manager, and he is opposed to the Bill as it stands. It will be asked: why should theatres not be included? Why should we not include those interested in any other industry? By the passing of this Bill you will be making inroad after inroad of the worst possible kind. The Home Secretary stated that trade unionism was not at stake, but I deny that, and I know that the trade unions connected with the stage are opposed to the Bill. I have seen a letter from the Stage Guild, and they point out quite clearly and conclusively—and they represent the real workers of the profession—that seven days opening would mean seven days work and six days wages. What has the "Times" to say on this point, and this is my last quotation? The "Times" says in the article to which I have referred:Attempts will be made to alter the Bill so as to legitimise the Sunday opening of theatres. But it may be hoped that the sober sense of Parliament will be strong to 650 realise the far-reaching consequences of such a change, and to oppose it resolutely. No thoughtful person need fear that he is swayed by narrow Puritanism because he is anxious to maintain the influence of Sunday upon our national life. For clearly this is not a time when we can afford to endanger an observance, deeply rooted in history, which brings pause from ordinary routine and ordinary amusements, which renews our touch with things unseen and eternal. More than ever we need the restraint and composure of Sunday, for more than ever is the contrast great between its mood and that of our feverish unrest. The issues underlying this question are immense. They go far beyond the range of politics or social controversy. It would be lamentable indeed if hasty impulse, or the pressure of lobbying should lead Parliament to weaken an institution which, as the trustee of the nation, it should be deeply concerned to preserve.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
It does not affect my argument as to whether the article was or was not in favour of the Bill. My point is that it was a leader which cautions the country, and takes a grave view of the situation. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winter-ton) will probably have an opportunity of speaking, and I have quoted the particular part which was against the change. If the inroad proposed by the Bill is made, what justification is there in logic or economics for preventing an inroad being made by the theatre? The "Times" leader cautioned the country in regard to this Bill, and it was this particular point to which I was referring. But criticism of the Bill does not end there. Parliament is asked to shirk its responsibility, and it throws the onus of carrying out a difficult task upon the local authorities, creating in their midst a new and a dangerous issue exposing them to all the vices of Tammany.
What is the result going to be? Simply confusion and uncertainty with no uniformity of practice all over the country and fatuous results. Already there are innumerable problems which have to be dealt with by local authorities, such as health, housing, roads, sanitation, and education, all of which are difficult problems. Now you are going to add to them this new issue in a local community, an issue which involves religion and every thing else. Instead of the ordinary questions being considered by the com- 651 munity, they will be asked to sacrifice everything to the question: "Shall we have a Sunday cinema or shall we not?"
What can one say of the introduction of the principle of bribery in the sacred name of charity? In my judgment there never was a more vicious, reprehensible and contemptible principle introduced into a Bill. Where is it going to end? If one industry is to be allowed this privilege on Sundays, why not the railways and those engaged in transport? The principle of this Bill is either right or wrong, and if it is wrong it cannot be put right by a percentage of the profits being distributed to charities. Every one sympathises with hospitals and as individuals like the general public outside, we endeavour to support them in the best way we can. But can it be doubted for a moment that if no funds were offered to them in this way they would say: "Let Sunday be a day of rest for all, for the maximum of spiritual use and the minimum of necessary labour." Taking the view of a manifesto signed within a month by no fewer than nearly eight thousand doctors they state:We are of opinion that one day's rest in seven from work is essential to man's health and physical well being.No less than £12,000,000 goes every year to the United States to pay for cinema films. If in the name of charity cinema proprietors desire to help the hospitals, why should they not give the whole or part of the proceeds of a weekday exhibition for that purpose? I saw the other day that £800 was realised at a Sunday performance at Gillespie and all that the charity got was £70. They now appropriate one-seventh of the rent and rates which would have to be paid if cinemas closed on Sunday. If places are to be provided on Sundays for people who have no other place to which to go, they should be provided by persons free from the taint of self-interest with the aim only of the real welfare of the people.
I am strongly of the opinion that this is a thoroughly bad Bill, vitiated in its origin, in its substance, and in its sanctions. I lave not emphasised—for it needs no emphasis in the British House of Commons, and, if it did, there are many here more competent to supply that emphasis than I am—the considera- 652 tion of a binding and permanent ordinance, explicit and unalterable from a higher source. That consideration, however, can never be absent from the minds a millions of our fellow countrymen for whom it will always have an incalculable value and a profound meaning. They are keenly alive to the great issue which is being raised here to-day, an issue which means so much, and has meant so much, in the life and destiny of this country. Many others, who may not take so strict a view, are as profoundly anxious that we should do nothing by selfish and sordid encroachments to endanger for them and for their fellow workers their historic, traditional and spiritual right to be kept on this one day in seven, untroubled and in peace, emancipated from the drudgery of their labour.
I know that there are a great many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who wish to address the House on this subject, and I shall therefore endeavour to confine my remarks into as few words as possible. I want to say, at the outset, that this Measure is one which has aroused a good deal of interest and feeling among many sections of the community. As the House is to be left free to vote according to the individual convictions of its Members, I want to make an appeal to those who have not made up their minds in favour of a somewhat different point of view from that which has just been put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson).
The right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill made a speech which perhaps might have been appropriate if the Measure were an endeavour to introduce an entirely new practice and to enforce that practice from one end of the country to the other. It does seem to me that when we are dealing with a Bill which is merely making legal a practice which has been believed to be within the law for the last 20 years—and when the Bill does not force anybody to adopt the measure to which my right hon. and learned Friend objects unless public opinion is in favour of it—then I must say that the language which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has used appears to me to be very much exaggerated. I speak as one who 653 has no personal interest in this matter. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill mentioned something about "massed attacks" in favour of the Bill. As far as any attacks have been made, it seems to me that they have been "massed" in the opposite direction. I have, like other hon. Members, received a large number of printed postcards, and I confess that I have been rather surprised, in view of the character of the Bill, at the bitterness of the opposition.
What are the principal objection's to the Bill? One is that it is going to entail labour upon a certain number of people on Sunday. That is something which none of us would desire to encourage. It is true that at the present time we have to put up with a certain amount of labour on railways on Sundays and in connection with many other things. Sunday labour is inevitable in the opening of the public galleries and museums, and, if it could be substantiated that any real and serious hardship was likely to be inflicted upon employés concerned in matters of this kind, I think that would be a very substantial ground of objection. As a matter of fact, we have been informed that the employés at these entertainments consider that their interests are adequately protected in this Bill if it is passed. It has been argued that other occupations may desire to be included in the Bill, but that is not what we have to consider on the Second Reading, although it is a point which might form the subject of discussion in Committee. I know there is a view that Sunday should be a day of rest and that we should do everything we can to discourage people from using the seventh day as if it were one of the six. I confess that I have a certain amount of sympathy with that view, but, when one considers the amount of latitude which has grown up in the past generation in respect of the way in which a Sunday can be used, I must say that to my mind that argument has lost a great deal of its force. One has only to go into the country to-day and look at the golf courses, the tennis courts, and the main roads on which people drive out from London and other big towns to take their pleasure in the country, to realise how much the idea of what it is proper 654 and decent to do on Sunday has changed since the days of our forefathers. Then there remains the view, very strongly and sincerely held by those whom, I hope, I may call without offence the Sabbatarians; and I must say that I have not a very great deal of sympathy with that view. In my view, one has good authority for saying that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath; and, so long as the Sabbath is decently observed, and so long as full opportunity is given to those who desire to spend their Sabbath in their own way and carry out their own wishes, I cannot see why other people who desire to spend their Sabbath in a different way should not be allowed to do so.
I have a very positive reason for supporting this Bill. The right hon. and learned Member for Ross and Cromarty said that in this matter grave social, moral and industrial issues were raised. I differ from him so far as industrial issues are concerned, for it does not seem to me that any serious industrial issue is raised by this Bill; but I do agree with him that grave social and moral issues are raised, and it is precisely because of the moral aspect of the case that I personally intend to go into the Lobby in support of this Bill. After all, what is the alternative to the proposal which we are considering? Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that, if people are prevented from going into a cinema on a Sunday, they are therefore going to church Surely we all know that the people who will chiefly frequent the cinemas will, if they are not allowed to go into them, spend their time in the streets. [HON. MEMBERS: "Or in public houses."] I did not wish to put it in a way that would arouse any serious opposition, and therefore confined myself to streets and open places—[Interruption]—bnt I think that the view is very largely held among social workers that there are fewer temptations, and there is less likelihood of getting into mischief, if young people have the opportunity of attending decent and reasonable amusements, than if they are left entirely to their own devices. It is for that reason principally that I intend to support the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. LANG
It is not easy this afternoon for some of us to express the views that we desire to express without giving, however undeservedly or without desire, the impression that, because we take certain very definite views, we regard ourselves as being on a special pedestal of sanctimoniousness, and as the keepers of the true faith. That will not be in my mind at all throughout my speech. If I do express very strongly anything that I feel, it will be because I feel it strongly, and not because I wish to draw any sharp line of demarcation between myself as a believer in the Christian religion and other Members who either do not believe in it or who interpret it in, perhaps, a wider and very different manner.
This is a matter which affects us very considerably, and I might find it very difficult to disagree with the pleasing and careful speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, if I were able to make what seemed to me to be the rather easy assumption that I thought was in his mind, that this Bill, if passed into law, would put an end altogether to the Sunday controversy. If this were to be the final adjustment, and if there were no very great likelihood of much further development in the matter of Sunday amusement and Sunday labour, and if I thought that this Bill were the last word on the matter, I might find it much more easy to accept the invitation which the right hon. Gentleman has so pleasantly extended. I am not, however, able to take that view.
There is a further word of explanation that I must say, because of the profession to which I belong and because of the fact that on almost every Sunday of the year I find myself in the pulpit. I can quite understand that many hon. Members of this House might think, even if they did not say it, that a Member in my position is a very interested party, who is putting up a last desperate fight for an industry in which he has a vested interest, for a decadent industry which he desires to keep alive as long as he possibly can. That is a view which is taken by a number of people, most of whom know little of the churches, and many of whom have not been inside one for a great many years. But at any rate I am not speaking this afternoon from that point of view, because there are some of us who would not feel it to be essential 656 to discontinue the advocacy of the beliefs that we hold, even if there were no pulpit to walk into, if there were no churches to preach in, and if no people gathered together. Even so, we should still preach the things that we believe. We would go back, if need be, 2,000 years to the great Example that we then had, and use our Sabbath evenings by the seaside and by the wayside, and perhaps in an even more effective manner than is possible in some of the organisation and institutionalism of our religion.
Something has been said in this Debate about the intimidation that has been brought to bear upon Members to vote against this Bill. Printed postcards do not appear to be a very marked form of intimidation. They are an easy method of passing on a particular person's desire or wish, and I imagine that most of us have felt, in this recent week or two, that we were obliged personally to pay less attention to the printed card than to written communications. Surely, if people wish to inform their Member of their opinion upon a matter, in these busy days and in these days of economy, the use of a printed card which only needs the addition of an address, a name and a penny stamp, is a perfectly proper method. If I wish to find evidences of intimidation I find it more recently. I can find intimidation in to-day's daily Press, and in the place where I least expected and least hoped to find it, namely, in an article in the "Daily Herald" of to-day, entitled "On Trial," where there is a discussion of this Bill as if it were the most important thing with which this Parliament was concerned. I could very much wish that we were spending our valuable time to-day upon matters of far greater importance to the general welfare of this community than this question of yea or nay with regard to Sunday entertainments. We are asked in this article:Will Members of Parliament be fully representative and vote in accordance with popular desire, or will they cower before the hail of postcards that has descended on them from the rigid sabbatarians who do not represent the views even of all churchgoers?[Interruption.] It is quite evident that this article has been widely read. But I do not propose to cower before any hail of postcards any more than before any shower of invective, however near it may be to me. The article goes on: 657What, then, should be the attitude of the average Member of Parliament in tonight's Division"—whatever that may mean?Is he going to think first of his seat, and go into the 'No' Lobby in craven fear of the sabbatarians, whose numbers are in inverse ratio to their zeal?There need be no fear if their numbers are so terribly poor as that. I suggest that it is because the writer of this article, and a great many other people, know that that judgment of numbers and figures is entirely wrong, and that there is a very large number of people in this country who desire the maintenance of a quiet Sunday, that this article has been written. Then, for really first-class intimidation, I think the last sentence of this most unfortunate and rather impudent article is the limit:if Members of Parliament fail, the episode will not be forgotten.It only needed a, couple of crossbones and a skull, and we should have had the whole pretty method of Parliamentary intimidation.
For a few minutes I desire to say something as to why we must oppose this Bill. We have heard already some questions with regard to Sunday and with regard to the Sabbath, and I think it is right, because it can be done in a minute, that it should be made clear that there is a profound difference between the outlook upon these two specific days. The Sabbath is an institution chronicled in the Old Testament, whatever our views of that book may be, or whether we now leave it alone. The day, obviously, was an institution designed for the benefit of mankind, for the purpose, in the main, of giving man physical rest, reasonable recreation, and a complete change. That was the origin and reason of the Sabbath. But quite early—almost immediately after its institution—the Christian Church took another view.
The Christian Church, having in mind the important events associated with its Founder and late Master which had happened in the previous years, felt that there was another duty than merely the duty of accepting a day imposed or created for man's benefit. The Christian Church, and I think its wisdom has been demonstrated throughout the centuries, thought that there was another duty, the duty of rendering back to its Creator certain specific acts of worship, of praise 658 and of dedication, and that was why the first day of the week was chosen. I hope, therefore, that, when we come to consider what our attitude ought to be towards this question, we shall remember that very largely in this country we have two streams of thought converging upon the first day of the week. There are those who have been referred to, with what justice I do not know, as rigid sabbatarians, and there are those who regard the Sunday—and some of my hon. Friends, no doubt, will be putting this case shortly—as a day of Christian festival, and consider that, after their celebration, they are entitled to enjoy themselves and spend the rest of the day in pleasure. That is a perfectly proper attitude from their point of view, and a perfectly legitimate expression in their opinion, but there are these two streams of thought.
I should be sorry indeed if I thought I was going to be guilty of imposing my own private views upon masses of popular opinion. I should be sorry if, because I preferred a quiet Sunday, I thought that people were being driven into amusements that they do not desire, or that they were being driven—as, indeed, has been suggested—into vices of all sorts, but we have heard these arguments again and again. Precisely the same sort of arguments were put forward a few years ago when the question of the Sunday closing of licensed houses in Wales and Monmouthshire was discussed. We were told that the closing of these places would mean incalculable vice and crime, but there are hon. Members here who not only reside in Wales and Monmouthshire, but who represent constituencies there, and are better qualified to speak than I am about the statistics of indictable offences, and they will be able to say whether they have increased or decreased since Sunday closing operated in Wales and Monmouthshire; but one rather interesting fact is that, from the very Principality where there are no publie houses in which non-church goers can spend their Sunday evenings, comes, possibly, the strongest and most insistent demand in the whole of the Kingdom that there shall be no infringement of the Sabbath, and no interference with the quiet Sunday. That is a rather important thing, which I think ought to be borne in mind.
659 Seriously, however, does any Member of this House—and now I am looking particularly to hon. Friends of mine on this side, whose interest in this question is manifest, and who take, of course, many of them, very different views from that which I hold—forget that a few weeks ago some of us attended a meeting, which was addressed by some of the leading representatives of the entertainment and theatrical world, when this question of Sunday opening was discussed I During that meeting I put one or two questions to the very distinguished actor manager who addressed us. He told me that his wish would be to close his theatre on Friday, which was a preferable day. One of the reasons that he gave was that his company, and theatrical artists generally, might be able to spend their money on the same day of the week in the same jolly company as the rest of the people spend their money. He would also like to ventilate his theatre once a week. Friday was a bad day of business, and he would prefer to close down on Friday and open on Sunday. Someone suggested that Sunday was a deplorable day for provincial companies to be travelling, and they would prefer to travel on Friday or Saturday and to show on Sunday.
I have no doubt whatever that, if this Bill becomes law, it is the beginning of a series of events which will finally substitute Sunday for Saturday. We shall not just have the opening of cinemas and entertainments on Sunday, but we shall lose the Saturday public holiday which we now enjoy. We have already seen it stated, and it may be true, that Sunday afternoon would be a far better day for football matches than Saturday. Continental people have said they are not so much concerned about the question of our Sunday but they are interested and anxious for our Saturday. I think those who have tried to think the matter out reasonably have come to the conclusion that the danger inherent is that we shall have a six days normal week of work, but the Sunday will tend to become a public holiday. When this talk about young people being shepherded into cinemas away from the darkness of the streets, and that kind of thing, is out of the way, the plain fact remains that, the more pleasure there is, the more work there is. The work of the world that has to be 660 done on Sunday will be done by the same people who do it every day of the week and the sure result will be that we shall create an additional day of pleasure and enjoyment for those people who can afford it and we shall employ the rest of the world. I hope that matter will be borne in mind when the vote comes to be taken.
None of us will be unmoved by the right hon. Gentleman's story of the splendid contributions to charity which have come from London cinematograph owners, but I am not particularly moved by it, whether it is sweepstakes or lotteries or people paying for amusement and finding, Willy nilly, that a portion of the proceeds have gone to help the maimed, the poor and the sick. That is not the sort of charity that is a real expression of pity and affection and help—that sort of smirking charity which does a certain thing and then salves its conscience with certain results. If that sort of thing is to be very much publicly approved, there will be a drying up of all real charity. More than that, what is going to be our responsibility to each other? What is going to be the responsibility of hon. friends of mine who have set their hands to the plough to make a furrow for State provision? How are we going to help it forward if we are going to profit by this public charity? It seems to me very much like reversing and putting in Parliamentary language the Shakespearian quotation—to do a great wrong do a little right.
My own view is made up. I do not doubt that I shall be accused of having made it up before the Debate began. That is true. I should like to say a word or two of a more personal nature. This is not a place to defend doctrines. It is not a place to give testimonies to spiritual things. But, at any rate, this is a time to state what is one's own experience. I am not anxious at all that anyone should be compelled to go to church. People please themselves to-day. They go or they do not go. They have that right. I am not afraid of the competition of the cinema. If I did not believe that the truth that I hold, and that my friends in various denominations hold, was able to withstand any other competition, I should doubt the value of it. But no man who knows the things 661 that belong to his peace has any doubt at all about that.
There is something else. The House may or may not accept it, but I am stating it as a fact for tens of thousands of those people, simple people in the main, who have been attacked in the course of the last few days as rigid sabbatarians, that there are many of them who on Sunday morning go to church or chapel and, perhaps lamenting the absence of many thousands of the toiling masses, are yet thankful to Almighty God that on that particular morning the great majority of their fellow men are able, if need be, to rest and have the peace and quiet of the day. We know, whether we attend places of worship or not, that when we go out on that day in any small provincial town or any country place there is a peace and a rest and a balm about that day that there is not about any other. I ask friends of mine not merely to think of the young people who on a night like last night had nowhere to go to shelter from the rain, not merely to consider the needs of those who have, it may be, one room in which to live and no place in which to congregate with their sweethearts and friends. Those are serious needs and, if I had my way, that sort of dwelling would not exist and that sort of need would not continue. I would far rather ask this generation to endure a little vicarious suffering like that so that the next generation shall have proper and ample places to live in than throw open cinemas at a price. I believe the interests and well being of the nation are best served by a peaceful Sunday and a quiet rest.
There are some who, though without any bitterness at all, will deplore for a long time the decision of this great and honourable House if it decides to throw open this one precious retreat to the commercialisation and secularisation of the age. I could not quite follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain). The fact that we think differently from our forefathers is no guarantee that we think more correctly. I should have thought that in certain respects we had rather deteriorated in that way. We ought to be better than our fathers if anything. I hope the Bill will be defeated. We must have a quiet day of rest and peace and spend 662 it as we please. If we do not desire it, keep away from public worship, but let us have quiet and rest. Is there a friend of mine who will dare to stand up and say that half the things that have been in London in the last few weeks will do anyone any good?
Let us have our quiet day and let us have our home life. Some of us have had many enjoyments and many privileges in life. This may seem silly sentiment, but it is a happy recollection. I can go back to the time when we gathered after services which were longer then than they are now, though perhaps not quite as interesting, in a room with a piano or an organ and we sang simple hymns and songs. They were quiet times, but we felt that we were fresh for the things that lay before us on the morrow, and the day that followed found us more ready for duty, more clear in conscience, more in tune with the infinite and more sympathetic with our fellow men than some of the crowded week ends that we have to live. For these reasons I desire to oppose the Bill. I ask the House to forgive me if I have seemed to speak too strongly. I ask my hon. Friends to excuse me if, in my anxiety to present my case, I have said anything that I ought not to have said. I was anxious to state what I believe and I shall be equally willing to hear what those who differ from me have to say.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
This is one of those occasions that occur too seldom in Parliamentary life when Members are invited to express by voice and vote their views on an urgent and interesting and, I think, very important question in accordance with their own judgment and not by the direction of a party organisation. That process is called taking the sense of the House. The implication that, if we were to vote according to the whip that we receive, some less sensible result is likely to be reached is not, perhaps, very flattering to political organisation. I take the view opposite to that which has been so feelingly expressed by the hon. Member who last spoke and opposite, I am sorry to say, to that of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who sits beside me. But, at any rate, on the present occasion it is not necessary for any party in the House to troop outside to decide what it shall do, and we shall all of us in every part of the House be 663 at liberty to go our several ways without any accusation of tactics.
While I am very glad that the House is being left quite unfettered and without official direction, there seems to be, I gather, though it has not attacked me, an almost equally formidable amount of pressure in some quarters exercised from without. I do not know which is the more difficult to resist, a three-lined whip or a petition which is 10 miles long. But it might, perhaps, be as well to remind the House that the year in which this interesting Act of Parliament was passed which my right hon. and learned Friend and other reformers wish to restore to its pristine authority, the year 1780, was also the year of the Lord George Gordon riots, and the most interesting event in the Parliament of 1780 was the attempt by public opinion outside, in the supposed interests of religion, to put pressure upon this House in a matter where, I think, it would have been very much better to leave the good sense of Members of Parliament to operate undisturbed. While it is perfectly right that we should pay due attention to the views communicated to us from our constituents, I think this is pre-eminently a case where we have to argue the matter out among ourselves, or, at any rate, as far as we can, in the spirit and temper shown by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang), and try and do the thing which is right on behalf of the country.
May I point out at once how very easy it is to misunderstand what this Bill professes to do? A very large number of us have had communications begging us to resist a. Bill to open cinemas on Sunday. The Bill does not do that at all. It is a Bill which will authorise local authorities, if certain conditions are satisfied, to give, subject to definite restrictions, a licence to open such entertainments, and the distinction is very important. If the Bill is passed no cinema in any area is opened unless, first of all, the county council or the county borough council has passed a resolution to the effect that it is expedient that such a licence should be granted in their area. Even then no such resolution can be carried unless the council is satisfied that the Sunday opening which would be permitted by the grant of such a licence would be in accordance with a substantial demand of the 664 locality. I heard an hon. Member beside me say, "How are they to ascertain that?" They shall have regard to any representations which are made to them, because there is to be a public announcement beforehand. Lastly, any resolution they may pass may have any limitation regarding hours, and other things which they may impose.
I perfectly understand the situation of the man who says, "I do not care what substantial demand there may be in a locality. I feel that it is my duty to lay down for the locality a law which may be a higher law than the authority of Parliament." That was the view that was taken in 1780. I do not know whether other hon. Members of the House have gone through the experience I have gone through of looking up the Debate when the 1780 Act was passed. There is a very interesting account of the circumstances to be found in the standard history of that period written by a previous Member of this House, a university Member, Mr. Lecky, who describes briefly the situation in this way:In the winter of 1730 houses were opened in London for Sunday promenades, and for debating societies in Which religious questions were freely discussed.He is quite accurate, for I have read the Parliamentary Debate to see what was said. The view was taken by some good men at that time—the principal mover at that time was the Bishop of Chester, afterwards Bishop of London, Bishop Porteus—that it was desirable to prevent these things happening on Sunday evenings in London. If anyone will turn up the Statute of 1780 he will see, as was fashionable in those days, a very long preamble which recites the evils which the Statute was designed to correct. It was as the historian had said. I must confess that 150 years afterwards it seems to me an intolerable view for us to take, if we were legislating afresh on the matter, to say that we should pass a law which prohibited houses being opened in London for Sunday promenades, or meetings. Some of us, I think, last night attended the opening of a very magnificent hotel, and I imagine that a ceremony of that sort might be regarded 150 years ago as very inappropriate for that day. Perhaps it was. That is a, very different thing from saying that Parliament should legislate to make it a criminal offence. And as to debating 665 societies in which religious questions were freely discussed, I have been looking at Parliamentary history to see what the argument was. I see that one hon. Member who seconded the Motion for the Bill was strongly in its favour because, he said, referring to these debating societies, where religious questions were discussed,that most of those who knew how to speak at all were free thinkers, and consequently against, not for religion.I do not desire to speak slightingly of the good men of 150 years ago. They were leaders in the evangelical movement of that time, and they did, in fact, accomplish many great things for this country. They led the movement towards the more humane treatment of prisoners, and slaves, and they held very high in difficult times the banner of a sober and pure life when there were many influences working the other way. But we must realise the fact that the political aspects of this evangelical movement of 150 years ago were certainly not in favour of what to-day would pass for a free and enlightened liberty of discussion. Mr. William Wilberforce, it is interesting to note, once addressed himself to the Prime Minister of that day and secured what was an excellent thing—a change in the practice which had hitherto prevailed by which, after the Parliamentary holiday, the House used to meet on a Monday, and the reason why nowadays the House of Commons, following the more recent tradition, does not as a rule start business before Tuesday, was because William Wilberforce persuaded the Prime Minister that it would prevent Members from travelling on Sundays. He used his influence to prevent lawyers having consultations on Sundays. I am very glad to think practice has changed in that respect as well. He also addressed one of your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, and begged him not to hold his levies on a Sunday, which, at that time, was the practice. In that way excellent work was done, but, when it comes to calling upon Parliament itself to legislate in expressed terms to limit the exercise, within what was decent and proper, of the citizens' freedom on that day, that appears to me to be entirely and utterly unfair.
The hon. Member for Oldham said that he was not in favour of making people go to church. Yes, but in 1780 they were. It was a criminal offence not to attend 666 public worship in England, and the only exception was the exception of the Toleration Act which was given to Dissenters providing that they believed in the Trinity. Apart from that, it was a criminal offence in 1780 not to attend public worship. At that time the law was very largely disregarded by the fashionable classes of society, but there were not a few cases in which poor people were prosecuted. At that date, Parliament approved of a Test Act and a Corporation Act, although, it is true, that as far as this is concerned, Parliament passed every year an Indemnity Bill for the purpose of protecting individuals from the full rigour of the law. The standards which they were endeavouring to maintain in the criminal law and in other respects were things which today we should repudiate with horror. Therefore, we are bound to approach this matter very much as though we were going to legislate now. As the Home Secretary has pointed out, for nearly 20 years in London at any rate, and, I think, in one other large town, there has really been the practice of opening the cinema show on Sundays. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) said that he was all against the common informer. I beg his pardon. He is re-establishing the common informer; 1780 was the golden age of the common informer.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I daresay that my right hon. and learned Friend would be glad to do it, but unfortunately, in moving the rejection of this Bill, he is seeking to put back into operation the Statute which provides that the only penalty exacted must be asked for by the common informer. If anyone wants to know anything about the common informer of the 18th century, let him go to the House of Commons Library and read about State trials of that date. The whole thing appears to be decidedly antiquated. Therefore, the only question which comes to me is whether or not we can afford simply to go back to this old Statute of a century and half ago with the knowledge that any common informer is at liberty to sue for penalties and treble costs, or whether we have not to handle this situation in a sensible and practical spirit.
667 This is eminently a case in which the principle of local option may properly be applied. I raise no sort of objection because hon. Members from Scotland are taking part in the Debate. It is right that they should. They are part of the Assembly, and contribute much that is valuable. Let me point out to them that Scotland recognises the value of local option in connection with the liquor traffic.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I say that Scotland does not accept it by the facts which have been given. They are rejecting it.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Then let them promote legislation to repeal the Scottish Licensing Act. In the meantime, considerable areas in Scotland operate under that law. I see my hon. Friend the Member for one of the Cornish divisions. I have no doubt that there are parts of the country where the local authority, having ascertained local opinion, will certainly not put this Bill into operation by authorising cinemas to be open in their areas, but it is equally certain that some other areas—London, for example—are likely to take the other course. I most respectfully submit to the Scottish Members of the House that really they must have regard to the local circumstances. Anyone who has had the good fortune to spend part of his life in Scotland, or who knows anything of the countryside, has the most sincere respect for the Scottish view, the serious, sober, and quiet view for the Sabbath, and nobody, as far as I know, resents the way in which that view is enforced in many parts of Scotland. You cannot play golf on Sunday at North Berwick, but you can at Gleneagles. There are many instances in which a certain variation may be ascertained. I recall in this connection the passage in that splendid and tragic romance which Robert Louis Stevenson was still writing 668 when he died, how he described, with his great knowledge of Scottish character, the attitude of Dandie Elliott, the youngest brother of Kirstie, as sitting outside his cottage door, and "honouring the Sabbath by a sacred vacancy of mind."
I do not know any reason why there should not be in this matter a certain variety of practice, and I would urge upon the House that it is not, in the year 1931, a reasonable or practicable policy to try to restore the law of 1780, unless we take the view that we are entitled to impose upon every adult citizen a standard of conduct and action on Sunday because we are better judges of these matters than the mass of the people. That was the view of the Parliament of 1780. It was drawn from a comparatively narrow range of contribution. No one can read the Debates of that time without seeing that the men who belonged to it, great statesmen, philanthropic and humane men, were trying to make a law, not because they were themselves elected by the common folk of this land, so much as because they were in favour of setting up a proper standard for our people to comply with. Those days have gone by, and we have to recognise not that postcards, but that Members of Parliament must decide the issue and that good government, decent life and, I say with great, humility, true religion will best be served by latitude in these matters rather than by strict regulation.
I was rather surprised at the reference which was made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty to a leading article in the "Times." I think he referred to it twice, but he failed to call attention to the fact that that leading article was in favour of the Bill. His passages were, of course, textually quite right, but I will read the sentence which immediately follows the one at which he stopped:On the whole, however, it seems better to legalise a system already in vogue than to connive at its illegal continuance.Later on the article says:Thus there seems to he no sufficient reason for opposing the Bill in its present shape.That is very far from saying that the view taken by that or any other newspaper should necessarily guide us in this 669 House, but when the question as to the extent to which public opinion is being expressed by very important journals is raised, it is well to realise that this view is taken in the "Times" leader. The "Manchester Guardian" this morning contains a most powerful argument in the same sense. Therefore, it is very far from being the case that what may be called religious organs or bodies of religious opinion are taking an intensely hostile view.
I sympathise very sincerely with those who have been brought up, as some of us have, in an atmosphere in which Sunday no doubt was a day when rules were observed, and when perhaps some of us felt that the parents who brought us up were practising the principles of Sunday right through the week. I am quite certain that to-day, among these great religious communities, there exist very large numbers of people who, while they are anxious lest Sunday should become secularised, and while they wish to do all that they can to encourage what they believe is the highest and noblest view of life, would not resist this Bill. We see evidence of that in the very brave and striking communication from a large number of, I think, the Wesleyan community who are declining to accept what is the more general view. We see it also in the very striking communication from the Congregationalists who, as far as I can see, have suggested lines very similar to the lines of the Home Secretary's Bill. However, these are matters of detail.
We have to ask ourselves this question: What is it which Parliament is prepared, if it is going to legislate at all, to prescribe for the mass of the poor people in this land with regard to the use of Sunday? If we were prepared to legislate that the people must go to church and chapel on Sunday I could understand it, but that has ceased to be the law or the practice for a long time. What is it that Members of this House contemplate as a reasonable thing to provide for the men, the women and the children—living in a small home, say, last night, where the daughter has got her Sunday off, where the son or the friend is there in the family? They may be in a single room, and a small room, in which they all have to meet. Every human relation is confined within that 670 little space. Is it really the view of the House of Commons, in the face of a sheaf of postcards, to say: "You shall stay in that room, or you shall get wet in the street?" [interruption.] Where else are they to be allowed to go? [An HON. MEMBER: "The public house."]
I do not wish to excite feeling, but it does appear to me, and I am sorry if any hon. Friend of mine takes a different view, that the attempt to re-erect this Statute of 1780, with its common informer and all the rest of it, on principles which were sincerely entertained at that date, but which have ceased to strike a real response in British hearts for a long time, whether in the interests of religion or in the interests of what the hon. Member for Oldham called a quiet Sunday, is to take a very imperfect view of the situation. I do not happen to be a cinema fan. I very much prefer, if I am going to look at pictures, to choose the picture that I would like to see, and to look at it as long as I like, and to look at it again for a second time if I think fit. There can be no question that in the areas where these shows are taking place there has been a great deal of, I believe, quite innocent, although not necessarily always very elevating, entertainment. For my part, using my Sunday as I do, and as many hon. Members know they use theirs, I am not prepared to deny this facility to the poor of the land.
§ Sir ALFRED BUTT
While at present I am not associated in any way with either a theatre or a cinema, I feel that I am able to give the House a few facts that will guide them to some extent in coming to a decision on this very important Bill, and at the same time to explain the reason for the Amendment which stands in my name on the Order Paper:That this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which discriminates in favour of one type of public entertainment, makes no provision for the licensing of Sunday performances of stage plays, and would be inequitable and desultory in its application.The question of Sunday entertainment in London is a very old one. The Sunday League for many years has supplied a very wholesome entertainment at the Albert Hall, the Queen's Hall and many 671 other buildings. During this time there was no general desire on the part of the theatres of London to open on Sundays. We then had the birth of the cinema, which has made great progress. Huge buildings were constructed and most lavishly decorated, and they created a demand for entertainment on Sunday night. By degrees, a very large number of private societies were formed, which were permitted to give stage plays on Sunday night, provided that no money was taken at the doors. Often they gave plays to which the censor had refused his licence for the weekday. Entertainments were established in the restaurants, and I think it is an admitted fact that it became almost the exception rather than the rule to find any area where there was not considerable entertainment in London on a Sunday night.
The cause of this Bill is the recognition on the part of the theatre that they had to do something for self-preservation. They instituted the proceedings which are now so well known to test the legality of the opening of these various places of entertainment. Here let me say that there was no desire on the part of the theatres to close cinemas on Sunday night. All that they are asking for is equality of opportunity regarding entertainments with the cinemas. It has been said that the cinemas do not appeal to the same public as the theatres, but I do not think that is a fact. Experience shows that the people who go to the cinemas on Sunday night refrain from going to the theatre on Monday night. The theatre industry at the present moment is in a very tragic condition. This Bill as it stands proposes to reward the cinemas that have been breaking the law for 16 years, with the connivance of the London County Council, and to penalise the theatres for having obeyed the law. I appeal to hon. Members to give an equal right to a very large British industry, as opposed to a very large industry which is principally supported by American capital.
One of the arguments that have been used is that the cinemas employ far fewer people than theatres. Unless I misunderstood the Home Secretary, he rather justified the Bill by pointing out that in one cinema alone there were 180 people employed in the mechanical installation. 672 I think that perhaps the figure was confused, and that the 180 people were employed in the whole theatre. The average theatre employs a very much larger number of people than the average cinema, but there can be no doubt that the question of Sunday labour which is all important can be satisfactorily arranged, because the trades union organisations have all agreed that if the theatres are allowed to open on Sunday, they can make fair conditions as regards the number of days and the number of hours worked by the employés. Hon. Members perhaps do not realise that labour in the theatrical world is very different from labour in almost any other world. The average length of a stage performance is from three to three and a-half hours, and if an employé works for eight performances a week he does not work for more than 28 or 30 hours. It is not a question of working too long, but of not having sufficient work. The attraction, the novelty, and the finer buildings of the cinemas are competing so successfully with the theatres that a very large number are closing down while others are being absorbed. The products displayed in the cinemas are largely drawn from America and the benefits of the employment and the profits go to Americans. The plays that are staged in London theatres employ a vast number of British people before they are staged and a vast number of people subsequently in their production. I am sorry to refer to it, but I must do so in order to counter the argument that has been advanced with regard to the large donations given charities. The Home Secretary referred particularly to the serious loss which will accrue if the hospitals are to be deprived of the sums which they receive from various cinemas which have been allowed to break the law on Sunday nights. It is only fair that hon. Members should know that the theatrical profession voluntarily, and without any consideration whatever of favours to come, gave over £100,000 to charities last year. The justification for cinemas being opened on Sundays is that all the profits of the Sunday night performances are given to charity. Hon. Members may be surprised to hear that the donations are fixed at an arbitrary amount which has no relation whatever to receipts. A huge cinema taking £800 to £1,000 on a Sunday night 673 pays a fixed sum varying from £50 to a maximum of £75, and a cinema taking £400 on a Sunday night pays £25.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
Is it not the case that every one of these amounts is decided upon a chartered accountant's report to the London County Council of receipts and expenditure?
§ Sir A. BUTT
I cannot tell the hon. and gallant Member on what basis the London County Council fixes these arbitrary amounts, but I can tell him, as a statement of fact, that it is never more than £60, and in many cases it is £8 and £15. The hon. and gallant Member will be able to judge for himself whether it is possible to suggest seriously that a contribution of £25 is the profit from takings of £400.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
May I correct the hon. Member? The maximum is very frequently £100, and it is often imposed on some cinemas.
§ Sir A. BUTT
I do not wish to pursue that subject, but I do not think there is any cinema that pays £100. There is one cinema which pays as much as £56 5s., and it is within my knowledge that that particular cinema has taken as much as £900 on a Sunday night. While it is very important that hospitals should be allowed to benefit from these contributions from cinema's, it is obvious that they are not receiving the profits which the cinemas are making, nor do I think it is fair that they should receive the profits; but the House should remember that if the same right is granted to the theatres they are capable of contributing quite as much as the cinemas. I do not appeal to the House on the ground of differentiating between the theatres and the cinemas but on much wider grounds, and that is that if they are going to create this permanent monopoly on Sunday nights in favour of the cinemas, they will cause London theatres to close, or to be absorbed by the huge American syndicates which are building all over the city, and thereby will put out of work not hundreds but thousands of British employés who have no other means of getting a livelihood. Is it decent, is It fair, to throw out of work all these British people in favour of huge American syndicates? Lastly, the question of Sunday opening does not necessarily 674 mean that the theatres will give the plays they have been giving during the week. If they are permitted, there is no reason why they should not instal an apparatus and give cinema performances on Sunday nights.
§ Sir A. BUTT
They cannot do it in practice, because they have to apply to the London County Council and give a certain number of days' notice. They cannot do that for one Sunday's performance, because they are not allowed to do it under the licence of the Lord Chamberlain. They could give up or suspend their theatrical licence and take the London County Council licence to permit them to give cinema performances. And in practice they would have great difficulty in competing on Sunday night with an isolated film with an established cinema running throughout the week. I ask the House to consider seriously whether they should not insist on theatres being included in the Bill on equal terms with cinemas. If not, I hope the Bill will be rejected, and that the London County Council, or some other appropriate body, will bring in a Bill to deal with the subject for London. There is no doubt that the Bill has arisen through the desire for this entertainment on the part of London, and the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has put the facts clearly as regards the necessity for providing some entertainment for London. I am only trying to point out that it will be extremely unfair and detrimental to British labour to give this preference to cinemas. I hope the House is not going to subsidise labour at Hollywood to the detriment of British labour.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Lansbury)
This is a Bill to enable London and other places to do what they think is right in regard to this matter. London is not being specially favoured as compared with any other part of the country. The question as to whether theatres shall or shall not be included in the Bill can be discussed and determined by the Committee when the Bill comes before it, and provision is made in the drafting of the Measure to enable that question to be discussed. Then, on the Third Reading of the Bill 675 the House will have the opportunity of accepting or rejecting it.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
As far as the Government are concerned, it will go to a Committee upstairs. There is no time, in view of all the other business before Parliament, to take the Bill on the Floor of the House. It has already been stated again and again, but, apparently, it needs to be reiterated, that we are not trying to legalise the thin end of the wedge. That has been in a long time, for over 20 years. Let me say one word with regard to charity. I have been on marches behind banners on which was inscribed "Curse your charity!" [Interruption.] Probably I have done a lot of things in my life that I ought not to have done and left undone many things that I ought to have done. It is well, as we grow old, to remember that, and I try to remember it every morning. The point I want to make is this: I live in a district and amongst people who are hard pressed and have a very difficult path through life, and while I am waiting for Socialism to be accomplished, and for this House to do the hundred and one things which I want it to do, I cannot see my fellow human beings in need of medical attention. I often attend the Sunday League concerts, which give the people an entertainment in order to get 6d. or 1s. out of them for charitable needs. There is nothing terrible in being so inconsistent as to want to raise money to assist hospitals and such like institutions, which I hope will ultimately become part of the social organisation of the country and paid for by the community. The London Hospital and the Poplar Hospital do tremendous service to the working people in the district I represent. I do not know what we should do without the London Hospital or what the docks would do without the Poplar Hospital. Unless these institutions are put on to the rates, I cannot see the Member for Farnham who is on the Front Opposition Bench—
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Perhaps the right hon. Member will learn the difference between Farnham and Fareham.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I was a little mixed. I ought to have remembered the hon. and learned Member's constituency. They are both Tory seats, anyhow. The point I am making is that the hon. and learned Member and his friends have poured scorn on the fact that so much money comes to charity from these entertainments. I want that money, because the hon. and learned Member and his friends would not support the proposal to put all these various institutions on to the rates or taxes. Until that takes place, people like me, who want the poor to have medical attention, are very much obliged to those who organise schemes for raising the funds that are needed. The money that is raised in that way is needed because other provision is not made. As to the theatres being willing to do the same thing—well, if we need it, I hope that some day they will do so. The cinema people do a great deal more than is done on Sundays. They very often give their shows, for charitable purposes during the week, just as do the theatres.
I came right up against this ban on cinemas in trying to get an entertainment for one of the most deserving charities in the East End, and a very religious charity at that. The people who organised it were suddenly told by the Lord Chamberlain that it could not take place. Yet on that same Sunday night I could hear on the wireless all kinds of songs and music. I ask those who oppose this Bill, and I ask the Sabbatarians who think that we are breaking the Sabbath by going to a cinema, whether last night, when I sat and listened to music from different hotels and other places, I was breaking the law. Here is the dilemma in which hon. Members are put. Do they protest against the work which is carried on by the broadcasting engineers on Sundays, or by the announcer who comes to the microphone and tells me all the news of the day and everything that is happening, and what the weather is to be to-morrow or what he thinks it will be, while interspersed is a sermon now and then?
For the good of my soul last night there was a splendid sermon preached, from Govan of all places in the world. The gentleman preached what I thought 677 was a very excellent sermon indeed. Incidentally he dealt with this particular question of compulsory religion. He pointed out what I think is perfectly true and sound, that real religion must be a voluntary matter, and that it cannot be imposed on anyone. Those who want to prevent people playing football or cricket in the parks on Sundays are indirectly saying, "You shall not do something that you want to do because in our opinion it is wicked." There are many places where such games used to be stopped, and many places where it is not allowed now, because people say, "If you play cricket on the village green you are really breaking God's Commandments." Here is the inconsistency of this House. Years ago I was in a great controversy. Row long ago the House will realise when I say that I was then a Member of the Liberal party. People were engaged in a by-election in the East End of London. The late Professor Bryce only just scraped home and won the seat in Tower Hamlets. The issue of the election was, what do you think, Mr. Speaker?—"Shall we open museums on Sundays?"
I wonder whether all those who are to vote against this Bill know that this House votes money to open picture galleries and museums on Sundays. Will they please tell me what is the difference between looking at mummies in a museum and looking at a picture at a cinema? From the point of view of the Sabbath I do not know what the difference is. I do not understand what is the difference from the point of view of paying money. For my sins and for other people's shortcomings I have been editor of a newspaper for a period. I never worked on a Sunday till I worked for a Labour newspaper. Every Member of this House who buys a newspaper on Monday morning encourages Sunday labour, whether he is in Scotland or in Cornwall or in Wales. Every person why buys a Monday morning newspaper assists in breaking the Sabbath. It is no good saying that we cannot avoid it. The Russians, the Norwegians and the Danes avoid it, and I am not sure that other nations do not avoid it by not having these papers. Perhaps hon. Members do not buy Monday morning newspapers?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am merely trying to show hon. Members the error of their ways. We are trying to be really logical and perfect in this matter, and there is no such thing. Years ago I had a job in Australia in a slaughter-house—[Interruption.] At any rate, the experience did not teach me to slaughter anyone else. I was expected to work on Sundays, and I had not two halfpennies for a penny. I had three children and a wife, and I was such an idiot of a Sabbatarian that I was willing to eat the meat killed by others on the Sunday but was not willing to help in the killing myself. So I chucked the job and went stone-breaking instead. What I want the House to get down to is the realisation that the old days when you could keep the Sabbath rigorously and without work or amusement, have passed away. It is no use arguing about it. I would remind my hon. Friends on this side of the House that when I joined the Socialist party I became a propagandist, and that for 40 solid years I have gone up and down the country on Sundays helping to spread Socialism. I do not understand those who say that it is wrong for me to go to a theatre, to a decent play, or to look at a picture on Sunday, and yet it is quite right that I should organise propaganda meetings on Sundays on behalf of Socialism. Some one interrupts with the remark that that is religion. Yes, but I will tell the House what it means. It means that next Sunday I will have to travel in the morning to Birmingham or else stop away from my home on Saturday night. I prefer to break what is called God's law on the Sunday and to travel on the Sunday morning. This sort of thing has been going on for many years.
I do not understand how any of us on the Government side of the House can adopt an attitude of opposition to the Bill. I shall not detain the House much longer, for there are lots of others who want to speak and there are "tons" to be said about this Bill. Let me say this finally, and it is the main reason why I got up. It is very easy to laugh about this business, but I am standing here to say that, knowing East London, knowing that there were parts of it where it was not safe at any time of night to walk 679 about, knowing that the people are crowded and herded together as no human beings ought to be crowded together, the legislation of this House since the War in regard to licensing, in limiting the hours, and the action of the London County Council in allowing cinemas to be opened, has had the most blessed and civilising effect of anything that has happened in my lifetime. I want people to go to church. I want people to believe in religion. I want people to practise the worship of God in the mornings, or at whatever time on the Sunday that they please; but worshipping God means living, not merely kneeling down and saying prayers or singing hymns; it means something more than that.
I could not avoid being struck when the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said, "It may be that our fathers were better men than we are all through the week." That is probably very true in regard to the subject under discussion. But is there any one of us here, Labour' men or anyone else, who will not admit this fact: With the money that we receive, whether as ordinary Members or as Ministers, we are able to lift ourselves materially out of the conditions in which those whom we represent have to live? We can go in a char-a-banc or hire a motor or own a motor, and even on a wet day we can travel out and enjoy the countryside. The people whom we represent, what have they in life? The House laughed just now when someone spoke about the young people and the father and mother. Hon. Members should know what the opening of the cinemas has done for the father and mother. It has enabled the man and woman to go out together in a way that was never possible before in my life. The woman would not go to the public house, and often the man went off alone. It is because I believe that the action of the London County Council and of other bodies that have given the people these facilities is a truly religious action that I hope the House will give this Bill a Second reading by an overwhelming majority, and see it through all its stages.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
It has been very delightful to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. It has shown the difficulty of 680 persons of even the best intentions in dealing with a matter so thoroughly difficult as is this question. The right hon. Gentleman asked some questions, and I will try to answer one or two of them for the sake of clearing the discussion and showing what it is that we are thinking about. What is the main point? The right hon. Gentleman asked us, first, about broadcasting. He asked was it wrong for him to listen to broadcasting, and was he breaking the law The whole crux of the question is this: The British Broadcasting Corporation does not make any extra money out of broadcasting on Sundays. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) when he talked about the old Act of 1780 failed to do justice to that Act, because it does not prohibit the cinema from being opened; it only prohibits people making money on Sunday from admission to the entertainments. That is an aspect of the question which strikes some of us as being most serious.
We would all wish to discuss this question without any partisan excitement but with the desire that, by our votes tonight, we should do the proper thing in the interests of the people and do it without the fear of being called Sabbath-breakers on the one hand, or Stigginses on the other. The House must have in mind the main position with which we have to deal before it can pass judgment on the Bill. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) gave figures showing that of the 4,000 cinemas in this country, only 200 outside London are open for Sunday performances. In other words, the House in this bill is confronted with a London problem, and the first objection which is raised to the Bill by those who represent constituencies outside London, is that we have no right to alter the law, over the length and breadth of the land, against the desires of a great number of the people in order to solve a purely local London problem.
The Bill proposes to do this in a way which must be attended with many inconveniences in various parts of the country, because it is going to thrust this thorny and difficult question on to the local authorities. I have spoken with many representative men who have given a great deal of service to local authorities and they dread such action by this 681 House because they say—I think with reason—that a question as vital as this is no mere gas and water matter to be dealt with by delegating authority to county councils, but is a national matter and must be settled on a national scale. If we adopt the course of throwing this question on to already overburdened local councils we shall be accused, with some justice, of seeking to evade our own difficulties by getting someone else to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for us.
The policy which we have followed up to date has been to limit as far as possible all gainful occupations on Sunday. Like all policies which involve a restriction on hours of business, that has to be a national policy or it cannot be carried through at all. If we consider the Shop Acts and other restricted legislation of that kind, it is easy to see that no shops would shut on Sunday at all, if other shops did not do so throughout the entire country. I suggest to the House that the great difficulty about the proposals before us, is that under them you may have intense competition springing up between neighbouring towns. Take the case, for example, of the South Coast resorts. Supposing that one decides not to have its cinemas open on Sunday but its next-door neighbour decides that its cinemas shall be open on Sunday. It will instantly be represented to the authority which refuses to open the cinemas on Sunday, by all those interested, such as the catering trade and the lodging-house keepers: "You are prejudicing us in comparison with our rival. You must open the cinemas on Sunday and put us on a level." Thus you get the whole question of Sunday observance in the words of the postcard, "secularised and commercialised." That is a thing which we ought to try to avoid. We ought to deal with our own problem here and give our own vote on it and our own lead to the nation.
The House must have been impressed by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Balham (Sir A. Butt), which showed another of the difficulties we are up against in this matter. How can you stop at the cinemas? Why not the theatres? If you are going to single out this industry for the privilege of being allowed to carry on a gainful occupation on Sunday, then it is unjust and inequitable to select only that part of the 682 industry which derives its money and sends its profits abroad, at the expense of our own native industry, where the money could very well be used by the actors and actresses concerned. I think that if we open the cinemas or point the way in that direction to the local authorities, there will be an unanswerable case for opening the theatres also—a case that cannot be resisted in logic or in justice. Of course the motives which prompt the cinemas to desire this privilege are perfectly plain and reasonable and have been stated with admirable frankness in the trade paper. In the trade paper called "The Cinema," I have found an article written by one "Parliamentarian"—whoever he may be—urging upon all members of this trade to start, at once, an effective and well organised agitation for the purpose of having the cinemas opened on Sunday. This was in 1926, and the writer of the article said:The time has arrived for an immediate national campaign for Sunday opening of cinemas in Great Britain… We will be charged with opening the cinemas on Sunday for commercial reasons. Let us be quite frank on the point and inform our critics that we will open our cinemas on Sunday for the same reason as we open them on Monday, namely, for the provision of legitimate entertainment for which we expect and demand monetary compensation… Taking the annual receipts of the British cinemas at £32,000,000 I estimate that the concession of Sunday opening would be worth £7,000,000 a year to the British exhibitor. It is a large sum of money and worth striving to get.In "The Bioscope" about the same time, there was a similar article written by the editor in which he said that Sunday opening for cinemaswould mean as big a gain in many districts as the total abolition of the Entertainment Tax. Sunday opening, therefore, is a prize worth winning. It is a prize which would be immediately payable in cash to the whole industry.If this concession is such a valuable prize to this industry, it is equally valuable to our own theatres, and I say that, on these grounds, if you allow the cinemas to open, it will be impossible to stop there and you will be faced with a larger question and an increasing agitation on the subject. You do not settle the question by this Bill. You only pave the way to much more bitter and prolonged controversy on the subject of Sunday opening. There is another aspect of the 683 similarity between the cinema and the ordinary stage in reference to this question. There is now the "talkie," a mechanical competitor with the stage which is becoming almost indistinguishable from it, the more it is improved. How can you say that stage performances are not to be allowed on Sundays when this mechanical competitor from abroad is to be allowed to perform on Sunday and to take away the people's entertainment money, so that our own theatrical industry must be the poorer in consequence?
Therefore, the opponents of the Bill cannot view this question as a question of the cinemas alone. We see in these proposals an attack made—with the best intentions, no doubt—on a position which has been jealously guarded by our forefathers for many centuries. When an attack is made on a position of that kind, no one ever dreams that the attack will be on the whole front. The attack is made on a little sap-head, and the sap-head may be yielded up with the best intentions, but it is vital to the whole position. Its surrender in this case may bring in its train the raising of the whole question of Sunday labour and an attack upon the sanctity of Sunday, which has hitherto guarded the working people from being exploited. Nothing need be said by me about the importance of one day's rest in seven. We in this House puzzle ourselves trying to devise measures for the improvement of the lot of the people, but no brand of politician ever devised anything so valuable to the ordinary people of this country as the rule of one day's rest in seven. That is the position which we have to maintain.
Why do we want this day's rest? It is not merely rest from physical labour. It is rest from the discontents of life and from the idea that you must pay money to make your life a tolerable thing. It is one day's rest from the economic question altogether. It is the one day on which Mammon is pushed off his perch for a little, and I think it is a good thing for the whole nation that such a day of rest should be observed. It is easy to say that we can give the people who would have to work on that day, another day as a holiday, but it is not so easy to rest when older people are working. Then, the ordinary family, split up as it 684 may be in different occupations throughout the week, ought to have one day on which they can all meet together and enjoy that family intercourse which is such an important feature in our life.
I must say that I have found it difficult to recognise the cinema in some of the descriptions which have been given this afternoon. We have been told about its uplifting power, how it can regenerate the tired mind, how the morals and sobriety of the people are bound to be improved by it. As I listened to these encomiums and the applause which greeted their repetition, I wondered if there was ever any virtue in this country before the cinema was invented. We are told about the rate at which morals and sobriety have improved as a consequence of the cinema. It must follow then that that rate of improvement has been greater in London than in Manchester, where there have never been any Sunday cinemas, but that is a question which I will leave London Members to fight out with the representatives of cities where there are no Sunday cinemas. No doubt the rule of not working to make money on Sunday produces inconveniences like any rule of general application. I have heard of a Scottish farmer complaining about the bad weather during the harvest time. He said there had been only five fine days during the harvest and that three of them had been snaffled up by the Sabbath. But, however irksome, in a particular case, may be the application of that general rule, I think that the House will agree, with the assent of the whole nation, that it has been a most valuable thing which we would all like to see preserved.
The speeches which we have heard today would make one think that the cinema had become an absolute necessity to everybody. If it has become a necessity of modern life, then that is an appalling thought. I cannot view with any equanimity the vision of an England whose citizens have to be drugged, on the seven days of the week, by the sensations of the films, by the glistening tears on "close-ups," by the harrowing sentiments, and by the scenes of fabulous and unreal luxury portrayed there. I cannot think that in any decent society such a recourse is rendered necessary to the people. If it be so—if there is nothing 685 for our people but this desperate stimulation on Sundays—then there is something wrong with society and we had better sit down and think about it, instead of going to cinemas, to forget all about it. I make the appeal that we ought to preserve this loophole which we have at present, this day of rest by which we escape from the round of trying to get money, and of having to pay money to be amused. We want Sunday to be a day of peace, of calm, or rest, because it is only calm that can heal the blows of this contentious and struggling world. It is not Hollywood that can do it.
We have to consider one aspect of the case which is vitally important to a large number of people, and that is the religious side of the question. One has to approach that, of course, with the greatest diffidence, and it is very reluctantly that I mention it at all, but the fact is that there are large numbers of people in this country who regard Sunday observance as founded, not on the Act of 1780, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but on a much older and more venerable code than that, and these people, who feel strongly on the matter, so strongly that they have bombarded us with postcards, are by no means the least valuable element in society; they are not the least steady, the least independent, the least patriotic members of society that we have. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are all intolerant."] The lack of intolerance often arises from nothing but a lack of conviction, and it is often no good sign from anyone that he is content to let everything happen without raising his voice in protest and saying what he thinks right about it.
After all, if these people are right, let me put it in this way: Is there any one of the Ten Commandments, that admirably brief code, that we would treat in the same way as we propose treating the Fourth Commandment by this Bill? "Honour thy father and thy mother." Yes, but you do not need to do it if the local authorities give you permission not to. "Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's goods." Yes, but if your town council says you can covet them, you can, provided you give some of them to the hospitals. There is in this matter a question of principle, and I believe that principle on this occasion will prove the 686 soundest wisdom. I can see nothing ahead of us, if we pass this Bill, but a long series of wrangles which can lead us nowhere. I can see nothing but a still further weakening of the position of Sunday as a day of rest and recuperation, and I think that in this case the greatest wisdom that the House could use would be to recognise the force of opinion which believes that it would be a bad thing. Whatever steps they take to try to settle this very difficult, thorny, local, London question, let them leave Sunday as it is at the present time, and not thrust all this trouble on the local authorities as is proposed in the Bill.
§ Miss WILKINSON
I disagree with most of the remarks of the last speaker except one, and I am inclined to agree with him that it is a pity that this Bill throws the onus of decision on the local authorities. This House is the source of law, and it is the duty of this House to face up to a big national question like this, to decide for the nation as a whole what ought to be done, and not to throw the decision back on the local authorities, which are much more susceptible to local pressure than is this House. Therefore, I regret that the Bill does not decide once and for all on this vexed question of Sunday opening. I am very strongly in favour of the Sunday opening of cinemas, and I agree with the last speaker that it will be impossible to confine the Bill to the cinemas. Obviously, once cinemas are admitted, theatres will have to be admitted too.
I believe that the present position is one that differentiates unfairly against the working classes of this country. If you can afford to pay to belong to a private golf or tennis club, and to have a subscription to a film society or a private theatre society, you can spend your whole Sunday playing golf or tennis and then go back and have your choice of film shows or a theatre society in one of those places which specialise in producing plays that the censor will never pass for public performance. But you are not allowed, if you can only afford a shilling for a game on a public court or half-a-crown for a seat in the cinema, to see a cinema performance, or even an opera, or a performance of "Hamlet" at the "Old Vic" or some similar place.
687 The position seems to me to differentiate very seriously against the people who cannot afford the heavy subscriptions for Sunday amusements, and all this is done in the name of an Act which was not aimed against theatres at all. The Act was aimed against things that are permitted now. It was originally designed to prevent the preaching of atheistic doctrines in rooms in London, and it was not primarily concerned with theatres.
I quite agree with those who talk about the necessity of preventing the workers having a seven-day week, but the workers are protected by this Bill. I have received many hundreds of postcards from my constituents asking me to vote against this Bill. I represent an iron and steel constituency, and I have represented it for seven years, but I have not heard one protest from those people against the steel workers working on Sunday. What is the alternative to this Bill? The man who happened to come to clean my windows this morning put it in a very human way when he said: "I said to my wife last night, I will go along and have a glass of beer while you get ready, and then we will both go to the pictures.' What will happen if we are stopped going is that I will stay at the 'pub.' and she will sit at home."
Those who represent the great northern industrial towns know that on a Sunday evening the main street of the town is crowded with young folk and old folk parading up and down in a completely aimless way, but every public-house in the place is crammed, and if it is a wet and cold Sunday night, people will go into the public-houses who do not usually go there, in order to get out of the wet. It is all very well to talk about staying at home if you have got a well-stocked library and a comfortable home and a room to yourself, if you want peace and quiet, but within a mile of where I stand I have visited a house with an average of eight people in a room. Are we going to say that those people have got to stay at home on Sunday night? The reason why those homes are at all tolerable is that the people who live in them are not all in at the same time.
§ Miss WILKINSON
In this particular case these people are not particularly poor in the sense of being down and out. They are nearly all of them workers at the Somers Town sidings of the railway company, and they cannot get a house and so are living in this condition because there is no other accommodation for them. They are not people who cannot afford the small amount necessary for a cinema seat. As a previous speaker has said, the cinema is cheap. It is essentially the amusement of the poor, whether we like it or not. Even if people say you must not have any alternative to going to church, after all the churches are only open from 6.30 to 8, and what is going to happen after that? I would rather object, speaking as a member of a Christian Church myself, to the suggestion that the Church has fallen so low in this country that the only way in which to get people to go there is to shut up every alternative place. I should hate to have to speak to a congregation that had arrived there simply because there was no other place to go to. The Rev. Frederick Maurice, who was preaching on this matter as long ago as 1850, said:The Christian religion made its way in the Roman Empire against theatre and amphitheatre and ample facilities for gratifying every intellectual as well as every brutal taste.
§ Miss WILKINSON
What happened to Christianity? Do not the preachers of the present day trust themselves sufficiently to stand up to the competition of the theatres and make their churches so interesting that people will want to go there? Those parsons who are preaching a live Christianity and who are in touch with modern thought are filling their churches, and it is the old-fashioned parsons who complain of empty pews.
Everybody knows how necessary it is to have one day's rest in seven, and we all agree, but what constitutes rest? Is it merely sitting still and doing nothing and being so bored still that you long for the alarum clock to wake you up on Monday morning? Surely rest includes recreation, and reasonable recreation. I am not suggesting that it is necessary to go and see "The King of Jazz" or "Hot for Paris." I should be glad if you could improve the present film shows 689 and cut out much that is shown at the present time. I would not mind if the local authorities took power to supervise films themselves, and I wish Parliament would take power to supervise films generally, to be shown not only on Sunday but on other days as well.
But here we have a large mass of Inarticulate people who do not write postcards. They are people who are only asking for this House to do the reasonable thing. We are not driving people to the cinemas who do not want to go there. All that we are saying is that there should be a chance for those people for whom, in the crowded conditions of town life, there is so little else they can do. Sunday should not be a day of dread instead of a day of rest. Some of us who were brought up in very sabbatarian homes know that Sunday could be a very real dread. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has spoken feelingly of the old days of Sabbath quiet, but I wonder if he could not go hack in his mind to what those days were really like. Some of us remember that on Sundays we were not allowed to read a book or a magazine or anything but a hymn-book or a, prayer book, and that we simply dreaded Sunday, so that Sunday was very often a day of penance rather than a day of rest. I do not think that religion has suffered by making Sunday a more tolerant day. If people are driven, they tend to react in the opposite direction, and I feel that this House is essentially a House which ought to take the average view of the ordinary person and give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ 7.0 p.m.
In accordance with your decision, Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to move the Amendment which stands in my name on the Order Paper. I put it down for a specific reason. According to the Bill, Scotland and Northern Ireland are excluded from its provisions, and should it happen to have a Second Reading and become law, it will apply not only to England but to Wales as well. The last speaker has referred to the sense of justice and fairness of this House. If this House were to act in accordance with its custom in the past, it would have excluded Wales from the provisions of the Bill. This House has already recognised the difference which exists between the in- 690 habitants of the country from which I come and part of which I represent in this House, and the rest of the inhabitants of this country. We have, for instance, A Sunday Closing Act. Mention has already been made to-day that people in this country, if the cinemas were closed, would be driven to the public houses. That cannot happen in Wales, because there are no cinemas open on Sunday in Wales, nor are there any public houses open on Sunday in that country. That is the position so far as we in Wales are concerned, and I should like the House to take this matter with that seriousness which it should give to questions of this kind. Wales differs from the rest of Britain, historically, racially, linguistically, and in no way are the characteristics of that nation shown more than in its loyalty to its religious past and to its religious tradition. I am not aware that there ever has been any request from any section in Wales for the opening of cinemas and theatres on Sundays.
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), in the course of his remarks, said it was not proposed to do anything new in this Bill. If that is the case, what reason is there for excluding Scotland and Northern Ireland? The fact is that this Bill does introduce a new feature into the life of the community. It empowers local authorities, after passing a resolution, to give licences for the opening of cinemas in the various localities. That is quite a new principle. The local authority has no legal power of that kind at the present time, and all that this Bill seeks to do is to legalise what was illegal in the past. No illegality, however, has been committed in Wales in these matters. Why then should Wales be included in the terms of this Bill? My request is that, if this Bill should get a Second Reading, the Home Secretary should give a definite promise that he will treat Wales in exactly the same manner as he has treated Scotland and Northern Ireland, and leave it out altogether from the provisions of the Bill.
Mention has been made by the hon. Lady of the dread with which she looked forward to Sunday as a child. I, myself, was brought up in a Nonconformist home under strict religious tuition. I have no recollection that Sunday was a 691 day of dread. All I can remember is that when a lad I was as eager as anybody to run to the chapel at one o'clock in the afternoon, where I was taught Bible history and various other things. Why should we take it for granted that the people of this country have forgotten their religious traditions? Why should we be afraid to lay emphasis on Sunday observance to-day? Why should we think it is a great and wonderful thing that people should have amusement at every hour of their lives? Is there not something greater, is there not a nobler tradition in this country than that, is there not something which has made this country a leader in all matters of progress throughout the world? If we give people every opportunity for amusement and allow them to have it every day, all sense of what is right and what is wrong, and of what is just and what is highest will soon be lost. I appeal to the House not to let it be said that we in this generation made legal what our fathers regarded as wrong and as a sin against the Divine law. Why should we to-day by an Act of Parliament make such a thing as that right in the sight of the people. It is not something that we ought to be pleased to hand down to posterity. I maintain that it is high time that we should give some expression to the general view, or at least to the view of a very great proportion of the people of this country, that this is a matter which goes down deep into the minds, the hearts, and the souls of the people, and that we should refuse to sanction and make legal something that is undoubtedly not desired by the people of this country.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
In the few remarks I shall make to the House, while expressing my personal opinion, I shall try to focus attention on what, I believe, is the underlying agreement in all parts of the House on certain matters. We all feel very much alike about Sunday, and are all equally determined to preserve what is known as "the English Sunday." I want to speak a word from the point of view of one who is a Sabbatarian, brought up as strictly as any Member of this House, and who believes strongly that the proper observance of Sunday is a Divine law which the State has got the duty of enforcing, and which neither the State nor the individual can ignore without exposing himself to the 692 just judgment of God. That being said, let me ask the House to consider for one moment two points, first, what is the situation with which we are dealing, and, secondly, what is the Sabbatarian principle on which we ought to solve that situation. The situation, with which we are dealing, is not a question solely or even mainly of the cinema. That was made quite clear by the Home Secretary, and has been ignored by nearly every speaker since on both sides. This question began not 20 or 25 years ago, but 42 years ago when the London County Council decided that it would not prosecute in the case of concerts on Sundays. As a matter of fact, it dates back much further than that, but, at any rate, it dates hack 42 years. The museums in this country were open on Sundays 35 years ago, but for many years the custom of having Sunday concerts has grown up all over the country. Outside London the cinema problem dealt with by this Bill is one of comparative unimportance. What is of importance is Sunday music. I do not say I like the character of all the Sunday concerts any more than I like the character of all the Sunday cinemas. Everyone in this House is agreed that, if a Bill were introduced to close down Sunday concerts all over the country, that Bill would not have a majority, of votes. The hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken is wrong in supposing Wales does not break the Act of 1780. I daresay he would find many activities of Welsh choirs in the mining valleys of Wales which are utterly illegal and at the mercy of a common informer. That is the issue before the House.
Let the House not decide that issue upon speeches like the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Balham (Sir A. Butt). The unpleasant part of this whole question is that it has been made the occasion for the competing selfishness of various commercial interests. The theatres of London took the step of bringing an action to test the legality of the practice of the London County Council, while more than one local authority up and down the country has been threatened by the cinemas that, unless they follow the example of the London County Council and grant a licence to the cinemas to open on Sundays, the cinemas will bring an action to declare that Sunday concerts are illegal. If we 693 throw out this Bill they will be able to do that. The effect of this House refusing to deal with this question in any way will be to open up a long course of uncertainty and all sorts of litigation, threats, blackmail, and log-rolling of all kinds, and to fill the minds of the public with complete uncertainty. There will be utter uncertainty as to whether these Sunday concerts can go on.
That is not to say that I think the solution of this Bill is right; I do not think it is. It is not restoring the status quo. The Sunday concerts are licensed, not by the local authority but by the magistrates, to whom the local authority have passed it on by adopting the Public Health Act, 1890. To say to a local council, "If you want to go on with your concerts, you must have every election in future fought on the question of Sunday concerts and of Sunday cinemas" is an entirely wrong solution. Therefore, I am not defending the form of local option proposed in this Bill. That, however, does not relieve the House of the responsibility of seeing that the law of Sunday observance is made possible for the people and of seeing that the matter is not left to common informers. T1.e Committee can, if they like, wipe out three-quarters of this Bill. If, however, we throw in our hands, we are failing in a duty quite as paramount as the religious duty to observe Sunday, namely, the duty to legislate for justice and to enforce the law, and to make the law as it should be
I want to ask the House to consider what is the real Sabbatarian argument. In case some opponent of this Bill should pick me up on this point, I am quite aware that concerts in big halls, like the Albert Hall and Queen's Hall, are within the law, because they make no charge for admission. They make a charge for seats and have some free seats in a remote part of the hall to which no one wishes to go. That, clearly, cannot be carried out in a small hall. You cannot reserve a small hall in that way. In the second place, and this is very vital, nobody knows the limits to which that decision will run. The only effect of the decision, as described in Lord Halsbury's "Laws of England," is that to charge for seats is not incompatible with free admission. That is a very doubtful statement on which to conduct the whole organisation of Sunday concerts.
694 As to the principle of Sunday observance, I believe that, in the main, the view still prevails that we should preserve Sunday as a day of rest, but that it is a feast and not a fast. It is a day of recreation, and few of us would like to lay down definite limits as to the kind of recreation, physical, mental or moral, in which our fellow-citizens have the right to indulge. It follows from that—and we are discussing not what the citizen ought to do, but what the law may justly enforce—that the law may justly enforce a prohibition of working on Sunday, in so far as the power of the Government extends, except such work as is necessary to the public or is "for the public convenience," which is the phrase commonly used. But the State has no clear duty to prohibit entertainments as such. Obviously the law as it at present stands does sin against that principle. The Lord's Day Observance Act not only proceeds against Sunday occupations and amusements as such, but it is unlawful, under the Act of Charles II, to have a cricket match on Sunday between two village teams, and in the same way billiards are prohibited in any public place, although the game involves the employment of no labour whatsoever. I should be very loath to say to what extent golf clubs are legal or illegal. I suppose, as private institutions—and that is where the rich man always gets a certain advantage—they would have a better chance of coming within the law than public sports. It is my belief that it is for that reason that you have this agitation, inarticulate very largely, but none the less there. Sunday observance is identified in people's minds with a prohibition of amusement as such, and that, I believe, is no part of the Divine law or of the mandate given by Heaven to the State.
It is worse than that. We should have very much less agitation against restrictions on Sunday if we did not impose so many restrictions on our citizens on weekdays. The trouble about Sunday observance now is that it has become identified in the minds of the public with the lady who used to be called "Mrs. Grundy" and who is now inaccurately called "D.O.R.A." It is we, the legislators of the country, who have tended by our action, to reduce the question of observance of Sunday to-day to 695 the level of merely one of the foibles of D.O.R.A. That, I think, is a confession which should be made with a good deal of a sense of shame by legislators who claim, as I claim, to act in this matter on Christian principle. I am afraid we have gone very far in that way to make the law of God of none effect by our tradition. This House, I claim, has a duty, not merely to enforce a law for Sunday observance, but to go to the most infinite trouble to see that the law is commended to the sense of the citizens as reasonable and just.
The law has got out of touch with the citizen, not because the citizen dislikes Sunday observance and not because the public generally have no sense of the observance of Sunday. I believe that to be utterly untrue. I believe that the religious feeling upon which that observance is based is coming back in floods to this country at the present time. There is much more than there was 20 years ago. The public has got out of touch, because, in some respects, our law is, by Christian standards, obsolete, and because it has become confused in the public mind with things which have nothing to do with Sunday observance. It is our duty, if we are worthy to lead this nation in recognising the law of God, to take infinite pains to see that that law is commended in all respects to the judgment of the public. We cannot shirk or abrogate that duty by getting rid of this Bill on Second Reading. We must take it to Committee and seriously endeavour to bring the law up to date and into true accord with the principles of the observance of Sunday.
Mr. ERNEST WINTERTON
It was inevitable that this Bill should be discussed from what has been called the Sabbatarian point of view. There is one argument which has not been brought to the notice of the House, and which I desire to emphasise. The value of the law to-day, of the observance of Sunday, has not been entirely in the encouragement it may have given to attendance at public worship, but that it has made an effective barrier against the exploitation of the workers on Sunday. We talk a great deal about rationalisation; it is significant that during the Industrial Revolution and during the development of industry in this country, no real inroads for profitmaking purposes were made on 696 Sunday as a day of rest. It may be said, and probably with some truth, that that was because capitalists in industry were Sabbatarians, and also, it may be said, that they did not carry into the other days of the week some of the principles that they professed on the Sabbath. The fact remains that the institution of Sunday as a non-working day has been probably the greatest barrier against the exploitation of the working-class for seven days a week instead of six, or for six and a half instead of five and a half.
On that ground, I have very grave doubts as to the wisdom of further encouraging Sunday labour, as this Bill is bound to do. The pressure of production, in other countries where there is not this weekly stoppage, is bound in time to have some effect on this country, and I venture to say that we shall shortly be seeing an intensified movement for increasing the amount of Sunday labour. I have been in my constituency during the past week, and yesterday I went to a hospital and saw seven or eight miners who have been seriously injured in an explosion at a pit. In this pit, so the Press tells me, there were 80 men working last Sunday morning, in direct contravention of spirit of the Act which we passed only a few months ago. Hon. Members, especially from these benches, ought to hesitate very much before removing what is a very effective barrier to the extension of Sunday labour in industry.
I can see no real distinction between calling upon a baker to provide bread, a tailor to provide clothes, or a builder to provide houses, on the one hand, and on the other, calling upon a cinema proprietor, a theatre manager, or the organiser of a concert to provide entertainment. All are services equally needed in these days for the ordered life of men and women. If you set up a principle, that you are to allow the provision of entertainment which ministers to one part of your nature on seven days in the week, how are you, logically, to stop the provision for your physical necessities on seven days a week 4 It seems to me to be a very dangerous principle that the workers themselves should be invited, on the ground that their pleasures are being ministered to, to make it easier for them to be employed seven days in a week, 697 in regard to what are certainly not their pleasures, but their needs of earning a livelihood.
I suppose it is suggested without due thought, that if you require a man to work on the seventh day, you can make it up to him by providing him with another rest-day during the week. I doubt very much whether any such expedient can be carried out. I spent two years travelling this country to get one day s rest in seven for the police force. One of the main points I always urged was that, although we wanted one day's rest in seven for every policeman, I was always anxious that as far as possible it should be Sunday, because Sunday has a value as a rest-day which does not attach to the ordinary day of the week. Ask any railwayman, or engine driver, or policeman, whether Tuesday is as good as Sunday, and he will tell you that it is not, and that it cannot possibly be so. That being so, it was recognised that a certain number of policemen must work on Sunday. The only people I think who are out-and-out supporters of labour on seven days of the week are burglars, and other evilly-disposed persons. They make no sort of distinction and do not want even one day's rest from their occupation.
You are up against the fact that you cannot give to the ordinary workman another day just as good as Sunday. It is impossible to do it. What is Sunday to-day for the average working man or woman? In the Provinces, at least, Sunday is a visiting day, when relatives can be seen, visits can be made, and Tom can be found in the garden. You cannot get that kind of rest day by giving a man Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Friday. The real value of Sunday as a rest day is that it is common to a large number of the workers, and it is because of the invasion of that principle that I am hesitant about the merits of this Bill.
Take the case of the actors. An hon. Member who has a right to speak both for the theatrical and the cinema profession tells us that if cinemas are to be opened on Sundays, then, inevitably, theatres must be allowed to open, and after that we shall have greyhound racing and dirt-track racing, and there will be a general enlargement of work on Sunday. Obviously, the profession of the actor will suffer if he is to be called upon to work 698 seven days a week. [Interruption.] I have not made a slip of the tongue. Substitutes for the leading actors will not be accepted in their place, so it is no good to say that actors can have another day off from the theatre in place of Sunday. Will it help the theatre industry if people are told that Marie Tempest will be playing on Sunday night but resting on Monday night I Obviously, the theatre will suffer if patrons, when they get there, find that the actors and actresses in the leading parts are having their rest day; and inevitably the pressure of the competition with the cinemas will mean a seven-day week for actors and actresses. I do not wonder at their opposition to the Bill. Admittedly, in the case of cinemas, the machine does not need a rest. I was interested the other day to read the following notes by a biographer of the famous Mrs. Siddons, who in these days would, I suppose, be acting twice nightly, with a matinee thrown in occasionally. He says:During one season, a season of great exertion, our charming actress acted 71 times.In the course of that season she played 17 different parts, and nine of them only were characters which she had previously played. That was spoken of as a season of great exertion. We shall do grave and serious injury to what I regard as one of the most important of the arts if we make actors work seven days a week. It will also necessitate a great deal more travelling, especially in the case of provincial theatres. This form of Sunday entertainment has already been tried. Many years ago I heard Doris Keane in "Romance," as, I suppose, have many other Members of this House. When she went to Chicago she was required to act seven days a week, and after 10 weeks of that she fainted on the stage, as one would expect. It has been proved in America that the seven-day theatre is a failure and not a success.
§ Mr. BECKETT
Is the hon. Member aware that there are many flourishing societies in America presenting plays on Sundays?
I am not dealing with production societies. I am dealing with the strain upon the individual actor of playing a leading part seven days a week. The profession will suffer from it, and the art of acting will suffer; it will 699 certainly deteriorate and be degraded if we encourage those conditions. For those reasons, amongst others, some of the plays which have gone to Chicago have failed, and very often Sunday performances of them have been voluntarily abandoned. I am not, like the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), a cinema "fan," but the other day I went to the cinema and listened to a talking film. It was quite a long time before I became accustomed to the peculiar intonation of the characters; I understand it is an American representation of what was once the English language. I was not impressed by the experience, and I do not want to encourage that kind of entertainment as against the theatre.
An hon. Member on the other side also said he did not want to encourage more money to go to America, and the Bill will certainly lead in that direction. Arguments have been submitted regarding the benefit charities derive from Sunday performances at cinemas. If the cinemas desire to support charitable institutions there is nothing to prevent them doing it, and I should be pleased to know that they were admitting patrons free on Sunday evenings, and really giving something to charity, instead of, as the figures of the hon. Member for Balham and Tooting (Sir A. Butt) showed, making a considerable bonus upon their charitable and philanthropic enterprise. There is one other argument of which I fail to see the force, although I have very great sympathy with it. I hope that when the Royal Commission on Licensing reports we shall have a recommendation for the Sunday closing of licensed premises. Of course, I am hoping and expecting that.
If one were not an optimist one would not enter the portals of this House. If there are those who feel, as I feel, that there would be a danger of people going to public houses if the doors of the cinema were not open on Sundays, then the obvious thing to do is to close the licensed premises, or at any rate to close the drinking bars. I am not in favour of the closing of licensed premises, although I am in favour of the 700 abolition of the drinking bar. [Interruption.] I think that is a very unfortunate phrase. Temperance reformers have dropped into the habit of talking about the closing of the public houses. They meet a legitimate need. The competition which exists between the cinema and the public house can be dealt with in the logical way by not allowing either of them to be open on the seventh day of the week, and thus creating need for more work.
I am referring to the Sunday. [Interruption.] I am obliged to my hon. and scholastic Friend for the correction he has been able to administer. In my judgment it is not the Puritans whom the working classes have to fear, but the profiteers, the people who want to commercialise Sunday. [Interruption.] An hon. Friend refers to the clerics. I am not defending the clerics. If they do not make their services attractive enough and preach sermons good enough to bring people to their churches, then I shall waste no sympathy upon them. The point I wish to emphasise is that this House ought not to encourage the commercialisation of entertainment on Sundays. As an hon. Member has already said, it marks a deterioration of our national spirit, and shows how feeble and weak we are, when we have to pay people to entertain us not only on six days of the week but on the seventh day also. A circular I received this morning stated that practically the whole of the Press of the country was in favour of this Rill. If I wanted any other argument to mike me hesitant about supporting it, it would he that statement. Not so long ago all parties in this House were united in declining to follow the lead of the Press, and I venture to say that the Press is quite as often a misleader and misinterpreter of public opinion as it is a real guide to what the public are thinking.
As the First Commissioner of Works said, if any of us on this side of the House address a political meeting on Sunday we do not get our speeches reported, because the gentlemen of the Press are not there, quite rightly claiming that they should be free from their ordinary avocations on, at any rate, 701 one day in the week. If they were consistent, therefore, they would not be enthusiastic supporters of this Measure. It is quite easy to scribble like fury about Puritans, and suggest that every body who has economic or other doubts about the wisdom of this Measure is a combination of a Pecksniff and a Stiggins—that is one of the easiest things in the world to do—but it does not affect the real fundamental arguments about a Measure of this kind. I will conclude what I have to say in words which are far better than my own. George Gissing, whom no one would ever accuse of being a Puritan, wrote:There was a time when it delighted me to flash my satire on the English Sunday. I could see nothing but antiquated foolishness and modern hypocrisy in this weekly pause from labour and from bustle. Now, I prize it as an inestimable boon, and dread every encroachment upon its restful stillness. When out of England I have always missed the Sunday quietude, this difference from ordinary days which seems to affect the very atmosphere. It is not enough that people should go to church and that shops should be closed and dockyards silent; these holiday notes do not make Sunday. Think as one may of its significance, our day of rest has a peculiar sanctity, felt, I imagine, in a more or less vague way by those who wish to see the village lads at cricket and theatres open in the town. The idea is surely as good a one as ever came to heavy-laden mortals. Let one whole day in every week be removed from the common life of the world, lifted above common pleasures as above common cares. With all the abuses of fanaticism, this thought remained rich in blessings; Sunday has always brought large good to the generality, and to a chosen number has been the very life of the soul, however heretically some of them understood the word. If the ancient use perish from among us, so much the worse for our country.
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
I want, first of all, to ask the House to support the Second Reading of this Bill in order that it can be taken upstairs to Committee. I do so, because, after listening to the speeches in opposition to this Measure, I believe that the objections which have been raised can be met in Committee. For instance, the hon. Member who spoke from the Liberal benches on behalf of Wales was merely arguing in favour of the addition of the word "Wales" to Clause 7, and points of that kind can be met during the Committee stage. I am optimistic enough to believe that there is sufficient agreement on the main principles of the Bill in order to 702 get it through the Committee stage with but little opposition. If the Bill is given a Second Reading there still remains the Committee stage, the Report stage, and the Third Reading, and, if the points which have been raised by hon. Members are not dealt with in Committee, of course they can be raised at later stages of the Bill.
Although I am supporting the Second Reading, I do not agree that the Bill is perfect, but I do not think that hon. Members need fear that the Bill will be broadened; in fact, I know that hon. Members are going to move Amendments to restrict and not to broaden the scope of the Bill. I do not believe that the rejection of this Measure will solve the problem; it will only shelve it for a time. In this Debate, the Home Secretary, and speaker after speaker, have told us that the Acts of 1625 and 1780, are not adequate to the needs of the present time. The Memorandum issued by the council of British Ministers says:We cannot regard the Act of 1781, passed for the purpose of preventing certain abuses and profanations on the Lord's Day then existent in London, as applicable to the social conditions and mode of government which obtain in our country to-day.Parliament has to deal with the situation, and by turning down the Second Reading of this Bill hon. Members will not solve the problem. The London County Council is in the unique position of having had the experience of carrying out the provisions of a Bill of this kind under the impression that for the last 20 years or thereabouts they were legally entitled to licence cinema performances. Therefore, the experience of that council is of inestimable value. I think it was in 1916 that the first cinemas were licensed. At that time conditions were laid down as to hours, and there was also a condition that cinemas must give their profits, after deducting certain expenses, to charities. That was not laid down to appease anybody's conscience, but in order to prevent competition with other entertainments which were not permitted to open. The council said to these people, "Very well, if you open, we will not let you make profits, but you must give your profits to the hospitals." That condition was laid down to prevent competition with other entertainments. It is undoubtedly true that 703 the system has worked well in London, and social workers are ready to testify that the system has been an advantage. I am sure that the police and other authorities will agree, as Ministers of all denominations have agreed, that the principle of this Bill has worked well in London under the scheme of the London County Council.
A number of hon. Members are afraid that if the Bill becomes law there will be a bitter fight in the local elections on this question. Surely, if that statement were true, that would have happened at all the London County Council elections which have taken place every three years, during which the County Council have had power to grant or not to grant these licences. I have fought London County Council elections as a candidate, and have taken part in other elections, and I can assure the House that the matter referred to has never been raised, and it was not raised even in March last when this was a vital question in London. The subject has never been raised as a religious issue at a London County Council election, and I do not think it will ever arise. If there had been any validity in that argument, I am sure that we should have had the question raised at elections before now.
I have spoken to a number of representative people in London, and to people in my own constituency on this subject, and I have also received deputations, and I have concluded that an overwhelming number of people want things to be left as they are at the present time. I have asked people: "Do you want the cinemas closed, or do you want the law left as it is?" The reply which I have invariably received is: "No, the system has worked well in the past; the Council are careful how they grant licences, and, generally speaking, we have no objection whatsoever to the present system, and, if you leave things as they are, we shall be perfectly content."
It is all very well to say that without the cinemas people would give more money to the hospitals. I am a member of the committee of the Metropolitan Hospital, and we get a certain sum of money every year from the cinemas. Therefore, it cuts no ice to hear the hon. Member for Balham (Sir A. Butt) say that the cinemas do not pay their share. Last year we got £1,764 for the Metro- 704 politan Hospital purely from the Sunday opening of cinemas, and the year previously we had a similar sum. Therefore, we contemplate with consternation the idea of the House rejecting this Bill, because we should lose as contributions to that hospital nearly £2,000 a year. It is no use saying that the public do not give as much money as they ought to do in support of the hospitals, the fact is that if this Bill is rejected about £2,000 a year income will be lost to the hospital which I have mentioned. The sum that will be lost in the case of some other hospitals is bigger because some of them receive as much as £5.000 a year from this source. The hospitals have two main ways of raising money. The first is by organising competitions and entertainments and methods of that kind by which you can induce people to spend money and the profits from which come to the hospitals. The second way of raising money is by voluntary contributions. It is no use people saying "It does not matter if this £2,000 a year does not come in to the Metropolitan Hospital; you can get it by voluntary subscriptions." If we cannot get the money we require with the assistance of the cinemas, we cannot get it from other people.
May I point out to hon. Members that charities lately have suffered more from the reformers' zeal than any other form of activity A short time ago we organised a competition to try and get more money for the Metropolitan Hospital. We drew up a scheme which we thought was within the law and did not come within the category of sweepstakes, and we thought that we had discovered a scheme by which the whole of the profit would come to the hospital. The police were notified by one of these reformers—in other words a "Common Informer—"and it was discovered that the competition was illegal, and that sum of money vas lost. If this Bill is rejected, there is a chance of another £2,000 a year being taken away from the Metropolitan Hospital, and this would be most disheartening. It seems to me that one of the finest tenets of religion is to help one another, and the cinemas are helping the hospitals in this way. For these reasons, I hope the House will not close down the cinemas on Sunday and thus take away an important source of revenue from the hospitals.
705 8.0 p.m.
I do not intend to say anything on the social or religious side of this question. The right and proper way of spending the Sabbath is entirely a matter for our individual conscience. If I did not think it right to go to a cinema on Sunday I should not go, but, on the other hand, I do not think it is my duty to force my own ideas of Sabbath keeping on other people who do not hold the same ideas. The days of religious intolerance are over, as are the days when the squire forced his tenants to go to church and punished them if they did not do so. The fact that the clergy themselves are divided on this question shows that there is no clear dividing line on the religious and moral issue. In conclusion, I would say that, if I thought that this Bill, in the words of these postcards, would commercialise Sunday or turn the British Sabbath into a Continental one, I certainly would not vote for it, but I do not think that that will be the case, any more than it is thought to be the case by the large number of clergy—I think 29 bishops and 24 members of the Free Churches—who have signed a manifesto in favour of the Bill. We have experience in London of the working of a scheme for the Sunday opening of cinemas. It has had a beneficial rather than a harmful effect, and most of us in London have come to the conclusion that it really supplies a legitimate need. If anyone doubted that, I think the experience of such a night as last night would show what a need there is for some place to which people can go. I am not going to stress that point; it has been admirably put by the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) and others; but I appeal to the House to give a. Second Reading to this Bill, even if it reserves the right, if the Bill be not drastically amended, to turn it down completely on Third Reading. This House has got to deal with the question, and I appeal to the House not to shirk the issue, but to send the Bill to a Committee and face the true facts of the case, which, as we know in London, will have to be dealt with sooner or later.
§ Mr. ISAACS
Some question has arisen, in connection with this Bill, as to the inclusion of theatres in the right to open on Sundays. Two days ago I went into the Library to look at the Debates that took place when the Bill 706 of 1781 was before this House. The hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) has already told us that that Measure was not based upon theatres, but was introduced to deal with the opposition of the Churches at that time to debates on atheism and other matters, and I think it will be found that the opening of theatres was used as an argument in favour of the passing of that Bill. Mr. Powys said that:He disapproved of all such meetings"—referring to the meetings at Carlisle House—on Sunday evening. If the poor people wanted amusement, they might for a shilling go to the Devil at Sadler's Wells, and if a person had half a guinea they might go to the Opera House.Therefore, it would seem that, in the passage of the Bill of 1781, the opening of theatres and opera houses was used as an argument in favour of the Measure, and that the Measure was not directed against the opening of such places. This Bill is good as far as it goes, but the trouble is that it does not go far enough. I would like to say something from a personal point of view about these exhibitions in past times. I am a London Member, and, like the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken, I am also on the management committee of a large hospital, and I know what the opening of Sunday cinemas has meant to the receipts of that hospital. I represent a constituency which, in the Survey of London which has recently been made by an independent committee, is stated to be the most overcrowded district in the city of London, and, in fact, in the whole country. We have on the average 160 people to the acre in the Borough of Southwark, and I am wondering what would happen to those people on Sundays if our cinemas were closed and they had nothing to do but go to the public houses or roam the streets.
Many years ago I was a member of a boy's brigade in connection with the Wesleyan Church, to which I still belong, and in those days a Bible class formed part of the tuition of the boys, as it does to-day. Our Bible class was held in a little street called Earl Street, an off-shoot of Whitecross Street, in the Borough of Finsbury, and in the Parish of St. Luke's. Ft was a fearful place. We had an underground gymnasium, 707 and the gentleman who instructed our lads in their ordinary drill, and also in the Bible class, felt that it was not the right sort of place in which he could give us Bible teaching, so he decided to take us to Hampstead Heath on Sundays, and there we had our Bible class on the grass, followed by lunch, and then by scouting and otherwise amusing ourselves; and I remember to-day the scream of horror and indignation that went out from the rest of the attendants of that chapel, who Sunday after Sunday denounced this gentleman because he took us into God's open air to teach us our Bible lesson, instead of downstairs in a smelly gymnasium. From that time onwards I have always remembered that you can get real Christian knowledge in many ways besides just swotting over a book in some closed room.
Like the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough, I can remember what Sunday meant then. I remember that, as a boy at home, one could not read a book, one could not look at a picture-book, one could not even whistle a hymn, let alone sing a song; and we do not want to find this sort of thing growing upon us now. This Bill is going to permit, on Sundays, musical entertainments, cinemas, exhibitions of animals or of inanimate objects, and debates, but all other forms of public entertainment or amusement are excluded. I should like to ask, why has this reservation been made? Is it for fear of competition with the Church I respectfully submit that attendance at church or chapel is a form of entertainment. Those who go there go because they enjoy it. If they do not enjoy it, they are hypocrites for going, and why should they deny anyone else an enjoyment of another nature when they themselves are exercising their own form of enjoyment? It is quite true that, when you go to church or chapel, you do not pay for admission, but you are very clever if you can get out without paying to come out. On this question of competition, may I quote one reverend gentleman, who said:The Church is not in competition with theatres, cinemas and music halls. The closing of these places of amusement will not fill the churches. Those who want to worship will worship, and most probably go to a theatre afterwards, and will not necessarily be guilty of doing wrong.708 They will be no more guilty of doing wrong by going into a theatre after they have been to church than we in the boys' brigade were guilty of doing wrong in playing on the grass at Hampstead Heath after our bible class in the earlier part of the morning.
With regard to the payment of admission fees, admission fees may be paid wholesale or retail. I live not far from a noted golf course, and people come past my front door on Sundays, in cars and walking, in order to get to the golf course to play a game of golf. But they do not pay for their game on the Sunday; in other words, they do not pay each time they want to play. They do not pay a retail price; they buy their pleasure wholesale; they pay so many guineas and play when they like all the year round. At the same time, on a strict reading of the old Act, anyone who goes on to a golf course and pays in order that he may play a game on Sunday may find himself ruled out because he is paying for his entertainment. What, I would ask, is the difference? There are also theatres which are open on Sundays and to which people go to see plays, but in that case also they do not pay for each individual entertainment, but they pay a wholesale fee in the form of a subscription, and they can go as often as they like for that one subscription.
As the hour is advancing, and many other Members want to speak, I will not trouble the House with other questions that I had prepared dealing with the leaflets and postcards that we have had. I, perhaps, am lucky, but only seven postcards have been sent to me from my constituents, and four of them came from one house, from members of the same family. As to the printing of the postcards, I should like to inquire, as a printer, whether they were or were not printed on a Sunday, in view of the great rush that there was to get them out. On the question of Sunday labour, I know that, given safeguards for a six-day week—and, if those safeguards are not adequate in the Bill as it stands, they can be made so in Committee—many workers are willing to do Sunday work, for two reasons. In the first place, when we did Sunday work, we got extra pay, and were jolly glad to get it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Why? In order to buy extra food and luxuries which we could not get 709 without it. As one who worked for many years on Sundays on a newspaper, I was glad when my turn for Sunday work came, because the double pay that I got very often meant the difference between a pair of boots or no pair of boots the next week. We were glad to do Sunday work because of the extra pay.
Again, many of us were glad to work on Sundays as against another day because very often there were more adequate opportunities for recreation on a weekday than on the Sunday. Why should this objection be made in this case only? I hear no objections in regard to trains, taxi-cabs, omnibuses, trams, water, gas or electricity, while at a restaurant in the West End of London on Sunday evenings there is a regular cabaret show, in which people are engaged on Sundays as on every other evening, but you pay the same price for your dinner—a pretty high price—on Sundays as on weekdays, and, therefore, there is no extra charge for admission on Sundays. Again, there are bands in the parks, and the services of musicians are required, as well as of park keepers; there is wireless; there are singers at concerts; and it is very strange that there should be this limitation on concerts. The term "concert" can be given a very wide interpretation. For instance, some of the Sunday League programmes include stage plays—very small ones, it is true, but still stage plays. If they were Shakespearian plays they might be ruled out, but you would be able to go to the Trocadero, where "Shake Legs" are in operation.
On the question of the payment of profits to charity, it is not necessary to add much to what was said by the hon. Member for Balham and Tooting (Sir A. Butt). The hon. and gallant Member for North Hackney (Captain A. Hudson) referred to the amount of money received by charities from the cinemas last year, and I find that in a technical publication it was stated that the profits for charity in 1930 were £110,000, that is to say, some £2,100 per week. There were over 250 cinemas in London opening, so that that works out at an average of something like £8 per cinema per week paid to charity. If that be the case with cinemas, we can realise the wonderful work that our theatrical and music-hall artistes have done for charity, which would represent in the long run a far larger amount. May I, in conclusion, quote the Reverend 710 J. E. C. Welldon, the Dean of Durham, as follows:It is better to spend part of Sunday in a music hall or cinema than in the public house. People do not gain much spiritual good by congregating in the streets; they might gain more good by listening to a concert or looking at an exhibition of high character.There is a Cockney saying:You pays your money, and you takes your choice!It is we who want to go to these entertainments who pay our money, and I respectfully submit to the House that we are entitled to take our choice—that it should be open to us to choose to what form of entertainment we will go. I have never been to a cinema or a play of any kind on Sunday, but I think that, even if people wish to go and see a prize-fight, they should be allowed to do so. The police in my division have said that, since there have been boxing entertainments locally on Sunday afternoons, they have had much less trouble than when there were no such entertainments, and when people were running about the streets and sometimes making nuisances of themselves.
I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading. It is not everyone who wants to go to church on Sundays. We ought to remember that it is not only in church that the exercise of true religion and piety is to be found. There is an old saying that you can be as near to God in a garden as in any other place on earth. It is not everyone who has his own garden. Some people, if they open their window too suddenly, push their garden out on to the policeman's head. Those are the kind of gardens that we have in Southwark. We want the opportunity to get out into the air, to broaden our minds by seeing things that we cannot see on other days. We want opportunities of enjoying ourselves in our own way, and we ask the House to give this Bill a Second Reading, and, if necessary, add such safeguards as may be required when it is considered in Committee upstairs.
§ Sir GEORGE PENNY
I rise to support the Bill, and I hope those in my constituency who have asked me to oppose it will not think that I have lost any reverence as regards the Sabbath. It would be very inconsistent of me to do anything else but support it because in 711 my area we have held Sunday concerts and I have spoken on the platform asking for support for them in order to keep young people off the streets. A great number of young people attended these concerts and, I feel, were all the better for it. If cinemas are open, I should like to see the people choosing the church before the cinema. I should like to ask the Government whether they cannot have a more rigorous censorship of the films that are shown on Sundays, for I consider there is great laxity in the kind of films that are put on. It is rather hard that the well-to-do, who have motor cars and can go to the country and golf whenever they wish, should dictate to people and say they shall not have these entertainments. Take the case of domestic servants, who may be living away from home, out for the evening, raining like it was yesterday. Where are they to go? It is for that class of the community that the Bill will do a great service, although there is much in it that I should like to see altered. I think the Government are shelving their responsibility and placing it on the shoulders of the local authorities. Absurd anomalies will arise where one district will open its cinemas and the adjoining one will not. That would be obviated if the Government were to let Parliament say whether it shall be legal or illegal for cinemas to open. I have risen to ask the Government to take an interest on these lines, feeling that the Bill is to a considerable extent going to help our young people to do something instead of walking aimlessly about the streets.
§ Mr. TOOLE
I feel that the tone of the Debate has been extremely high. It is one of those rare occasions when politicians get the chance to tell the truth and to tell each other honestly what they think about things without concerning themselves with the consequences in the Division. To me it has been like a breath of fresh air to listen to people honestly saying what they think. I wonder what the Mover of the rejection thinks now about what he said about the Bill. He said it would introduce rampant and ruthless commercialism spreading out all over the country and that the great moral interests of the country were at stake. As a matter of fact, the Bill is a very simple thing. It is a question of legalis- 712 ing the existing situation. The cinema interests have not asked for this at all. It has been thrust upon them by nosey parkers. Another statement of the Mover of the rejection was that it would cast a tremendous burden upon local authorities. I am a member of a local authority, and occasionally we grant permission for Sunday entertainments. We do not find it difficult to say "Yes" or "No," and it does not put very much more work on us.
A speech was made from this side of the House about Sunday labour and about one day's rest in seven. There are 2,000,000 people who get seven days' rest a week. I worked on Sundays for about 15 years, and it did not do me any harm. There are lots of people who would be glad to get a job of any kind on Sundays. My own daughter works on Sundays. Anyone connected with a newspaper has to work on Sundays. The whole business is illogical. We use the telephone on Sundays; we read newspapers and use tramcars and railways. Some of us use hotels. It is more a question of whether you have any money than anything else. If you have plenty of money you can get anything you like on Sundays, but, if you have none, the House of Commons restricts you.
One speech reminded me of the man on the fair ground exhibiting a skull which he declared to be that of Oliver Cromwell. Someone in the audience knew that Cromwell had a very large head, and he said it was an extremely small skull. The showman said, "Yes, but this was his skull when he was a lad." I do not see that a person who goes into a cinema is any less a Christian than one who does not. The Nonconformist attitude always appears to me to be a claim to a kind of monopoly of superiority. They think no other religion is any good but theirs. In the Church to which I belong they have not the slightest objection, provided religious duties are performed, to anyone taking decent recreation afterwards, and that is a rational attitude to adopt. The speeches we have heard against the Bill would make us think there had not been such a thing as a war at all. The three speeches against the Bill recall the atmosphere of 150 years ago. These hon. Members are living in the days of the 713 Sunday Observance Act. But there has been a war, the schoolmaster has been abroad, and the young folk are not going to be satisfied with what satisfied their fathers. A lot of fuss is made about religious observance, but no one complained of our shooting each other during the War on Sundays.
I hope the Bill will get a Second Reading, because it will not only regularise the position and make it much easier for those who have been law-breaking to be law-abiding citizens, but it will give the younger generation a little in the direction of the claims that they are making. I have seen remarkable changes in 25 years. Our parents were always against anything that gave us any pleasure. They had a supreme belief in making us go to Church twice on Sundays, and in corporal punishment. The religion and the punishment seemed to go together. Salford is one of the most congested areas in the country. With the exception of Glasgow, it has more slums to the square mile than any other constituency. I have seen remarkable changes, not in the district itself, but in the demands that young people are making. In those days we were satisfied with the "Daily Despatch" or the "Daily Mail," or a piece of oilcloth, for a tablecloth. The children now want better food and better homes, and they want serving in a clean and decent way. They want recreation, parks, open spaces, tennis, hiking, and all these things they are entitled to. This is another claim made on behalf of the poor. If you are a member of a club, you can have a private cinema and you can show indecent pictures. If you are a workman, you cannot go in. It is unchristian, it is ungodly. It is only common sense in these days of enlightenment after the Great War, with the changed outlook on life of the young people to give them facilities for decent, simple, honest recreation, then, I believe, they will be better Christians.
§ Sir K. VAUGHAN - MORGAN
I agreed with the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole) when he alluded to the interesting speeches and the high tone which has characterised this Debate. I have risen, after listening to the whole of the Debate, to deal with, and to answer, a few points which were made by the hon. Member for Balham and 714 Tooting (Sir A. Butt) in alluding to the question of profits and the question of the licensing of theatres. The principle which has always underlain the policy of the London County Council in regard to Sunday performances, in so far as it could be applicable to cinemas, is the one which was applied in the first instance when they permitted concerts on Sunday, namely, that a licence should not be given in respect of performances for private gain or by way of trade. That is the principle which has characterised the attitude of the London County Council. The hon. Member for Balham and Tooting challenged the correctness of the contributions provided by the cinema proprietors. They are duly complying with the stipulations of the London County Council, the chief of which are as follows:The entertainments will be of a healthy character, and properly conducted.An amount to be determined by the council as representing the profit from the entertainments will be paid in respect of each prohibited day on which an entertainment is given to a charity to be approved by the Council.It is stated further that:In determining the amount of contribution to be made to charity, it has been the council's practice to have regard to the circumstances of the particular premises concerned, and, in examining the audited statements of receipts and expenditure submitted by licensees, to allow as chargeable against the receipts a proportion of (generally one-seventh of the total expenditure on week-days and Sundays) certain general expenses such as rent, rates, film hire, salaries and wages, repairs, etc. Overhead charges … etc., have not, however, been admitted as chargeable.The statement of the hon. Member for Balham and Tooting that the sums handed over by the cinema proprietors were only arbitrary and determined by themselves and did not represent their profits, seems to have been made in ignorance of the fact that these regulations exist and are applied.
§ Sir K. VAUGHAN-MORGAN
The cinema proprietor is the person who is licensed. The owner or lessee, the person normally in charge of the building, is the person who is licensed. The owner of the film or the maker of the film is not 715 brought into the purview of the Council's regulations, as far as I know, any more than that the writer of a play is the person licensed by the Lord Chamberlain.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
I only wish to clear up the position. Rings of theatres are owned by the film companies, and great profit is made in regard to the hiring of films, and I wish to know whether they give any of that amount of money to charity?
§ Sir K. VAUGHAN-MORGAN
I am not sure whether the hon. Member quite understands the situation. The person who is licensed has the permission to open the cinema on Sunday. As to presenting audited accounts, the London County Council review the accounts. They have had 20 years' experience of the matter. But the suggestion was made that a true account of profits is not returned. That is a statement which must have been made owing to the hon. Member having overlooked the conditions which apply to the auditing of accounts, or it may have been in respect of a licence for a similar performance granted, not by the London County Council, but by the Lord Chamberlain. The Lord Chamberlain follows many of the stipulations and regulations laid dawn by the London County Council, but, instead of requiring the application of a proportion of profits to a recognised charity, the Lord Chamberlain requires that 25 per cent. of the gross receipts shall be applied to a charity suggested by the licensee, and approved by him. It may be with regard to that difference in practice that the hon. Member's apparent mistake arises.
A good many of the points made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill have already been answered. I think that when he stated that this House should not legislate in advance of public opinion, he made a statement apparently in ignorance of the fact that the practice of licensing cinemas for certain Sunday performances has existed in London for 20 years. It has naturally been the subject of a certain amount of discussion at successive County Council elections, but during the whole of that time the course originally pursued nearly 20 years ago has been constantly ratified by the citizens 716 of London. Criticism has been made of the fact that the machinery adopted in the framing of the Bill is that of local option. It has been suggested that if the House approves of it in one instance, controversy will arise all over the country. I should like to reassure hon. Members on that point. Controversy has existed, to this extent, that, whereas licensing has been, allowed in London, the question has been considered by the counties of Middlesex, Surrey and Kent, and their practice has differed. The power of the local authority seems to be complete, and there is nothing in the Bill which will impair the situation or alter it from what it is to-day.
When the Prime Minister received a deputation the other day, he said that the Bill was not in any sense a Government Bill, but that the Government considered that it was their duty to ask the House of Commons to decide whether legislation was required. For my part, I can answer that question unhesitatingly. Legislation is required. A situation has been created in London, which, if allowed to continue, will put a great public authority into a false position or will deprive the public of what is undoubtedly a legitimate form of relaxation. The history of the controversy which has recently arisen is familiar to the minds of hon. Members, and I will not refer to it further than to say that I have been asked, as a London Member who is interested in this subject, why the London County Council faced with this difficulty did not proceed by way of private Bill. The answer is that this question was considered by the council. A report from the entertainments committee was presented and an amendment was moved by another member of the county council, supported by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Strauss), that the council should promote private Bill legislation in the forthcoming Session of Parliament. It was suggested contrary to the advice of the committee itself that the council should proceed by way of a private Bill. I would remind the House that in the meantime a deputation had addressed the Home Secretary on the subject, and, when the matter was under the consideration of the Home Secretary, the view was put forward that if the London County Council had proceeded by a private Bill much loss of time—which may now be 717 avoided and I hope will be avoided—would have been inevitable, because the procedure of private Bill legislation is long. In the circumstances, I do not think that any private Bill could have come before the House before next year.
Moreover, objection is not infrequently taken in this House against private Bills dealing with what one may fairly call a national question. The Act of 1780 and its predecessors, the Act of 1627 and others, were national Acts which applied to the whole country, and had the county council proceeded by way of private Bill they would have laid themselves open to the objection that they were endeavouring to get round a national Act by a private Bill. If the House had sanctioned such action, would they have liked the time of the House to be taken up by other local authorities, for example, the borough of Brighton, promoting Bills of that sort. I think the answer is that they would not. The Government have recommended the House to deal with this question on a national basis, with ample liberty to any local authority to determine the question for itself, which they can do without difficulty.
A further point is with regard to seven days' labour. Effective regulations have been applied by the London County Council dealing with such matters and regulations of a similar kind are suggested in the Bill effectively to prevent seven days' work. We are all anxious that everyone who is required in the service of the community to work on the Sunday should have an ample opportunity of corresponding leisure during the week. In regard to stage plays, those are, of course, primarily under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain, but it would be ungrateful on the part of anyone who has had to do with charitable objects in the past not to pay a, tribute to the generous way in which the stage have at all times assisted charitable institutions, either by lending their theatres for charitable purposes or by granting their services free, and in other ways. The cinemas have done likewise. In regard to the charitable funds derived from Sunday performances at the cinemas, of course, they had no option, but the cinema proprietors are equally generous towards charities during the week.
718 My last words will be in regard to the question of religious susceptibilities. I respect the religious feelings of others as genuinely as any other Member of this House. I have received representations on this subject from my constituents and from religious bodies, particularly from certain important religious bodies in my Division who, I am exceedingly glad to say, support the general principles of this Bill. They recognise, and have stated so in terms more eloquent than I can use, the benefits which have resulted from the wise and statesmanlike attitude on this question which for so long has characterised the attitude of the London County Council. This is a necessary Bill. It is a Bill for an emergency which mainly affects the Metropolis. The figures involved are very large. It is estimated that something like 380,000 persons may be affected. I would ask the House to treat the Bill as a national subject, deserving the most careful consideration, and to give it the Second Reading which in my judgment it ought to receive.
§ Mr. BEN TURNER
I thank the Government for giving the Members of my party and the House in general freedom to vote exactly as they think proper. I am going to vote against the Bill. I do not believe that the action of the cinema proprietors is dictated by a desire for the good of our health. It is for the good of their own wealth that they are so moved. It is a case of filling their own pockets more than a question of serving the public. I was startled by some of the figures which have been given with regard to the takings on Sundays and the amount paid out to charities. I know that in the Bill there are certain safeguards and reservations, but I am not dealing with the question of finance. I am trying to deal with the point that if we open the doors of the cinemas on Sundays, what about the theatres? Better entertainment comes from the theatres, more educative entertainment, and they have as much right to Sunday opening as have the cinemas. If we give opportunities for the Sunday opening of cinemas we must do the same for the theatres, and after the theatres come the boxing matches and all the other awful things like boxing matches. The door will be wide open. We are not as careful with our day of rest as we ought to be.
719 It has been mentioned that there is local option in the Bill. I have been a member of public authorities now for 40 years, without a single break, and I have seen Donnybrook fairs in connection with matters of no moment whatever, and the general welfare of the town was put aside. You are going to open the door to cat and dog fights on a subject of this character. I do not want municipal politics to be interfered with by extraneous questions like this. I admit that I am not arguing this matter upon any logical basis. The soul is bigger than logic. Our business is to preserve one day per week for the good of mankind, not for the profit of individuals. The tumult in society is very great at the present time. Since the War there have been a variety of causes for this tumult and confusion. I want to see a little more settlement in the land, mentally and spiritually. We want a sweet Sunday, not one with boisterous film exhibitions or theatrical displays, or boxing tournaments. There is no great call for Sunday cinemas except it may be in London. There is no great call for them in the various large provincial towns. They may be more God-fearing than London, I hope not. But we do require that softening, sweetening and purifying influence which Sunday brings.
I am not a Puritan. I like to laugh and sing and enjoy myself as much as anybody else, and I can do it at home or abroad. I have no objection to the ordinary entertainments that can be fulfilled in six days of the week. The cinemas are open six days of the week, and surely to goodness that is enough for anybody. This is commercialism. The almighty dollar from America is behind many of these great film companies. I do not want Great Britain to be Americanised or commercialised. Something has been said from these benches about Sunday labour. At present there is too much Sunday labour in certain needless services. There are certain industries and occupations where it can be avoided, and I hope that our working folk will insist upon a reduction in Sunday labour, not an extension. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) in his marvellous speech this afternoon supported the Bill, but he said one or two things which do not quite 720 fit in. He and I have been propagan dists for many years. Sunday after Sunday we have got on to the soap box, and in the chapels and churches, teaching our doctrine, a spiritual doctrine, a religious doctrine, whereby we were trying to convert the people to a fuller and better life. There is no comparison between the Sunday labour of the parsons and the priests and the propagandists in the labour movement. I do not agree with my right hon. Friend in any shape or form on that point. In the train to-day I read a passage from an old Yorkshire poet, Ben Preston, of many years ago, which was written when they were fighting for less labour on Sundays:One blessed day in sevenO toiler, mean and poor,An unseen hand from HeavenThrows wide thy prison door,And bending mercy—even to theePoor child of Adam, saith 'Be free.'These hours from Mammon's graspHis thoughtful mercies wrestThat toil in peace may claspHis darlings to his breast,That wife and babes may round him comeWithin his oft-forsaken home.I oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
On a point of Order. I want to ask whether there is any understanding as to the exclusion of Scottish representatives from this Debate, and I am asking not only with regard to this particular issue but for future consideration. I should like to know whether there is any understanding of that kind?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
As far as the Chair is concerned we know no hon. Member of this House as Scottish, Irish or English. All hon. Members are entitled to take part in the Debate, if called upon. If the Bill does not apply to their particular part of the country it rests with them to decide whether they think it is necessary for them to take part in a Debate when many hon. Members representing constituencies to which it does apply are desirous of taking part.
§ Mr. MAXTON
But it has been very noticeable during the course of this De- 721 bate that certain Scottish Members have sat with great pertinacity and have risen with great pertinacity. [interruption.] I am not making an appeal to be called. It has been very noticeable that no Scottish Member has been called except the right hon. Gentleman who was called to move the rejection of the Bill. I hope there will be an opportunity at some subsequent stage of indicating that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill is not the only voice from Scotland.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. There is another point of view in this House, apart altogether from those already expressed, which has never had an opportunity of being heard. I have risen a number of times, and I have been promised an opportunity of saying something from our point of view.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER.
Hon. Members entirely misunderstand the situation. I have said quite clearly that no matter whence an hon. Member may come as a Member of this House he is entitled to be heard on any subject if he is called by the Chair.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member and other bon. Members have no right to call in question the right of the Chair to call on hon. Members to take part in the Debate. The right to call on an hon. Member rests with the Chair.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) does not behave himself he will be called upon to leave the House.
§ Mr. BECKETT
On a point of Order. May I ask whether on a Debate of this nature, a non-party Debate, the Chair will ask the Front Benches not to exercise their usual prerogative of several hours for each speaker?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is not a point of Order. The Chair has the right to call any hon. Member, who 722 stands up, to take part in the Debate, and that right must not be questioned by hon. Members.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
There are four or five times as many hon. Members wishing to take part in this Debate as there is any possibility of doing so. The hon. Member for Silvertown has no more right to be called than any other hon. Member.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
It may be some consolation to the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) to know that at any rate I come of Scottish descent, and therefore may possess a somewhat remote ancestral right to speak for Scotland, although my family was compelled to cross the Tweed owing to the strictness of the Scottish Sabbath. Anyone who speaks in favour of this Bill is taking a somewhat bold line, in view of the agitation which has been persistently pursued against the Bill since the mere rumour of its existence arose. I wonder whether hon. Members have seriously considered the propositions which have been adduced against the Bill. They have not condescended to argue with us. But we have been told, without argument, in innumerable circulars, that the Bill is against all moral principle, that there is no demand for the Bill except from those who are financially interested. They do not argue the question because of a third principle: They say that the Bill is against Divine Law. One almost wonders that we dare to speak at all and do not sink into the earth like Dathan Abiram. But in case we do not, they make more substantial threats against our Parliamentary future. I myself as the representative of Eastbourne have received 1,200 cards against the Bill. In consequence of this I went to my constituents and said I felt it my duty to vote for the Bill because it was in accordance with my conscience. I quoted Burke. I said I was not going to be servile to them or give in to an opinion or conscience which was not mine. Burke said:If they degrade our minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect that we who are 723 creeping and abject towards them will ever be bold and incorruptible assertors of their freedom.That is true. We must in this House express the views of our own consciences and our own minds; otherwise all independence of Members of Parliament is lost. A great appeal has been made to tradition. It has not been mentioned so far, but there is an older tradition than the Sabbatarian tradition; there is the tradition of "Merrie England." Whether it ever existed we do not know, but there is definite evidence in history that in the Middle Ages our ancestors used to amuse themselves by dancing and singing round the maypole of a Sunday. We know that our archers on Sunday used to learn the use of the long and cross bow, so difficult to learn, but which was responsible for our first natural independence. Those were the people who were responsible for the independence of our country, both in a military and spiritual sense. We know that the great plays of Shakespeare were first performed on a Sunday; and so people danced and sang on Sundays until the year 1625.
Then from Scotland a new idea came down amongst us and the Puritans had their way for a space. They passed Acts against Sunday travelling, against what they call common plays, against meetings outside the parish which would cover modern golf clubs. They passed Act after Act, and for a short space of time these grim men of the Parliament held rule in this Kingdom, so they swept aside the old loyalty which was too loyal for them, and the old religion which was too gay for them, till in due course they in their turn made way for a period of reaction and dissipation which knew neither religion nor loyalty. That was the Puritan tradition. But we are not talking about that now. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) spoke about the 1781 Act. In my opinion—I have studied the Act carefully—that was not an emanation of the Puritan tradition. I have read the Parliamentary Debates on the Bill very carefully. This Bill was an instrument of episcopal oppression against Nonconformists. If you oppose this Bill you have to make up your minds whether you are to be a 17th century Puritan or an 18th century latitudinarian 724 Churchman. That Bill was brought forward for two purposes. Dr. Porteus was its promoter, and who was Dr. Porteus? When George II died, Dr. Porteus preached a sermon in which he said that the earth was too vile and gross a substance to contain so sacred a body as that of His late Majesty!
This was the promoter of the great 1781 Bill. There were two objects expressed by the promoters: (a) To suppress houses of ill fame, which I suppose would be thought wrong even now; and (b) to suppress meetings of Nonconformist people who could not afford to have a chapel or church of their own. The Solicitor-General Mansfield, in the name of the House of Commons, talked with the greatest indignation of the fact that at these meetings the Trinity had been discussed. He put it to the House whether religion or morality was likely to be promoted by such discussion, and the House almost without discussion passed this tyrannical Bill. But not so the House of Lords. Even in those days there were robust aristocrats who were prepared to stand up for the rights of the people. There was one, the Earl of Abydon, whose name ought to be immortal in the particular discussion. He fought the Bill at every stage with every Parliamentary device, quite in the modern manner, and his words might well be considered not to be out of date even now. He said:The Bill is neither more nor less than this: To hinder people from walking or from talking on a. Sunday night. This seems to be the whole object, scope and tendency of this Bill. Milton tells us in Comus,'It is daylight only that makes sin.'In the Bill it is Sunday only that makes sin. It is intended for the great and not for the little, for the aristocracy, not for the democracy. Some men congregate themselves on a Sunday evening at a place where laying 6d. as fee for admission they empty their beads of metaphysics and fill their bellies with the value of a 6d. in porter and cheese—an harmless supper this would seem and not likely to be very offensive to their digestion. But if the sin of talking as of walking consists in the day and not in the deed, what is the reason that the Bill does not extend itself to the Sunday night clubs about St. James', as for instance to Brooks', where, my Lords, I am told the members pay more than 6d. for their supper; and so to talking. Lord, how they do talk; they talk bawdy, my Lords, and utter heterodoxy, but not blasphemy, 725 not so bad as that matter, but they talk what is worse than all: They talk politics; they abuse the Minister; they say he has ruined the resources and blasted the national honour of the country.Those arguments need to be little changed to apply to-day. It is easy for the rich man to get his pleasure as he likes on Sunday, at golf clubs, in motor cars, at stage societies and what you will, and it ill becomes a Socialist with Socialistic ideals or a Conservative of independent means to interfere with the pleasures of the people on Sunday. My constituents to the number of 1,200 have petitioned me to vote against the Bill. What right have they or I to speak in this connection? We have the beautiful sea, the Downs, the wind upon the Downs, all, as George Borrow would say, "Sweet things." Life is sweet for most of us. What do we know about the slums of London, where the only pleasure of the people is probably the cinema a few yards distant? I speak as a Member of the British Parliament and not as a delegate merely of Eastbourne, and I hold that I am perfectly entitled to take this point of view also. It seems a very strange and ironical thing indeed that there is such violent Nonconformist influence behind the opposition to the Bill. Why? They are relying on a Bill which was enacted against Nonconformists, which Nonconformists have successfully evaded and now are trying to impose on other people in an entirely new context.
You see my hon. Friend the Member for Balham (Sir A. Butt) allied with the other branch of the opposition to the Bill. Just as in America you saw an unholy alliance between Pussyfoot and Bootlegger, so here you have an alliance between theatrical producers and Sabbatarians for the preservation of the Sabbath; it is an agitation initiated by a common informer, in this case an enterprising young lady of some legal training who is, I believe, of Jewish faith. An agitation started in that way is a scandal, and no one ought to take it seriously for one moment. There is, of course, a deep social significance about this matter. There are millions of people whose only holiday is on the Sabbath. It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Batley (Mr. Turner) to talk about cinemas on every day of the week. There are many people who on work days cannot enjoy the cinema because they are 726 too tired, and their only day for enjoyment is the Sabbath, and the hon. Member ought to know this.
I am of the younger generation, and am more entitled to speak for the youth of the country, who have grown up, not under the old tradition of Sabbatarianism, and have been allowed to enjoy modern invention. Moreover, I am glad to say that I see a distinction between the theatres and the cinemas. I claim that that is the clearest possible distinction and it is one which was drawn by my hon. Friend the Member for Balham himself. He tried to make this an unemployment Measure. He said that the theatre employed many more people than the cinemas as a plea for equal treatment. That is precisely where I draw the distinction. Everybody with the slightest knowledge of the theatrical profession knows how nerve-racking, exhausting is the labour of those, who work day in and day out to try to amuse us during the week. They know how much the week-end means to members of the theatrical profession, who regard as a real danger, and would view with horror, the introduction of a seven-day week in their already hard-working occupation. The cinema employs a minimum of labour, and gives a maximum of pleasure.
There is one other consideration. There is the consideration of the charities which have enjoyed £180,000 a year as a result of the opening of the cinemas on Sundays. I know that that is an argument which will not appeal to those who see the Divine command in this matter, but I appeal to every Member of this House who does not see the Divine command in this matter, not to be deaf to such an appeal as the appeal made on behalf of these charities. Let them realise how young children, sick people, impoverished people, old people would suffer as the result of an adverse decision on this Bill in a hundred ways. Let those who see the Divine command in this be deaf to such an appeal, but let nobody else turn deaf ears to it. Let not the dead hand of the eighteenth century or seventeenth century still be stretched out against us. I gave earlier a quotation from a great eighteenth century orator and as we are discussing what is really, in character, an 727 eighteenth century Measure I do not think that the quotation was out of place. The House will permit me to conclude with a more pithy sentence from that great democrat and great aristocrat Edmund Burke:Let us pass on, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. For God's sake, let us pass on.
§ Major DUDGEON
I feel a certain amount of hesitation as a Scottish Member in intervening in this Debate. But I feel that there is a Scottish point of view on this matter which ought to be placed before the House. My right hon. and learned. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) in a very eloquent speech proposed the rejection of this Bill and declared that there was a great volume of opinion in Scotland opposed to it. I think that that statement would have been true in 1914 but there has been a great change in opinion since, not only in Scotland but in other parts of this country. We all know that a great many organisations, especially church organisations, naturally feel very strongly on this question of Sunday observance but there is always a difficulty in finding out the paint of view of the man in the street, and the man in the street is a true sample of the nation as a whole. From my investigations, which apply both to Scotland and to England, the opinion of the man in the street may be separated into two distinct divisions. There are the people who are about 37 years of age and under and there are those of 37 years of age and over. The younger generation, the people who were 20 years of age in 1911 and who are 37 now, show a much larger majority in favour of a brighter Sunday. I have been engaged in public work in Scotland for a considerable period and I have always advocated a brighter Sunday. I believe it would attract many more people to Scotland if we had a brighter Sunday and I believe that while the great majority of the Scottish people are desirous that there should be ample opportunity for devotional services on Sunday, there is a growing body of opinion which would like to see the cinemas and even the theatres open on Sunday evening.
I was struck the other day, during the Debate on unemployment, by the references of the Lord Privy Seal to the question of attracting tourists to this 728 country. I find that a great many people who visit Scotland for a holiday go there on a Monday evening and remain only until the following Saturday because, they say, it is extremely difficult to find anthing to do on the Sunday afternoons and evenings though they enjoy visiting the Scottish churches for the Sunday morning services. I think it would be an advantage to Scotland if this Bill were extended to our country and, as I say, I believe that there is a growing body of opinion in Scotland in favour of the principles of the Measure. A Scottish Member dealing with this question cannot overlook the fact that a great number of our countrymen reside in England and especially in London. A great many young people from my own constituency are resident in London. Most of them go to church on Sunday mornings but on Sunday afternoons or evenings especially in wet weather it would be very hard on them if they had nothing to do but hang about desolate streets or remain in the not too cheerful atmosphere of the boarding house. There should be some consideration for these young people who show a natural desire to have some enjoyment on Sunday evenings.
It has been said to-day that there are many forms of Sunday labour which should be avoided, and I quite agree. But one form of Sunday labour has not yet been mentioned, namely, the distribution of milk. I represent a dairying constituency and I have never heard of anyone who refused to partake of milk on Sunday. Yet there is no single article which contributes more to Sunday labour. I think it is time that we took a broad and tolerant view of the question of Sunday entertainment. The Bill is extremely moderate, with ample safeguards, and it is left to the discretion of the local authorities, after receiving substantial representations from their constituents, to say whether the cinemas are to be open on Sunday or not. That is a principle which is very dear to the hearts of the Scottish people, namely, the principle of local option—
§ Major DUDGEON
I know that the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) has a very particular view of his own which may be shared in Dundee, but is not, I think, shared throughout Scotland.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I presume that the hon. and gallant Member is aware of the fact that the local option system has been voted down in a great part of Scotland.
§ Major DUDGEON
I repeat my opinion that local option is very dear to the hearts of the majority of the Scottish people, as they have proved in the Act of 1914 which embodies the principle of local option though it is quite true that many areas have voted "no change."
§ Major DUDGEON
Whether the opinion of the majority of the Scottish people on the principles of this Bill is a matter of controversy or not, I am certain that the majority of the Scottish people would be in favour of a measure of local option in reference to Sunday entertainments just as there was a majority in favour of the Act establishing local option in reference to public-house licences, though there has never been a majority in Scotland in favour of "no licence."
In conclusion, I think too many people are influenced to-day on this question of Sunday entertainment on a rather narrow basis. I think the younger people wish to have ampler opportunities, in a perfectly Christian way, of enjoying themselves and of finding such education as is possible even on the Sabbath; and many of us who are in the habit of visiting cinemas know that not all the pictures that are shown in them are of a frivolous character. There are many pictures shown that are of a very high educational value indeed. I would be quite prepared to see some provision inserted in the Bill giving local authorities power to discriminate as to the form of picture or entertainment that should be given on Sunday. That would be all to the good, but I would appeal to the House, on behalf of the younger section of my countrymen and countrywomen, that this Bill should get a Second Reading and, in Committee, be extended to Scotland.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The House finds itelf once more, on this Bill, divided not upon the ordinary party lines. Speaking for myself, I should have been very glad indeed to have given a silent vote—I intend to vote against the 730 Bill—but it is right that people who, rightly or wrongly, are supposed to have had some responsibility for a particular campaign should be prepared to face such opprobrium as there is of being regarded as a Sabbatarian. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) suggested some sinister origin for anybody who opposed this Bill. I can assure him that, so far as I know, there is nothing more sinister in my opposition to the Bill than perhaps the prejudices imbibed from what I am not in the least ashamed of, my Puritan upbringing.
I gather that this Bill is not only the subject of a little embarrassment to myself, in so far as it is necessary for me to speak in a sense contrary to that of some of my colleagues, but I am sure that it has been a matter of some little embarrassment to the Government; otherwise, I cannot imagine why the Bill was not presented by the Government as the united voice of that very competent body. The Home Secretary presented arguments that commended themselves obviously so much to himself that I can only suppose that in the secrecy of the council chamber some of his colleagues found those arguments less watertight than they appeared to be; otherwise, we should have had the Bill presented with the authority of the Government.
The right hon. Gentleman adopted a presentation of the Bill which was certainly not in accord with the line taken by the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). The Home Secretary presented the Bill, not merely as legalising the present position—I am not sure that I agree with him as to that; I think the Bill does a great deal more than merely legalise the rather anomalous position which has existed in London, and in passing I may say that I understand that a wholly different position has existed, for instance, in Brighton, where the cinemas have opened without making any contribution to charitable objects—but the Home Secretary, first of all, presented the Bill as one horn of a dilemma. He said we must either pass this Bill or we must enforce the present law. I am not sure that that is an accurate statement of the position. I do not shrink in the very least from the proposition that, if this Bill is not passed, there ought to be, and I hope there would be, some re- 731 formation of the law of 1780 so as to get rid of the common informer, but I am not sure that the dilemma is quite what has been stated.
The Home Secretary went on to commend it as a middle course. He said we did not legalise prize fighting, or boxing entertainments, or greyhound racing by this Bill, nor does the Bill, on the face of it, legalise any of these entertainments, but, when the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley came to speak, he told us there was no logical resting place short of total repeal of all the Acts of Parliament that made it illegal to do one thing or another; and, if the Bill is presented as a middle course, it means that the Government intend to make it the middle course at any rate as long as they hold the reins of office. I have no doubt that the Home Secretary is aware of the fact that in some parts of London boxing entertainments and whippet racing are popular amusements. If the right hon. Gentleman commends this Bill to the House, as he does, as the middle course, and says that the only alternative to passing the Bill is to enforce the law as it stands to-day, the logical conclusion of his argument obviously is that the Government must enforce the law against those amusements which this Bill does not legalise.
If the Prime Minister will allow me to say so, that means that the Government are representing to the House that they are going rigidly, strictly, consistently and loyally to this House to take penal measures against all the amusements which this Bill does not legalise. I very much doubt if that is what was meant by the Home. Secretary. It was certainly not the intention of the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, because, in his expansive and genial way, he told us that there was no restriction at all that he would place upon the activities of anybody upon a Sunday. My noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) also made allusion to the anachronistic state of the law as regards Sunday. He reminded us that you must not play a cricket match—I accept it from him—on Sunday afternoon, under some Statute of Charles II, except in your own parish. Well, we are not engaged in reforming the whole of the law as applicable to Sunday, and, however 732 desirable it might be to repeal these anachronisms, this Bill does not propose to do so.
The strength of the case for this Bill is that it defends a position which is obviously easily defended and is a very good tactical position, as, broadly speaking, it merely prolongs or protects the existing position, but, in the first place, I take leave to say that to enable cinemas to be opened legally on Sundays has a very different character merely from opening them illegally or in spite of the law. As long as it is illegal but some authorities are content to evade or defy the law, you are likely to have the evil, if it be an evil, restricted to comparatively few cases. The moment you legalise it, then it has a different character altogether, and, unless you can be quite sure that you can erect some bastion that will prevent a further encroachment upon the use of Sunday, you are, by legalising the existing system, creating a base for a further evasion of the sanctity of that day. Notice how the theatres are already knocking at the door. Although I do not agree that the theatres should open on Sunday, I have a great deal of sympathy with the comparison which the hon. Member drew of the treatment accorded to the theatres as compared with the treatment accorded to the cinemas. Notice how not only are the theatres knocking at the door, but the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works is knocking at the door and saying that he and his friends will not rest until all these restrictions on Sunday are repealed. Is the House prepared to face that with equanimity?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I agree that you must face the future and, if my hon. Friend will give me an opportunity, I hope I shall show myself as competent to face the future as he is. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said this Bill does not open cinemas on Sunday. I am a lawyer, but that did sound to me very much like a lawyer's point. Will the right hon. Gentleman say that, when you have unlocked a door which has long been bolted and barred, you are not opening the door? Of course you are opening the door, and the fact is that when you have opened 733 the door by unlocking it, as you do in this Bill, you will provide a constant spur in the shape of the profit—indirect if not direct—to those who are not concerned, as the Government will be, to defend the Sunday from further invasion. No truer word was spoken than that by the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), when he said that nobody pretends this is going to dispose once for all of a difficult and anxious problem. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley went on in his speech to compare the advantages of Gleneagles with North Berwick. He said that at North Berwick there was no golf, but at Gleneagles there was golf. The reason for the distinction between Gleneagles and North Berwick is that at Gleneagles it is business and at North Berwick it is not business. You will find exactly that motive, when you have legalised the opening of cinemas on Sundays, acting as a spur to compel some Government to go further than this Government is prepared to go.
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley did not tell us how far he would go. He referred to some of the experiences of the last 40 or 50 or 100 years in restricting some employments on Sundays. He expressed great gratification that you, Mr. Speaker, no longer hold your levees on Sunday. I wonder why the right hon. and learned Gentleman felt so much satisfaction. Could it be that he would have felt obliged to have devoted his Sunday to putting on his uniform and attending a ceremony when he would have preferred to devote himself to other occupation? One reason why he objects to it is because it would make work for other people as well as for himself. That is exactly the reason why a good many people object to the opening of cinemas on Sundays. I am surprised at the levity, or rather lightheartedness, which hon. Members opposite show towards this question. The Home Secretary told us, much to my surprise, that when he attended a cinema on a Saturday some time ago he found no less than 180 persons engaged in that cinema, and the same number, no doubt, would be required on a Sunday. Does that seem a small thing to hon. Members. Two hundred cinemas multiplied by 100 means that 20,000 persons are going to 734 be employed in the cinema industry under the jurisdiction of the London County Council alone. The right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) spoke of the amount of necessary work already done on Sundays. Another hon. Member referred with scorn to the inconsistency of those Members of the House who took in Sunday newspapers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Monday newspapers."]—or Monday newspapers. If there is a good deal of necessary work which is already done on Sunday, is that a very convincing argument for adding to it? If there is a great deal of inevitable work on Sunday, unless you are prepared to say that it does not matter how much work is done on Sunday, I should have thought the fact that there is a great deal of work done on Sunday at present was a very good reason for saying that we have gone far enough in that direction.
When I deprecate Sunday work I am told that I am narrow, a sabbatarian, mid-Victorian, and old-fashioned. I wonder why there is so much merit in objecting to work on an early closing day and no merit in objecting to work on a Sunday afternoon. Why is it more honourable, reasonable and public-spirited to argue that there ought not to be snore than eight hours' work on five days a week and four hours on one day, than to say that on Sunday there should be no work at all? I am not satisfied there is anything more narrow, more prejudiced or more priggish in advocating a minimum of work on Sunday than in advocating a minimum of work on Saturdays or after six o'clock in the evening. We were not left merely with references to the inevitable work on. Sunday. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley drew a picture of the home with all the family confined to one room, and he pictured the misery of that family if they were prevented from attending the films on a Sunday afternoon. I am not sure that that was really quite such a good or veracious account of these families as we are led to suppose. Are we to suppose that six days a week are not long enough to enable them to exhaust their appetites for the films, or their financial resources? Are we to imagine this large family in one room saving up all their pence and zest for the films for 735 Sunday evening, when they have every other evening to enjoy themselves? I am not saying there are not some people who are so bored as to wish to attend the films, but it is a good thing that, in one day out of the seven, they should learn that, if they are bored, there is something wrong with their own capacity for enjoyment.
I do not wish to be censorious about other people's amusements. That seems the unpardonable sin in these controversies about Sunday. I pass no judgment on anyone who occupies himself in this or in any other manner. The question which the House is considering is not the individual amusements of hon. Members but the extent to which the community will make it practically compulsory for some people to make Sunday otherwise than it always has been.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I am not concerned with these antiquarian researches. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) has retailed to the House the speeches of hon. Members 180 years ago. They were interesting from the antiquarian point of view, but were not relevant to the age in which we are living. The suggestion has been made that if you do not provide the cinemas the people will resort, I am reluctant to say to the public house, but at any rate they will resort to open streets and public spaces. Perhaps fresh air is not such a bad thing as it is supposed to be. I find more sobriety in the towns where the cinemas do not open than in those where they do open. Bristol, for instance, where the cinemas do not open, I observed the other day to my great satisfaction, is the second most sober city in the Kingdom.
The Home Secretary then prayed in aid the manifesto of the Christian churches. That manifesto has been represented as in favour of this Bill. I think that hon. Members ought to recollect, if they do not already bear it in mind, that the manifesto begins by the frank statement: 736We feel that there are many indications of unwillingness on the part of municipal authorities and the public generally to approve Sunday opening of places of entertainment.They repeat that by saying at the end:The sense of the British people is, we believe, on the whole against Sunday opening.The Home Secretary did not quote those passages. It is only in this tentative form that they express the opinion which appears to have justified the Home Secretary's Bill:If Parliament deems it necessary to replace the Act of 1871 with other legislation, we hold that certain Amendments should be made in the law.I would like to speak with great respect of that manifesto. Those who have signed it deserve our respect. The comment that occurs to me is:I would thou wert cold or hot.When the Christian churches produce a manifesto that the cinematograph industry does not like, do you suppose that the industry will quote it in the House? The cinematograph industry will kick the Christian churches and the manifesto away, as soon as it has established its position. The cine matograph industry will acquire a position of privilege and power for which, so far as I know, it has done nothing to qualify itself, and for which it has shown no particular merit.
Undoubtedly there have been great changes in regard to Sunday observance in the last 20 years. I want to ask hon. Members this simple question: Why should it be a bad thing, or a thing to be ashamed of, to cherish even at the expense of some inconvenience, an established institution like the English Sunday? Even if all cannot grasp its golden opportunities, is that any reason why we should dash to pieces an ideal which has been responsible for a great part of the English character? Ought we not rather to seek to provide for our youth fresh opportunities and better facilities for enjoying the privileges of it? Ought we not to cultivate in the youth of our nation a sense of reverence and respect for the privileges associated with that day? Time is a dimension like space, whether finite or infinite. I would like to ask hon. Members what they would think of me, if one morning 737 I pasted an advertisement on the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Would that be a desecration of a sacred place? If that would be something which would shock the feelings of every hon. Member of this House, why, in Heaven's name, may it not be a desecration of a sacred day that we should profane it by pasting, commercialism upon the opportunities that it ought to provide for rest and sacred refreshment? It is very easy for us to be caught by the perilous fallacies that there is no difference between one day and another. I believe there is a difference. I am persuaded that there are better ways than this Bill provides, to help the nation to enjoy the priceless privilege of our English Sunday.
§ Mr. BECKETT
The honesty and eloquence with which the hon. and learned Gentleman has put his case makes it difficult for me to give the necessary reply to the arguments that he has put forward. Behind all the honesty and eloquence was disguised that incurable and intolerable itch for dictating to other people how they should spend their time and what they should do. If the House had been suggesting, at the request of the majority of the people who did not attend, for instance, the Methodist Church, that the Methodist Churches should be closed on Sunday because people did not want to go there, then the hon. and learned Gentleman would have had the support of all liberty-loving people. What he is trying to do is not to defend what he and those who think with him want to do with their Sunday evening, but to lay down the most interfering and intolerable dictation as to how people who do not share his views should spend their time on Sunday.
I think the House can seldom have had a more extraordinary or unsatisfactory Bill. I cannot for the life of me understand what can have been in the Home Secretary's mind when he looked round the whole course of entertainments that might be offered to people on Sunday evenings. He looked at cinemas, theatres, dog-racing, boxing, dirt-track racing, and all the other things mentioned in this Debate, and then, almost arbitrarily, with no reason that I can think of, he suddenly said: "Well, we will pick cinemas," the one industry which renders greater financial profit 738 outside this country than any other, which is by no means a native product, and which I cannot see has any particular Sabbath-day virtues to recommend it. He says: "People shall not go to boxing or theatres, or be allowed to see dog-racing, but they can go to the cinemas." I suggest that it would be a very regrettable thing if, after passing this Measure as being better than nothing at all, as I hope we shall, the House does not then proceed in Committee to widen the Bill and make it a little more logical and comprehensive.
The arguments we have heard to-night against this Bill and against the adoption of Sunday opening have very little logic or reason behind them. I completely fail to understand, for instance, why a large section of hon. Members who are strongly in favour of local option when it comes to selling liquor, are strongly opposed to local option when it comes to entertainment. The only explanation I can give is that in the case where local option applies to liquor they hope to interfere with the liberty of the subject by bringing it in, and in the other case, where it is to apply to entertainments, they fear it may extend the liberty of the subject.
Before sitting down, I wish to say a word on the extraordinary deluge of printed postcards which has descended on Members of this House. They have been sent out by an organisation called the Lord's Day Observance Society. A few weeks ago I took the trouble to attend a debate at the Little Theatre, at which Mr. Martin, the secretary of that organisation, was debating with Mr. Leslie Henson and others as to the merits of Sunday opening, and I remember that Sir Gerald du Maurier, the president of the Stage Guild, who, we are told, are against Sunday opening, said, "What about France and other continental countries where amusements are open on Sundays?" Mr. Martin's reply was, "Everybody knows that those are immoral countries." Although Members of the House of Commons do not put the matter so crudely as the organiser of the great postcard campaign, there is exactly the same mentality behind this opposition.
I have been a Member of this House for nearly seven years, and friends of 739 mine have been Members for many more years. In that time we have discussed the condition of the blind, the poor, the unemployed and the homeless, but the chapels have never spent money on sending us post cards on those topics. Only when it comes to inflicting their own narrow doctrine upon the great majority of the people, who long ago have been disgusted with that narrowness, and will have no more to do with it, do the chapels, the followers of the Carpenter, suddenly decide to interfere to this extent with the legislature of the country. They have been silent while every social scandal has been discussed—[An HON. MEMBER: No!"]—but they send out half-a-million post cards when it becomes a question of competition with their own particular efforts.
The joint committee of the theatrical industry, representing every organisation of employers, every recognised organisation of artists and every recognised trade union in the industry, have authorised me to say here this evening that they have unanimously decided, after ballots of their members, and being confident of their power to protect their members against a seven-day week, to support this Bill; and they ask that in Committee it should be enlarged so that not one section of the industry, selected at the whim of the Home Secretary, but the whole of the entertainment industry, may be given a fair chance to cater for the people who want entertainment. There is no compulsion on anybody to go to Sunday entertainments who does not wish to do so. What we ask is that those who want Sunday entertainments should have as much liberty to go to the form of entertainment they choose as the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have to go to their chapels, or wherever it is they wish to go.
§ Mr. FOOT
At the opening of this Debate the Home Secretary said it was not a trumpery or unimportant matter with which we were dealing. I agree that we are face to face with grave issues. I have heard most of the Debate, and I am sorry that a note of bitterness should have been introduced into the last speech. We are not dealing with something which concerns chapels only, or churches, 740 we are concerned with something which is recognised to be a common possession of the people of this country. The Debate raises issues such as have, in the past, divided this House and divided the country. We are discussing a historic question, which goes back to the days referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), to the Puritan days, to the time when James I published his Book of Sports and ordered that the Declaration relating to the Book of Sports should be read in every church in the country. The clergyman of one of the churches in London read the Declaration in accordance with the Royal Command, but at the same time read the Ten Commandments, and said to his congregation:You have heard the law of man and you have heard the law of God. Judge ye which ye will serve.One of the chief justices of the country dealt with this Sunday question at the Assizes and was rebuked by Archbishop Laud. At the interview he had a difficult time, and came out complaining that he had been "smothered by a pair of lawn sleeves." Those were the difficulties which agitated the minds of men in this country three or four hundred years ago. Fortunately, the acerbities, the sharpnesses and the differences of that time have been largely for gotten. [Interruption.] I think they have been, and in a, few moments which I shall occupy I shall do nothing to introduce any acerbities. As I have said before, I think this is the fairest assembly in the world and that Members are interested to hear any sincere contribution to a discussion. References to Puritanism appeared in some of the newspapers this morning. I cannot claim to be a Puritan, I wish that I could. A historian who influenced me a good deal in my younger days, when he brought to a conclusion his history of the Protectorate, said, speaking of Puritanism:Slowly and steadily it introduced its own seriousness and purity into English society, English literature and English politics. The history of English progress since the Reformation, on its moral and spiritual sides, has been a history of Puritanism.If that is so, I should like to claim to be a Puritan myself. The case of those who are opposed to this Bill does not rest 741 upon the Commandments. I know that that argument has been put forward and I think there is a good deal that could be said in support of the appeal to the Commandments, but the Puritans themselves did not base their view on the Sunday question on the ground of the Commandments. If we refer to the writings of John Milton we find no one more determined than he to draw the line of distinction between the Commandments in the Old Testament and the sanctions of the English Sunday. That is made very clear in his works. Our case does not necessarily rest upon the Commandments, and it certainly does not rest upon the Act of 1623 or the Act of 1780. I was astonished to hear the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) ask the right hon. Gentleman who opposed the Bill if he wished to restore the Act of 1780 in its pristine authority. That was not the intention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill, and that is not the intention of those who will go into the Lobby against it. We have to judge this matter not by what was done in 1780 in a Bill introduced by Bishop Porteus, a Bishop of London, but by the needs of our own time. It was entirely irrelevant for the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley to suggest that this agitation is an attempt to re-erect that Measure.
§ Mr. FOOT
I shall directly suggest that the matter cannot rest with the rejection of this Measure. Issues have been raised by this controversy and by recent events which make it impossible that this question can be settled by the mere rejection of this Bill. I want to say further that just as our case does not rest on the Act of 1780, it does not rest on any claim to interfere with the habits of the people. I should be very presumptuous if I attempted to interfere with the habits of other people. I agree that we are not entitled to do what the First Commissioner of Works said was our intention, that is, to impose our wishes upon the community. I have no wish to interfere with the habits of any other member of the community. My desire is to resist any efforts to exploit this day of rest and recreation. I take 742 my stand upon what a master teacher said many years ago:One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.As far as Sunday is concerned, I take my stand with Dr. Johnson, who said:He would have Sunday kept, not with rigid severity and gloom, but with a gravity and simplicity of behaviour.I was very much astonished to hear the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) talk of her sad remembrances of the Sundays she spent in the home in which she was brought up, and I hope that that has not been the experience of many hon. Members. My happiest days were when the members of my family came together on the Sabbath. In contrast with the words of hon. Member for East Middlesbrough I would like to quote what was said by the Prime Minister:I am amazed at so many of my friends saying the old Scottish Sabbath was a burden. Sometimes I cannot observe it, and I blame myself for not observing it, but I would like to see a state of society in which every man and woman preferred the old Scottish Sunday to the modern French one. We are getting into a bad habit of misusing Sunday. It ought not to be a day of restless pleasure-seeking, but a day of wholesome rest, of spiritual peace. If the higher things of life are not to be crowded out, we must have room for quiet and thought.10.0 p.m.
Again, the case of those opposed to this Bill does not rest upon any lack of sympathy with the poor, and I am sorry that that argument has been used. I was sorry to hear from some of my Labour friends the suggestion that you have to provide facilities for entertainment in order to make the present social conditions tolerable. I remember an argument used in another place by a Noble Lord who said that he wished to maintain the existing conditions in relation to the supply of intoxicating liquor because liquor was the shortest way out of Manchester, and he said that if the facilities for obtaining liquor were taken away there would be an uprising against social evils. Our business is to remedy evil social conditions and not to make them tolerable by dope. It has been said that the Opposition to this Measure comes from the wealthier people, but I have founded my view 743 largely upon the opinion of the poorest people. Many of the opinions I have obtained from the fisher folk who attach great importance to Sunday, and in my constituency fishermen will not take out their boats on Sunday.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Did not the hon. Member complain of the postcards sent to him by the Catholics on the Amendment to the Education Bill as being intimidation?
§ Mr. FOOT
I never complained of the postcards as being intimidation. When I referred to intimidation, it was in relation to a letter sent to a Socialist Member of this House saying that upon his answer to certain questions would depend his position here.
I want the House to distinguish between the personal observance, of which so much has been said, and the institution of Sunday. The distinguishing feature of the English Sunday is the difference between that day and the other days of the week. A sermon was preached in St. Paul's Cathedral yesterday in which it was said that what is right on the Monday cannot be wrong on the Sunday. I agree with that, but it ignores altogether the principle of Sunday which is set apart from the other days of the week. This distinction is of the utmost importance, and this has been made possible very largely by restrictions. If the restrictions had not been there, whatever you may say of the Act of 1780, many of us to-day would not be enjoying the privileges of Sunday that we now have. Not only do you want one day in seven, but what really constitutes the advantage of the Sunday is that you get your rest in common with the rest of the community. The relations between man and man and business and business make it essential that the cessation of all kinds of labour, except that which is absolutely necessary, should be on the same day. If the Sunday is a communal day of rest and recreation, then you have to establish safeguards for all in the interests of all.
There is talk about class prejudice, but I cannot appreciate that argument, because no class in this country stands to lose more by the wiping out of Sunday 744 than the poorest class. It may be said that they can be defended by their trade unions, but many of them may not belong to trade unions, and I say it is the business of this House to look after the most defenceless of the community. When I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, I wondered, if his speech were carried to its logical conclusion, what restraint would be left at all. It is all very well to mock at restraints, but they have made Sunday possible. It is all very well to sneer at the Sabbatarian, but I read in the paper this morning a quotation from a letter which said:The modern week-ender who laughs at Sabbatarianiem has the Sabbatarian to thank for his week-end freedom.I judge the Bill by what it will do for this institution. Will the proposals contained in the Bill preserve the institution or weaken it? Will they, if carried, help us to keep what we have received, or shall we lose it? The enemy of the Sunday is the exploiter. The real enemy of the Sunday is commercialism. The exploiter looks upon the Sunday just as the general looked upon London and said, "What a city to sack!" So the exploiter says about Sunday, "What a day to exploit!" He knows very well that, if he can get that day, he will be getting the day when the best takings are possible, and, if this Bill passes, I believe it will strengthen the forces of exploitation and enlarge the area of their activities.
It is impossible to discuss this Bill simply on its actual words. You cannot go half-way down Niagara—[Interruption]. I suggest that this matter cannot be discussed simply on the wording printed in the Bill. Every argument that has been used to-day might have been used in favour of the organised football match, which no doubt would have the support of many people in this country. You have football matches to-day on Good Friday, and no argument that has been used to-day would inhibit them on Sundays. No argument has been used to-day that would inhibit the theatre. All the speeches that have been made have recognised that the theatre might be brought into this scheme—[Interruption]—and I suggest that we must look at this Measure as one which concerns, not only 745 the cinema, but the theatre as well. The argument used on behalf of the theatre is unanswerable, and the claim that is put forward is irresistible. I do not say that theatres should open on Sunday, but what would the answer be if the cinemas were allowed to do so? The political correspondent of the "Morning Post" to-day said:The opening of the theatre following upon the cinema would be as certain as that the day follows night.In many respects the theatres have the better claim. We have heard about the provision of wholesome amusement, but I should like to quote a leading article in the "Stage" of the 12th March, 1931, which said:Has the stage made any preparation with its own case? Has it got ready any exposé of the sort of Sunday entertainment that kinemas give? Mr. G. A. Atkinson, one of the most conscientious of film critics, has stated that at no other period of the world's history has such downright dirt and indecency been foisted on the public in the name of amusement as by the kinemas today and that the general drift of the entire entertainment tends to the destruction of the moral sense. For the most part, there is a curious conspiracy of silence in the Press over the unwholesome character of most of the films exhibited. If the question of the moral effect of Sunday entertainment is raised in Parliament—as it probably will be—evidence should be produced that this form of entertainment, subject to no proper censorship, is an ever growing danger to the community. Mr. Atkinson says that while he fears for impressionable youth, and feels desperately sorry for the new generation, yet, as for the public as a whole, he thinks that the common sense of the nation realises that what it sees and hears are fantastic improvisations on vice and crime.' But he will know that a plea of this sort is no defence for, in his own words, "an orgy of frenzied filth." Why should a form of entertainment of a law character be held to be suitable for Sunday recreation, and dramatic art ruled out as unfit?I want to know what answer can be given to that question. With regard to what has been said about charity, some Members may have observed in the papers dealing with the cinema industry that the industry is protesting against the claim with regard to charity, and saying that it is moral blackmail. Does anyone think that, if this Bill is passed, an agitation will not be immediately started for wiping out that condition, and asking that those who are engaged in providing amuse- 746 ment which this House has considered necessary should not have placed upon them a burden that has been placed upon no other industry? As to the hospitals, I hope that the day will come—and I am astonished that the proposal has not come more particularly from the other side—when we shall not allow these great institutions, ministering to the health and the well-being of the people to depend upon this adventitious and precarious source of income. The same appeal is made here as that which was made for the maintenance of sweepstakes in Dublin, namely, that a certain amount of the proceeds go to charity. A small amount is allowed to dribble through for charity, and then these people talk about kindness to the poor and the sick, but in doing so they mix up two things, cupidity and charity. We have had nothing like it since Shy-lock went through the streets of Venice crying:My daughter! O, my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian? O my Christian ducats! Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!I heard with much interest the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). The only part of it with which I did not disagree was the part in which he said he was going to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, because every part of his argument was an argument against the Bill, and he surprised me by announcing that he was going to vote in its favour. He said that the danger was that we might refuse to deal with this matter in any way. I agree that that would be a danger, and that the question has to be dealt with. It is impossible to go back to 1780. But I do not want to see the Act of 1780 simply wiped out and cancelled in the interests of those who are out for gain; I do not want to see that Act repealed simply in the interests of one section, and that not the most deserving section. The simple abolition of the Act will not meet the needs of the present situation. I do not think this Bill is the right way of dealing with the situation. You have, first of all, to realise that there is an immense difference between the needs of London and the needs of the provinces. There is between London and the rest of the country a very great difference.
§ Mr. FOOT
I cannot tell you why but it is so, politically and otherwise. It is because London has no roots. It has nothing of civic pride. I have no wish to offend my London friends, but there is a difference between their civic pride and our pride in the provinces, where there is a keener interest in public affairs. Here, in spite of all appeals, at an election a week or two ago they could only get six out of ten to go to the poll, which compares with about nine out of ten that we get in the country. Between London and the provinces there is a great difference, and you need to deal with the question first of all by looking at the needs of London. I am sure, if you set up these proposals, the hungry interests will be looking round throughout the Provinces to see what area they can annex.
I believe this whole question demands the serious consideration, and the further consideration, of the churches, of all social workers and all those who by their service have been entitled to express an opinion. The Home Secretary said, "Let us get rid of this hateful controversy." Does anyone think that, if the Bill passes tonight, it will finish the controversy? Does anyone think that, after you have got the Bill through Committee, it will finish the controversy? All you will have done is to transfer it from the Floor of the House to practically every town in the country. Who will start the controversy? Not the citizens, but those who want to take advantage of the Bill. They will come down with their application to the local authority, which will take a decision one way or the other and, however they take it, at once there will be a local controversy, which will be carried on in the municipal elections, and the controversy that you start tonight is now to be carried all over the country. We are trustees in this matter for a very precious thing that is committed to our trust. Against the Sundays are arrayed many enemies, many hungry interests and many who have no interest in the Sunday but who are out for exploitation. I want to resist those exploiters. I want to fight those mercenary interests. I believe I can do that best by voting against the Second Read- 748 ing of the Bill. If I voted for the Second Reading, I should think I was one who had helped to break down the dykes and let in the waters over the land.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I have sometimes heard our Debates criticised as not being on a sufficiently high plane. The criticism I should make of the speeches we have heard this evening is that they have been on too high a, plane. They have been on a plane far above the Bill that we have under consideration. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) said that, if the Bill were passed, it would dash to pieces the ideal that is responsible for the English character. He went on in a moving way to say how shocked we should be were anyone to desecrate the Cenotaph by sticking advertisements on it. But this is all above and beyond the Bill that we have before us. It has nothing to do with the Bill. If the Bill is read a Second time, it will not desecrate the English Sabbath. It will not do anything like affixing advertisements to the Cenotaph. It will simply provide that what has been done illegally for the last 20 years will be done with the consent and approval of Parliament in a regular and a proper way. I think that the House has some reason for complaint against the Government that they have not boldly and fearlessly recommended this Bill for the approval of the House. After all, the Government are responsible for law and order and the decency and propriety of life in this country, and it is their duty, in my opinion, to bring forward a Bill which will regularise the illegalities which have been allowed to go on.
The matter is really a very simple one. Every Sunday evening for many years past in London 1,000,000 people have gone to the cinemas. London is a very important part of the country, whatever the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) may say. The civic pride of London is not less than that of any other part of the country. London has not only done a great deal to secure the freedom and rights of the people, but has also done a great deal towards the peaceful and orderly amusement of the people on a Sunday evening, and all that we say is that what has been the practice for the past 15 or 20 years should be regularised 749 by this Bill. The hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) very rightly pointed out that it is all very well for Members of this House who have libraries and comfortable fires to sit by to say, "Why do you not sit at home and read good books, historical novels, and the Bible, and all the rest of it?" As she pointed out, there are thousands of people in London and other towns who are crowded together in small homes and have no library and who want to go to a cinema on a Sunday evening.
At the last election we heard a good deal of talk about the flapper and the flapper's vote. There are hundreds and thousand's of young people in London who desire some place where they can go, the young men with their young women, and sit down. [Laughter.] It is all very well to laugh. I am one of those who opposed the flapper's vote, but. I am prepared to see that the flapper has her rights. I have received requests urging me to see that the cinemas are not closed to them. Think of a Sunday night like last Sunday night with the bitter wind and the sleet and the snow. Why should they not, in order that they may not have to go to the public house, have a warm place in which to sit down and see photographic pictures on the screen? It is not only cinematographs with which we are dealing in this Bill. The Bill also deals with Sunday concerts. Sunday concerts, which have been an immense boon recognised by all churches for years past, will also have to be closed down. It is all very well to say that you can have free admission if you pay for your seats. What humbug that is. That quibble in the law cannot go on. If you shut the cinemas, you will shut the Sunday concerts too. That is a very serious step to take.
Having dealt with the matter on its merits, it is very important to remember the great benefits that the hospitals receive from the Sunday entertainments at the cinemas. I have letters from three or four institutions in the borough which I have the honour to represent—one a clinic for mothers, another a surgical supply depot, and another a children's hospital—saying how difficult it will be for them to make ends meet if the cinemas are closed on Sunday. While I would not urge that the cinemas should be kept open for that reason, it is an 750 important point to bear in mind that while they are doing no harm, while they are providing innocent amusement in the case of London for 1,000,000 citizens every Sunday night, they also benefit the hospitals, and this House would take a very grave responsibility if they now closed them down.
§ Mr. THURTLE (Lord of the Treasury)
When the gag was put upon me some time ago as a back-bencher, I hardly imagined that the first time that it would be removed would be when I rose to make this speech at the end of an important Debate, standing at this Box. I owe the opportunity to the vagaries of Debate and to your kindness, Mr. Speaker, and I realise the responsibility of it. These free votes seem to have rather strange consequences. One of the strangest consequences is that I find myself in strenuous opposition to my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), with whom I have fought side by side on a number of occasions. Perhaps stranger still is it that I find that I am going to be in the same lobby as the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). I think it will be agreed that Debates of this kind, whatever strange circumstances they produce, are such as to give a vitality and reality to this House which are lacking on other occasions.
Before I deal with my main argument, I want to reply to a theme which was developed by the hon. Member for Bodmin. As far as I followed his arguments, his case against the Bill was not the case put forward by the Lord's-Day Observance Society, not the case which has been urged in other quarters, but the case that it would lead to the commercial exploitation of Sunday. I submit to the hon. Member and to the House that there is no validity in that argument. The fact of local option utterly destroys the strength of that case. In the first place, unless there is a great public demand in a given locality you will not find a local authority giving permission for cinematograph and other performances to take place. If, on the other hand, powerful commercial interests of cinema proprietors and others succeed in inveigling an unsuspicious local authority into giving the right for cinema performances to take place in their districts, then if there is no public demand, if the people do not want these performances, they will not 751 attend them, they will be a commercial failure, and no commercial exploitation can take place. I submit that that is a perfectly sound reply to the argument of the hon. Member for Bodmin that there would be commercial exploitation of this Bill on the part of the cinema proprietors.
I approach my task to-night, inexperienced as I am for a position of this kind, with a good deal of confidence because the British House of Commons, when it is untrammelled and unfettered by party Whips is a very good tribunal to which to bring a question of human liberty. I propose to argue my case solely on that ground. I submit to the hon. Member for Bodmin and to the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) that it is a fundamental British principle that you should only curb and restrain the liberty of the subject when you have a cast-iron case for doing so, and that the onus for impinging upon the liberty of the citizen rests upon the people who are seeking to do it. Those who are opposing this Measure contend that there is a case for preventing men and women attending cinema performances and other sorts of entertainments on Sunday.
What is that case? I do not accept the hon. Member for Bodmin as the one and only authority on this matter. We have had a variety of arguments submitted why we should destroy this Measure. There is the case put forward on grounds of morality. Will the citizens of this country be any worse citizens than they are if they attend cinemas on Sundays And the House must remember that they have been attending cinemas on Sundays for something like 20 years already. Has any harm been done to their morality during the last 20 years? Will they be any the worse citizens if they attend cinemas on Sundays? I do not think there is anyone who is prepared to argue that they will. I do not say that cinemas are very elevating institutions, but if they are institutions which are calculated to undermine the morality of our citizens I should like to know what those who are opposing Sunday performances are going to do about the performances on all the other days of the week. If there is something immoral in cinema performances on Sun 752 days it seems to me that it must equally apply to cinema performances on other days of the week.
There is the other argument stressed largely by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham that we must preserve one day's rest in the week. The hon. and learned Member is the President of the Lord's Day Observance Society, which is mainly concerned with the Divine command that Sunday should be kept as a day of rest, but it was interesting to observe that he founded almost the whole of his case not on that Divine injunction but on the fact that it was going to interfere with the rest and comfort of the workers. I might accept the hon. and learned Member as an authority on many matters, and as one who would stand up for all sort of causes; but he will forgive me for saying that in the light of things that have happened in connection with trade unions and other matters, I am a little bit doubtful in accepting him as a jealous guardian and friend of the rights of the workers. I do not wish to say anything at all provocative, but it is a curious fact that the Lord's Day Observance Society and the other organisations which are building up their case so strongly upon the fact that the day of rest for the worker is likely to be invaded—it is a little strange, to put it no higher than that, if they are truly concerned with the conditions of the workers, they should not on other occasions assist the workers to improve their conditions.
My case, so far as the one day's rest is concerned, is this: The best guardians of the rights of the workers are the trade unions, and, so far as I understand, the trade unions are satisfied, or the workers in the industry are satisfied, that there is to be adequate provision made in the Bill for protecting their interests. If that is not so, and if it is in any doubt, the Bill will go to a Committee, and if necessary additional safeguards can then be inserted to protect the rights of the workers. Those are the main points on which the Bill is being justified. Let me go further. This country believes in the right of appeal to history. Is there any kind of historical basis for maintaining this particular law? I submit that there is none. The right hon. Member for Spen Valley gave us a devastating account of the origin of the Act of 1781. It was brought into being by Bishop 753 Porteus, who was concerned with two things only—with the fact that certain unlearned people, presumably the Dissenters of that day, were daring to discuss certain religious questions; and that in Holborn and one or two other districts there were places of entertainment with what were called promenades, and that things not quite proper were taking place.
Whatever may have been the validity of the reason for introducing a Bill then to meet those two points, that reason does not exist to-day. I would remind the hon. and learned Member for Fare-ham that that Bill was introduced by the then Solicitor-General. It seems as though times and manners change, but lawyers do not change very much. This Solicitor-General was inclined to take up the same kind of point of view as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Eareham. I am very glad to say that there was an outspoken Member of that House who did not think very much about lawyers. In those days lawyers were known as the gentlemen of the long robe. Mr. Turner, the Member in question, said:The Bill was not meant to answer any really good religious purpose, as was pretended. It was an effort at tyranny over men's consciences. He hardly approved of anything suggested by the men of the long robe. Half the countries which have been ruined were ruined, by men of the long robe.All the same I hope that that quotation will not be regarded as an indiscretion, and that if there were any lawyers in this House who were going to support the Bill before I read the quotation, they will continue to support it. What remains of their arguments There is no case from the historical point of view. There is no case from the standpoint of morality. There is no case from the organised workers' point of view. What then is left The only reason left—and I call the attention of the hon. Member for Bodmin to this—is the claim of religious people that Sunday should be observed in accordance with certain New Testament injunctions. If the hon. Member disputes that statement, let me call attention to the fact that the Lord's Day Observance Society, which, I think, has been the chief organisation inundating Members with literature on this point, in giving reasons why the Bill should be rejected includes the following 754 reason. I do not know if the hon. Member repudiates it—
§ Mr. THURTLE
I am making the point that this organisation has been the chief organisation concerned in issuing propagandist literature against the Bill and the first reason adduced by it for rejecting the Bill is that the proposals of the Bill contravene the Divine law. This is the year 1931. I want to be reasonable and fair and I submit that these Divine injunctions, taken from the New Testament are, in the year 1931, not altogether unquestioned so far as their authenticity or their historical value are concerned. But I make no point of that, and I only mention it in passing. As regards the observance of Sunday, however, we have this important fact that the religious organisations themselves are very divided on what ought to be done. There are important religious organisation in favour of this Bill.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
Will the hon. Member give me the name of one organisation which is in favour of the Bill as it stands?
§ Mr. THURTLE
I received a circular either to-day or quite recently signed by a large number of Nonconformist ministers.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
May I point out that 40 ministers of that church signed that circular as against 2,000 represented by the main resolution passed, which was against the Bill?
§ Mr. THURTLE
There is the fact, at all events, that some of the Wesleyan Methodist ministers are in favour of the principles of the Bill, and that a Church of England organisation of which Dean Inge is president is in favour of the Bill. There is also the important fact that the Christian religion is not confined to this country but operates all over Europe, and, in practically all the 755 European countries where the Christian religion obtains, the Sunday practice is very different from ours. They allow full liberty to the people to enjoy Sunday in whatever way they please. The point is that, so far as religion is concerned, there is great diversity of opinion as to how Sunday ought to be observed, and it becomes a matter of religious belief. It is because the opponents of the Bill have a certain religious belief that they seek to impose their view upon those who have not got that belief. I submit that that is a denial of liberty to the people. It is a form of intolerance, for which the House of Commons ought not in these days to be prepared to vote.
There are hon. Members of this House who have said to me to-day, "I am rather in doubt as to how I am going to vote. I think there is something to be said for the Bill and something against it." All that I would like those hon. Members to recall is this, that they are Members of the British House of Commons, and I say to a Member of the British House of Commons, when he is in doubt as between liberty and repression, that he should come down on the side of liberty every time. It is not to be forgotten that there are positive gains involved in this Bill. There is the fact that you are going to provide healthful recreation and entertainment for people who might otherwise waste their time at street corners or walking aimlessly along the streets; there is the fact that you are going to prevent people going into public houses who would otherwise go there; and there is also the important fact that you are going to provide quite a large sum of money for people who are very much in need of it.
Let me put this to the Sabbatarians: What is the logic of this case that men and women shall not be allowed to spend Sunday in the way in which they want to spend it? The logic of that is complete interference with the individual, the prevention of motor car trips in the counry on Sunday, the prevention of golf on Sunday, the prevention of tennis and football on Sunday, the prevention of people playing jazz music in their houses on Sunday, the prevention of reading novels on Sunday. If you say that people are not entitled to spend Sunday in the way they please, that is 756 the logic of the situation. The fact is that these things cannot be done. You cannot impose your will on people in that way, and the attempt to do so is a piece of religious intolerance which ought not to be approved by the House of Commons. I do not hold the views which the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) holds. I have never made any secret of my views and, if the House does not approve of them, at least it will give me credit for honesty. If you want the Sabbath observed as the Sabbatarians want it, the only way is to get men and women to do it from conviction. If you can induce men and women to hold your point of view of the observance of the Sabbath, you will be able to get them to carry it out. If they do not hold that point of view, no legislation or Act of Parliament will make them do so.
I hope that hon. Members are not going to be intimidated by this flow of postcards. I would not suggest such a possibility if I had not unhappy memories of the effect a few months ago of postcards on the judgment of some Members of this House. The great bulk of these postcards come, not from the great centres of population, but from the outlying country districts. We ought to be guided by the views of the great centres of population. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] In the election which took place in Spain a week ago, it was reported that the cities and towns voted against the continuance of the existing regime while the country districts voted in favour of its continuance. It is significant that the authentic voice of Spain was taken to come from the great centres of population, and it was upon that authentic voice that the last of the Bourbons was sent upon his way. I hope in this case we are going to accept the voice of the great urban centres, where the cinemas are, upon this issue.
There is no argument and no case has been made out for continuing this denial of liberty to men and women It is a denial of liberty which has arisen only after a lapse of 20 years. In this struggle, I hope that, in accordance with the traditions of the British Parliament, where there is a case of tolerance against intolerance, the vote of this House will be heavily in favour of tolerance. Whatever we may think of it, this House has a reputation to lose in the world. It 757 has a reputation as a liberal assembly. I use the word in its broader and finer significance. It is considered as a House which, in the march of liberty and freedom, is always in the front. I do not want the House to depart from that tradition to-night. In my view, a vote to-night against this Bill would be a vote in favour of narrow intolerance and would be regarded as a mark of reaction and decadence. I hope the House, in accordance with its great tradition, is not going to record any such vote.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
I am very glad to have the opportunity of saying that I do not think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken represents the views of the great mass of people in this country. He is right in saying that there is no mandate. The issue has never been, submitted to the electors, and until it has been submitted hon. Members may vote one way or the other, but they cannot claim that they have a mandate. Whatever the practice may have been, I want to put this to the House, that there is something big and distinctive in Sunday and in the observance of Sunday, in this
§ country. If you allow this Measure to pass and allow Sunday to be exploited, Prussianised, by all kinds of people for their own gain, you are going to undermine some of the very finest elements in this country. You are going to play fast and loose with the foundations upon which the greatness of this nation has been developed. There is a story in the Old Testament about a man who was shorn of his locks and who rose and shook himself as aforetime and he "wist not that his strength was departed from him." I am afraid that probably in 10, 15, or 20 years' time, you will observe that you cannot build character and the finest things that make a nation's greatness, on the sort of thing that is shown in the cinematograph. Let us give some thought to the finer elements which have made this country what it is. We should not turn our backs because of any specious pleas about the liberty of the subject. It is not liberty that is being asked for to-night, but licence. I hope the House will reject the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the word now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 210.761
|Division No. 215.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Ede, James Chuter|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Albery, Irving James||Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Egan, W. H.|
|Alexander, Rt Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Campbell, E. T.||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Forgan, Dr. Robert|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Arnott, John||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm, W.)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Charleton, H. C.||Gill, T. H.|
|Atkinson, C.||Chafer, Daniel||Gillett, George M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Church, Major A. G.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Ayles, Walter||Clarke, J. S.||Gossling, A. G.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Cluse, W. S.||Grace, John|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Balniel, Lurd||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Batey, Joseph||Colman, N. C. D.||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Compton, Joseph||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Benson, G.||Cooper, A. Duff||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Harbord, A.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Bracken, B.||Dallas, George||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Dalton, Hugh||Haycock, A. W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hayes, John Henry|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Day, Harry||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Brothers, M.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Herriotts, J.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Duncan, Charles||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Montague, Frederick||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Morley, Ralph||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Lees-, H. B.|
|Isaacs, George||Muggeridge, H. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke Naw'gton)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Naylor, T. E.||Sorensen, R.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||O'Connor, T. J.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Oldfield, J. R.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Kinley, J.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Knight, Holford||Palin, John Henry||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Paling, Wilfrid||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Palmer, E. T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Peake, Captain Osbert||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lawrence, Susan||Penny, Sir George||Tillett, Ben|
|Lawson, John James||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Leach, W.||Perry, S. F.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Lees, J.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Tout, W. J.|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Townend, A. E.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Walkden, A. G.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Walker, J.|
|Long, Major Hon. Eric||Price, M. P.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Quibell, D. F. K.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Longden, F.||Ramsbotham, H.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Lymington, Viscount||Rathbone, Eleanor||Watkins, F. C.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Raynes, W. R.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|McEntee, V. L.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|McShane, John James||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||West, F. R.|
|Manning, E. L.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|March, S||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Romeril, H. G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Marley, J.||Salmon, Major I.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Marshall, Fred||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wise, E. F.|
|Matters, L. W.||Sanders, W. S.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Maxton, James||Sandham, E.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Middleton, G.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Mills, J. E.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Milne, Wardlaw, J. S.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Milner, Major J.||Sherwood, G. H.||Mr. Toole and Colonel Howard-Bury.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Fielden, E. B.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fison, F. G. Clavering|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Foot, Isaac|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Chapman, Sir S.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Christie, J. A.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thahet)||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Barr, James||Colfox, Major William Philip||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Colville, Major D. J.||Glassey, A. E.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Cowan, D. M.||Gould, F.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Berry, Sir George||Daggar, George||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Granville, E.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Gray, Milner|
|Blindell, James||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bromfield, William||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brooke, W.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Edge, Sir William||Hanbury, C.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Edmondsen, Major A. J.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Edmunds, J. E.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Elmley, Viscount||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Butler, R. A.||England, Colonel A.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Hore-Belisha, Lestle|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Cape, Thomas||Ferguson, sir John||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Fermoy, Lord||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Murnin, Hugh||Shield, George William|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas||Nelson, Sir Frank||Simmens, C. J.|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exetor)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Jones, Llewellyn, F.||Noel Baker, P. J.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon, Thomas||O'Neill, Sir H.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Lamb, Sir J. O.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Moltan)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Lang, Gordon||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Pole, Major D. G.||Sullivan, J.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Potts, John S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Pybus, Percy John||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsey, T. B. Wilson||Thompson, Luke|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Tinker, John Joseph.|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Remer, John R.||Train, J.|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Richards, R.||Turner, B.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Ritson, J.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Vaughan, David|
|Lunn, William||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Viant, S. P.|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Ross, Ronald D.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|McElwes, A.||Rothschild, J. de||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Rowson, Guy||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.||White, H. G.|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Mansfield, W.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Marcus, M.||Savery, S. S.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Millar, J. D.||Sawyer, G. F.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Scott, James||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Scrymgeour, E.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k).|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Sexton, Sir James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mort, D. L.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Mr. R. J. Russell and Mr. W. S. Morrison.|
|Muirhead, A. J.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
§ Bill read a, Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Com-762
§ mittee of the Whole House.-[Captain Bourne.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 192; Noes, 255.765
|Division No. 216.]||AYES.||[11.11 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Chamberlain Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm., W.)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Albery, Irving James||Chapman, Sir S.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Christle, J. A.||George, Mogan Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Glassey, A. E.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Colfox, Major William Philip||Gould, F.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colman, N. C. D.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Colville, Major D. J.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barr, James||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Granville, E.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Gray, Milner|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Cowan, D. M.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Blindell, Jamas||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hanbury, C.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bromfield, William||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Hennessy, Major Sir Q. R. J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcalm||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Butler, R. A.||Elmley, Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||England, Colonel A.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Ferguson, Sir John||Inskip, Sir Thomas|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Fermoy, Lord||Jones, Llewellyn-, F.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fielden, E. B.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merieneth)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.)||Foot, Isaac||Kelly, W. T.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lamb, Sir J. O.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Somerset, Thomas|
|Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Penny, Sir George||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Potts, John S.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Long, Major Hon. Eric||Ramsbotham, H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Lovat-Fraser. J. A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Remer, John R.||Thompson, Luke|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Train, J.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Ross, Ronald D.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Rothschild, J. de||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Millar, J. D.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||White, H. G.|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Savery, S. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Sawyer, G. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Muirhead, A. J.||Scott, James||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Scrymgeour, E.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|O'Neill, Sir H.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Smithers, Waldron||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|and Captain Bourne.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Isaacs, George|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Daggar, George||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Dallas, George||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Dalton, Hugh||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Amman, Charles George||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Arnott, John||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Day, Harry||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Atkinson, C.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kinley, J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Duncan, Charles||Knight, Holford|
|Ayles, Walter||Ede, James Chuter||Lang, Gordon|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles w.||Edmunds, J. E.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Balniel, Lord||Egan, W. H.||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Batey, Joseph||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Lawrence, Susan|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lawson, John James|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Leach, W.|
|Benson, G.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Gill, T. H.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Gillett, George M.||Lees, J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gossling, A. G.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Grace, John||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Bowen, J. W.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Bracken, B.||Groves, Thomas E.||Longden, F.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lunn, William|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lymington, Viscount|
|Brooke, W.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Brothers, M.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||McElwee, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Hammersley, S. S.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Harbord, A.||McKinlay, A.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Harris, Percy A.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Haycock, A. W.||McShane, John James|
|Cape, Thomas||Hayday, Arthur||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Hayes, John Henry||Manning, E. L.|
|Chater, Daniel||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mansfield, W.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Marcus, M.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Herriotts, J.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hicks, Ernest George||Marley, J.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hoffman, P. C.||Marshall, Fred|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hopkin, Daniel||Mathers, George|
|Compton, Joseph||Horrabin, J. F.||Matters, L. W.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Maxton, James|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Middleton, G.|
|Mills, J. E.||Raynes, W. R.||Sullivan, J.|
|Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Milner, Major J.||Richards, R.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Montague, Frederick||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Morley, Ralph||Ritson, J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Tillett, Ben|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Romeril, H. G.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Mort, D. L.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Rowson, Guy||Toole, Joseph|
|Murnin, Hugh||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tout, W. J.|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Salmon, Major I.||Townend, A. E.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Turner, B.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Vaughan, David|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Sanders, W. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Sandham, E.||Walkden, A. G.|
|O'Connor, T. J.||Sexton, Sir James||Walker, J.|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Palin, John Henry||Sherwood, G. H.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Shield, George William||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Palmer, E. T.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wellock, Willfred|
|Perry, S. F.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Weish, James (Paisley)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Simmons, C. J.||West, F. R.|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, Lees-, H. B.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Wise, E. F.|
|Pybus, Percy John||Sorensen, R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Strauss, G. R.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Charleton.|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.