§ 3.47 p.m.
§ The Chairman
It may be of advantage to the Committee if I say that I propose to call first the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), and, in the event of the Committee not agreeing to that Amendment, then to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), in page 1, line 10, to leave out "with or." In order to avoid repetition as much as possible, I would invite hon. Members, in the main and as far as they can, to deal more particularly with the question of the Festival Pleasure Gardens on the first Amendment, so as to keep the issues distinct and not have all these arguments repeated in relation to the amusement park in the event of the second Amendment being called. I hope that is clear.
§ Sir H. Williams
I beg to move, in page 1, to leave out lines 9 to 11.
There are two other Amendments on the Order Paper in my name and in the names of some of my hon. Friends, but they are entirely consequential. I quite appreciate the point you have made, Major Milner, about trying to avoid undue repetition.
My Amendment covers what I might call the whole of the area in Battersea Park which has been allotted to the Festival, not only the amusement park, but also what is known as the Festival Pleasure Gardens. I have observed that a circular had been addressed to all hon. Members by Sir Henry French, the Chairman of the rather curious limited company which runs this Festival. I think the shareholders are the Treasury and the London County Council, and it appears to be a nationalised enterprise, because we cannot ask questions about what it is doing, because the Lord President of the Council is not responsible for its activities.
The Lord President is only a part shareholder in this connection, with the 958 Treasury and the London County Council, so he is well and truly protected, and it becomes one of those nationalised industries outside any democratic control whatsoever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] I do not understand why hon. Members should say, "Get on with it." Mine was a perfectly pertinent observation. I always notice that when I or my hon. Friends make a good point which the other side do not like, they try to push us off it. I always think that when I get jeers from the other side, I should repeat what I have said, so far as the Chair will allow.
I live on the other side of the river and, as I had not been in Battersea Park recently, I thought I should like to have another look at it. I went on Sunday afternoon, which was unfortunately, a foggy day. But the Lord's Day Observance Act does not prohibit admission to a public park on Sunday afternoon, and most hon. Members do not seem to have appreciated that point. When I got there it was foggy, but, with some difficulty, I managed to get into the part of the park affected. There were many people at work in the park and there was a gentleman who wanted to stop me approaching the part of the park concerned. He held his hand up and went through all the motions of prohibition, but I induced him to let me in, when I told him that I proposed to speak today. He directed me to the clerk of works, who was missing. I saw a lot of vehicles in the fog and an infinite quantity of mud. One foreman, who said he had lived all his life in Battersea, said the way they had spoilt the flowers in Battersea Park was an absolute shame.
I was one of, I think, 128 who voted against the Second Reading of this Bill. There was a large majority in favour of the Second Reading, of course, but the graver controversy relates to the amusement park, and the Amendments in my name, and in the names of other hon. Members are consequential upon the fact that the Bill had a Second Reading. What I do not understand is why a Government Department, or a Government-sponsored show, should have privileges compared with other shows on Sunday, whatever they may be. I have not the slightest doubt that there may be a very good case for a Bill to be introduced to overhaul the Lord's Day Observance Act, but I 959 see no reason whatsoever why a Government-sponsored show should be put in an exceptional position compared with others.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
Does the hon. Member not distinguish between a national festival and a private enterprise amusement park?
§ Sir H. Williams
I see no difference at all. I see no real reason why the Government should break any of the Ten Commandments any more than anybody else. On that principle one could commit any crime one liked, provided one did it in the name of the State. That is a philosophical doctrine I am not prepared to accept. The particular law with which we are dealing is very ancient. It goes back to the earliest Parliamentary draftsman. I think his name was Moses, and he was a very good Parliamentary draftsman, because his are the only laws which have never been amended.
We must realise that what I might call the Old Testament interpretation of the Fourth Commandment, and the New Testament interpretation are fundamentally different. The Old Testament attitude was much more rigid than the attitude taken in the New Testament and by people belonging to various Christian sects. Most of us read newspapers on Monday, though they were printed on Sunday, We turn the wireless on, and use electricity, gas and water, buses and trains, all of which involve Sunday labour. We have our letters delivered on Monday, and that involves people sorting them on Sunday. Our present attitude towards Sunday—and Sunday is not quite the same thing as the Sabbath—is very different from that which prevailed in the Old Testament days, and we all recognise that.
What most of us are concerned about is that, so far as we possibly can, we should only involve people in the minimum of Sunday work. We recognise in steelmaking and in certain chemical work, for instance, activity which has to have a continuous process. We accept, quite frankly, that it is incidental to our modern civilisation. On the other hand, most of us take the view that we should keep Sunday work down as much as possible. I am one of those who have consistently opposed excessive hours of labour.
960 During the war, I had the privilege of being chairman of a sub-committee of the Select Committee on National Expenditure. My colleagues were the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Miss Irene Ward), the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), who was recently Secretary of State for Scotland, and others not now in the House. We sponsored a document in which we deplored the excessive hours being worked at certain stages of the war, largely as a result of the impulse of the Lord President of the Council in exhorting people to "go to it." We realise the adverse effect on production of excessive hours of work and, as a small employer, I have always had that in mind. The Commandment, incidentally, says, "Six days shalt thou labour." That is not merely negative, and I think we shall have to come to six days, before long, if we are to save this nation from disaster.
I hope I do not approach this problem in a narrow-minded way at all. I supported the opening of cinemas on Sunday, because I thought that here was a case where we could provide entertainment for a great number of people with the minimum of Sunday labour. It so happened that I had 600 letters from people in my constituency opposing Sunday opening and only two in favour. Nevertheless, I voted in favour, and my town was the first to have a ballot on the subject. Yet, when we had the ballot, I found that the people of Croydon, by two to one, agreed with my point of view. Therefore, I am not too much embarrassed by a bombardment of protests from societies.
I think the Lord's Day Observance Society is a thorough nuisance. I have written two protests to them about the letters I have had through their activity, and they have not had the courtesy to answer them up to now. Neither am I embarrassed by selected quotations from the Scriptures because, as we all know, one can prove anything by selected quotation. I read on Sunday night St. Paul's First Epistle to Timothy. When I have a little time I shall read a little more about Timothy, because he is given advice on the qualifications possessed by bishops. In Chapter 3, verse 2, he says: 961A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.According to St. Paul, a bishop must be the husband of one wife. That seems to let out all the rest of us. I once tried this out on a bishop, and he could not quite get round it. If one says that a certain class of the community shall have only one wife, it rather indicates that one approves of polygamy for those who are not going to be bishops. I mention this as part of my protest against letters containing selected quotations from the Scriptures. That is not the way to arrive at a conclusion.
If I were running the fun fair I should arrange that, as a great many ships conveying coal pass Battersea, two piers would be erected from one of which we could ship British coal abroad and at the other we could unload American coal coming into this country. That is a new thought for the Lord President to consider. I have many friends in the entertainment industry. [Laughter.] I do not know why that remark should be treated with derision. I have generally found myself supporting theatrical and cinema people and amusement caterers, but on this occasion I am against them.
I am told that they fear that they will suffer great loss if the amusements park is not open on Sundays. That is a fair consideration for them to put forward. I hope that during this debate the Lord President will tell us definitely whether when these amusement caterers signed their contracts they signed on the basis of a six-day week or a seven-day week. I wish the Lord President would give me his attention. I know that he is probably getting tired of advice, but I am putting a specific point to him. He prefers to give advice, but many of us are wise enough not to take it.
One of the amusement caterers told me. We shall lose a lot of money if we cannot open on Sundays. It is a very good day in the week." I want to ask this specific question: when these amusement caterers signed their agreement with Festival Gardens Limited was it on the basis of a six- or seven-day week? That raises very important issues. Was it originally contemplated that this place should be opened on Sundays? I should like to know whether the purport of this Bill is to remove doubts or to legalise 962 something which was not contemplated when the whole idea was first sponsored. I think that is a legitimate and proper question to address to the Attorney-General and the Lord President who at the moment are so busy advising each other. Surely, they should know by now what they have got to reply to.
§ Sir H. Williams
The right hon. and learned Gentleman appears to be schizophrenic he has got a split brain and is able to hear me through one ear and the Lord President through the other. If he is not careful he will become one of the exhibits in the museum.
What is clear is this. The legalised opening by the State of a fun fair on Sundays is going to annoy a large number of decent citizens. There is no doubt about that, and I wonder whether we are wise to offend great numbers of some of the best and most reputable citizens in this country. There are very few people who, if they wish to go to the amusements park, will not have opportunities to go on the other days of the week during six months in the year. I know that the Labour Party have a bad record in this matter. They think that no one can go to a political meeting except on Sunday. I find that when I speak in the Civic Hall at Croydon on a week day I get a larger audience than the Attorney-General does when he visits that place on a Sunday. I suggest that there are other reasons for this, but I am not so impolite as to suggest them now.
When I was in Battersea Park on Sunday I saw a lot of concrete posts. I asked what they were for, and I was told that they were for the scenic railway. Sir Henry French used to be a civil servant, but he has now entered into controversy and he will have to take what is coming to him. In the letter which he addressed to us he said that no noise would be heard even by the people in Chelsea, and they are 300 yards away. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) will be able to tell us about that. A scenic railway is not one of the quiestest things in the world, and when Sir Henry French says that nobody will be able 963 to hear the scenic railway on Sunday from the nearest house which is 300 yards away, I do not believe it. I do not think he believes it himself. I do not think he even knows, which is more important.
Here is an issue which has caused great anxiety among great masses of respectable people. My Amendment proposes to shut down the Festival Pleasure Gardens on Sundays. I think it is deplorable that a public park designed for people who live in that district should be invaded at all. I do not see why the people of Battersea should be called upon to pay 2s. to enter what they regard as their park. I cannot argue against that now, because the last Parliament decided that that should be done, but I think it is monstrous, and if the Festival Gardens are going to be open at all, they ought to be open free to all the local residents. As the workman said to me on Sunday, he was horrified by the destruction of the flower beds which he used to have pleasure in seeing before the Festival Gardens were thought of.
Perhaps the Committee will decide to carry my Amendment, or the reverse may happen. If my Amendment is defeated, then another Amendment will be proposed which will be limited to the amusements park alone. I hope I have succeeded in giving substantial reasons for upholding it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think so. Certain people with less understanding do not think so; that is the only point of difference. If the majority of the Committee think that I am right in my arguments, in due course when we have a Division, I shall have a majority on my side. On the other hand, if I am in the minority I shall naturally support with very great pleasure the Amendment which I believe is to be proposed by the hon. Member Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas).
§ Mr. Thurtle (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) has been very amusing, but I hope he will forgive me if I am rather more solemn. I am taking this matter seriously. I regard the House of Commons as a citadel of freedom, and we often speak of ourselves as freedom-loving people. It is from that point of view that I want to discuss this issue, and I hope the hon. Member will forgive me if I do 964 not follow the trend of his speech. No doubt it was infused with deep religious feeling.We know what we are, but, know not what we may he.I have known the hon. Member a long time, and I wondered where his great energy and self-confidence would lead him. Never in all my imaginings have I conceived of him emerging as a great leader of Puritanism, as a sort of "Obadiah Bind-'em-in-chains." I would warn my hon. Friends, some of whom are thinking of following him, that after they have done so, they will marvel that they have followed such a leader.
We expect to spend our Sundays as we please. I think this sort of issue is essentially a personal one, depending upon our personal convictions, and, if we are to follow our personal convictions, we need freedom of choice. It is on behalf of that freedom of choice that I speak this afternoon. I think it is not seeking very much to ask that a British citizen should have the right to decide whether or not he shall go to these Pleasure Gardens and to the amusements on a Sunday.
There are others who take the opposite view. Most of them do so, I imagine, as does the hon. Member for Croydon, East, from deep religious convictions. I ask them to remember the great fundamental belief of those convictions, which is what we call the golden rule—"Do unto others as you would wish they should do unto you." They themselves expect to enjoy complete freedom of religious beliefs and practices, and I think they should be prepared, on the basis of the golden rule, to concede that right to other people so that they also may make their own choice. That is all we ask.
Last week I had the pleasure of listening to a very interesting speech by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). I have no doubt that it was a very sincere speech and, in the course of it, the right hon. Gentleman said he trusted that all would vote according to the prickings of their conscience. He also said:The mistake of the churches today is that they forget that religion is a personal matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November. 1950; Vol. 481. c. 550.]I thought that was very well said and I remarked to myself, "Here is a broad- 965 minded, tolerant churchman expounding the golden rule of doing unto others as he would wish them to do unto him."
Alas, I discovered later, listening to him very carefully, that the right hon. Gentleman was only a qualified believer in the golden rule, so that when it came to deciding whether John Citizen should have the right to choose for himself whether, or not to go to the amusements park of the Festival Gardens the right hon. Gentleman said. "No; if I cannot persuade him not to attend this place I will invoke the law so as to deny him the opportunity." That seemed rather disappointing. The right hon. Gentleman was only a true believer in liberty when he felt that that liberty fitted in with his own views. I therefore withdrew from him a considerable measure of my admiration.
In this country we all enjoy complete liberty in regard to religion. We can practise or adhere to any religion we choose, or we can have no religion at all. That is one of our very great freedoms. It is intellectual freedom. There are wide differences between us as a result of this freedom, as we recognise, for they are all due to the free operation of the human mind, which is the core of all liberty—the freedom of the mind to think as it likes and, in a way, to act as it likes. That, I suppose, is why we call ourselves a freedom-loving nation.
I am much more mellow than I used to be and I do not want to say anything at all spiteful in this debate. I would point out to hon. Members, however, that there has been a great falling off in church attendance. That is a hard fact. I make no great point of it, but it is a fact which ought to be borne in mind because, whether one likes it or not, it indicates a great shift of opinion on the question of Sunday observance. We have all sorts of different habits on a Sunday. If people do not want amusements at all they are not compelled to take part in them. If they prefer any particular sort of amusements they can indulge in them and all we ask is for consideration for those people who have not the opportunities to indulge in the sort of amusement they prefer, or who have not the facilities like those possessed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who generously admitted that he 966 had some very pleasant alternatives to attending an amusement festival.
Many hon. Members enjoy such alternatives, and I submit that it is unfair that they should deny opportunities of enjoyment to other people who are not so fortunately placed and who want this kind of amusement. All we ask is that people should be given this opportunity. To the strict Sabbatarian I would say that he should reciprocate our toleration. We let the strict Sabbatarians do what they please and, by way of tolerance, by way of the golden rule, they should let us do what we like. If they do not do so, I think they are guilty of a narrow intolerance. The hon. Member for Croydon, East, did not develop this theme very much, but there has been an argument advanced that Sunday is a divine day and ought not to be used for secular purposes at all. We know that that is not a practical contention today.
Even on that argument, there is no historical basis for saying that our Christian Sunday is a day of divine derivation. I am not an expert on this subject and others know more about it than I do, but if hon. Members look at the history of our Christian Sunday they will find that there is a much stronger case for saying that the Jewish Sabbath, the Saturday, has divine inspiration than for making that claim on behalf of our Christian Sunday. I could quote authorities like one of the early Christian Fathers, Justin, who openly derided this idea that Sunday has divine inspiration. A famous Bishop in the 17th century said some scathing things about the idea that Sunday was divinely inspired.
I turn now to the attitude of the Nonconformists, because they constitute a very strong force in the Anti-Sunday-Liberty campaign. It is very disappointing that the Nonconformists should adopt this attitude. I should have thought they would be tolerant and generous towards people who want Sunday freedom, for they were persecuted in the past because of their views. One would expect them to feel very strongly within themselves the urge to permit liberty.
Let us, for instance, consider the Baptists. I do not know whether there are any Baptists in the House but, if there are. I warn them that I am about to recount something which may harrow their feelings. This happened in the 17th 967 century—in 1661 to be precise. There was a Baptist Minister in London who felt strongly that the Sabbatarian observance was much too rigid. He wanted more, freedom. He spoke in favour of it. What happened to this poor Baptist Minister? He was hanged, he was drawn, he was quartered; his heart was taken out and burnt separately; his four quarters were stuck on the city gates; and the poor man's head was stuck on a pole outside his chapel in Stepney.
§ Mr. Thurtle
He suffered the fate of a martyr. There have been many who have suffered that fate in this country. What I want to point out is that today many of his fellow religionists, instead of being eager for liberty, fairness and tolerance, are now linked up with the ranks of the people who are intolerant.
§ Mr. Osborne rose—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
If the hon. Gentleman who has the Floor does not give way another hon. Gentleman may not speak.
§ Mr. Thurtle
No, I did not really. There is the question of the individual's behaviour, which I mentioned just now. Some of you like to spend your Sundays in one way and some in another. I do not mind that at all. I rejoice in your freedom to do that if you want to. What I think is wrong is to deny to other people, as some of you appear to be doing, or to be about to try to do—to deny to other people the right to spend their Sundays as they like.
§ Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
On a point of Order, Sir Charles. Are you not in the singular?
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
That remark is nearly as good as the speech the hon. Member made last week.
§ Mr. Thurtle
I am sorry if I fell into a technical error. If the hon. Gentleman likes to think much of it, well and good.
968 People have their own ways of spending Sunday. Some spend it one way and some another, but those people who try to stop others from doing that which they themselves do not want to do seem to me to be in the position of the man who tries toCompound for sins he is inclined toSo are those who damn the Festival, and the roundabouts and the other little simple amusements—who damn those things on a Sunday because they themselves would not use them on a Sunday. I am broadminded, but I do feel that it is important for the individual that we should remember that if we are willing to allow others to spend their Sundays in the way they want, then we are perfectly entitled to spend Sundays in the way we want.
- By damning those he has no mind to."
§ Mr. Arthur Colegate (Burton) rose—
§ Mr. Thurtle
I cannot give way now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Toleration."] I want to say something about the Lord's Day Observance Society. I am astonished—I am a mild-mannered man, but I am astonished—at the arrogance of this society. They take an extraordinary attitude. They take the extraordinary attitude that if any Sunday liberty is conferred on other people they are robbed of it. Listen to their language:We cannot and will not surrender our great privilege for any consideration whatever, on this matter at least. We mean to hold fast that which we have—the Day of Rest.The real meaning of that is that they do not want any Sunday freedom themselves and are determined that, by hook or by crook, other people who want it shall not have it. I submit that that is an absurd, dog-in-the-manger attitude for those people to take up. What we are asking of the Sabbatarians is this. We do not ask them to surrender anything. We say to them, "Retain all your liberties. Campaign as much as you like to persuade people not to do on Sundays what you think they ought not to do. Spend any amount of money. Do what you like. But do, at least, give other people the right to spend Sunday in the way they want."
One last point. It has a lot to do with many of our international difficulties. When we talk about totalitarian States we say they believe in coercion whereas 969 we believe in liberty. They put people in cells, and they do this, that and the other thing. We believe in persuasion—in getting people to agree by means of argument. That is what this question here really comes to. We proclaim ourselves a freedom-loving people. We ought to be prepared to try to persuade people by argument not to go to amusement parks on Sundays if we do not want them to go, but we ought not to coerce them by law. As long as we are not in favour of persuasion we are siding with repressive totalitarian ideas. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rot."] There is no rot about it at all.
The opponents of this official opening on Sunday are not content to try to persuade people against it and to let them decide for themselves. They seek to invoke the law, and, if necessary, to invoke prison. That is what they are doing. I think that that is something quite un-British and undemocratic. It is quite intolerant. This is a personal issue. It is a matter for everybody himself to consider. To seek by law in this way to stop people spending Sunday as they like, is to do it in an unworthy, un-British fashion, and I hope that the Committee on one of the first contentious votes we have to record in this new House, is not going to disgrace itself by voting in an intolerant way for this proposal to deny people the right to Sunday amusements. I hope the Committee will record a vote worthy of the traditions of the House of Commons.
§ Wing Commander Bullus (Wembley, North)
I have put my name to this Amendment, but I confess that it is with a certain amount of diffidence that I speak, because, undoubtedly, on this occasion each Member must think and vote for himself. I would presume to place my opinions before the Committee, but I do not seek to influence the vote.
I am persuaded to make two brief points. I presume to think that my attitude is shared by a large number on both sides of this Chamber. I think that the inter-denominational committee headed by the Dean of Westminster has given really reasonable and sound advice. They have not sought to be strict Sabbatarians. They have been reasonable and have suggested that the Festival might be opened on a Sunday; but they do oppose 970 the Sunday opening of the fun fair; and I am bound to confess that I am influenced in my vote by that very wise decision.
§ Mr. Summers (Aylesbury)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman make it clear whether he is in favour not only of closing, the amusements park for the reasons he has just given but the Gardens as well, which is the effect of this Amendment, but not of the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Cardiff. West (Mr. G. Thomas).
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Wing Commander Bullus
I do not think that is a very big issue. I think that the main issue is the closing or other wise of the fun fair. We have it on record that if the fun fair is closed it would not be possible to open the Gardens. We are speaking ostensibly about the closing of the fun fair.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at the Bill he will see that this is an Amendment to leave out the words from "or" to "amusements" inclusive, and covers "the Festival Pleasure Gardens, with or without the amusements."
§ Mr. York (Harrogate)
On that point, may I have your guidance, Sir Charles? It has been suggested by the Chairman that we should have a general discussion and that there should not be a repetition of arguments on each Amendment. Could we know whether or not we are to discuss on this Amendment, the simple Amendment involved in it, and then later, on to discuss the fun fair.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The Chairman of Ways and Means was only expressing, a pious hope. This Amendment covers the Festival Pleasure Gardens, with or without the amusements, and unless hon. Members confine themselves voluntarily, it will be quite impossible for me to, control them.
§ Sir H. Williams
My Amendment covers the whole point, and if my Amendment is carried, the Gardens and the amusements are closed. I, therefore, contend that any reference to the amusements must be in order.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
That is what I was trying to say, but I understood there 971 was a difference of opinion whether this Amendment covered certain parts and not the whole thing.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I know, and I thought the hon. Gentleman who intervened did not understand the position.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I wonder, Sir Charles, if you would make it clear, for the guidance of a good many of us, whether those of us who desire to direct our observations solely to the question of closing the fun fair will prejudice our opportunity to do so by not speaking on this Amendment but reserving our observations for an Amendment to be moved later.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
They will not be prejudicing themselves, but if this Amendment is carried, they must realise that the other will fall.
§ Wing Commander Bullus
I am still speaking on the Amendment to which I put my name. I was developing my argument in my own way. I regret the interruptions, but I am very clear in my own mind and am sorry if I have not made myself clear to the Committee, because I feel very strongly on this matter.
I want briefly to refer to a remark made by the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang), to whose contributions to our debates I always listen with interest. I know of his great sincerity when speaking on this subject. He has said, in effect. "I shall not visit the fun fair but I want other people to choose for themselves." I suggest that that is the wrong attitude. I, by my vote, will not make facilities for the opening of a fun fair. The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) said that we were by law trying to prevent the opening of this fun fair. I suggest that that is not so, but that the sponsors of Sunday opening are trying to legalise what is at present wrong. That is the point which I wish to make: I have made up my own mind. I do not wish to speak for others, but I do not intend to facilitate the opening of a fun fair on Sunday, and I shall vote accordingly.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
Many will feel themselves in the same dilemma as myself. I do not want this Amendment 972 carried, but if it is, all our arguments for or against the fun fair will fall to the ground. Therefore, one is virtually compelled to get into the argument at this stage. What we must keep in mind is what this Festival is designed to do. I suggest that the visitors from overseas will see not only a panorama of past achievements, but also the pulsating evidence that a nation knocked sideways by two world wars is once more on the march. That is very important. Secondly, the foreigner will get an insight into those qualities of heart and mind which make up the character of our great people.
§ Sir H. Williams
On a point of order. Have the hon. Gentleman's remarks any relation to this Amendment? Is he not rather making a Second Reading speech?
§ Mr. Evans
I was saying that the foreigner coming from overseas will be interested in the character of this people whose record over the past few years has been so remarkable. Therefore, this question of a fun fair in connection with a national exhibition is of great importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Shore-ditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) spoke of the Nonconformist and anti-liberty Sunday. As everybody knows, I am a bit of a Nonconformist, but I am not for an anti-liberty Sunday. I am for an antilicence Sunday, and as this is a national exhibition depicting Britain and not the Tottenham Court Road, I suggest that "Dodgem" cars, "tip-'em-out-of-beds," the fat lady with hair on her chest and the rest of it, would not give a fair picture of Great Britain.
With respect to the Metropolis whose guest I am for a large part of the year, I say that the real Briton is to be found in the Black Country, in the mining valleys of South Wales, in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In those parts of the country the Sabbath is used for the purpose of Sunday school, of choirs, lessons and classes. If this fun fair proposal were gone on with, it would dismay and distress millions of people whose Christianity is much more real than apparent. It must not be assumed, as so many do, somewhat facilely, that all the people who do not go to church are not interested in this subject. Millions of people who 973 do not go to church still have profound Christian convictions, and they would be dismayed' if this business of the "Dodgem" cars on Sunday afternoons is proceeded with.
I am told that in Battersea there are 33 Sunday schools. What are we going to do about it? It is quite ridiculous to argue on the hypothesis that a fair ground can be put on pneumatic tyres. It cannot. Half the charm of the fair ground is the raucous boisterous earthy, noisy gaity, the competition of the barkers, and the hurdy-gurdies attached to the roundabouts. I love it, but not on a Sunday afternoon. This fair ground, if it is to cater for all who will want to see it, will inevitably have to be the biggest thing of its kind in the world. Indeed, I have read lately that 100 amusement caterers met in a London hotel to ballot for pitches—an appropriate way to settle the matter, but 100 amusement caterers bringing their resources together into Battersea Park will inevitably create a lot of noise.
I, therefore, ask: What are we going to do about these Sunday schools? Are we going to evacuate the children, as we did during the war, or are we going to close the Sunday schools for the duration of the Festival? This is a very important matter, because it is going to be very difficult to teach children the Lord's Prayer in competition with "Somebody stole my girl." Those who want to bring about this innovation in our national life must think of these things. Let us get this clear.
§ Mrs. Corbet (Camberwell, Peckham)
The hon. Member has gone rather beyond the point on which I wished to interrupt him, but I should like him to explain why it should be necessary to evacuate children in order that they may be able to attend Sunday school. Is he suggesting that the teachers of the Sunday schools are running this fair?
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
Is the hon. Member aware, firstly, that there will be no amplification at all used at this fun fair, and, secondly, that there is no Sunday school within half a mile of the site?
§ Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)
The hon. Gentleman has put a point about noise. Has he ever, from his own personal experience, been 300 yards away from the centre of one of the many fun fairs that open on Sundays, for example, those in Margate and other places, and tested whether at that distance he can or cannot hear such noises as we are talking about now?
§ Mr. Evans
A good fair worthy of the name, like Barnum's, can be heard a mile away, especially on a Sunday afternoon when there is no competing traffic [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] Certainly not; there is virtually no competing traffic.
Let me get to this further point. What the House is really arguing about this afternoon is whether these "Dodgem" cars, "Tip-'em-out-of-bed," and the like, are going to become a permanent feature of Britain's Sunday afternoons. I cannot concede that a fair of this kind is justifiable under Government auspices in order that financially the Festival may be more nearly self-supporting. We cannot do that and then, at the end of the Festival, say "No more of these things, there is no longer a financial necessity; we will reject the continuance of these things on ethical grounds." We cannot do that, so let us get this matter straight.
What we are arguing about today is whether this tremendous innovation is to become a permanent feature of our British Sunday afternoon. For myself, I am not going to stand for it. This is part of a continuing trend. This is not giving liberty, but licence. I deprecate the wood-pecking which is going on at all these institutions which have built up the British character.
I say further that the great social conscience of Greece and Rome was not founded on circuses. It was founded by philosophers who had time to think. I would say that the modern trend of production—gee-up, gee-up—is such that the need for time to think is greater today 975 than ever before. I cannot believe that anyone voting for this fun fair being opened on Sunday afternoons can really have given to this very important subject all the thought that it should have. This would be an innovation in our national life.
§ Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)
Would the hon. Member be in favour of closing the Bellevue gardens in Manchester, which are open on a Sunday?
§ The Attorney-General
I thought that the hon. Member's observation was really an answer to the point put to him by the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). I made no such pledge on behalf of the Government. I expressed my own view about this branch of the law; that is all.
§ Mr. Evans
I do not want to get into an argument with the Attorney-General. The impression which I got last week was that all Sunday activities of an unusual character were going to be examined, if we supplied the time.
In answer to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch, I would say this: In the first place, there is all the difference between something set up and carried on by a private undertaking in a private capacity and something which is initiated by the Government in an attempt to depict our national life. We are presenting a record of achievement over a century, and putting forward our hopes and aspirations of cultural and technical achievements over the next century. I cannot accept that the introduction of Bellevue, Manchester, or South Shore, Blackpool to London will present a balanced picture of the Great Britain that I know.
I have said that people have to have time to think. This country is going to have a very grim struggle over the next few years. I take a very poor view of this constant whittling away of those practices and institutions which I believe have helped to build the British character. I think that is a most important thing. The nation's character is something of slow growth and ours has been something like 500 years growing. I am alarmed 976 at the readiness that there would appear to be in some quarters to bring about an innovation of a kind which I would regard as detrimental to our future. People should have time to think of the great problems that concern this country and have time to think out the solutions to those problems. These things cannot fructify in the atmosphere of dodgem cars, pin tables and the like. Such things are a contradiction in terms.
Therefore, I say that this Festival, designed as it is to present a picture of Great Britain as she is in 1950 and to be a shop-window, showing the whole world our technical and cultural achievements as well as our character, would be harmed by the opening of this fun fair on a Sunday afternoon. If such a thing were to be opened it would, as was said earlier, dismay and distress millions of British people whose Christianity is much more real than apparent.
§ Mr. Profumo (Stratford)
On a point of order. Various hon. Members are becoming extremely worried by the way in which this Amendment is being discussed. It appears to us that the only difference between this Amendment and those later on the Order Paper is that some Members, who vote in favour of this Amendment, will want to close the Gardens as well as the fun fair. Therefore, the arguments in favour of this Amendment should be directed primarily to the reasons for and against opening the Gardens, leaving the fun fair arguments for later. That is the first point I wish to raise. The second point is: Can you, Sir Charles, guarantee to the Committee that, however long this particular Amendment takes, we will certainly have an opportunity of discussing one of the later Amendments, so that those who would like to have the fun fair closed but the Gardens opened, will have an opportunity of voting?
§ The Attorney-General
It is certainly the view of the Government that the main effect and purpose of the debate on this first Amendment is related to the Festival Gardens and not to the fun fair. There are some hon. Members who would be willing to see the Festival Gardens open, but who do not like the idea of including the use of the fun fair. It is certainly our desire on this side of the Committee, however long the debate on the Festival 977 Gardens, as such, may continue, to give ample opportunity to hon. Members who, while agreeable to the opening of the Gardens, desire to object to the use of the fun fair on Sunday afternoons.
I would suggest, if it is proper for me to do so on a point of order, that it would be convenient if we could confine our discussion now to the Festival Gardens and concentrate later on the fun fair. It is true, of course, that if this Amendment were passed, it would be the end to the fun fair, but there are many hon. Members who want to see the Gardens opened on Sunday afternoons, but an end put to the fun fair.
My Lord—[Laughter.] I must be permitted these occasional glimpses of intelligent anticipation. Sir Charles, might I suggest that the neatest way of dealing with the matter would be for hon. Members who are opposed as a whole to the Festival Gardens being open, whether they include the fun fair or not, to speak on this Amendment, and that those only objecting to the fun fair should restrain their impatience for a little on the assurance that they will have ample opportunity today or, if need be, on another occasion, to put their point of view?
§ Sir H. Williams
This is my Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, I moved it. The Attorney-General has not the slightest right to determine what should be the discussion. My Amendment covers the Gardens and the amusements as a combined effort. This idea of trying to side-track my Amendment by suggesting that we are discussing the Gardens only, is a device to defeat my Amendment, with the possible consequence that the other Amendment will be carried. The Attorney-General has no right to attempt to restrict the discussion.
§ The Attorney-General
If I made any such attempt I deeply regret it. I hope I did not. I am content that this debate should go on for as long as the Committee desires it to go on. I have only pointed out to those hon. Members whose real opposition is to the fun fair and not to the Gardens, that a better opportunity for presenting the case against the fun fair arises on a subsequent Amendment. I am not entitled to dictate to the Committee, and I would not wish to do so, or restrict the debate in any way at all.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Many hon. Members want to raise further points, and perhaps it would be best if, first of all, I answered the points that have been put. I was first asked about a guarantee, and the only guarantee that I can give is that if this Amendment is defeated, then the, next one will be called. Further than that I am not able to go. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General said was on the same lines as the earlier remarks of the Chairman of Ways and Means, that we should confine ourselves, on this Amendment, to the Festival Gardens. The Amendment is only concerned with that part of the Bill which goes down to the word "amusements" in line 11. Other Amendments will be coming along afterwards.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
If your advice, Sir Charles, were followed by the Committee then if this Amendment were carried, there would be no opportunity at all of arguing the case for the opening or closing of the amusement park, because the second Amendment would not be called.
§ Mr. Thurtle
The Amendment is so widely drafted that there is nothing to prevent an hon. Member discussing the fun fair as well as the Festival Gardens.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
That is the point I was trying to make myself, earlier but I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we confined ourselves now to the Festival Gardens on this Amendment.
§ Mr. W. G. Bennett (Glasgow, Woodside)
Could someone inform the Committee if the Battersea Gardens are at present open to the public on Sundays?
§ Mr. Summers
Would I be right in assuming that the guidance tendered by the learned Attorney-General, with all of which I agree except one point, would result in a one-sided debate on this Amendment? If I understood him aright, this Amendment, if carried, would close the Gardens. He suggested that those of us who were in favour of that, should speak on this Amendment and the rest on the next Amendment. Surely the 979 effect of that would be that no speeches would be delivered in favour of keeping the Gardens as such open, and, therefore, we must reserve the right to speak on that aspect without mentioning the fun fair.
§ Lieut.-Commander R. H. Thompson (Croydon, West)
I find myself occupying middle ground in this matter. To get rid of any misconception let me say at once that I support the Amendment, but I do not take up the very extreme stand which is taken by the Sabbatarians, who run the Lord's Day Observance Society, neither am I very impressed by the arguments of those who, like the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), on the Second Reading debate, object to any sort of advice or guidance being given to people as to how they should spend their Sundays. Nothing is easier than to acquire a reputation for broad-mindedness and fair dealing by saying, "No one is going to organise my Sunday for me."
However, if we are to accept that point of view, it comes singularly ill from those who, in the political sense, are only too pleased to organise, advise and even direct their fellow countrymen as to what they should do. In these matters we should be very wary of allowing these Gardens to be open for the very good reason that we are whittling away something which is absolutely part of our traditional life.
If we have standards which we find it is hard to live up to, we do not cure the case by seeing that those standards are not used. It is far better that we should accept the standards and try honestly to live up to them. I believe that the English Sunday, as we know it today, is well worth preserving. Most of us wish to see the material standards improved all round, but if we allow the moral and spiritual standards, as represented by the English Sunday, to collapse, it will not be very long before our material standards also collapse. Therefore, not in any sense because of religious intolerance or bigotry, but because I honestly feel that this is the beginning of a process which will be fraught with the most evil consequences if allowed to continue, and because I am unimpressed by the arguments of those who imagine that an intolerable degree of direction is 980 being imposed because the Festival Gardens are not to be opened, I shall support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Messer (Tottenham)
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware of the fact that the park is already open on Sundays?
§ Lieut.-Commander Thompson
I take a very different view of the park being open on Sundays, as it is today, compared with opening the Pleasure Gardens, which, I understand, it will be difficult to separate from the rest of the park.
§ Mr. Paget
I realise that many people have strong conscientious feelings on this matter. I have strong conscientious feelings myself on the subject of liberty. I do not recognise the right of any section of the community to limit the liberty of others in so far as that liberty does not injure them. Let us apply this test to the issue before us. We have heard an erudite speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), which displayed an amazing frivolity of facts. Far and away the greatest noise that will come from these gardens will be from the religious services to be held there. The community singing will create by far the greater amount of noise.
Let us consider the conditions under which the fun fair will take place. There is not a house within 1,000 yards on the South Bank of the river. The nearest house is 300 yards away on the other side of the river. Between the nearest house are two belts of trees, which act as a pretty effective screen against noise, and the stream of traffic which passes along the Chelsea Embankment. Any one who lives in London knows that a continuous stream of traffic passes along the Chelsea Embankment and across the Chelsea and Battersea Bridges. That stream of traffic goes on all night and on Sundays.
I can give an undertaking on behalf of the Festival Committee, as I have been told by their representatives that this undertaking could be given, that no amplifications of the human voice or of music will take place on the fair ground. To say that people in houses 300 yards from the bank on the other side of the river, with this constant stream of traffic which passes along the Chelsea Embank- 981 ment, will be disturbed, reminds me of the old lady who complained that mixed bathing took place on the other side of the bay which she could see if she looked through a telescope from the roof. That is the order of the complaint.
I adopt the test of liberty so long as we do not injure other people. I should object to a league football match taking place on a Sunday, because that would disturb a whole neighbourhood. In this case, we have Pleasure Gardens which will disturb no one.
§ Mr. Arthur Colegate (Burton)
This argument is the same argument we have heard before. Is the hon. and learned Member arguing merely for liberty in respect of these Pleasure Gardens, or is he saying that theatres and every other form of amusement ought to be open on Sunday?
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
My hon. and learned Friend is dealing with only one of the objections to the fun fair.
§ Mr. Paget
I have only just started my speech. I am dealing with the first objection, which is the nuisance caused to the neighbourhood.
The next question is whether we hereby increase Sunday labour. Some people take the fundamentalist point of view that one day of the week is particularly holy. I would remind those people, as has already been pointed out, that that day is not Sunday but Saturday. For those who take the rather broader view and hold that it is wrong for people to work seven days a week, or more than five days a week, we have the assurance that the appropriate workers' organisations have been consulted and that every one who works on a Sunday will have his day of rest.
§ Mr. Summers
Does not the hon. and learned Member accept the difference between the two types of rest, which he calls the broad and narrow view. Surely the difference is the difference taught by the Christian Church?
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
What happens with a family where more than one member is working? What happens to the housewife if they do not have their rest day at the same time? Was this not raised in an acute way when the coal miners were working three shifts? Does this problem not arise with a rota system?
§ Mr. Paget
It certainly does. It is a problem that arises in steel mills and all industries which work a continuous process. It arises in transport. I would ask hon. Members who take that attitude some questions: Do they really never take a taxi on Sunday, or travel by train? Do they not read their morning papers on Monday or even have a game of golf and employ a caddie? Frankly, this argument that it is not fair that somebody should do an extra day's work is not real, it is not genuine.
Then there is the thin end of the wedge argument. It is said "You may object to football matches and to greyhound racing but this Bill is the thin end of the wedge." I have always believed that the "thin end of the wedge" argument is one of the most fallacious that can be advanced. If we take the stand that we shall not give way upon what is reasonable, we build up resentment as we would build up a head of water behind a dam. It builds up to the point where it flows over. By resisting the reasonable thin end of the wedge we create a situation which is eventually far worse.
Finally there is the argument: Perhaps this may be all right for London, but what about other parts of the country where fairs of this sort may exist? The simple answer to that argument is that they are not affected. Those fairs may go anywhere, and it is perfectly legal for them to do so. My hon. Friend referred to the possibility of "a great change in our national life which we should not show to the people of other countries." I would remind him that fairs on Sunday have been a feature of our national life for many years.
§ Mr. McAdden (Southend, East)
Are we to understand that the hon. and learned Member has the authority of the Government to say that fun fairs all over the country are perfectly legal.
§ Mr. Paget
I am not speaking for the Government. I am saying that fairs all over the country have been a feature of our national life for many years, and that they still are. Any ordinary travelling fun fair which is not within a ring fence can carry on upon Sunday, and for 30 years they have been doing so all over the country. It is only an archaic Act of Parliament that would make this particular fun fair illegal because there is a charge for entry through a ring fence. That is the only difference. So we are, really making no difference to the general run of fun fairs. So much for that point. I have tried to deal with the various questions relating to how this fun fair could injure the liberties of other people.
I do not think that that question, or indeed the Sabbatarian question at all, influences the mover of the Amendment. I do not think I should quarrel with the mover of the Amendment in saying that he is not interested in the Sabbatarian aspect of the matter, and that he is interested in the injury of a public enterprise. He hates public enterprise. He regards the Festival of Britain as an aspect of public enterprise and he wants to injure it for that reason. I would say a word of warning on that point. I do not want to make a point of party controversy, but there was a time when we on this side of the House were the most to blame in that way. Many who sat in this House felt that they had a grudge against private enterprise and they wished things to go wrong with private enterprise. With the achievement of responsibility we have got out of that attitude, but we can see it in the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they enjoy things going wrong in public enterprise. Now that is a bad way of thinking.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget
I suggest that that is the whole argument of the mover of the Amendment. I suggest that it is legitimate for us to say that as we want the Festival to succeed we believe that the Festival will be injured if it is not opened On Sunday. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] It will be gravely injured. The hon. Member desires to injure the Festival 984 because he dislikes it. To the mover of this Amendment, the Festival is something which ought to be eliminated.
§ Mr. G. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
How will the Festival be injured if it is not opened on Sunday?
§ Mr. Paget
I can tell the hon. Gentleman. It will earn very much less money. The experience of private enterprise fun fairs all over England is that they earn almost as much on Sunday as in the whole of the rest of the week. A lot of people who have the weekend off will want to come to London to see the Festival during the week-end. The Amendment would prevent them from seeing a part of it. Really, this is the children's part of the Festival. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] These fun fairs are for children. People can take their families during a week-end and let their children enjoy these gardens and amusements. Of course this Amendment will injure the Festival. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham. West)
In view of the remarks by hon. Members opposite, would my hon. and learned Friend make it clear that children are not to be admitted to the other parts of the exhibition and that the gardens are the only part to which they will normally be admitted?
§ Mr. Alport (Essex, Colchester)
Might I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to remember that there will be a Conservative Government in power by the time this Festival and this fun fair open, and that we shall be responsible for meeting the criticism that will no doubt come from hon. Gentlemen opposite, who will then be sitting on this side of the House? Therefore it is in our interests to see that the Festival succeeds?
§ Mr. Paget
I do try to give way to interruptions. If one does so, I think hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to be a bit fair. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that that was not a proper intervention. This is part of our show. It is England's exhibition and we all want to make it a success. I hope there is agreement on that and that the matter is settled.
985 The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), made a tremendous point of the fact that we must not make an exception in favour of a public enterprise show which we should not make for private enterprise. I should be delighted to get rid of this archaic legislation for everybody. An hon. Member opposite is bringing forward a Private Bill to this end, and I shall give him my wholehearted support. However, in practice, we are not today raising an exceptional restriction placed upon public enterprise.
We are, in practice, putting this public fun fair in exactly the same position as all the other private enterprise fun fairs throughout the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what we are doing. What is the difference? They open at Blackpool, Southend, Weston, Hayling and all round this island. We want the fun fair to open in Battersea too so that people who usually go to the sea for the weekends and come to the Festival instead, will be in the same position as those who go to Brighton.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Hove)
The hon. and learned Member asked if there was any difference? The private enterprise fun fairs to which he has referred, which are in an enclosed space, risk action by a common informer, whereas this fun fair will be exempted from that risk.
§ Mr. Paget
Those fun fairs are in a position to take a chance, which the Government are not. Only two of the fun fairs are within the ring fence. However, I hope that by next Summer the hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Mr. Heald) will have succeeded in passing his Bill—I believe it will have support from all sides of the House—and that these fun fairs will be authorised.
What I regard as one of the most important aspects of this matter is the active lobbying by Sabbatarians who have organised a flow of letters to hon. Members. I believe a lot of hon. Members are voting simply because of that minority pressure—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—a lot of hon. Members. We have to realise that on most issues there are a minority who feel sufficiently keenly about it for their votes at the forthcoming General Election to be affected, and there are a majority whose liberties the minority wish to restrict but do not feel strong 986 enough about the issue for it to affect their vote at the General Election. That is the basis on which the system of lobbying—a system which has ruined Congress in America—has worked. A Congressman is not a representative of the community; he is the servant of sectional lobbying. That is how Congress works. There is the farm lobby and there is the veterans lobby, each having a block of votes at its disposal and trying to push sectional interests which can only be made effective at the expense of the rest of the community. We do not want to be reduced to the position of Congressmen. We must resist that.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
On a point of order. Is it in order, Sir Charles, for an hon. Member to refer in opprobrious terms to a legislature which is friendly with this country?
§ Mr. Paget
I hope that nothing I have said was approbious. It certainly is in order to compare how our legislature works with the way in which other legislatures work. I like the way our legislature has worked, and, therefore, I am uttering the warning that we should not submit to lobbying. I am here on a minority vote from a Nonconformist town. The Liberals who will settle the issue in my constituency are about 100 per cent. Nonconformist. However, upon this question I would rather not be here at all than be here upon the terms of a Congressman submitting to a minority who wish to limit the liberties of the majority.
We hear a great deal of talk about liberty and freedom. It is easy to be on the side of liberty when that liberty is popular. The test is to be on the side of liberty when that liberty is unpopular. The test is who prefers the liberty and who prefers the votes. Here is a choice between the liberty and the votes. Those who prefer the liberty will have the chance to show it. I do not believe that God is offended by seeing a child on a roundabout on Sunday or any other day of the week, and I shall vote against the Amendment.
§ Mr. Wood (York, Bridlington)
I have given a very great deal of thought to this problem—I imagine that every hon. Member has—and the decision to which I have been forced is to vote on the same side as the hon. and learned Member for 987 Northampton (Mr. Paget). But I cannot say that I am as delighted with the speech that he has made, as I am to share his company in the Lobby. The base motives which he imputed to my hon. Friends were very much out of keeping with the spirit of the debate.
I have given particular thought to this problem since the House voted on the question last Thursday, and particularly since they took the decision to open the Festival on Sunday afternoon. The conclusion that I have reached is that unless I can make a clear fundamental distinction between, on the one side, the opening of the Pleasure Gardens and the amusement park, and, on the other side, the opening of the Exhibition itself, I cannot honestly see how I can vote against its opening.
One of the most impressive speeches on Thursday was that made by the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) who told us all that each of us had to decide how we would spend our Sunday and that it was not for us to dictate to other people how they should spend their Sunday afternoons. He very vividly illustrated the shortcomings of compulsion with the delightful example of the girl who played the organ in his church and did not play it very well because she had had the "Whips" on her the week before. It impressed me that at least he was right on that point, that we should not try to compel people to lead their lives as others of us might think best.
On Thursday night, despite the speech of the hon. Gentleman, I voted against the Second Reading. That is why I resented so much the imputation of bad motives to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams). I voted as I did, first, because I felt that the Government should not seek immunity denied to other sections of the community. Secondly, I did not like to see in this country an extension under Government auspices of Government Sunday work. The House by a large majority decided in favour of these two principles. Personally I regret the decision. I should have preferred to see Sunday entirely different from other days, one day in the week when business is not as usual.
988 However it seems to me that if these two principles are accepted, as they were accepted on Thursday night for the Festival as a whole, we must find this fundamental clear-cut distinction. We must ask ourselves, is it more immoral or is it less innocent to go on a dodgem or a roundabout than it is to go and look at the Exhibition? If we cannot say, "Yes, it is more immoral or yes it is less innocent," then we cannot vote against the opening of the Pleasure Gardens and the amusement park.
The distinction I make in my mind between "Dodgems" on the one side and the Exhibition on the other is perhaps paralleled in our lives by the distinction between having a game of golf or tennis on a Sunday and spending Sunday afternoon reading the history of England. I cannot believe there is really that clear-cut dividing line. In fact, I believe that if we tried to make that distinction it could only be a personal distinction. It would be completely arbitrary and, what is much more important, it would be based on something entirely subject to human failings and might easily be wrong.
Therefore I cannot vote for this Amendment, but I should like to make two conditions. The first is that some Member of this Committee may convince me and I am still open to conviction—that there is a fundamental distinction between going to the Exhibition and going for a ride in a "Dodgem." Secondly, I should like to be satisfied by the Attorney-General that the Festival authorities will give the workers in the amusement park just as much freedom as is given to the general public to decide whether they go or not. The workers should have exactly the same choice as to whether or not they work on Sunday as the public have as to whether or not they visit it. In other words, I should hate to see willingness to work on Sunday made a condition of the employment of anyone in the Festival of Britain.
Just as I believe pleasure is not wrong, so do I believe that work freely and willingly done on Sunday is not wrong either. The distinction I tried to make in my mind is well summed up in a quotation sent to me by a Methodist minister who used to live in my constituency. It is from a collection of sayings reputed to have been made by 989 the Founder of the Christian religion. One concerns His meeting a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath and saying to him:Blessed art thou, oh man, if thou understandeth what thou dost.
§ The Attorney-General
Our discussion on this Amendment, has, I think inevitably, tended to traverse some of the matter we discussed in the Second Reading debate last Thursday. I am not complaining of that. I may fall into the same course. This is a matter on which many hon. Members, naturally and properly, desire to speak, and the form of the Amendment has led to a general discussion of the merits and demerits of Sunday opening as a whole. In view of that, may I first emphasise that the issue of this Amendment is not that of the Sunday opening of the fun fair. Some hon. Members opposite have, quite properly, taken the opportunity when speaking on this Amendment of dealing with the fun fair. They have spoken in support of this Amendment although, as they have made clear, their real objection is not to the opening of the Festival Gardens as such, but to the opening of the fun fair within the Festival Gardens.
It is perfectly true that if this Amendment is carried by the Committee, it will have the effect of killing the Amendment relating to the fun fair and of killing the fun fair itself without our having specifically debated as a separate issue the Sunday opening of the fun fair. But in killing the fun fair on this Amendment in that way, hon. Members will also be killing the Festival Gardens.
Does the Committee really want to do that? Does the Committee really want the people of London and the people who will come up from the Provinces or from abroad to see the Festival of Britain or to have a weekend holiday in London, to be left with the amusement arcades, the cinemas, the public houses, the local fun fairs, the dance clubs and the rest, as they are today, but to close down this place of perfectly innocent and proper recreation in the outdoors? Does the Committee really want to single out for prohibition the Festival Gardens, not including the fun fair, because we can discuss the fun fair presently, whilst leaving all these much less desirable things open to those who choose to go to them?
990 The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) said last Thursday that he wanted to see facilities for buying tobacco on a Sunday—
§ Sir H. Williams
No, I interrupted the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), to ask her where cigarettes were sold on Sunday because I wanted to indicate the great change which has come over Sunday trading.
§ The Attorney-General
I do not want to do the hon. Member an injustice, but I certainly thought the hon. Member favoured the opening of tobacconists on Sunday. It is not likely to influence the Committee either way whether he favours it or not, but the extract I have here is:Perhaps the hon. Lady will tell me where I can find a tobacconist open in London on a Sunday. I have been looking for one."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 566.][Laughter.] I try not to be surprised by anything that happens, whether in the House or outside it, but I was just a little surprised to find that the hon. Member for Croydon, East, was more zealous in the cause of. I will not say Christianity, but strict Sabbatarianism—and strict Sabhatarianism is very often far removed from the spirit of Christianity—than all the Christian Churches and Archbishops put together.
The Christian Churches and the Archbishops in their council, who have very carefully studied and examined this problem, raised no objection whatever to the Sunday opening of the Festival Gardens. Representing as they do all sections of Christian belief, all the organised sections of the various denominations of the Christian Church, they have made it abundantly clear that while they object to the Sunday opening of the fun fair, they take no objection to the Sunday opening of the other parts of the Festival of Britain. But the hon. Member for Croydon, East, wants still further to restrict the liberty of other people as to what they can do on a Sunday.
I may have an opportunity of talking again about the law in regard to this matter on some other occasion. I do not want to introduce legal questions into the Committee on this part of our discussion, but under the existing law, so far as I can 991 judge, it would not be unlawful for the Festival Gardens as such to open on a Sunday even if a charge were made, as it is intended to be made, for admission to them.
The Clause, omitting now altogether the reference to the fun fair, which is in a different position and which we shall discuss on the next Amendment, is simply included merely to remove all doubt about the matter. The existing law, however, specifically permits the opening, for instance, of botanical gardens, and I would have thought that the Festival Gardens were a place which would be at least closely analogous to a botanical garden. I do not think the expression is narrowly defined. The Act of 1932 expressly provided that such a place may be open. It covered not only botanical gardens, but, if I remember aright, zoological gardens as well. Under that provision, all over England stately homes have been open to the public on Sundays, although whether as botanical or zoological gardens or both I am not quite sure. Nobody has questioned the legality of that. I do not profess to be able to lay down the law in this matter—that is why we have the Bill, to remove doubts—but as far as I can see, there is no legal principle ditinguishing between the one case and the other.
These Festival Gardens will be laid out in a number of main areas all sited in balance with each other, to provide a beautiful park. Great landscape gardeners and botanical experts are being employed in connection with the preparation and design of the park. There will be, in addition, it is true, to the displays of flowers of a kind which one does not often have an opportunity of seeing elsewhere, a restaurant, a café, and a concert hall, but all those things are perfectly legal in themselves on a Sunday afternoon.
Apart from the question of the fun fair, to which we shall come subsequently, the Bill is simply required to remove any doubt about the legality of the opening of the Festival Gardens. This will be a place like the Tivoli Garden, for instance where the young children, who, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) quite rightly said, cannot be admitted to the exhibition buildings, will be able to go with their 992 mothers and fathers for what seems to me a perfectly honourable and seemly form of recreation on a Sunday afternoon. What possible harm can there be from any conceivable point of view?
The hon. Member for Croydon, East, justified his Amendment almost solely on the ground that the closing of the Festival Gardens would cut down the amount of Sunday work. If that is really the motive behind his Amendment, why close down only the gardens? It is not in, the gardens that the great majority of people are to be employed on Sundays in connection with the Festival. Why not close down the whole thing, all the exhibitions on the South Bank and on the other side of the river, as well? All these are going to employ people on Sunday afternoons.
What great nonsense the excuse—it is not more than an excuse—about Sunday work really is. This question of Sunday labour has arisen in many other connections. The trade unions have provided in their national and local arrangements for special terms on Sundays, and they have taken steps to ensure that the people who are required to work on Sunday have another day of rest elsewhere in the week. So far as the Festival authorities are concerned, I can certainly say, in answer to, I think, the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), that there will be no question of compelling people to work a seven-day week or to work on a Sunday if they have their own religious reasons for not desiring to work in that way.
§ Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing
I am entirely with the Attorney-General in resisting the Amendment, but there is a point I should like to clear up. The system is sometimes used of working on a roster so that all those engaged within an enterprise must take their turn in working on a Sunday. What assurance can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give in this matter? He would agree that in that case it becomes a condition of engagement that one must be ready to serve his turn on the roster for Sunday work. Will the Attorney-General make the position about this quite clear?
§ The Attorney-General
Somebody behind me who knows more about trade union arrangements than I do says that that is not correct. I am assured that as far as 993 the Festival authorities are concerned, nobody will be compelled to work on a Sunday who does not want to work on a Sunday.
§ The Attorney-General
Surely, that is as far as the hon. Member can reasonably expect me to go. I do not know about the detailed arrangements or the organisation by Festival Gardens Limited, or by the Festival Council. It is enough for me to say, and is as far as I can say without having prior notice of the question, that so far as those two bodies are concerned, they will not compel anyone to work on a Sunday. That would be the way in which they organise this matter.
The question of Sunday work, raised as a pretext in this debate, is really very great nonsense. The hon. Member for Croydon, East—I think it is established by the extract from HANSARD which I have just read—wants tobacconists' shops to be open. That means that they must work. A lot of us want the same thing—I am not criticising it—
§ Sir H. Williams
On a point of order. I really must protest against the satirical remark. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This is the second time that the Attorney-General has done it, and I resent it very much. It is quite wrong to give a false implication to something which somebody else has said.
§ The Attorney-General
Members of the Committee will judge for themselves whether anything I have said is a falsification of what the hon. Member said. The last thing I should desire to do would be to falsify anything he said, especially when it is on record and I read his exact words to the Committee only three minutes ago. But I am not criticising the hon. Member for wanting a tobacconist's shop to be open on a Sunday, although that does indicate a little inconsistency with the views which he expressed on the Amendment.
The truth is that many of us want tobacconists to be open on a Sunday and we do not worry ourselves about the fact that someone has to work to provide us with the facilities for buying our tobacco. Do we complain, any of us, about the people who have to work—and on a Sun 994 day morning, too—when some of us are at church, in order to prepare our meals for later in the day? Do we complain because others have to work to provide us with travelling facilities on a Sunday? Do we grieve over the people who have to prepare the Sunday newspapers we want to read—[An HON. MEMBER: "The Monday newspapers"]—the Monday newspapers, I am much obliged. Some of us, I think, find rather more edification in the Monday newspapers than some of the Sunday newspapers think fit to provide.
Do we complain if we are fortunate enough to have a chauffeur—I have not—but does the hon. Member complain about his chauffeur having to work on a Sunday in order to drive him to those places to which he wants to go? Do we complain about the people who bake our bread on a Sunday? The truth of the matter is that we acquiesce in and we turn our eyes away from any form of Sunday labour which contributes to something which we desire for ourselves whilst some of us—I hope very few of us—raise it as a pretext against other people being allowed to do the things they want to do and that we do not want to do.
The hon. Member for Croydon, East, does not want to use the Festival Gardens himself. Nor do I, for that matter, I entirely agree with the hon. Member; but that does not necessarily provide a reason for forbidding their use to other people. I am certainly not saying that I would subscribe for a moment to the doctrine that we are never entitled to forbid other people doing what we do not happen to want to do ourselves. That doctrine, carried to an extreme, would of course legalise all sorts of vices which nobody would be prepared to tolerate in this country. I am not subscribing for a moment to any such doctrine. But I think that where there is no undoubted vice—and I do not think anyone would suggest that going into these Festival Gardens is a matter of manifest and undoubted vice—we should be cautious in forbidding to others that which it happens we do not want for ourselves.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) referred to that very wise tag from Samuel Butler:Compound for sins they are inclin'd toBy damning those they have no mind to."We must be careful about doing that in this discussion.
995 I am not one of those who often says there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. Speaking generally, I do not think that is true of British law, but the practical truth is, as far as the Sunday Observance Act of 1780 is concerned, that it does operate to the prejudice of those things which naturally fall within the humble pleasures of the poor whilst leaving those of us in this House, those of us who are more fortunately placed, free to pursue those pleasures which commend themselves to us. I remembered, when I thought of this aspect of the matter, those lines in Gray's Elegy:Let not ambition mock their useful toil,Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,The short and simple annals of the poor.I have no patience with those who sneer at those who have their recreation in parks—or in fun fairs. The truth is that the great mass of the people may not be so cultured as we think ourselves; they may not be so elevated as we like to consider ourselves; or so fortunate as we are, but they do find their recreation on a Sunday afternoon by going to the kind of thing that the Festival Gardens—I am not talking now about the fun fair—will provide.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), in his remarks to the Committee, said that in the present unhappy state of the world it was desirable that people should have the opportunity of thought and reflection on a Sunday, and I entirely agree with that. It is daily more and more brought in upon me that:The World is too much with us;Late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:Little we see in Nature that is ours.But does my hon. Friend really think that the closing of the Festival Gardens on a Sunday afternoon is going significantly to increase the numbers of those who will spend Sunday afternoon in religious devotion or in philosophic speculation? Is it not much more likely that the closing of the Festival Gardens on a Sunday afternoon will tend to drive them to those much less desirable forms of recreation which are available and at hand in London every Sunday afternoon?
The Committee will have been, I am sure, deeply impressed, as I was, by the 996 courageously expressed and sincerely felt speech of the hon. Member for Bridlington. I should like to say, if I humbly may, that he was able to explain much more clearly and concisely exactly what I think about this particular problem. I ventured the other day to say that I hoped I approached this problem in a Christian spirit—perhaps I was hoping rather in the spirit of Abou Ben Adhem that I might regard myself as a Christian. We all of us, like the hon. Member for Bridlington, speak with great diffidence about matters of this kind because, naturally—and it is a very good thing—we all feel very shy in speaking in public about our religious beliefs and our inmost thoughts on matters of this kind. These are personal things we have to settle each one of us for himself, and it is a bit difficult sometimes to express them in public and expose oneself to the jeers and sneers which sometimes result.
As a matter of fact, since I spoke last Thursday I have had a number of anonymous letters written in what seemed to me hardly the spirit of Christianity which their writers proclaimed themselves as possessing. Last Saturday it so happened that my wife had occasion to open a church bazaar and I suppose it got known, and today I got an anonymous letter saying that neither my wife nor I were fit to have any part in Christian religion.
There is a great deal of bigotry about this matter. Like the hon. Member for Bridlington, I simply cannot believe that the opening of the Festival Gardens would be an evil in the sight of God. I cannot persuade myself that the Christian Churches, still less the Christian religion, need to support and buttress themselves by an over-strict regulation of the lives and conduct of others. I have got, as the Churches have in this matter, and as they have indicated in their own declaration, sufficient faith both in the principles of Christianity and the spirit of Christianity in this country to trust to the seemly behaviour of our people in matters of this kind, letting those who wish find their recreations in the Festival Gardens and leaving those who do not want to go there perfectly free to stay away.
I want only to remind the Committee again that the issue of the fun fair will arise on the next Amendment and on that Amendment hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will be perfectly 997 free, without any Whips on, to record their votes one way or the other as their consciences dictate to them. But this Amendment is quite contrary to the Government's view, which was approved by the House on the Second Reading of the Bill. We have, as a Government, a collective opinion about this Amendment, and we feel justified in asking our supporters to vote against it.
I will add only that for my own part—I may be an undisciplined Member—I certainly would not vote against this Amendment unless I felt certain in my own heart and belief—and each individual has to satisfy his own heart and belief about this matter—that the closing of the Festival Gardens as a whole, but excluding the fun fair from that proposition, would really violate the Christian doctrines of toleration that we believe in and bring forth no praise of institutional religion as we practise it in this country. I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
The Committee is in a certain difficulty because emotion is stirred by the whole subject which we are discussing, and the debate consequently tends to stray away from the narrow issue which we are discussing into the more general issues raised by the Bill as a whole. We are greatly indebted to the Attorney-General for bringing us back to the fact that we are here discussing an Amendment as to whether a garden, a park, is to be opened or not on Sunday. If I may say so, the Attorney-General himself began to stray over that narrow dividing line towards the end of his speech, because he prayed in aid that my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), with whom I can go some way but certainly not the whole of the way, because he said that he found it impossible to distinguish between opening the Pleasure Gardens and opening the amusement park. The Attorney-General commended his speech in general to the Committee.
I am speaking entirely for myself. I have no power to commit anyone, and I am not speaking on behalf of any section of opinion. The Government have declared their intention to put on the Whips; there is no intention on this side 998 of the Committee to put on the Whips either on this or the next Amendment. Speaking entirely for myself, I must say that I shall find myself supporting the proposal that the Pleasure Gardens should be open on Sunday. I trust that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) will acquit me of any desire to injure the Festival in any way if I vote, as I shall vote on the next occasion, against the opening of the amusement park, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Waldron (Mr. R. A. Butler).
Both of us have been on the Advisory Committee of this organisation from the very beginning, and I have certainly taken steps which are opposed to the views of many of my constituents. But the narrow point which we are discussing can surely be settled without raising all the emotion which surrounds the whole question of Sunday opening, particularly of the amusement park. So much poetry has been quoted today, especially from Samuel Butler, that one might quote the other two lines:And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,Was beat with fist, instead of a stick.It is not impossible, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington seemed to think, to distinguish between the opening of a garden and the opening of an amusement park. The best proof of that is that the Advisory Committee of Christian Churches have themselves recommended that the Gardens should be open but have demurred to the opening of the amusement park. When they can all draw a line, it seems possible for a line to be drawn.
Nothing could be more dangerous than that we should say that, having decided on Sunday opening, we should go the whole hog and open everything. Some of the arguments presented, notably by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, seemed to indicate that everything should be open on Sunday—shops, the Stock Exchange, everything that anyone ever desired to engage in. That is a legitimate inference from the arguments which the hon. and learned Member advanced. If that was not his intention I can only say that it shows how very easily a case may be stated so as to give an impression other than that which its propounder intended.
999 The position of the Festival Gardens does not differ fundamentally from the position of the many parks and gardens which are open throughout the whole country to the great benefit of all concerned and without doing violence to the conscience of anyone. When we have to deal with the fun fair we shall be dealing with something entirely different.
I trust that it will now be possible for us to proceed to that argument, upon which I think the Committee is extremely anxious to engage. It is for us now to come to a decision on what is, after all, as the Attorney-General has reminded us, the narrow point as to whether the consciences of people will be offended by the opening of a park where flowers and green grass can be seen. I cannot believe that that is so. I find myself in accord with the view of the Advisory Committee of Christian Churches that that is a legitimate activity for anyone to engage upon on any day, and one which can be of no offence whatever to any section of the community. Therefore, I shall support the opening of the Gardens on Sunday, although I find it necessary to vote against the other Amendment later.
§ Sir H. Williams
We have had a most interesting debate. Never have more words been recorded about so few square yards of garden. I doubt if many people realise how small these Gardens will be. They will extend over 30 acres, and if 3,000 people are there the Gardens will be crowded. That being so, I fail to appreciate the idea that the people of, say, St. Helens will hurry to see in the Gardens what they can see much better free of charge every Sunday in St. James's park. I know that a lot of people want to talk about "Dodgems," so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out "with or."
This Amendment, if carried, will have the effect of requiring the fun fair to be 1000 closed on Sunday, while leaving the other part of the Exhibition open for the public.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order. I am not quite clear, Major Milner, what has happened to the first Amendment. I know that the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) asked leave to withdraw the Amendment, but I heard objection expressed to that course, and when objection is so taken ought not the Amendment to be put?
§ The Chairman
The position is perfectly clear. The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), asked leave to withdraw the Amendment. It is true that I was not clear as to whether anyone had said "No." For that reason I again put the Question to the Committee, and in my view the Committee unanimously agreed that leave to withdraw the Amendment should be given.
§ Mr. Silverman
With great respect, Major Milner, I thought that the question put to the Committee was whether the Amendment should be withdrawn or not. You collected voices both ways, and that means that there must have been at least one "No," and one "No" would be sufficient to prevent the Amendment from being withdrawn.
§ The Chairman
I have explained the matter perfectly clearly. So that I might know precisely what was the opinion of the Committee, I put the Question for a second time and, in my view, the Committee were unanimously agreed that the Amendment should be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Thomas
Before I was interrupted by my hon. Friend I was making the point that the Amendment I have moved will leave this fun fair as the only part of the Exhibition to be closed. This is not in any sense a party issue. It is one which, I believe, will gain support from all parts of the Committee. Hon. Members may ask why we take exception to the fun fair and to nothing else. There are people, Members of this Committee and constituents outside, who feel that we are inconsistent in objecting to the fun fair but not objecting to the other part of the Exhibition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I invite hon. Members who said that, to walk up Charing Cross Road and to see some of the fun fairs there. I invite them to walk down the 1001 Strand to see the type of people who hang around some of these fun fairs. They will then have their answer.
So far in this Committee, the fun fair is being interpreted as an innocent hurdy-gurdy where the happy voices of healthy children should be heard—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—at ten o'clock at night. Hon. Members are forgetting that this is not for the afternoon only. This provision is also for the evening. [Interruption.] The hon. Member who has already raised a point of order had only just come into the Chamber, I believe for the first time since the debate started.
The arguments in favour of having fun fairs on Sundays are along the lines, first, that the liberty of the subject is offended by people who object to fun fairs and try to prevent them. It is said that the liberty of the subject is taken away. I submit that my hon. Friends are not arguing for liberty but for licence in this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They are such lovers of liberty that apparently they resent me having the right to say that. The arguments that are used by the fun fair supporters are arguments that lead to the repeal of all Sunday observance legislation, for it must be conceded that this is not really the trifling issue of one fun fair.
This is the question of whether Sunday is to be a different day in this country. It is a question of whether we shall have any restrictive legislation to keep the Sabbath day different from Saturday, Monday or any other day. It is wounding to the deepest feelings of a great section of the people that the House of Commons should want to take action on its own to make sure that Sunday shall become the same as any other day of the week.
There are some who quote the Scriptures. We have had Scripture quoted from both sides in this matter. I am reluctant to make any quotation from Holy Scripture in this connection, but I take up the quotation which most people use—that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. That is regarded as a declaration which is unanswerable as a supporting case for the end of regard for the Sabbath day. Some will say that the whole of the teaching of the Master is that there shall not be one day devoted to the Sabbath. It is 1002 clear that this reference on this occasion was to the doing of good, the easing of pain and the helping of the troubled. The emphasis is on service rather than on indulgence and self-interest.
There are some who remind us that there are 57 fairs operating in the country and that, therefore, it is wrong for us not to have the State supporting a fun fair at Battersea Park. There is a world of difference between people who are concerned only with the profit which they can make out of conducting a fun fair on a Sunday and the State itself giving the lead to the opening of entertainments of this nature all over the country. We might as well acknowledge that if the Committee agrees tonight to the Sunday opening of a fun fair in the Festival of Britain it is giving encouragement for the opening of fun fairs in every village and town in the land.
The action cannot be limited to the period for which the Festival is to run. The weakest argument I have heard is that visitors coming to London will be denied the privilege of going to the fun fair on a Sunday. I find no strength at all in this argument. Hon. Gentlemen will tell me that people can already go on Sundays to fun fairs all over the country. If they are right, then the people are denied nothing at all if they come to London, because they can go to their own fun fair in their own town on the Friday or Saturday.
The real issue is the profit which will be made on the Sunday. That is the real reason for this proposal. If the Festival could have been run at a profit without opening on the Sunday there would have been no proposal for the fun fair to have been open on the Sabbath day. If we are honest we must acknowledge that this is a question of £ s. d. and not of liberty for the British people.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I should like to put a fair question to my hon. Friend. He has said that this is a question of £ s. d. Would not he agree that if a provincial resident has to choose a day to go to the Festival, he is likely to choose a day when the whole of the Festival is open and not when one part is closed. If that is so, is not it unfair to say that it is purely a question of £ s. d. when it is open on a Sunday?
§ Mr. Thomas
My hon. Friend has forgotten that people come to London now, in the main, on a Saturday. At least, the people from my part of the world do that. People from the provinces will not come to London and go home on the same day. If they are here at all on a Sunday, they will be here on the Saturday. In these days of the five-day week they will move on the Saturday. Therefore, there is no substance whatever in the suggestion that poor provincials will be denied their ride upon the roundabouts if the fair is not open on a Sunday.
This matter has been debated at great length. I will not extend the debate unduly, but I would like to say this. I believe that the question whether Sunday is the proper day for the Sabbath day or not is an academic question. It is the day which, overwhelmingly, the British people regard as the Sabbath day, and it is a day which is very dear to a great many people in this country. We are denying no liberty.
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Thurtle) has said that we are denying freedom of choice. He believes in absolute freedom of choice for everybody. Yet I believe that my hon. Friend was one who voted for conscription.
§ Mr. Thurtle
If my hon. Friend will permit me to say so, I voted for conscription in order to preserve our liberties. The whole is greater than the parts thereof.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is a strange process of reasoning to take away a man's liberties in order to defend them.
I believe that the Sabbath day has played a great part in the building up of the British character, and that it is unfair of those who are opposed to the point of view which I adopt in this instance to suggest that we are any the less concerned with the well-being of the State than they. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), I thought, dealt very unkindly with this point. We are not adopting this point of view to gain popular support. I do not believe that anyone in the Committee is likely to vote in such a way as to make sure of a majority of votes. I believe that hon. Members will vote according 1004 to their convictions, and not according to their so-called political prejudices. There is no way at all for any hon. Member—the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury any more than myself—to know what the majority of people in this country want on this matter.
I believe it would be harmful to the best interests of our people if we did anything to damage a day that has helped to build up our character, or to undermine the standard of values which provided that great strength to our fathers in the days that are behind us. I earnestly hope that the Committee will reject the idea of the fun fair being open on Sunday, while opening the Gardens and the Exhibition as a whole to the general public.
§ Mr. Low (Blackpool, North)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), in the course of his speech, used words—I have not got them exactly—to suggest that the issue tonight is whether we shall have any restrictive legislation regarding the observance of Sunday. If that were the issue, I think I should be with him, but I do not consider that that is the issue, as I hope I shall show in the course of my speech. The issue tonight is whether the Festival of Britain exhibition as a whole and Pleasure Gardens, in particular, shall or shall not have the right to open the fun fair on Sunday with immunity against the common informer. That is the issue as I see it. I have already indicated that I take the view opposite to that expressed in the Amendment which has just been moved in such a delightful way by the hon. Gentleman, who always deals in this way with matters of this sort.
I must at once get rid of one matter of which the Committee must be conscious. I represent a constituency in which fun fairs are open on Sundays, and I want to make that clear at once. I hope the Committee as a whole will realise that it is not just for that reason that I am taking the view which I am adopting tonight. Like the hon. Gentleman opposite, I do not think it will be reflected in the view of the Committee as a whole whether or not we hope to gain votes from this or that decision which we shall take tonight. I can assure the Committee that I have thought very 1005 deeply about this matter, realising, of course, that I am so closely associated with the manner in which Sundays are observed in that great health resort.
The views I am going to put to the Committee are my own views—not views put to me by the owners of amusement parks, and still less views put to me by many constituents, who have written on the lines of the Lord's Day Observance Society, the opinions of the Free Churches and the views expressed by the Advisory Committee of Christian Churches of all denominations. The views I express are purely personal, as I think should be the case with all hon. Members who speak in this debate.
I think that is important, because many of us, who are, in our minds at least, sincere members of the Church of England, must question ourselves very carefully when the view we are taking is the opposite view to that taken by the leaders of our Church. I think it is important to stress that we have been reminded, both by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler) and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster), that on this matter we have to take a personal view.
A number of reasons were given in the speech of the hon. Member opposite, and also given during the Second Reading debate, why it would be wrong to allow the fun fair to be open. Let me deal with them all quite shortly, because, even if the hon. Gentleman opposite had not put forward all of them, I feel that at some time during the debate we shall hear all these reasons put forward.
The first one is on the question of Sunday labour. I was very glad to hear the Attorney-General dismiss that argument once again this afternoon. I think he did it quite fairly today and on last Thursday. There will be 500 extra people working if the fun fair is open, though none of them will be forced to work. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), whom I do not see here and whom I have not warned that I was going to mention his name, said that other things, like playing golf, caused an infinitesimal number of men and women to work on Sunday, and 1006 that if there were no golf they would not be working. That is very true from the point of view of one golf course, but, if one closed all the golf courses of the country, one would prevent a much larger number of persons than 500 from working on Sunday.
I was glad to hear the Attorney-General say that no one would be compelled to work on Sunday. I am sure that is quite possible to arrange, and I am sure that in Blackpool, in places that are opened on Sunday, no one is compelled to work. I have not had any cases brought to my notice of anyone being discharged from employment because he was not willing to work on Sunday.
The second point is the question whether the opening or not of a fun fair on Sunday will offend the consciences of a very large number of people. I attach a great deal of weight to the right of each one of us to have a conscience and to express it; but I say sincerely to the Committee that if we have a conscience, one of the first things we should think about is not to impose it upon the consciences of others. But if we carry to its logical conclusion the argument we must be careful not to offend anyone's conscience, where should we get? We should have to introduce all sorts of restrictions in the law if we had to see that nothing was done to interfere with anyone's conscience, whether that person was an old lady or a young or middle-aged crank.
I am sure the Committee will agree with me that we cannot press the conscience argument too far. After all, what we are trying to find out is the right thing on which this Committee should legislate, so far as Sunday activities are concerned. It is not a question of conscience alone, but, of course, we will take into account the religious scruples and conscience on which much of the strength of character of this country are built up.
The next point is that which was made on Thursday by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers). He said that, while each step towards a free Sunday may be all right, the cumulative effect of all of them is very dangerous. This is really not a new step. All over the country fun fairs have been opened, for 20 years at least, and, I think, for longer, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has said.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I should like to correct the hon. Member. When he talks about "all over the country," he means England and Wales. of cours.
To reinforce the argument of the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), I understand from a Scottish colleague of mine that fun fairs are open in Scotland.
§ Mr. Low
I have always made it a rule, both at Question Time and in debate in this House, never to interfere in Scottish matters. I think it was also said by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury that to say that 57 or more fun fairs are open in the country is merely to say that a few people in one locality or in 57 localities acquiesed in the opening of fun fairs. That is not a really correct argument. It is not a question of a few people, as he will find if he comes to Blackpool on a Sunday. Nor is it a question of a few people from one locality. It is a fact that a great many people from a great many localities have acquiesced in the opening of fun fairs on a Sunday, for a long time.
§ Mr. Summers
Is my hon. Friend aware that, in referring to the distinction between 57 centres where fun fairs are opened on Sunday and the State opening a fun fair on Sunday, I was anxious to bring out the point that, it is one thing for the Government to acquiesce in people doing a thing and quite another for them to be the promoters.
§ Mr. Low
I was just coming to that. and was going to deal with the point about the State. It is said that a special immunity is being given for the State to run shows on a Sunday. Let us look at the position of Festival Gardens Limited in this matter. First of all, it is a special occasion, and it lasts for five or six months. Secondly, it seems to me that if they had decided to open the fun fair on Sundays without coming to the House, they would have been running a risk of laying themselves open to a common informer, of which the House as a whole 1008 would not have approved. I think that they would also have been taking a somewhat cowardly line, knowing, as they must, the differences of opinion their action would raise.
It might be argued that they could have decided not to open without coming to the House at all. I think that that would have been wrong. They owe a duty to the country, as a whole, to find out whether it was the wish that the fun fair should be open. The only way that could be done was by allowing the House to discuss the matter. It would have been contrary to their duty to decide, unilaterally, that the fun fair should not be opened. It is a fair argument to say that there is a large number of people, so-called "provincials" I do not like that expression—who possibly will come to London only at weekends and that this must have been in the minds of the board of Festival Gardens Limited.
Secondly, it was asked—and I think this is also quite a fair argument—why the Festival of Britain, because it is a State enterprise, should be subject to special restrictions which did not apply to privately-run shows. I am in agreement with everybody who has spoken on this subject that the present law on Sunday observance, particularly as it applies to the common informer, must be revised as soon as possible. I hope the Government will give every support to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Heald), when he brings in a Bill to deal with the common informer later in this Session. But, by itself, the proposal that that Bill should be passed in the House of Commons is not sufficient to establish the protection that a State-run enterprise like the Festival of Britain is entitled to ask for when it is making its plans for next year.
The last point made against the opening of fun fairs on Sunday is based on the British way of life. It is said that it is contrary to the British way of life that a fun fair should be opened in the Metropolis, or, indeed, in any part of the country, on a Sunday. What do we mean by the British way of life? We use it to mean an enormous number of things. When we are talking about democracy and totalitarianism, we mean a particular type of democracy which has manifested itself here. We do not mean 1009 exactly that when we use that argument in connection with the Festival of Britain. What we mean here, surely, is the way the British people live. It seems to me that in many parts of the country, but not in all parts of the country, the British people do go to fun fairs on Sundays, and I do not think that that argument by itself is conclusive one way or the other.
§ Mr. Low
As I have tried to indicate, I feel that this is not an occasion on which one should take the extreme view one way or the other. Nor is it an occasion when we are asked to take the extreme view one way or the other. I agree that much has been said about liberty and license, if we are to take the full import of some of the remarks of the opponents to opening the fun fair on Sundays. It seems to me that what we are asked to do tonight is to decide whether we shall draw the line, for the purpose of the Festival of Britain, one side or the other for the opening of the fun fair. [Interruption.] This is a difficult matter.
§ Earl Winterton
My hon. Friend would be able to put his case more clearly if hon. Members. would not talk among themselves.
§ Mr. Low
Hon. Members are quite convinced that they are right and I am fairly convinced that I am right; I think it is fair that they should listen to the arguments of others, even though they may already have made up their minds on the subject. Moreover, since the mover of this Amendment put his case quite shortly and since we have not previously had an opportunity to state arguments in favour of opening the fun fair on Sundays, I think it is reasonable that I should be allowed to put such arguments at some greater length than is normally tolerated by hon. Members with whom I sympathise in their search for short speeches.
As I was saying, what we are concerned with here is not choosing between extremes. We are concerned with choosing the point at which we shall draw the line for the opening of the fun fair on Sundays, or its closing. Looked at in that way, it is quite a narrow matter, but I readily agree that it introduces all the emotional forces of the pro-Sunday 1010 observance man and of the pro-Sunday freedom man. In making up our minds we cannot neglect the position of the people who will be coming with their families from far off to see the Exhibition at the only time of the week when their work will allow them to come. That is the first point.
I think somebody jeered this afternoon when the hon. and learned Member for Northampton mentioned children. I do not think that we should leave out of account the needs of families with children. It may be that many hon. Members will say, "I would not allow my children to go to the fun fair on a Sunday." I say frankly that I should not allow my children to go to the fun fair on a Sunday, for the very good reason that in the circumstances in which they are they can go any other day of the week. But I am not prepared to use my vote in the House of Commons to prevent other people from taking their children to the fun fair on Sundays when they have no other opportunity of going to the fun fair. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Saturdays?"] It is a common delusion of many hon. Members that people will come to this Exhibition for two days. Where will they stay if they do come up for two days? [Interruption.] I think I heard an hon. Member say, "In a public shelter." That was a most unworthy remark.
These people will come up one night and will very likely go back over the next night. There is probably not enough transport, among other things, to bring all who want to come for two nights as opposed to one night. Let us consider the people who come only for one day, and a great many of them will only be able to come on a Sunday. I beseech the Committee to look at the matter from that point of view, whatever may be their own views about what should or should not be done on Sundays. I hope they will examine their own hearts to see what they do on Sunday themselves. I hope they will bear in mind that it is the duty of hon. Members, provided that they do not offend the essentials of their religion, to give other people the chance to do what they choose to do on Sundays. For that reason, I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment moved so charmingly, but I think mistakenly, by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Wigg
I am sure that the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), is completely sincere and honest in the views which he has expressed to the Committee. Indeed, I would say the same of any hon. Member who expressed the same point of view, although it is not one with which I agree. All I would ask of hon. Members who do not agree with me is that they will concede to me the same honesty and sincerity that they claim for themselves.
This afternoon we have heard arguments not from the opposite side of the Committee but from this side, in which, I regret to say, those who share my view were charged with being un-British and totalitarian. We were also charged with the worst and meanest form of political opportunism when it was suggested we had made up our minds on the basis of the letters which we have received from our constituents. Throughout the Second Reading of the Bill, and again today, it has appeared almost to be a crime that a constituent should dare to write to his Member and suggest what action he should take. I am very glad indeed that my constituents have written to me; indeed, I went out of my way to ask that they should write to me, but in making the suggestion that I should be glad to hear their views on this issue I have not surrendered my judgment. I am responsible for my vote this evening, and I shall cast my vote not under pressure from any group of people but according to what I regard as the best interests of my constituents and of my country. That is a fair enough explanation of where I stand on this issue.
The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), was kind enough to say that he had not already made up his mind and was open to persuasion. I hope he will forgive me if I try to get him to go into the Lobby with me. He was in some difficulty because he could not see a logical explanation for the difference between reading Trevelyan's "History of England" on Sundays and going to the Festival of Britain on the South Bank. I think that is fair enough, but I do not think that one can be expected to find a logical explanation. There is no logical distinction between these two activities.
The fact is that we do not claim to be a logical race. Anyhow, whether we 1012 claim it or not, we are not logical as a race. Our way of life cannot be written in one volume. It varies from town to town, from county to county and from one family to another. The way of life of the people in my constituency is different from the way of life of people living in Bournemouth, Cheltenham or London. Because they are different it does not make one better or the other worse. The fundamental fact is that they are different.
It is that difference and that tolerance which has grown up during the last two or three hundred years that has brought about all the colour and picturesqueness which has given England those characteristics which we intend to display at the Festival. It would be a fundamental mistake for any hon. Member, and certainly for the Committee as a whole, to believe that we can make men good by legislation. I am certain that we cannot and, if we try to do so, we shall put ourselves in a terrible mess. Certainly, I do not want to try to make people better by preventing them from going on a dodg'em on a Sunday afternoon.
I noticed that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) based his argument on behalf of the fun fair on the absence of noise. I am not concerned about the noise. I am not concerned whether the fair is a good thing or a bad thing. I ask myself: What kind of an England would it be if we gave the makers of dodg'ems and roundabouts a free hand and if they were able to have not just 57 places where they could put on their shows but a show in every hamlet in the country? The constituency of the hon. Member for Blackpool, North, has an interest in this matter. I remember when a fun fair in Blackpool did not take the innocent form of three balls at a coconut shy or a ride on the "Big Dipper," but took the form of an unfrocked clergyman of the Church of England exhibiting himself in a barrel.
§ Mr. Low
I think that, without intending it, the hon. and gallant Member is muddling a variety of fun fairs in Blackpool. The type to which I referred, and the only type immediately relevant to this issue, is that which is to be copied in Battersea. It has nothing to do with the odd arcades in Charing Cross Road 1013 which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), has already castigated.
§ Mr. Wigg
Before I continue, would you, Major Milner, be good enough to ask the meeting at the end of the Chamber whether they would join us for a moment?
I certainly do not want to be unfair to the hon. Member for Blackpool, North. It is a long time since I went to a fun fair with any great pleasure. There was a time when I went with my father, who paid the bill. Now I am a father myself, several times, and I have to pay the bill, so I am not so keen. One generally found that the fat woman and the sideshows were part of the show. Of course, it may well be that the authorities and the Lord President of the Council have investigated this and that we shall not have that sort of show at Battersea, but the point is that we cannot judge these fun fairs on the basis of the Lord President's views; we have to judge them by what goes on in Blackpool and in Belle Vue.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but he will recall that we have expressly provided in Clause 1 (4) for the prohibition of a number of things which would otherwise have been permissible in any fun fair. Whether these things take place at Blackpool or Margate or Clapham Junction I do not know, but we have expressly provided that this subsectionshall not authorise … a stage play, variety entertainment, circus turn or puppet or marionette show, for a contest or display of boxing or wrestling, for public dancing…We are proposing to insert an additional safeguard through an Amendment on the Order Paper today which says that, in addition to those expressed prohibitions, nothing shall be allowed at this fun fair which is not expressly authorised by a Minister designated to deal with the matter. The object of that Amendment and of subsection (4) is to ensure that, if the Committee approves the principle of swings and roundabouts, there will be adequate machinery to make quite clear that nothing unseemly shall be provided, such as an unfrocked parson in a tub or anything of that kind.
§ Mr. Wigg
I thank the Attorney-General for giving me the opportunity to 1014 interrupt. I am not dealing specifically with him, but with some of his supporters. The argument put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton is that there will be no noise. Another argument is that opening the fun fair does not matter because fun fairs are open in 57 other places. What I am concerned about is not so much what happens in Battersea but the argument that may be used if we permit the fun fair to be opened. We may find we have it in 57 other cases.
If the supporters of the Clause are so anxious that the public should have an opportunity to use their Sunday afternoons, why does not the House set an example? Why does not the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), who is chairman of the Advisory Committee, suggest to the House that the House of Commons should be open on a Sunday afternoon?
§ Earl Winterton
I think it would be correct to say that that statement was slightly irrelevant. There is nothing whatever to prevent hon. Members taking strangers round the House on a Sunday afternoon. They can do so if they so desire. They can go to cinemas or to dirt track races or to anything else.
§ Mr. Wigg
I am very glad to hear that. My constituency is 120 miles away from London and the people from Dudley and Stourbridge who come to London on a Sunday to visit the Festival would, I am sure, welcome the opportunity of going round the House of Commons. That is one of the things I should like to see; I should like to put down an Amendment to the Bill to make it possible for my constituents to go round the House of Commons on a day when they come to the Festival of Britain.
§ Earl Winterton
This is a more serious matter than appeared at first sight. Coming from such a source I did not treat it as very serious at first, but if the hon. Member is prepared to submit a proposal to our Committee, supported by all the other Sabbatarian interests in the House, we shall consider it very carefully.
§ Mr. Wigg
I am very glad to hear that, even if was accompanied by the usual rudeness which one associates with the noble Lord.
I speak for my constituency in this matter. I believe that the overwhelming majority of them would be in favour of 1015 the opening of Battersea Park because they will not have Battersea Park on their own doorstep, but I believe that if this House agrees to the opening of the fun fair on Sunday afternoons we shall be doing a very grave injury to something which is typically English.
§ Mr. Baird (Wolverhampton, North-East)
Is it not a fact that the hon. Gentleman gave an interview to his local newspaper in which he said that he had no strong views on the matter and that he would welcome the views of his constituents?
§ Mr. Wigg
I specifically refrained from giving my views. I said that I would welcome the views of any constituent who cared to write to me on the subject, but I subsequently made it quite clear to all who wrote to me that, in extending that invitation, I did not surrender my judgment. I did not surrender it then and I do not surrender it now. I believe it is in the best interests of the people and in accordance with the traditions of the people of Worcestershire and Staffordshire that the Committee should reject this Amendment. If we do reject it we shall be doing something which, in the long run, will be in the interests of all that is best in our way of life.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Peart (Workington)
I hope the Committee will reject this Amendment. I respect the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and I hope that hon. Members on both sides who agree with the Amendment which he moved will, in turn, respect the views which I and other hon. Members hold in opposing it. I believe that this Amendment does not merely involve the fun fair at Battersea, but that it raises something much more fundamental, and here I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), who spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill. It raises, I believe, the fundamental question of liberty, and, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West, has said, I think he is wrong in saying that we are confusing liberty and licence. To many of us it is fundamentally a question of liberty—me right of men and women to enjoy their leisure in the way they choose without interfering with the rights of other people.
§ Mr. Osborne
Does the hon. Member agree that the same liberty should be exercised in economic affairs, and would he apply his remarks to the action taken by Durham County Council with regard to their employees having to join trade unions?
§ Mr. Peart
That, I believe, is another matter, but were we to go into the question of economic affairs I should say that I believe that men are much freer when they control the economic machine. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is my point of view. I merely say to hon. Members who disagree with me that I believe that it is fundamentally right that men and women should use their leisure in the way they choose, providing they do not impinge upon the rights of others. I believe that that is a fundamental right, and that in a democratic community it should be enshrined in our customs and in our constitution. It concerns the relationship of the State towards the individual's use of leisure.
I should like to commend to my hon. Friends who take the opposite point of view—as there have been so many quotations tonight—something from a very famous essay on liberty, John Stuart Mill's "Liberty." I commend this to hon. Members from Wales who take a different point of view from those Radicals who still believe in the old Radical tradition. This is what John Stuart Mill said:Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life. and enslaving the soul itself.
§ Mr. Peart
I wish the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) would restrain himself. He may disagree with my point of view, but it is a point of view which I sincerely hold. That passage from John Stuart Mill expresses my attitude and the attitude, I believe, of hon. Members who oppose this Amendment tonight. As I have said, I ask for the right of the individual to choose his own leisure for his family and himself providing he does not infringe the rights of other individuals.
1017 After all, we have only just emerged from a war against totalitarianism. In that German State before the war we saw how a dictator tried to organise the leisure of the majority, and, indeed, of the minority, of the people of that country. I say to hon. Members tonight that if we believe in democracy, if we are prepared to inveigh against and resist that form of totalitarianism, then we should be prepared as a Committee to allow a section of the community the right to enjoy their leisure.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
Will my hon. Friend allow me to intervene? I believe he is getting to the crux of the problem. He is advocating the rights of the minority. There must be people in Battersea, and perhaps a large majority, who would welcome the fair, but there are many people who object to it. How would my hon. Friend protect the rights of that minority?
I am quite prepared to take into consideration the views of the people in Battersea. As far as I know, there will be provisions for any opposition to a nuisance if it is created. The interdenominational committee in the Battersea area have more or less accepted the main provisions of this Bill, and have agreed to the holding of open air sermons and religious ceremonies. I believe that the law should provide certainly for the right of people to be protected from a nuisance.
It is the responsibility of this Committee to be tolerant. I say that to many hon. Members who take a different line tonight, particularly to those hon. Members who on Sundays may enjoy a game of golf, or who enjoy, for example, as I do at Roehampton, watching a game of cricket, or going into a public house to have a glass of beer, or driving motor cars on Sundays in the countryside. To many people they are noisy. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West, does not oppose that form of pleasure. I say to those hon. Members who have those activities on a Sunday—Please be tolerant and let men and women choose their own type of pleasure and social enjoyment.
I know that people have been rather condescending tonight on the pleasures which are enjoyed at fun fairs. Many hon. Members, I believe, on all sides of the Committee, at some time of their 1018 lives have enjoyed fun fairs, and I think that some of them have been tonight very hypocritical in their opposition to them. I merely ask that the Committee, which has to make this decision, should be tolerant on this matter. If hon. Members feel that their constituents do not wish to enjoy these pleasures, then their constituents have a perfect right not to go to the fun fair or to the Pleasure Gardens.
I trust that every hon. Member, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) said last week, will not be influenced by postcards or by pressure groups who have organised a campaign against this Bill. I believe that hon. Members who have expressed a different point of view from mine have sincerely given their own personal opinions and will go into the Lobby tonight sincerely believing they are right in the action they are taking, and will not be influenced by any pressure groups who may have attempted to influence the voting position in our constituencies. I plead that if we are a democracy, if we believe in tolerance, if we believe in the right of individuals to enjoy their lives in their own way without interfering with the rights of others, we should emphatically reject this Amendment.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Angus, North and Mearns)
One of the charms of being able to participate in a debate in which the Whips are off, is that one finds oneself quite delightfully and unexpectedly on the side of many hon. Members with whom one has not felt any great sympathy before. I do not apply that to the hon Member for Workington (Mr. Peart), for although I enjoyed his speech he did not take the line I myself take over this matter. I do apply it to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). But having said that, I should like to say, with great respect, that I am sure that the hon. Member for Workington took an untenable line in his speech when he spoke about the desire to allow full freedom to others. It is a line which all of us respect whatever point of view about this particular Amendment we may take.
§ Mr. Pearl rose—
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
I have just started my speech, and the hon. Member 1019 has just made his speech. Perhaps he will allow me to develop the point, and if he disagrees with it I shall gladly give way to him later.
The hon. Member went on to say—and I have the greatest sympathy with this point—that the people of this country, which is, of all countries, the home of freedom, should be allowed to do what they want subject to the proviso which he himself made, and subject to the proviso which the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made, that in so doing they do not injure the rights of others. It is really upon that point that I want to say a few things—and I shall be extremely brief. Just because I choose to spend my Sunday in a certain way, because I like to be quiet on Sunday, to spend my Sundays with my family and to go to church at least once, I do not insist that other people should do the same. I do not mind if other people want to play tennis or golf, or to ride, as I have often ridden myself, or to walk or to motor on Sunday afternoons. I do not mind about that in the least. But I do suggest that there is a valid distinction which ought to be drawn between private arrangements of that kind and the facilities which we are being asked to give to the Government, or to promoters and organisers acting under the Government, to organise mass entertainment on a Sunday.
I believe that there is a valid distinction, of which the Committee ought to take cognisance, between a private citizen availing himself of existing facilities for Sunday recreation and the Government of the country taking a lead—as the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, so rightly said—in facilitating the organisation of the type of amusement which we are considering in this Committee this evening.
Only the other night I was re-reading a passage in "English Saga" in which Arthur Bryant quotes from a speech made in this House by Macaulay. It is not a long quotation, and I should like just to remind hon. Members of it. Macaulay was expressing his view thatWe are not poorer but richer because we have in this country, through many generations and through many ages, rested from our labours upon one day in seven That day is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies in the furrow, while the Exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from 1020 the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of nations as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the maker of machines, is repairing and winding up so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, with renewed corporal vigour.I believe that if it were not part of the Christian belief that one day in seven should be kept as a day apart, it would be desirable to legislate in that sense. Yet here we have a British Government coming to this Committee and seeking for itself, and for the promoters and the organisers who derive authority under it, a mandate which is denied to all other sections of the community in respect of the opening of an amusement park. There cannot be the slightest doubt that this proposal and all that it has implied has offended the deeply held convictions of millions of decent law-abiding ordinary folk, and for my part I cannot do other than oppose it.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
As a large number of hon. Members wish to take part in this debate, I shall be as brief as I can. I think that a debate of this sort is always of interest to the Committee. I well remember the debates on the Prayer Book which took place a long time ago; if they had been continued very much longer in the atmosphere which was engendered, I think we would have been burning each other at the stake. Happily, today people have been able to express their views in relation to a matter of conscience, and I should like to put two points which I do not think have been mentioned.
When this project was originally discussed, I felt very strongly the necessity that those responsible should try to make it a great success if it was to be done at all, and I am more than ever convinced that we must make it a great success if we possibly can. One of the things that appeals to me, as I think to all of us, is that by the time this Festival of Britain opens we shall be asking those engaged in industry to work a great deal harder and longer than they have ever worked before, and I should feel very sorry if those whom we are asking to work harder were unable to enjoy what will be available for other people who are not working harder. For those working in many industries necessary for rearmament, which will be a continuous process, Sunday will be the 1021 only day upon which they can come to London.
When the matter was first discussed, I asked the Lord President whether he would consider using the water buses from the various piers to bring Kew Gardens, which are unique in Europe, and also Greenwich Hospital and the Maritime Museum, into the Exhibition?
§ Sir R. Glyn
I hope not. Anyway, I say that if we are to try to provide what will be of interest to people on Sunday, let us show them the very best that we have got, and provide such means of getting there as we can.
How many hon. Members know what will be at the fun fair? I have listened to most of the debate, and when the Attorney-General spoke and added one more point on the restrictions that are to be put on, I felt that this would be anything but a fun fair. It seems to me that a great many things are being ruled out. It is not wise to prophesy in a matter of this sort, but I am convinced that when the people of London and the surrounding districts realise what is being done to improve Battersea Park, they will be amazed. John Piper has created a beautiful vista, and Mr. Russell Page, the landscape gardener, is doing a wonderful job, and I think it will be a permanent acquisition to the country.
What do we mean by an amusement? There is a boating lake, an aviary, a children's pet corner such as there is at the Zoo, and a few most innocent things like that. Is it not rather nonsense to say that parents can bring their children to Battersea but that those children cannot paddle about in the lake? I do not think the visitors will have a very good impression of our Sabbatarianism.
§ Sir R. Glyn
At any rate, inside the area which is cordoned off there are these special lakes, and I certainly hope they will not be dug up when the Festival of Britain ends, because they are part of the landscape gardening which I think has been extremely well done.
The other point I should like to make is that each of us has to have his own 1022 conscience about this. It has been said all through the debate that we must act for ourselves and not be influenced by this postcard vote. I am old enough to remember the strict Sabbatarianism which some of my relatives used to enforce when I was a boy, and I hated it. It was dull. There were other relatives of mine who had a much happier, hopeful and Christian way of spending Sundays, and I must say that, as a child, I liked them much better than I did the others.
I agree with the definition which we have heard today that we must do nothing to offend people or to hurt their consciences. No one wants to do that. On the other hand, I do not want to be more episcopal than the bishops. That would be a foolish attitude for a layman to take. As I understand it, all the Churches have said that they want these amusements to be open—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—wait a minute—in so far as the park is concerned, without the so-called fun fair. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think that I am right. There are many things attached to the park which are quite distinct from the fun fair. Are we going to close these or not? I do not know. It seems to me that in this plan, which I have here, we shall have to define our restrictions rather more closely, or we may find that there is no place to go at all. There are to be dances and services, and presumably a child will be able to look at the birds in the aviary—or is that considered wrong on a Sunday? Presumably, they can go to see the pets in the animal enclosure. It is going to be difficult to draw the line.
All I say is that I think we cannot be prim and prosy about this. We have to ask our own consciences what is right. I remember that when all the Cinema Acts came before the House, there were long arguments on whether they should be opened on Sundays or not. The matter was settled in the end, as so many things are in the House, by compromise, and there was left a local option for towns to say whether they wanted their cinemas opened or not on Sundays. That seems to work pretty well.
The only people who may I am afraid object to this very much are the people who live 300 yards away from this fun fair. I should like to know what they feel. Although it has been said that it is silly to draw a distinction between 1023 noisy and quiet amusement, I think that we ought to draw a distinction, because I feel that the more noisy one is, the more likely one is to give offence to other people. The quieter we are, the more happy we can be with our families and children, and I think we shall find that the family who have spent a happy day in beautiful surroundings enjoying themselves will all say that they have spent a happy Sunday.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
In the debate so far, a good many references have been made to Sunday observance, and there have been some complaints that the Scriptures should be quoted as witness to the matter under discussion. I do not know that I would disagree with the complaint, but I feel that the Sunday observance societies are so literal in their approach to this question that it is also essential to be literal in offering some reply. We are here presumably holding firm to Sunday because of a stern old law that we should remember the Sabbath and keep it holy—in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.When we come to servants, in one version, we are to give them rest because we would have rest for ourselves. I agree that that is an important law, and that it matters for the good of the life of the community. I think that it has mattered very much in the history of this country and the history of the working classes, for during long periods of industrial exploitation there has been one day kept clear for rest for the workers who otherwise, in some periods of our development since the industrial revolution, would have had nought but unrelieved toil.
Therefore, I do not approach this problem in any forbidding spirit, although I am going to oppose, root and branch, the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). I do so because, in the first place, I think that we have already decided our position, particularly on these benches, by what has already taken place. I make no complaint about the Government having allowed a free vote on this matter of the Amendment, and having called upon us to vote another way on the general question last Thursday. But 1024 we decided last Thursday that many of our servants—men servants and maid servants—should work hard for the welfare of those of us who will go to the South Bank. So far as the ox and the ass are concerned, I think that innocent mode of transport of a bygone age has changed to the modern motor bus, but there are plenty of servants engaged in transporting those of us who are a little superior in our enjoyments and who will make our way to the South Bank under the terms allowed by the House last Thursday night.
It looks like hoi polloi if we have to make special restrictions for those who would go to the roundabouts. I do not usually use the term hoi polloi, but I feel that I am well justified in using it on this occasion, because I feel that is how the Sabbatarians on these benches are tending to look at it. I feel that we ought to be a good deal more frank about what we have committed ourselves to. We may not have a Shakespearian "Merry Wives of Windsor," for example; but if it is set to music it is all right as long as there is no stage setting. We can have restaurants on the South Bank and good food and drink. Many people find amusement in ways which I do not find it and which apparently the majority of the hon. Members here do not find it, but to begin to make exclusions on the basis of religious injunction, is surely humbug.
The question was raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, about keeping Sunday differently. We can keep it differently in many ways. I wonder sometimes why the Lord's Day Observance Society does not find it necessary to keep Sunday when it comes to the opening of the 10,000 public houses and drinking clubs in London and elsewhere. Yes, I will deal with Wales, too. The phrase "10,000 pubs" reminds me of the lines in Cowper:Ten thousand casksForever dribbling out their base contents …to fill a nation's woe. Why does Wales want to come on Sunday to London, where there is so much potential evil? Why is Wales, with its special Sunday closing legislation, not logical in Wales—for they leave the clubs open for drinking?
1025 I go back to the point which was made on the Second Reading by my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), that if there were any honesty in the Lord's Day Observance Society, for years past they would have directed their attention to this question of Sunday opening. They have not done so. I heard my hon. Friend say that they got certain subscriptions from the brewing interests. I do not know about that, because I cannot prove it. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is denied."] I heard the same statement made by my late friend Dr. Alfred Salter. It was denied then, but there has never been any subscription list published. There is evidence that this body—on which sit many temperance reformers who ought to know better—in the matter of the people finding enjoyment in public houses on Sundays, has made no effort to call attention to the matter and to campaign against it.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Is my hon. Friend advancing the argument that he wants to close the public houses on Sunday, but is against closing fairs on the same day?
§ Mr. Hudson
I am not advancing any argument of my own now about closing public houses. When the time comes, I will make a case for putting the public house in an entirely different category from the fun fair and the roundabout. We are not dealing with that now, but with the Lord's Day Observance Society, and the Members who support the hon. Member for Cardiff, West. I know he is making his case on his own Welsh ground, but he happens to fall into line with this Society and certain hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Thomas
But surely the hon. Gentleman is aware that the Lord's Day Observance Society is as angry with me as it is with him, because I am proposing the closing of the fun fair only on the Sabbath Day, and it wants everything closed on that day.
§ Mr. Hudson
I do not think it is as angry with my hon. Friend as it will be with me when I sit down. I look upon the Lord's Day Observance Society not as a friend of religion, but as a enemy. I regard its insistence on securing goodness and righteousness by compulsion as something which is revolting to the great mass of our people. I believe our people today are looking for better ways and more sincere, spiritual fundamentals. They 1026 can be helped to find those ways by example. Most of us—and I include myself here—are unworthy when we consider that. They can be helped a little by our precepts, but they cannot be helped by compulsion. Where I disagree with the Lord's Day Observance Society is that if we want our people to look back again at Sunday in its true sense as a day of rest, it should not be by law, especially a law of the 17th century. We must observe Sunday as something different from the rest of the week, and as necessary for the general welfare of our people.
It would be serving the interests of religion better if we took that course, and I hope that some of my hon. Friends who have made up their minds on this issue will reconsider their attitude, remembering that they have permitted on the South Bank something which will bring happiness to the people who will go there on Sunday, and that they should not deny to others the same rights. If we act in that spirit, I am confident that the majority in this Committee will not stand for my hon. Friend's Amendment, which I ask the Committee to reject.
§ Mr. Black (Wimbledon)
I want to support the Amendment before the Committee. I am against the opening of the fun fair on Sundays. I want, at the outset, to take up one point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). I can join with him in the view that he expressed that it is essential that we should make a success of the Festival. I agree with him that all Members, whatever their views may be on this particular issue, must do their utmost to ensure that that goal is reached. I am diametrically opposed, however, to the method which he suggests we should adopt to make the Festival a success. Because I believe that this proposal to open the fun fair on Sundays is the worst and most damaging blow which could be delivered at the success of the Festival, I shall vote against it.
The essential for the success of the Festival is unity on the part of all sections of the public in its support, and without unity it is impossible for it to be the unqualified success we all desire. For that reason, I believe that the Bill, and particularly the proposal to open the fun fair on Sundays, is the worst blow that has been delivered so far against the prospect of a successful Festival. For 1027 that reason, among other reasons, I hope that we shall decide to carry the Amendment and close the fun fair on Sundays. It would be a very great mistake if Members came to the conclusion that the opposition to Sunday opening comes from a small and uninfluential section of the community. I do not believe that the opposition comes from any such limited section of the public. I think the indications are that throughout England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is a large section of the British public which is very gravely concerned at the proposal to open the fun fair on Sundays.
It is a significant fact that every branch of the Christian Church, while the various branches may be separated in their views on other aspects of the Festival, are agreed in their dislike for and their opposition to the Sunday opening of the fun fair. That indicates a widespread and deep-seated objection to this proposal, and if this Amendment is rejected and the fun fair is opened on a Sunday, quite clearly, we face the possibility that large sections of the public will no longer give their support and their approval to the Festival. I say, therefore, that the proposal to open on Sundays is a very bad blow indeed to the success of the Festival generally.
Every Member of the Committee will recognise the fact that has been brought forward in the discussion today, that there is a great deal of inconsistency and illogicality about the Sunday observance laws of this country. No time need be spent in developing that theme. It is obvious that it is so, and no one will attempt to deny it. But it is a fact that the present position of the Sunday observance laws of this country represent a compromise that has been worked out over a long period of our history between various competing factions and differing opinions, and that, like a great many comprises which are inconsistent and possibly illogical it is a compromise that probably represents the largest measure of agreement that can be secured among various sections of the public.
What the Bill seeks to do is to disturb that plan of compromise carefully worked out down the years, and to disturb it in a way for which, I suggest, neither 1028 the Government nor Members of the House have any mandate at present. I would feel myself that that compromise, inconsistent and illogical as it may be, should not be disturbed at the behest of a Government whose only concern in this matter is to increase the gross receipts of the Festival of Britain account.
I come now to what seems to me to be the greatest and strongest objection to the Sunday opening of the fun fair, that it strikes at the very purpose for which the Festival of Britain is being held. The issue with which we are dealing today is the fundamental question of what is the Festival of Britain, and what is the purpose that it is designed to achieve. I think it is agreed on both sides of the Committee, and by Members who do not agree on this particular issue, that the Festival of Britain is being held for the purpose of demonstrating to the world the achievements of the British race, and also for showing to people from other countries the British way of life. Whether Members like it or not, whether they agree with the Sunday observance laws of this country or not, it is a fact that down the long years of our history, Sunday has been observed in this country as a day apart, a day that is different from other days in the week.
I am not arguing for the moment whether that view is right or wrong, but no one can deny that that view has been and is held by a great many people, that it is deeply rooted in the national life, in our traditions, in our institutions, and in the laws of this country. I suggest, therefore, that in a national festival, the purpose of which is to demonstrate the British way of life to people from other countries, it is undesirable and illogical to bring into being a state of affairs which differs from the normal law of the country, and which will create a special situation so far as this Festival is concerned which will not exist, apart from the passage of this Bill into law. That, in my judgment, militates against the purpose of the Festival, and it is one of the reasons why the Sunday opening of the fun fair should not be authorised by this Committee.
Whether we like it or not, the fact stands in our history that, during the period of our greatest expansion as a 1029 nation and Empire, during the second half of the last century, when our prosperity, influence and prestige were reaching their peak, when the achievements of our Empire and its extent were reaching their greatest heights, the period was marked by rising moral and spiritual standards of life so far as the mass of the people of the country were concerned. It was a day in which, speaking generally, God and His Day were honoured by our people.
During the first half of the present century, we have seen a decline in the fortunes of our country and Empire, and that decline has gone hand in hand with a decline, unfortunately, in the moral and spiritual standards observed by a great many of our people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Members may say "Nonsense," but I am putting forward the view I hold, and a great many Members have had an opportunity of putting forward views which differ from mine. It is my judgment that that is not an unfair description of the position. I believe that these two trends are very closely associated, and that the time of our greatest achievements, influence and prestige was the time when our religious observance and religious life were at their strongest and best. I do not believe that that is a false reading of the history of the past century.
If ever there was a day in which the wisdom of a weekly day of rest and worship was clear, surely that day is now. Men and women are living today under the strain and stress of recent years; multitudes alive today have spent nearly the whole of their lives in an atmosphere of crises of one kind or another, and I should have thought that the case for maintaining as far as possible the observance of the Christian Sunday as a day of rest and worship and a time when men and women could take a detached, dispassionate and calm view of life and its deeper issues was probably stronger than it had ever been before. I hold that in taking a step which would weaken the observance by our people of the weekly day of rest we should be rendering a very great disservice to our day and generation and would be taking a step in a direction for which we should be greatly blamed by those who come after us.
I believe that we should do well to decide this issue in the light of our own 1030 consciences. It is in the light and by the guidance of our own consciences that an issue of this kind ought to be determined by every Member of the Committee. It would be quite wrong for any of us to vote in this matter at the behest of groups within our constituencies, unless the view of those groups happens to coincide with our own view of the best interest of the country. It would be quite wrong for us to vote under the guidance of leaders of parties or of party Whips on an issue of this kind. I believe that if we vote to-night in the light of the need of the country at the present time and the need to maintain in the world those principles to which this nation has borne historic witness down the years, and also in the light of our own consciences, we shall come to the conclusion that the best interest of the nation will be served by the carrying of the Amendment and the defeat of the proposal to open the fun fair on Sundays.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I am very grateful, Sir Charles, to have caught your eye, for this is essentially the kind of question upon which it is very difficult for a great many of us who have been very puzzled about this problem to cast a vote without having the opportunity of giving our reasons for doing so. I am particularly fortunate in being called immediately after the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), who said so many things with which I profoundly disagree, and began by saying that nothing could possibly have been worse for the Festival of Britain than the proposal to open the Festival Gardens and the amusement park on Sundays.
In my opinion, nothing will prove to have been better for the Festival of Britain than the controversy which we have had today and the advertisement which it has given to the Festival. For the first time since the Bill was introduced people have begun to take a real interest in learning what the Festival of Britain is all about. Those who were looking forward to the amusement part of the Exhibition may have had some of their ardour dampened a little by the Attorney-General's statement of the many items to be excluded from the amusement park on Sundays.
I also profoundly disagree with the general interpretation of the hon. Member for Wimbledon as to the course of history 1031 during the last century. However, I agree with him when he says that our conception of Sunday has played an important part in the development of our national way of life, and it is true that the Festival is intended primarily to be symbolic of our national customs. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman in that I do not believe that the opening of the Battersea Park Gardens, even with its amusement park in the centre of it, will vitiate in any way the kind of Sunday to which we have become accustomed during the last few decades in this country.
Like all other hon. Members, I have received a great many letters on this subject. Islington happens to be, and has been for a long time, a stronghold of Nonconformity and it is a part of London where the Low Church influence and tradition in the Anglican confession is very pronounced. I disagree with some of the hard things said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), about the Lord's Day Observance Society. I have the most profound respect for the sincerely held convictions of the many people who have written to me from my constituency asking me to oppose the opening of the fun fair on Sundays, and it is because I do not agree with their opinions that I am anxious to give the reasons why I shall oppose the Amendment.
For example, one correspondent pointed out, with great force, that foreigners from America or the Continent who come here appreciate our quiet, peaceful, if somewhat dull, way of spending a Sunday as compared with the Continental Sunday, and they assert that if we have a fun fair in Battersea Park it will destroy the kind of Sunday which is symbolic of our national life. I believe the reverse is the case. I do not believe that there will be any incongruity in a visitor from abroad going to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday morning and going to Battersea Park, with the fun fair open, on Sunday afternoon.
I am not impressed with the many arguments which have been addressed to the Committee on the ground that the liberty of the subject is involved. I do not believe that it is. I believe that the State has a right, as it has always had, to take a hand in deciding what shall and what shall 1032 not to be done on a Sunday. I am not supporting the opening of the fun fair on Sundays on the ground that it provides more liberty for some people. The argument about liberty and licence is quite irrelevant. The State has a duty, as it always has had, to legislate for Sunday observance, a duty exercised partly on religious grounds, partly on industrial grounds and partly—perhaps the most important of all—to secure the traditional kind of Sunday which we have inherited and to which we attach so much importance in the formation of our national characteristics. It is, I believe, for these reasons that the law prohibits a number of things on Sunday, such as the opening of theatres, professional football matches and professional cricket matches and, apart from minor exceptions, trading. It would be abhorrent to our national instincts if there were widespread trading on Sundays.
That brings me to one of the points raised by hon. Members who support the Amendment. I have the greatest respect for their opinions when they say that the commercial aspect of the Sunday opening of the fun fair is something abhorrent to them, something which is pernicious and which in itself justifies our closing the fun fair on Sundays. I must confess I was troubled by that argument, because I agree that the commercial aspect of the fun fair is something which a great many people think quite sincerely is objectionable in itself.
Any tendency to commercialise Sunday would be objectionable, but in that context I ask myself, and I ask the Sabbatarians who are supporting the Amendment: Is there not inevitably a good deal of minor trading on Sunday with which all Sabbatarians agree? Do not a great many of us, who are fortunate in having a motor car, now that petrol is off the ration, enjoy joy-rides in motor cars on Sunday? Do we object to going to the garage to buy petrol so that we can have that joy-ride? Is it not then hypocritical for us to deny to those who do not possess motor cars the opportunity to have their joy-rides in the dodgem cars on Sunday afternoon? And is the slight commercial element in that any more objectionable than the fact that garages are open for the sale of petrol on Sundays?
1033 May I also remind the earnest Sabbatarians who have written to me from my constituency, and who have spoken tonight, that apart from the primary duty of Christian toleration, which has been referred to by other hon. Members and which I will not repeat, there are fashions in Sabbatarianism as there are fashions in everything else, and that what the Sabbatarians thought so wrong and objectionable 20 years ago, they tolerate today? I am quite sure there will be another fashion in Sabbatarianism 10 or 20 years hence, more enlightened than that which prevails today.
If the proposal to close the fun fair on Sunday afternoon is carried, I do not believe it will increase by one iota the cause of Christianity in this country. I do not believe that if we close the fun fair on a Sunday afternoon we shall in any degree promote attendance at church or a Sunday school. If I thought that by opening the fun fair we were desecrating the Sabbath in any way, or doing damage to the intangible values in our national life which we so rightly prize, I would support the Amendment. I attach great importance to this. I hope it will not go out from the Committee in any part of the Press that the issue we are debating tonight is an issue between Christianity and paganism. If we defeat the proposal of the hon. Member, as I hope we shall, I trust that nobody will interpret that vote as a victory for paganism over Christianity, and I hope nobody will interpret it as any part of the intention of those who oppose the Amendment to reduce or belittle the influence of Christianity in this country.
I mention that because I am profoundly impressed by the number of clergymen who have written to me asking me to support my hon. Friend. Those hard working, zealous, deserving people take the view that if the Amendment is defeated it will be a setback to the cause of Christianity for which they are working and, as they think, are fighting a hard, uphill battle. That is an opinion we should respect, because I have every sympathy with the work they are doing and should hate them to feel discouraged in their work. It is for that reason that I am so anxious that if we defeat the Amendment the result of our vote should not be misinterpreted.
I cannot profess to speak with any theological knowledge, but my profound 1034 conviction is that the cause of Christianity in this country, to which I attach great importance, is not in these days promoted so much by Sunday observance and ceremonial as by our social conduct, our social legislation and what we do. In the words of a Biblical text:The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.I hope we shall defeat the Amendment.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The speech to which we have just listened seems to me to be the strongest case against this Amendment which I have heard, and I have heard all the speeches in this debate. The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), unlike some other hon. Members, approached this problem much from the same general standpoint as I shall hope to approach it. None the less, I must differ from him as to the test to be applied to this matter.
As I understood it, the hon. Gentleman said that the test he had in mind was—is a Sunday fun fair of this kind a way of spending Sunday afternoon of which we approve? I differ from him in regarding that as the test, and I suggest that hon. Members, who might in their personal capacities approve of themselves or of others spending a Sunday afternoon on these roundabouts, are not for that reason logically bound to oppose this Amendment. The test I should suggest as a more appropriate one for this Committee to apply to this issue is—is it right for the House of Commons specially to authorise privileges in this direction in connection with a national Festival?
The hon. Member also referred to the commercial aspect, which he indicated was as distasteful to him in this connection as it is to me. We have heard very little so far of the commercial aspect and it would be right, before the Committee comes to a decision, that we should hear from the right hon. Gentleman what is this financial aspect. It has been argued by the gentlemen who have taken out the concession for this apparatus that they hope to receive one-third of their total takings on Sundays, and I understand that communications have passed between them and Festival Gardens Limited on these lines.
I think we are entitled to know a little more about that, and in particular whether the negotiations, which must now be in an advanced stage, for taking up these concessions have proceeded on the basis 1035 of the fun fair being open on Sundays or of its not being open on Sundays. What weight it will carry with hon. Members is another matter, but that is the sort of information for which this Committee is entitled to ask before reaching a decision.
Now may I deal with what I thought was the best argument of the Attorney-General on this issue, although it is true that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in form directing his argument to the Second Reading. He used an argument which shook me a little, namely, that it would be wrong for hon. Members, most of whom have better facilities for spending such leisure as they may have than most of their fellow citizens, to deny to those fellow citizens with less opportunities the opportunity of such entertainment as this.
That was a powerful argument, and I ask the Committee to consider where that argument leads us. It leads us a long way beyond opening one fun fair in London for 20 Sunday afternoons next summer. It seems to me to lead logically to the authorisation of all forms of mass entertainment on Sundays: football matches, racing, and such other occupations as people may like; because, if we are forced by our desire not to deny to our less fortunate fellow subjects opportunities to entertain themselves at this fun fair on Sunday afternoons next summer, it seems to me inescapably to follow that we have equally no right to deny them at other times such other forms of entertainment as they may wish. Whatever the Attorney-General may say, that was the line of argument quite logically adopted by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) whose words I recall because they illustrated with complete frankness the direction in which we are being led.
The hon. Member for Dagenham said on 23rd November:Some hon. Members may say, 'But what about the need for a day of rest for the great mass of people?' I fully agree that 100 years ago, in the middle of the 19th century, in the heyday of capitalism, Sunday, as a full day of rest, was a very necessary institution, but we now have a five-day working week in general, and the same need for that day of rest is gone. Undoubtedly, it would be wise, when we make a change in the law, to rule out the possibility of people working seven days a week, but, in general, I think we now have a five-day week, and any variation from it should be settled by negotiation between 1036 the unions and the employers concerned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd Novmber, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 559.]That is a perfectly frank admission, as is the admission contained in the circular which was circulated to hon. Members by the Sunday Freedom Association, on which, I see, the name of the hon. Member for Dagenham is printed as an adviser; that is, the argument that there is basically no essential distinction between Sundays and other days of the week and that the necessities for the provision of rest can be settled by industrial negotiation.
That is the direction in which, quite logically, the hon. Member for Dagenham has indicated that we are going. He welcomes that step because it is a step, in his view, in the right direction. But to other hon. Members who may be in some doubt whether there is any particular importance in a fun fair next summer on a limited number of occasions, that surely constitutes a warning of what, at any rate, some of the people who support this proposal quite clearly and frankly think.
Another of the arguments of the Attorney-General was much less good and an argument which comes a little oddly from a holder of his great office. He said that the law on this subject was deplorable. No hon. Member would dispute that. He went on to suggest that it was not, and could not be, fully enforced. That would be a very good argument for a general amendment of the law or for its enforcement, but coming from the senior Law Officer of the Crown it seemed a peculiarly bad argument in favour of one special and temporary exception being made by Statute to a general state of the law which, in his own words, is deplorable.
Good or bad, what it is sought to do by the Bill is to confer some special privileges upon those who will operate the fun fair. I would not venture into the question of how great and small are those privileges, because that would demand a knowledge of the law which I do not pretend to have, but it is obvious from the very fact that the Bill is being produced—indeed, it is the whole purpose of the Bill—that some special rights and immunities not enjoyed by others of His Majesty's subjects shall be conferred by a special enactment upon those who are to op crate the fun fair.
1037 However admirable the merits of the concern may be—and this body has certainly an eminent board of directors—I think it is wrong in principle to give special statutory immunities to one organisation while leaving everybody else, public and private authorities alike, exposed to a condition of the law which the principal Law Officer of the Crown rightly describes as deplorable.
I should like to say a word on the subject of liberty, on which so much has been said this afternoon, so much, indeed, that one might almost parody a famous remark and observe: "Liberty, liberty, what nonsense has been talked in thy name!" It is not as simple as some hon. Members think merely to say "Let anybody do what he wants to do on a Sunday. Be tolerant—" as an hon. Member opposite said—"and do not interfere with others doing what they want to do," because it is impossible for people to do many things on a Sunday—and attending a great fun fair is one of them—without imposing duties and liabilities upon other people.
The Attorney-General told us that some 500 or 600 people would be employed in the fun fair, but that is only the beginning. As hon. Members are aware, it has been the policy of London Transport on Sundays, particularly in the middle of the day, to run minimum services so that the maximum number of their staff shall have their Sundays at home. If great numbers, as is hoped, apparently, are to come to the Festival on a Sunday, then inevitably more transport will have to be provided and more transport workers will have to work. The same is true, of course, of catering, police duties, and so on.
That means that some people will not have their Sundays at home. I am not going into the argument of whether they would do that willingly or unwillingly. The fact remains that there are many nuances between the two. A man may be told that he has the right to refuse to work on a Sunday, but he may know perfectly well that it would not benefit him with his employer to exercise that right. All hon. Members know of that kind of situation. Without suggesting that that will necessarily be so in many cases, a considerable number of people will have 1038 to engage in work which cannot conceivably be described as necessary.
There are two objections, as I see it, to unnecessary Sunday labour. One is the religious one, which I will not labour save to point out that the quotation with which the Attorney-General sought to justify his argument was taken very much from its context. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said:The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.It is worth recalling to the House that the context of that statement was not the provision of entertainment on the sabbath, but the provision of necessary nourishment for people hard at work and travelling to their work. Taken out of its context, therefore, that is a very misleading quotation. I do not, however, want to labour the religious point.
The point I wish to press is the social one. The great value, from the social point of view, of Sunday is that every member of the family has the same day off; all members of the family can relax together. But if we get more and more people working on Sundays, then we shall do something to diminish inevitably the close unity of the family and, indeed, to deprive people of exactly that family Sunday together, about which the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) spoke in such moving terms on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. Thurtle
The point which the hon. Member has just made about the desirability of keeping the family together is one of the strong arguments in favour of opening the fun fair on a Sunday, because that is the very day upon which the father, the mother and the children are most likely to be able to go together.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I appreciate the force of that intervention, which has the force which interventions by the hon. Member always have, but I ask him to consider this. What is proposed is that in one way or another a considerable number—far more than the 500 or 600 engaged in the fun fair—of our fellow citizens will have to work on Sunday; they will be denied the family Sunday together. Those other people to whom the hon. Member referred are not compelled to spend their Sunday together at the fun fair in Battersea Park. All the other activities at present available on 1039 Sundays are open to them; so, indeed, is their Sunday at home. Therefore, I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider whether we would not by this proposal be effectively denying that family Sunday to a certain section of people without assuring it to a single additional person.
The great point on this matter is that we are discussing, not a commercial enterprise run by an enterprising firm of amusement contractors, but one of the features of what we are very rightly and regularly told by the Lord President of the Council is a national Festival, one to which my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) rightly wished great success. When we are conducting an affair of that sort, concerned not only with England, but with the other parts of the United Kingdom, in many of which strong views are held, when it is being run as a national affair under the highest possible patronage, to be opened by no less a person than the Sovereign, it is surely right that we should seek to apply far higher standards of morality and conduct than we are entitled to exact from other and less impressive enterprises.
In particular it seems desperately wrong that in the conduct of such a national enterprise we should do something offensive—rightly or wrongly offensive—to the consciences of a considerable section of our fellow citizens. I do not care, for this purpose, whether that section is a majority or a minority. It is an appreciable section entitled to have its conscientious and religious views respected by national authorities in the organisation of a national Festival.
We have heard that, on this matter at least, all who have claimed to speak in the name of the Christian Churches of this country have asked that this particular fun fair be not permitted to open on Sundays. We have had considerable expressions of opinion from different quarters of this Committee, and it would seem that we would be marring this Festival at its beginning if we were to use a majority in this Committee, if there is a majority for it in this Committee, to enact something in connection with this national Festival which, rightly or wrongly, a considerable number of our fellow citizens regard as morally wrong. We should be doing great harm to the 1040 national character of the Festival and unnecessarily offending deeply held, honestly and sincerely held, religious beliefs. For that reason, whatever my personal feelings may be, I feel bound to go into the Lobby in favour of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Gooch (Norfolk, North)
I am glad to have the opportunity of stating to the Committee where I stand in relation to this question of the Sunday opening of the fun fair. I wholeheartedly support the Amendment. I do not think it is so much a question of denying an opportunity for people as providing a facility; and in taking the stand that I take on this question, I am not transgressing in the slightest degree the policy of my party, as this was never any part of the policy of the Labour Party or of the Labour Government. I am certain that it would mean opening a section of the Festival of Britain Exhibition on a Sunday which the people as a whole have never asked for and, to my mind, do not want. The Sunday opening of the amusements park was not a part of the election programme of this party in the earlier part of this year, nor does it form the slightest part of the Labour Party's policy as a whole.
Much has been said about the fact that we ought not to take so much notice of those who write to us on various matters. I had made up my mind on the line I would take in this matter long before the first of my constituents wrote to me on it. I go further and add that, while I am not unduly influenced by people who write to me on various matters, I am prepared to, and do, take into consideration views expressed to me by many scores of constituents on the question of the Sunday opening of the fun fair. Most of the communications I have received from constituents have been utterly opposed to the proposal.
Sunday is becoming more and more secularised and I am sure we are not serving the best interests of the people by resorting to a procedure of this kind. The preservation of Sunday is to my mind of infinite importance to the highest interests of the country. To many people, of whom I am one, Sunday is not just another day. I regard Sunday as a very different day. There has been much talk about exercising one's conscience in a matter of this kind. I do so, and I do not subscribe to the extreme 1041 views expressed by the Lord's Day Observance Society. That is one thing. But another fact is that I do give heed to the feeling of humble fellow-Methodists who live in the villages which comprise, to a large extent, the Division which I have the honour to represent in the House. They want the sanctity of the Sabbath preserved. The recognition of Sunday as a day of worship has become part of the British way of life. We want to show visitors from abroad the best of our British life, and I am sure that the opening of the fun fair on Sunday would not be a ceremony which would impress visitors coming to see us.
I wish to refer to views expressed by two rather useful and influential organisations whose views have been sent to me. The Congregational Union of the county in which I live, Norfolk, raise three points which I think are very pertinent. They want me to oppose the Sunday opening first, because the opening of the amusements park on Sunday would cause people to be employed unnecessarily on Sundays and thus prevent them from having the opportunity of attending public worship. The second point is that the effect on foreign visitors would not enhance the prestige of our country abroad. Their third point is that there was no such opening of the amusements ac the 1851 Exhibition or at the Wembley Exhibition in 1925. [Interruption.] This is an expression of opinion I have received, and I am passing it to the Committee.
Very definite views are held outside to which I am prepared to pay heed. In connection with this proposal, although they may be a little off the rails, they express a point of view which appeals to me and which I support. I think the Sunday opening of the fun fair would be contrary to the best traditions of British life and I certainly do not think the Labour Party should go out of its way to provide these facilities.
To sum up, I will give the Committee a few of the views of the members of the Social and Civic Commission of the Norwich Council of Christian Congregations. They consider that the Sunday opening of the fun fair would be wrong because, first, it would divert people from their primary Christian duty of Sunday worship. It would do so because of the employment of thousands of transport 1042 and other workers on what should be a day of rest. It would probably lead to a further demand for a regular opening of similar fun fairs which ordinarily remain closed. They further point out that these amusements are not of any cultural value and do not convey the physical benefit derived from playing Sunday games.
A course of action which is morally undesirable remains morally undesirable even if it is sanctioned by Parliament, and the financial success or failure of the Festival is irrelevant to the other issues involved. If, as they understand, the principal purpose of the Festival is to demonstrate the British way of life to the world, any arrangements which conflict with the traditional British observance of Sunday are contrary to that purpose of the Festival.
It is because I believe wholeheartedly in the views which I have quoted that I shall support this Amendment. I am not actuated in the slightest degree by opposition to or criticism of the Festival of Britain, which I shall do my little best to make a success. I wish the Festival well, but I am certain that if there is associated with the Festival the Sunday opening of the fun fair, it will cause a great deal of offence to a considerable number of people who would ordinarily have wished the Festival well.
§ Earl Winterton
I should like to apologise to the Committee in advance, through you, Sir Charles, for intervening, because by an unwritten rule of the House to which the Chair always has regard, Privy Councillors are usually called. I might succeed in interesting or at least in not boring the Committee if, in a speech of about 10 minutes' duration, I try to sum up some of the conclusions which I have reached from listening to the whole of the debate. I shall greatly shock both supporters and opponents of this particular Amendment by repeating what I said in an interruption—that I have yet to learn that the country as a whole is really interested one way or the other.
This House is always interested in any religious question. Although it would be out of order to make more than a passing reference to the matter, at the time of the Prayer Book controversy 1043 both Tories and Socialists were almost on the point of fisticuffs, shouting and yelling, not at their normal opponents, but at each other about the matter. One might say, and I hope it will not be regarded as a rude remark—and I feel sure that the Home Secretary who, like me, is interested in history will agree—that the fires of Smithfield burn atavistically in Members' minds on an occasion of this kind. It is the age-old fight between Cavaliers and Roundheads.
I proudly claim to be the descendant of the first Attorney-General in the Government of Charles II, who was afterwards Speaker of this House. Therefore, Cavalier blood boils in my veins. To be more serious and controversial—and I am afraid this remark may hurt some—this is largely a fight between Protestants, using that word in its broadest sense, and the Catholic Church.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
Might I ask the noble Lord whether the Attorney-General to whom he referred was the Attorney-General who prosecuted the seven bishops?
§ Earl Winterton
My ancestor prosecuted the regicides, and used language that even I have never used in the House.
I would seriously attempt to give a resume of the arguments given on both sides, as the result of listening to which, I have decided, though not with any very great enthusiasm, to support the Clause as it stands. It is true to say that Sunday is increasingly becoming a day of recreation instead of a day of rest and of public and private worship. All of us who are connected with any church must naturally regret that, whatever views we may have about the Clause. It has been urged, and can truthfully be urged, on behalf of those who support the Amendment and oppose the Clause drafted, that by permitting this opening we are merely adding to that increasing tendency.
I am also influenced in favour of the Amendment because the Advisory Committee of Christian Churches is opposed to the opening of this section of the Festival of Britain. I am also influenced by the argument which has been made with great eloquence by speakers on both sides of the Committee, that many religious people are seriously offended by 1044 the idea of the opening of this section of the Festival.
The pros and cons here are not very strong, because, as has been admirably pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), how far can we go in saying that we must always have regard to the conscience of a minority? If people really had regard for that there would be no Sunday cinemas, and there would be no music in the parks. At the time when music in the parks was started, the proposal was bitterly opposed; there was an angry debate in the House during which the Government were accused of godlessness.
This Committee and the House, of which it is a part, has never said that people should only have regard to the religious scruples of a minority. I have yet to learn that the majority of the Christian churches—using that term in its widest sense—would be opposed to this opening. After all, there are many like myself who are connected with the church who do not hold that view. I am also influenced by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), who are associated with the Festival of Britain and who are in favour of the Amendment.
I have to admit, as a loyal member of the Church of England, that in this, as in so many other matters, the Church of England is divided. There is one prelate in Battersea itself who has said that he is in favour of the amusement park. It would be grossly out of order if I attributed to this Committee even the faintest symptom of what Cecil Rhodes once described as the "unctuous rectitude" of the British people. Is there not something really supremely ridiculous in everybody getting so hot and bothered over this issue when the cinemas are open in London on Sundays, when dirt track racing goes on and when every sort of amusement is permitted?
The Attorney-General, in his most eloquent Second Reading speech, referred to the utterly anomalous position of the law as it exists at present. Perhaps whoever follows me will answer this question: If it is not morally wrong or contrary to 1045 the Christian religion for cinemas to be open on Sundays, why is it morally wrong for the amusement park to be open? Perhaps a subsequent supporter of the Amendment will tell us that he is in favour of closing all cinemas. He would, of course, be perfectly entitled to say that. Is it not the most fantastic cant and humbug to say, as we say in this country, and as the law says, that it is all right to have any form of entertainment on Sundays which is legal on week days provided that one does not have to pay at the gate? Is not that an instance of British hypocrisy?
As the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch), said, we must do everything in accord with the best traditions of Britain. Surely it is not in accord with the best traditions of Britain that the law should be in the ridiculous state in which it is in today. I should like an opponent of this Clause to take up this point. Many of my hon. Friends, as well as many hon. Gentlemen opposite, do not like the Clause because, in their opinion, the Christian religion is in danger. Presumably they intend to take immediate steps to stop boating in Battersea Park on Sundays. One has to pay to get a boat and people are employed to look after the boats. In addition, tennis is played on Sundays and in that case people are employed.
If the Christian religion is in such danger, I say to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee—in all friendliness—that they should take immediate action. Some people may say that, after all, boating and tennis does not employ 500 people. There may be something in that argument. I am sure that all hon. Members speak with the utmost genuineness, but I ask them to think of the enormous number of people employed in public transport. They talk as if nobody went in a bus on Sundays. I am afraid I am being a little controversial, but I very much hope that any hon. Gentleman opposite who will vote for the Amendment will immediately write to the Prime Minister and ask if the Sabbath is not broken by having Sunday speeches. I am sure that my hon. Friends who are in favour of the Amendment will support me in that in every possible way. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman looking at me in that grave way.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I am trying to avoid continually laughing at what the noble Lord is saying.
§ Earl Winterton
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but I should have thought that that particular argument would have appealed to him.
I must say one word in denigration of the body, which has been referred to in previous speeches, which, whatever hon. Gentlemen may say, is very largely behind the opposition to this Clause—the Lord's Day Observance Society. I would describe it—and I do not wish to attack the sincerity of people who support it—as outrageous that it should claim to speak for all Christians, when, in fact, it is quite obvious that what it is in favour of is the Jewish Sabbath.
I could go on if I wished to do so, and quote Scripture. I could quote some very wounding references in the Bible about the sort of attitude which the Lord's Day Observance Society takes up, but I will say nothing more derogatory about it except that no one has done more mischief to the cause of true Christianity in this country than Mr. "Misery" Martin, with the single dishonourable exception of the Dean of Canterbury.
I would end on this not—a more serious note. I make no excuse for partly guying this discussion, because—and I say this in all seriousness—I cannot believe that the cause of Christianity, which is most sincerely held in many parts of the Committee by those of us who are deeply divided in our political views, will be either accelerated or retarded by the opening of this place on Sundays. I suggest to the Committee that to say that Christianity, because of this Clause, is in danger is merely doing damage to the true cause of Christianity. For these reasons, I shall therefore vote for the Clause.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
There must have been few debates in the House of Commons which provided more entertainment and added less to the total sum of knowledge existing in the House than this debate. I spent this morning reading carefully through the debate on the Festival of Britain last Thursday, and, so far as I can see, with the single honourable exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), there 1047 have been no new arguments advanced either in favour of or against the Sunday opening of any part of the Festival.
Indeed, the only thing we have had forced upon us is the almost complete impossibility of being consistent or logical when we start talking about a subject of this kind. I agree with a very large measure of what the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has just said. It is impossible to be consistent, it is impossible to be logical, and it is impossible that any of us can do more than collect the voices of our own consciences, the voices of our arguments, and, indeed, the voices of our own prejudices.
It is the sum total of those three factors working upon us which will lead us to the conclusion we shall express in the Division tonight. It is, perhaps, a little unfair and a sidetracking of this issue for hon. Members to seek to give the impression constantly that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), and those supporting him are acting in the spirit of strict sabbatarianism. My hon. Friend made it perfectly clear that that was not his approach, and I do not think it is the approach of any of us who are supporting him today. Incidentally, in mentioning the strict sabbatarians, we should pay tribute to the considerable distance they have travelled towards a more liberal interpretation of the Sabbath than would have operated a few years ago. In the attitude embraced by the Council of Churches, we see a good deal of progress towards a more tolerant attitude.
The fact remains that, whatever we think of this problem, it is a very real moral issue to many people. I think the noble Lord the Member for Horsham was right when he said that he did not believe half the people of this country were interested one way or another. None of us knows whether a majority or a minority favours Sunday opening. None of us knows how this is going to affect our own political fortunes. There are bound to be people who will pick upon whatever we do and use it in an attempt to discredit us in our constituencies.
But whether there is a majority or a minority in favour does not affect the moral issue. There are people in this 1048 country who object very strongly on moral grounds to the opening of a fun fair on Sundays; yet we are being asked tonight to do something in their name of which they disapprove on moral grounds. Whatever our individual views, I think it is wrong that the House of Commons, through an organisation sponsored by the Government, should be asking the people to support something of which many disapprove on moral grounds. What is more, they are being asked to pay for any deficit which results from a thing of which they disapprove. That seems to me to be bad morality and bad democracy.
I submit that there is a very great difference between allowing existing fun fairs to continue and setting up an entirely new, additional fun fair in the name of the people of this country, many of whom are going to object to its establishment. It is not really fair, nor relevant, for the noble Lord the Member for Horsham to draw a comparison between this particular issue and the issue of cinemas and of bands in the parks.
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Member was not in the House at that time. There was exactly the same atmosphere in the House over the Bill dealing with cinemas. The House was divided, not on party grounds, but on the grounds of the alleged interest or otherwise of religion. It was exactly the same case.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I cannot be answerable for the point of view expressed then. I can only put to the Committee what seems to me to be a reasonable deduction from the state of affairs at the moment. We have cinemas open on Sundays, but they are not being run by His Majesty's Government. They are being run by private enterprise concerns, and their attitude in that respect is no concern of mine, nor indeed of many people in this country.
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich, North)
Is it not the case that Sunday cinemas operate only with the express sanction of the House of Commons and on conditions laid down by the House?
§ Mr. Greenwood
That is perfectly true. On the other hand, there is a great deal of influence and power still reposing in the hands of the local authorities. 1049 That brings me to the point the noble Lord the Member for Horsham made about bands in the parks. That is an example of municipal enterprise. Local councils are nearer to the population and more sympathetic to local demands and prejudices, and they are more likely to take a proper view of what the people in the locality really want.
We have heard a great deal in this debate about tolerance. Unfortunately, most of the hon. Members who have been talking about tolerance have been trying to create the impression that those of us who support this Amendment are anxious to defy the view of the majority of the population. I say to hon. Members that it is easy to be tolerant towards the majority. If hon. Members are right in saying that the majority of people want this fun fair, nothing could be easier than to be tolerant towards the majority of the people. The real test of democracy is whether we are going to be tolerant to the point of view of the minority. That is why I believe that we who support this Amendment are doing so in the full interests of democracy and indeed are protecting the liberty of the subject.
§ Mr. Greenwood
That is quite different. That would be taking positive action to infringe the rights of the majority, whereas I support negative action to preserve the liberties which a minority are enjoying at present.
I want to develop that point by going on to what I believe to be the amenity aspect of the problem. I am fortunate enough to live within 150 yards of Hampstead Heath which, I suppose, is as famous for its fun fair as is the constituency of the hon. Member for Black-pool, North (Mr. Low). I am very well aware of the crowds which go to the fun fair on Hampstead Heath every Saturday before a Bank Holiday. It is a good sight to see them. They go there full of fun and pleasure. They have a thoroughly enjoyable time, and I like the general atmosphere of cheerful vulgarity which pervades Hampstead on the Saturday before a bank holiday. But how 1050 pleased we are, those of us who live in Hampstead, when Sunday comes along and the fun fair closes down, when the crowds disappear, the noises disappear and the smell of trampled grass disappears, and the heath once again begins to look a place of beauty.
I cannot help thinking that there must be people in Battersea who feel exactly as I do upon this issue. I know perfectly well that I would fight to the death to prevent the Government from starting a fun fair on Hampstead Heath which was going to be open seven days a week; and I am not prepared to insist on people in Battersea having to put up with something which I would not be prepared to put up with in the Borough of Hampstead. I do not know whether the majority of people in Battersea want it or not. It may well be that the majority of the people do want the fun fair to be open all the week round. It may be that the constituents of the hon. Member for Blackpool, North, want a fun fair to be open all the week round. Most of the people in Blackpool have a vested interest in the fun fair, and unless they have a vested interest in it I cannot think of any other reason for living in Blackpool.
May I draw this parallel? A year ago, with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), I spent a week in a Butlin's camp. The whole of the time the entire place was a riot of noise, with loud speakers blaring every weekday and every Sunday as well. I imagine that as Mr. Butlin is such a successful proprietor of these establishments, at any rate in this country, he is a pretty good judge of what the people of this country want in the way of recreation. All I know is that I personally should object very much to having to put up with that sort of thing seven days a week. I have no doubt that, although the bulk of the people in Battersea may want it, there is bound to be a small minority of people in Battersea who will object strongly to it, and it is our duty to protect the rights of that small minority.
May I put another point on that? For the Government to come along and create a new fun fair, in an area which may or may not want it, is a very different thing from having the 57 fun fairs which exist today. For the Government to do so would be a course of action, it seems to 1051 me, which might lay itself open to the very gravest abuses and infringements of the rights of the individual.
My concluding point is this. Those of us who support the Amendment are trying to protect the liberty of the people and not trying to deprive people of liberty which they already possess. We are, indeed, preventing the infringement of the existing rights of a sturdy minority of the people of this country.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
I hope the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and I know one another well enough for me to congratulate him on his speech, even when it has not been a maiden speech. In doing so, however, I hope I shall be excused the traditions laid down for maiden speeches by commenting on some of the things he said. This is no place for an hon. Member to try to impose his religious opinions upon another hon. Member or upon anybody else, but there are two things which I should like to say upon the religious aspect.
First, on the Sabbatarian argument, there are two quite different principles. I do not say that they are contradictory to one another but they are quite different. There are those who object to people working on a Sunday and there are those who object to people playing on a Sunday. So far as those who object to people working on a Sunday are concerned, all that I think it is necessary for me to say—or all you are likely to allow me to say on this Amendment, Major Milner—is that that is not the subject which we are discussing today, because the House has already given the Bill a Second Reading and, rightly or wrongly, has decided to allow an extension of work on Sundays.
It is perfectly true that if it could be shown that there are some people who will be called upon to work in this fun fair and who will have to violate their consciences to do so, or who did not have proper leisure, that would be a matter of profound concern to us, but no jot or tittie of evidence has been brought forward to show that any such person exists and we can but deal with the point, therefore, in the immortal words of Betsy Prig in Martin Chuzzlewit, "Sarah Gamp, you cannot legislate about a woman until you prove that she exists."
1052 We are not concerned with the question of work on Sunday. We are concerned with whether or not it is wrong for people to play on Sunday and, on that point, I would strongly reinforce the words which the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) used in his speech. What has not been sufficiently emphasised in this debate is that there is no Christian who does not think that Sunday is a special day, a different day. We are all agreed on that, but there is a profound difference among Christians about the way in which it ought to be different from other days.
Although I speak with the most profound respect for the Puritan tradition, which has been so strong in these islands, I think we must face the fact that the vast majority of Christians throughout Christian history, and the vast majority of Christians in these islands, have not held Sabbatarians' views about Sunday at all. On the contrary, they have thought that Sunday was a day upon which one should worship but, also, that it was peculiarly dedicated to play. The Anglian Church was strongly anti-Sabbatarian until right at the end of the 18th century and the Sabbatarian tradition is a very modern thing in this country.
I do not say one word of criticism about it, but I want simply to present the fact that there are these two great Christian traditions and not merely one in this country. Again, when hon. Members speak of the effect of Sabbatarian conduct upon character, I think we are entitled to ask upon whose character, because that seems to me to make a great deal of difference. I confess that the Puritan tradition is not my tradition, yet I would frankly admit that the effect on the character of a man who voluntarily imposes upon himself the Puritan practice and habit of life and, incidentally, among other things the Puritan habit of Sabbatarian observance, is an effect that is strengthening and edifying.
But the effect on the character of what may call the post-Puritan person, who no longer accepts the whole Puritan code, who reluctantly has imposed upon him exemptions from pleasure of which he does not approve, is a totally different one. So I would say that the religious picture which we have and have had is a very different picture from that what 1053 many hon. Members have painted, and that the only way in which we can reasonably deal with this problem is upon the basis of liberty.
We have heard a good deal about the British way of life, but we have had no definition of what the British way of life may be. A definition of the British way of life which does not include a concept of liberty seems to me to be a very strange sort of definition of the British way of life. There are two religious traditions in England, and England needs both of them very badly. England, fortunately, can use both of them, because she has also a great tradition of tolerance and liberty, which I hope she will ever respect.
I must confess that I have been a little disturbed throughout these debates when again and again an hon. Member who has appealed to the cause of liberty apparently has been subjected to jeers by another hon. Member, as though there were something ridiculous in it, or as though it were almost sharp practice. If we do appeal to the traditions of the past, I should prefer to appeal to words written of a famous statesman whose proudest epitaph was:Not under you did England laugh at liberty.I do not think we should treat such an appeal to liberty as ridiculous in considering the problem, because, paradoxically, it is simply because it is so trivial that it is so very important. If we are not to allow an adult citizen to decide for himself whether he should throw a hoopla ring over a shaving stick on a Sunday afternoon, what are we to allow him to decide? If we are not to allow an adult citizen to decide for himself whether or not to do that, what is the good of hon. Members opposite talking about the loss of liberty in conscription or of hon. Members on this side talking about the loss of liberty under the tyranny of a closed shop?
I have respect for the rights of the minority, but it is a curious and new principle of democracy, as stated by the hon. Member for Rossendale, that we must do what the minority want just because they are a minority, that the minority must always get their way at the expense of the majority, and that because most of the people want to have fun fairs open they should, therefore, be 1054 shut. I hope that the deliberations in this Chamber are not to be carried forward on that principle—if they are the Lord President had better vacate for the moment his place on the Front Bench, although he might be back before very long. However, it does seem to me that this is a free country and that it tends to remain a free country, and that in considering how we should resolve a problem like this we ought at least to have a bearing in favour of liberty. The burden of proof must at least lie on those who would violate it. There must be particular reasons.
There are two reasons, it is said, why we should not find it necessary to open the fun fair on Sundays. There is the argument that it would be a physical nuisance interfering with amenities of people in the neighbourhood. I need not go through that argument again, because I think it has been rather convincingly shown in our debates that the fun fair will not have the effects that, according to the hon. Member for Rossendale, are produced on Hampstead Heath; and he apparently lives very much nearer to the jollifications on Hampstead Heath than any citizen will be living to the jollifications at Battersea.
There is the more important question: whether it is what I may call a moral nuisance, whether it is a great affront to the conscience and moral sentiments of millions of our fellow citizens. A number of hon. Members have made that claim. I do not for one moment dispute their sincerity, or that that is a point of view that we have to consider. Again, I would say, first, that we have to consider that there are not one but two traditions. I think that there is the tradition of freedom, and it is surely also an affront to millions of our citizens if there is an unnecessary interference with freedom, and I do not see why those people, too, should not be considered.
Listening to some of the speeches—I will not say in the Committee—and some of the arguments on this subject one might imagine that such a thing as a Sunday fun fair has never been seen in this country before, and that it is now being introduced by the Bill for the first time. That, of course, is not the situation. What is the situation? I must say that this weighs with me almost more strongly than anything else when con- 1055 sidering how deep is this moral affront. As far as I know, during the whole course of sabbatarian legislation introduced in this House, no one has ever suggested that fun fairs on Sunday as such should be made illegal.
Certainly, during my very short political career I have never heard an hon. Member ask why these fun fairs were allowed to continue, or give notice to initiate an Adjournment debate about it. I have never heard anyone ask a question about it at a political meeting. Until this matter arose I have never heard the suggestion, in one form or another, that it is a monstrous thing that fun fairs should be allowed to go on. Therefore, with all respect, I cannot feel that the conscience of the British public can be so tender on this point, which, until the other day, it has not dreamt of mentioning.
There is the very important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), with his characteristic force and eloquence, that it is not so much fun fairs that are objected to as Government-sponsored fun fairs. My hon. Friend asked, if I took down his words aright: Is it right for the House of Commons especially to authorise fun fairs? I am not quite sure that I would put the point in that way. The Attorney-General showed in his speech the other day that the Government are not authorising something which has previously been thought wrong, but something which previously, by a pure accident, may have happened to be illegal, and that seems to me a very different thing. Anyway, the argument whether the Government ought or ought not to be allowed to sponsor fun fairs can only have any validity if it be first admitted that Sunday fun fairs are evil and undesirable things, and it would be better that people should not go to them.
If hon. Members are prepared to make that first admission there is something in the argument that perhaps private enterprise can do these things, but it is a disgraceful thing that the Government should do it—but that is only if that first admission is made. If, as I hold, it is a perfectly reasonable thing for persons to go to fun fairs, the argument has no validity. Incidentally, I am the 1056 first Member who has spoken in these debates who has confessed that it is extremely likely that he himself will go on the roundabouts. Others have been at great pains to explain that whatever happens they will not go near them. The Lord President and I are apparently the only two who will go along. Supposing we make this first admission, the argument to which I refer has some validity; but if that admission is not made, as I do not make it—that these things on Sunday afternoons are themselves in any way wrong—it cannot become particularly undesirable for the Government to have some connection with them.
It may not matter whether I think it is wrong. What do the British people think? Why have the citizens of Westernsuper-Mare and Colney Beach not been protesting throughout these years at the wickedness permitted in their midst? Why have they not demanded that these fun fairs be closed? Why has it suddenly become wicked when it is done in Battersea when it has not been wicked in Weston-super-Mare and Colney Beach? For the life of me, I cannot see any glimmer of logic on the side of the supporters of the Amendment. I therefore strongly hope that hon. Members will think carefully before they send out to the world the message that this committee thinks liberty ridiculous.
§ Lieut.-Commander Baldock (Harborough)
A great many highly principled speeches have been made in this debate, both from the constitutional and from the moral point of view. I shall keep the Committee for but a few moments in asking them to consider the purely practical point of view concerned with the people of Battersea, a borough in which I spend a considerable amount of my time, and with the views of whose citizens I believe I am reasonably well versed. The point has already been made by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) that to live near one of these fun fairs at the time of its active season is rather an unpleasant experience. It is not just a question, as my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) has said, of the noise made by these mechanically-propelled amusement devices; it is the concourse of people going to and from the centre of amusement which would be the most disturbing factor for the people who have to live in the vicinity.
§ Mr. Carson (Isle of Thanet)
Most of us who represent constituencies which have amusement parks in the vicinity have not had, in the last six years, as I mentioned on the Second Reading, one single complaint about noise, and as Members of Parliament we would have had complaints if people had been seriously inconvenienced.
§ Lieut.-Commander Baldock
I think that the answer may be that those people who choose to live in centres where it is accepted that these amusements are perhaps the principal form of industry in the town, go there with that experience in mind; but those who choose to live in Battersea had no conception, when they took up their residence there, that they were to have this form of possible nuisance imposed upon them. I do not think that it is reasonable to have floods of people streaming past one's doors the whole of Sunday, as well as on the other six days of the week with cars parked all the way down the street, and all the other nuisances that will occur, particularly towards the closing time of the entertainments.
I think that the individuals responsible for making a reasonable contribution to the success of the Festival of Britain on six days a week should be allowed the seventh day on which to rest themselves. This is not the only fun fair in the country. Those people who wish to come to London to see the Festival can choose a week day to do so, and those who want to go to a fun fair on Sundays can choose some other place. I think that it is only reasonable and just that the opinions of the people of Battersea should be considered on this occasion.
§ The Lord President a the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
It is not my intention to speak on one side or the other of the controversy. I think that on the Second Reading I put the pros and cons perfectly fairly. I would not expect the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), to agree with me, because he finds it extremely difficult to be impartial about anything. I took enormous trouble and checked matters with people on both sides of the controversy, and I want only to say a word or two about the provisions which we have made so far as noise is concerned. I do not wish to advise the Committee one way or the other as to how they should 1058 vote on the Amendment which is before us.
The question of possible noise nuisance naturally occurred to us and I should like to assure the Committee that it is still open to them to take this factor into account, for what it is worth, in considering the merits of the case. We have taken every possible step we could to prevent nuisance from that angle. As I said on Second Reading, in the siting of the amusement park, we have kept it, as far as we could, from built-up property and from dwelling houses. The nearest dwelling-house will be about 300 yards away.
I ought to inform the Committee that in the arrangements made, apart from the choice of location, Festival Gardens Limited, possesses, through their agreement with each of the amusement caterers, the most drastic powers of control in a clause which they have inserted in the contracts between them and the amusement caterers. This point is very naturally worrying some hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood), who lives near that very happy open space Hampstead Heath, which is the centre of some activity now and again. The contract provides that the licensees are not to have hurdy-gurdies and that sort of thing. It reads:The licensee shall not carry on the licensee's business in such manner as in the opinion of the Company to cause any annoyance or inconvenience to the public or residents in the neighbourhood or the Company or any other licensee of the Company and shall not use any machine, article or thing in connection with the licensee's business which by reason of wear and tear or other cause emits undue noise and shall not use any musical instruments and amplifiers or other sound-emitting devices unless so specified in Part II of the First Schedule hereto except the music or other sound broadcast or diffused by the Company from loud speakers placed by the Company on the plot or elsewhere in the gardens.9.15 p.m.
The Company have the matter well under control, and amplifiers and mechanical devices for the emission of music cannot be used, and I am advised that the Company will exercise every care in this matter. From my own experience in Scandinavia, I know it is quite possible to have a perfectly happy amusement park without any of these aids, which diminish the enjoyment of 1059 the fair rather than increase it. I thought it was right for the Committee to have before it the clause in the contract between the Company and the licensees who will actually operate the adventitious items in the amusement park.
I merely intervene on that one point, and having intervened and having put the facts in answer to many questions, it is for the Committee in due course to make up their mind on the issue.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
We have had from the Lord President of the Council the factual position very clearly set out, and no doubt the utmost care will be taken, as is implicit in the Bill, that offence should not be given. But what is also troubling the Committee is the general issue, and I feel that the Committee has approached the moment for a decision. I do not know whether that is shared universally, but this question has been very thoroughly discussed, and I do not think that we shall get much further by putting the pros and cons across a table to one another.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has given careful study to this matter from every point of view, and has come down, on the whole, in favour of the Clause—that is to say, in favour of the fun fair and against the Amendment. He spoke as one with Cavalier blood boiling in his veins, and with the tradition of black Protestantism strongly present in his mind. My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and I—I speak for myself, because there is no question of any Member on the Opposition Front Bench giving any lead to the party on this matter, as it is one for individual decision—have decided against the proposal, and we shall support the Amendment.
There are three points upon which we must make up our minds. There is, first, the moral issue, which, in spite of the powerful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) is a matter on which some people feel very keenly. Then there is the further point that the House has pushed these people along a path, which they do not wish to go. It has decided that the Festival is to be opened on Sunday. It is further decided that the Gardens are to be open 1060 on Sundays. I ask whether it is wise to push the matter to a point which completely satisfies one side, but, for that very reason, grates more and more upon the other. If a point of tolerance has to be considered, this is to strike where one side gets the most of what it wants as against one getting all and the other getting nothing.
Secondly, there is the issue of what one might call "good manners." It was put strongly by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). Noblesse oblige. It is being done by the Government. This is not a case of private enterprise of one kind or another. The Festival is being opened by our Sovereign; we are at home to all the world. It is wise that we should avoid giving offence. We all enjoy hearing the radio but we know that it is an offence to turn one's loud-speaker full on and to leave one's window open and to inflict upon other people a programme which one may enjoy. "Good manners" is another thing which the Committee should take seriously into consideration.
The last point concerning what one might call the "day of rest." I believe that that cannot be too strongly stressed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham suggested that it would be a bad thing to have speeches on Sunday. I can only say that as long as one party in the State insists on speaking on Sunday I am sure that the other party need have no fear of it—
§ Earl Winterton
I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. and gallant Friend, but that is not what I said. I did not object to speeches on Sunday. I said that any opponent of this Clause who supported the Amendment was presumably opposed to speeches on Sunday, which is quite a different thing.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I apologise to my right hon. Friend if I have badly interpreted what he said. I am taking the general point as to whether there should or should not be a day of rest, and, in particular, a day of rest for politicians. I cannot say too strongly how deeply I feel that there should be a day of rest for politicians. It comes home to every single one of us that, although there is no actual compulsion to carry out political activities on Sunday, we all know the pressure 1061 which is brought to bear on us, which is very difficult to resist. On the one side we have more or less been able to resist that pressure by insisting upon what one can only call "a taboo." But taboos are of great benefit and of great merit. If we break through this tradition we weaken that taboo, and the further we break it the more likely we are to get not a five-day week but a seven-day week.
That a civilisation without a rhythm, a mechanical civilisation which can run seven days a week, a civilisation without a definite break should arise, is a danger. We in this House take a good deal of trouble about formality and try rigidly to observe what may appear to be undesirable and unnecessary rules. We put Mr. Speaker in a special dress and pay the utmost attention to him, we carry out all sorts of apparently archaic codes and devices, we have a carpet with a red line in it in case hon. Members thrust at each other with swords when not a single hon. Member carries a sword now—although it is still very desirable to keep hon. Members a reasonable distance apart from each other. If we break the traditions of our own people, danger will arise.
We are being asked at any rate to infringe such a tradition tonight. I trust that it will not be infringed. It is at least a respectably old tradition in this country that a day of rest, hedged about with a number of restrictions, should be observed on Sunday. I quite agree that it is not the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the Jewish day; it begins on a Friday night and stops on a Saturday night, and it has sanctions far more severe than any we wish to apply here. But the tradition of a day of rest on which, as far as possible, all work is stopped for everyone, is a tradition which we ought to value and which we ought to infringe with the greatest possible reluctance. I therefore appeal even to those who feel they are right in this matter to be tolerant with others. I say, "You have got now two-thirds of what you desire; let us have a compromise, a concordat; let us agree that the Gardens shall be opened on Sunday, that the Festival shall be open on Sunday, but that this particular last straw, the opening of the amusements park, should not be laid upon the camel's back.
§ The Chairman
I have called the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Cross-man). I am not at the moment prepared to accept the Closure.
§ Mr. Crossman
I shall not detain the Committee long but I should like to reply briefly to the three points made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). His first argument for the Amendment to this Bill was a moral argument for the Day of Rest. The second, which I did not quite understand, was a question of good manners, that the Government should not organise a fun fair. The third was an appeal for a spirit of compromise which would not push the sabbatarians too far.
It is worth noticing that an argument of principle has nothing to do with this Amendment, because the principles were accepted in the passing of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I do not expect the people who voted against the entire Bill to be impressed by my argument, but I do say that anybody who did not vote against the Bill as a whole has not a leg to stand on.
§ Mr. William Elwyn Jones (Conway)
Does not the hon. Member remember that the Lord President of the Council made it abundantly clear that anybody voting for the Second Reading of this Bill was not committed to vote for Sunday opening of the fun fair?
§ Mr. Crossman
Nobody is suggesting that they were. I was discussing points of principle. Two points of principle were put forward. The first was that it was unfair for the Government to ask for permission to do things which others are not allowed to do. But that point of principle was already granted in approving four parts out of five of the Festival. Hon. Members are not entitled to assume that we are setting a precedent giving a special exemption in this Amendment because the rest of the Festival has already been given that exemption.
Equally I would suggest to our Sabbatarian friends that there really is by now a very fine definition of principle. Consider this. It is perfectly in order on the Sabbath to go to the South Bank and send a radio message to the moon and back—that apparently is a cultural entertainment—but it is "God dishonouring" 1063 to go to a fun fair where you may go on a giant whizzer or whatever it is called. Really this idea that there is a point of principle here in dividing four parts of the Festival Exhibition from the fifth is absurd.
May I explain this debate in a different way? I would suggest that what the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove and his supporters are doing is to grant the substance of Sunday opening but reserve one exception, as irritating as possible, to maintain their conscientious opposition to what they have conceded. We are always told what a wonderful British thing it is to compromise—to give the substance of the case which the people obviously want and then to retain something to salve our consciences; but I think it is a very poor way of running a Festival if we happen to retain a ridiculous ban on one part of the exhibition in order to salve the consciences of Members who have already given way to the main principle.
I can appreciate that in the history of the Church the Erastian Anglican often makes this sort of compromise. I am surprised that Nonconformist Churches, who have an horror of Erastianism, make this sort of compromise. Till now it has always been regarded as typical of the Anglican establishment to give way on substance and to retain a flavour of principle after the surrender. This House of Commons should take the Festival seriously from that point of view and say that if we are to have the Festival, we should have the whole Festival open all the week.
It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) to say that although the majority of people are for Sunday opening, we must give way to the minority. Frankly, in the Midlands it simply means that on one of the two days at the weekend no one will go to London for the Festival, because people will want to see the whole thing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Well, wait and see. Anybody who says that in choosing a day to go to London to visit the Festival people will choose the one day when part of it is not open, does not know very much abouts the habits of our Midland people, who want the best value for their money. 1064 People will obviously choose a day when they can see the whole Festival.
§ Mr. Crossman
My hon. Friend asks me to draw a distinction between Coventry and the rest, but as my hon. Friend himself in his speech remarked that the overwhelming majority of his constituents wanted the Festival open on Sundays—
§ Mr. Crossman
My hon. Friend, then, said only "the majority." He agrees that it is the majority at Dudley, and the overwhelming majority at Coventry, who want the Festival open on Sundays. By and large, it is quite clear that with a Festival which has very little space, there will be a terribly overcrowded Saturday and an empty Sunday. That is a great pity for the people's enjoyment of the Festival.
I want to make a remark about lobbying. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made a remark as though the Lord's Day Observance Society were misbehaving itself in exerting pressure. I do not agree with that. There is an obvious right of the democracy to put pressure on its Members of Parliament. There is nothing improper in a society being formed to achieve certain objectives. Very few reforms would have been achieved if there had not been pressure groups lobbying Members of Parliament.
What I have always felt on the opening of the Festival was that the Sabbatarian lobbying got in rather early and made a rather undue impression on certain people. The view of public opinion expressed a few days ago was in great distinction from the trend of today's debate. The talk a few days ago was as though most people were opposed to Sunday opening. Today, a week later, it is said that although probably, the majority want it, we must consider the minority. [Interruption.] I have heard speech after speech which said that it may well be that the majority want it but that we must consider the minority. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the 'Sunday 1065 Pictorial'?"] I am very pleased that one Sunday paper has begun to organise public opinion to show that there is a view on the other side also. I would not say that the result of the ballot which it organised meant nothing. What it showed was a lively public interest.
More people voted on that particular subject than in any newspaper ballot before. No fewer than 60,000 people paid 1½d. to have the right to have their votes counted, which shows that the Festival of Britain has been put over to the people of the country better by the controversy in this House than £1 million worth of advertising could possibly have achieved. The people are now, thank goodness, Festival-conscious. That is something achieved by these hours of debate. The other thing we learned, for what it is worth, from those 60,000 is what we would expect—that London, according to our ballot, was overwhelmingly in favour of opening the fun fair—
§ Mr. Crossman
It was a straw vote which showed that the majority of our readers in Wales were against and the majority in parts of Scotland and parts of the North of England were against, but there was an overwhelming majority in the Midlands and the South in favour of the Sunday opening. I mention this for one reason only—
§ Mr. McAdden
Will the hon. Gentleman explain, when he talks of an overwhelming majority, whether he is suggesting that 60,000 of the readers of the "Sunday Pictorial" is a majority of their readers?
§ Mr. Crossman
I made it perfectly clear we are discussing one "straw in the wind." It is relevant to observe that, when hon. Members frequently mention their own post bags, they are providing no better evidence than the letters received by the "Sunday Pictorial." All I am saying is that we did not find in London any question of the people being against Sunday opening.
There has been a lot of talk about consideration for the people of Battersea. What does Battersea really think? I know that the Battersea Labour Party has voted unanimously for Sunday open- 1066 ing. If the Battersea Conservative Party had been against it, would we not have heard of that?
Let us admit there has been no recorded opposition from Battersea. The really certain fact, as far as we can tell, is that Battersea seems quite willing to have this going on in their part of the world. I think that hon. Members who really talk as though, for the sake of Battersea, we ought not to open this amusements park on Sundays have not produced one shred of evidence that Battersea does not want it. If there had been any evidence of Battersea seriously objecting, we would have known of it. Moreover, the Battersea clergy who, we know, at the beginning discussed with the Festival authorities the arrangements for their services, saw no objection to the fun fair. On the contrary, at that time, before the pressure started, they believed it would bring crowds which would enable them to conduct evangelism in the Festival Gardens.
§ Lieut.-Commander Baldock
The hon. Member has referred to the state of opinion in Battersea. I was not using any straw votes but only appealing to expressions of opinion I have heard myself there—not any test or public vote—and if he used his imagination and thought what the situation would be like on a Sunday, it is not difficult to understand the view they take.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am not prepared to allow my imagination to guide me in this matter, but I feel that if there were serious opposition in Battersea some responsible authority would have registered that opposition.
§ Mr. Braine (Billericay)
The hon. Member said that he was willing to hear of evidence that some responsible authority among Battersea Conservatives is opposed to Sunday opening of the Pleasure Gardens. I have the greatest pleasure in informing him that the prospective Conservative candidate, Captain Partridge, has openly stated he is against it.
§ Mr. Crossman
The hon. Gentleman is rather simple-minded. Out of 60,000 Battersea people, one prospective Conservative candidate was opposed to it.
§ Mr. Braine rose—1067
§ Mr. Crossman
I wish to make one last point. The last free vote we had in this House was on capital punishment. I remember that vote. I belonged to the side that believed passionately in the abolition of capital punishment. We won in the Division Lobby. A lot of people opposite were wise in that respect, and said, "Public opinion does not agree with that step." So after we voted for it, public opinion after all had its way. I am not saying that one ought to capitulate to public opinion but one certainly has to consider it.
I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite who object to controls that I should have thought that such a control as is here sought is one of the kind with which we could dispense. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West, shakes his head. What sort of a control is it to say that one particular part of this Festival should be closed on Sunday because the hon. Gentleman thinks it is all right to pay for a boat on the lake but not to pay for a ride on the giant switchback? That appears to be the kind of attitude expressed in "I know what is good for the poorer people, but we, of course, are free to spend Sunday as we like."
The hon. Gentleman and his Sabbatarian friends may be right. They may in 30 years' time re-educate this country to the horrors of the Victorian Sunday. All I say is that they have not done it yet, and if the people of this country discover, when the Festival opens, that what the Act proposes has been done in the name of the Sabbath, they will be very angry, and with good reason.
§ Mr. H. Hynd rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but The CHAIRMAN withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
I wish to make the confession to the Committee that I first thought seriously on this matter when I read in "The Times" of 15th November the letter from the Council of Churches. I wish to admit, quite frankly, that at that time I accepted what that letter said, gratefully and uncritically, as providing an answer to what might be a rather difficult and embarrassing question. I have now come to the conclusion that that was not a proper discharge of my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament.
1068 One must, of course, give proper weight to an opinion of that kind, but as one who was born and brought up in faith of the Church of England I think that there must be very few occasions when it is right to surrender one's independent judgment to higher authority. This is certainly not such an occasion. I believe that I am entitled only to appeal to one of two things tonight—my own conscience and, if I can ascertain it, the opinion of the majority of my constituents irrespective of any party considerations. This is an occasion when we have to represent our constituents as a whole without any distinction.
There is one matter which I should like to make plain, and which I believe to be right. We ought not to be affected tonight in any way by the fact that this is a Government proposal. There is to be a free vote and we should treat it as such. I most sincerely hope that none of my hon. Friends will think for one moment that they should be affected in their vote by the fact that tonight they will go into the Lobby with political opponents. That would be entirely wrong. After all, I should have an opportunity tonight, which I am most unlikely to have on any other foreseeable occasion, of going into the same Lobby as the Lord President of the Council and I feel that I ought to take advantage of that opportunity.
Above all, we are here as legislators. That is the matter with which we are chiefly concerned. We ought to consider what is the present state of the law and how we are being asked to alter it tonight. This is a subject upon which there is the most extraordinary ignorance both among the general public who are supposed to know the law, and among Members of Parliament who not only are supposed to know the law but are the guardians of the law and its makers. I wonder how many people in the Committee really appreciate that it is not, and never has been, unlawful to provide anybody with a seat on a roundabout on a Sunday or to take money for it. It is not and never has been illegal to do that.
In the Sunday Observance Act, 1780, we have an extraordinary and archaic provision, and it is right that the Committee should bear in mind what it does. It does not prevent people from going on 1069 swings and roundabouts. That has been so decided and it is the established law today. I sincerely hope that the Attorney-General will tell me if I have said anything which could mislead the Committee on the question of law. The Committee ought to be aware of that point. In 1897 a decision was made in a case called Williams v. Wright which is today the ruling law, and will be until it is altered. That decision was that in the case where a ticket was printed with the words "Admission free" the fact that there was a charge made for a reserved seat was not incompatible with the admission being free, and the entertainment in question was not contrary to the Sunday Observance Act.
That is the law today and it is only because the Government have chosen, for reasons which seems to be practical and convenient, to adopt one form of ticket rather than another, that there is any need for anybody to be worried about this matter. I ask the Committee to bear that in mind. Under the law today there can be two men on the same roundabout on a Sunday. The only difference between them is that they have two different types of ticket. One is breaking the law and the other is not. That is the law. [Laughter.] It was expressly approved in 1936, in the case of Kitchener v. the "Evening Standard," when it was said by the judge:The only authority of which I know as to the proper interpretation of this Section is Williams against Wright.Hon. Members laughed just now when I said that that was the law. They should be quite clear. We have no right to blame the lawyers or the judges for this state of affairs. There is only one body of people on whom the blame can be laid and that is on everyone who is a Member of Parliament. We are responsible for the disgraceful state of the law which is resulting in this most appalling humbug.
When this question arose the other day, hon. Members were astonished to hear that it was thought, to start with, that there were two or three fun fairs which were open on Sundays. I saw them hurrying around the Library looking up why this should be. They said, "There must be a special Act of Parliament which authorises this in the case of Blackpool." but there was no special Act, and they found that there 1070 were 57 of these fairs. Why? Because it is legal, and there is nothing unlawful about it at all. Anyone who prints his tickets in the right way can do it. If the Government had formed an association with the title "Friends of the Festival of Britain," to which members paid half-a-crown a year, they would get a badge and every single thing there would have been legal and in order. I say that that is something which has to be put right.
I have had the great fortune to have had an opportunity of tackling one corner of this Augean stable—the common informer. I have dealt with that problem in the only way we can deal with it, which is simply to limit his operations by depriving the common informer of his spoils, but this is only the beginning. I say that the Government have chosen the right way of approaching this matter—that of dealing with it on its merits, in accordance with the spirit but not the letter of the law—and I shall support them. But I would make this condition about it. We must have our pound of flesh. If they have our support in this attitude, they must accept this—that, if they are asking the Committee to deal with realities and to ignore these fictions, they must themselves undertake the overhaul of the Sunday Observance Act. I am sure it would be very much better for the whole of the Christian conscience of the country that we should tackle that disgraceful blot on our law.
On the issue tonight, I have said that there are only two matters—one's own conscience and the views of one's constituents. As regards one's constituents' views, it is very difficult for anyone to know what they are, but I would say that I am quite satisfied that there is no enormous body of people, such as we have had suggested, who will break the windows or throw me into the River Thames if I vote as I intend to do this evening. In regard to one's own conscience, we must remember that conscience is not a one-way street. There are people travelling in the opposite direction, and they are entitled to their views, as we are entitled to ours. I shall this evening support the proposal that the fun fair should be opened.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—1071
§ Mr. G. Thomas rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, "That 'with or' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. Wyatt (seated and covered)
On a point of order, Major Milner. I wish to bring to your attention the fact that a number of hon. Members have voted in the wrong Lobby under a misapprehension as to the Lobby into which they should go.
§ The Chairman
I am afraid that is not a matter in which I can take any action. That is the Members' own responsibility.
§ Mr. Nally (seated and covered)
Further to that point of order, Major Milner. It is perfectly true that Mem-
§ bers carry their own responsibility for their votes, but there are at least three precedents in the former Parliament where such misconception existed, one of which resulted in an hon. Member on the following day explaining to the House the circumstances in which he had voted. There are at least three precedents for the Chair taking account of the fact that many Members, because of some confusion as to the form of voting, had voted under a misapprehension. I should like to ask you whether, after the Division has been taken, it will be in order for me to raise a point of order as to the validity of the vote which has been taken.
§ The Chairman
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but I am afraid that in those circumstances I cannot do anything, nor will it be possible to give any different Ruling after the Division.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 134 Noes, 389.1075
|Division No. 8.]||AYES||[9.54 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adams, Richard||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Orbach, M.|
|Albu, A. H.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Paget, R. T.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||Parker, J.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Paton, J.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Peart, T. F.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hamilton, W. W||Popplewell, E.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Hannan, W.||Porter, G.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Hardman, D. R.||Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Baird, J.||Heald, L. F.||Pursey, Comdr H.|
|Baker, P.||Hollis, M. C.||Rankin, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Holman, P.||Reeves, J.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Benson, G.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir. H.|
|Blenkinsop, A||Jay, D. P. T.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Bottomley, A. G||Jeger, G. (Goole)||Snow, J. W.|
|Bower, N.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Jenkins, R. H.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Brockway, A. Fennar||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Keeling, E. H.||Strauss, Rt, Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Callaghan, James||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Carmichael, James||Lang, Rev. G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Lee, F. (Newton)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Clunie, J.||Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda. W.)|
|Cooks, F. S.||Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Collick, P.||Lindsay, Martin||Tomney, F.|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Low, A. R. W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||MacColl, J. E.||Usborne, Henry|
|Cove, W. G||Macdonald, Sir P (l. of Wight)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Crawley, A||McGovern, J.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R||Mclnnes, J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Mikardo, Ian||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Deer, G.||Mitchison, G. R.||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Moeran, E. W.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Morley, R.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mulley, F. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Nally, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Finch, H. J.||Neal, H.||Mr. Leslie Hale and Mr. Carson.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Foot, M. M.||O'Brien, T.|
|Attken, W. T.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Dunglass, Lord||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmstord)||Duthie W. S.||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Dye, S.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. H. (Scotstouh)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hyde, H. M|
|Ayles, W. H.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Baldock, J. M.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Erroll, F. J.||Janner, B.|
|Bartley, P.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Jeffreys, General Sir. G.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Jennings, R.|
|Bell, R. M.||Ewart, R.||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Fernyhough, E.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Bennett, Sir. P. (Edgbaston)||Fisher, Nigel||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)|
|Bennett, W. G. (Woodside)||Forman, J. C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Beswick, F.||Fort, R.||Kaberry, D.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)||Foster, J. G.||Keenan, W.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Kenyon, C.|
|Black, C. W.||Freeman, J. (Watford)||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Kinley, J.|
|Boardman, H.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gage, C. H.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Booth, A.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Bowen, R.||Gammans, L. D.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Boyle, Sir. Edward||Garner-Evam, E. H. (Denbigh)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Gibson, C. W.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Braine, B.||Gilzean, A.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Glyn, Sir. R.||Llewellyn, D.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gooch, E. G.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Granville, E. (Eye)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Grenfell, D. R.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grey, C. F.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gridley, Sir. A.||Logan, D. G.|
|Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (LIanelly)||Longden, F. (Small Heath)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grimond, J.||Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S.W.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Lucas, Major Sir. J. (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Burden, Squadron Leader F. A.||Gunter, R. J.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||McAdden, S, J.|
|Burton, Miss. E.||Hale, J. (Roohdale)||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne V'll'y)||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hardy, E. A.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||McKibbin, A.|
|Channon, H.||Hargreaves, A.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Harris, R. R. (Heston)||Maclean, F. H. R.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Harrison, J.||McLeavy, F.|
|Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Clyde, J. L.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Collindridge, F.||Hayman, F. H.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir. C.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Heath, E. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Herbison, Miss. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir. R.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Marples, A. E.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Cundiff, F. W.||Hobson, C. R.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Daines, P.||Holmes, Sir. J. Stanley (Harwich)||Maude, J. C. (Exeter)|
|Darling, Sir. W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Hope, Lord J.||Medlicott, Brigadier F.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss. P.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Messer, F.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Houghton, Douglas||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Monslow, W.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hoy, J.||Moody, A. S.|
|Donner, P. W.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir. T.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Mort, D. L.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)||Tilney, John|
|Moyle, A.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Timmons, J.|
|Murray, J. D.||Roper, Sir. H.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Nabarro, G.||Ross, Sir. R. D. (Londonderry)||Touche, G. C.|
|Nicholls, H.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Nicholson, G.||Royle, C.||Turton, R. H.|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Russell, R. S.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.|
|Nutting, Anthony||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Odey, G. W.||Scott, Donald||Viant, S. P.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)||Vosper, D. F.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wade, D. W.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Simmons, C. J.||Walker-Smith, D. C,|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Slater, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Osborne, C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Padley, W. E.||Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Watkinson, H.|
|Pannell, T. C.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Webbe, Sir. H. (London)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Snadden, W. McN.||West, D. G.|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Soames, Capt. C.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Pearson, A.||Soreneen, R. W.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Sparks, J. A.||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Spearman, A. C. M.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Pickthorn, K.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Pitman, I. J||Stevens, G. P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Poole, Cecil||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Wigg, George|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wilkes, L.|
|Prescott, Stanley||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Storey, S.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Profumo, J. D.||Studholme, H. G.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Raikes, H. V.||Summers, G. S.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Sutcliffe, H.||Williams, Sir. H. G (Croydon, E.)|
|Redmayne, M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wills, G.|
|Rees, Mrs. D.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Reid, W. (Camlachie)||Teeling, William||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Woods, Rev. G. S.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||York, C.|
|Richards, R.||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)||Mr. George Thomas and|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caemarvonshire)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Mr. Anthony Greenwood.|
|Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
§ To report Progress; and ask leave to sit again—[Mr. Sparks.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.