§ 6.11 p.m.
§ House again in Committee.
Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 6:
After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
. In the Shops Act 1950, in section 47, at the end there shall be inserted the following:
and provided further that a shop may be open for the serving of customers on not more than 5 Sundays in any one calendar year".").
§ The noble Lord said: This is one of the various amendments which have been put down to provide the Minister with an opportunity—as he is able to do and as we, frankly, admit he is entitled to do—to point out some of the idiosyncrasies of the amendments and to say why they fall outside the intention of the Bill. As one of the right reverend Prelates pointed out earlier in an intervention, there are some amendments which Members of your Lordships' Committee would not naturally have considered as a solution to the problem. However, in the light of finding one amendment after another falling down your Lordships may come to the conclusion that a certain amendment should be supported because it is the best one on offer.
§ As I shall say in respect of most of the amendments to which I speak, I maintain my complete opposition to the general relaxation which is contained in the Bill. Moreover, those with whom I am in touch outside the House—the co-operative movement and the Union of 707 Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers—certainly maintain their hostility to the intention to deregulate all shopping hours. Nevertheless, I am in the business of attempting to produce a better situation than that presented by the Bill.
§ One of the arguments which have been advanced is that when shops are entitled to open, very few of them do so; secondly, if they do open, it is generally at Christmas time. Christmas appears to be the period when most shops are anxious to do business, to respond to customer demand and to meet customers' needs. Businesses are in the business of making profits, which is not a dirty word in your Lordships' House. They are in the business of selling their commodities in order to survive, expand and prosper.
We are suggesting in the amendment that every shop—without restrictions in respect of the goods which it can sell—may open:
on not more than 5 Sundays in any one calendar year".
At the moment they cannot open any Sundays. In future, if the Government have their way, they will be able to open 52 Sundays. In our amendment—and I am not suggesting that it is remotely a halfway house; that would be 26 Sundays—we are trying to take on board the genuine interests which say that there is a time of the year when people genuinely want to shop on a Sunday more than at any other time. We do not accept the argument that there is a demand in general. We do not accept the argument that it is a free country and that shops can open if they like.
§ As I have already said, if some shops close while others are open they are inviting some kind of commercial disaster. As long as they keep closed, as is their right, while others open, as is their right, inevitably what trade is available will go to the shops which are open and there will be a snowball effect. Therefore, this is an opportunity for the Minister to say that there is something in our argument.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ We think that there are special circumstances. Certainly we would have very much liked a dialogue whereby a more sensible package of ameliorations to total deregulation was capable of being found. We have sought a strengthening of the schedules. Later we shall be talking in terms, outside the five Sundays, of freedom to open at various times. I put these proposals forward not because they are the ideal solution but because they may be the best that we can find.
§ There is no doubt that once the Bill becomes an Act and is capable of being implemented there will be all kinds of radical changes not merely in the pattern of shops and customers, but also so far as the workers in the shops are concerned. Sunday will be part of the working week; indeed, the normal working week will include Sunday. Make no mistake about it, we who want to keep Sunday special will find that in negotiations pressure will increasingly be brought to look on Sunday as a day that is entitled—according to wages council and other agreements—to have premium payments, and Sunday will increasingly be sought by most employers to be just another weekday.
§ We have raised the problem in respect of residents and the general environment. We think that if we limit it to five Sundays it will be better than if it were 52 708 Sundays. We are not saying that we think they should have this provision visited on them for five Sundays. However, five is more acceptable than a greater number.
We have received a number of representations, as have all of your Lordships. I should simply like to read into the record a copy of a letter which has come my way. It was sent to a very senior member of the Government by a footwear specialist who operates in Clarkston Toll in Glasgow. This is what he says in a letter to the Government about the impact of Sunday trading on him in Scotland at the present time:
I have been a strong and loyal supporter of the Conservative Party for some years and have given considerable time and finance in supporting the Party …
I think we have seen considerable erosion in family life over recent years and even now parental control over families is in many cases sadly lacking. If Sunday becomes just another day with businesses open, families will not have the normal one day as a complete unit and this will be bad for family life. I understand that you have appealed to families, Church and schools to help give good guidance to youngsters and this I entirely agree with, but your appeal will be sadly weakened if trading is permitted on a free for all basis on all Sundays".
There is much in the same tenor from someone who is entitled to believe that this is the best Government and that, in general, the decisions taken by this Government are the best decisions in the interest of the nation. However, on this particular point I wonder whether the Minister will recognise that there are members of his party, trading in Scotland, who are appalled at the impact on family life.
§ Different debates throw up different questions. In this amendment I am concerned to minimise and reduce the number of Sundays upon which this damage can be done. There may not be five Sundays at Christmas time. Two or three years ago, when I first entered into these discussions, the argument was that by and large in Scotland it had emerged that more shops were open on Sundays in December than on other Sundays. Therefore, we are talking about three Sundays in December. There may be two other Sundays. I admit that five may be the wrong figure; it may be four or six. I am arguing for a limitation on the number of Sundays on which it is possible for all shops to sell anything for any number of hours. This is another way in which we have approached this matter.
§ In the next series of amendments I try to restrict Sunday trading to the small shop and try to define a small shop. However, this approach is very simple and I think that it will be acceptable to local authorities. When they make their arrangements with their employees (for example, their refuse collectors) and when they make transport arrangements with their bus conductors and operators they will have to take Sunday trading into account. When the police look at their schedules as to when a big match or other big event is to take place they will have to say that on those five Sundays, which can be notified, extra police will need to be provided.
§ There is no doubt that any large shopping area already has shop-related crime statistics—statistics of crime which relate to the fact that shops are open. Sadly, it is an inevitable consequence of modern living. Whether it is mugging, petty larceny, snatch or whatever, there are crimes which are related to shops being open. Therefore, the more Sundays shops are 709 open. the more the police will have to realise that they have to provide a service on a Sunday. I hope that the Minister will make some helpful comments. I beg to move.
§ Lord Norrie
During the Second Reading I confessed to my criminal activities and to those of my fellow garden centre operators by selling on Sundays a whole range of goods not listed in Schedule 5 to the Shops Act 1950. I also stated that the only item that garden centres could legally sell was cut flowers on 52 Sundays of the calendar year. Sunday trade for garden centres represents not less than 25 per cent. of the weekly turnover. To be able to sell a garden centre's full range of products on only five Sundays in any one calendar year would be quite ludicrous. Were this to become law today, my next appointment after leaving your Lordships' House would be with the receiver.
Yesterday I was pleased to listen to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester telling us that he had previous experience of running a cathedral shop. I am sure that with his knowledge of retailing even he would agree with this amendment. A reduction in income occasioned by the loss of 47 trading Sundays would make a significant hole in the funds available for the maintenance and running costs of that cathedral. The right reverend Prelate pleaded, I think ably, for the special case of cathedral shops. They serve a public need and I have no doubt that they are of considerable benefit to tourists generally. However, I and other garden centre operators have a special case as well—namely, our customers' needs, our employees' well-being and the survival of our businesses, which this amendment can only destroy. I shall vote against it.
§ Viscount Brentford
I shall be brief. I have every sympathy with the fear of my noble friend Lord Norrie about going to the receiver. I am also very much afraid that if the Bill is passed unamended, a large number of other traders will have to go to the receiver. Therefore, this is a mutual fear problem.
As my noble friend the Minister will remember, the history of this amendment emanates from a question from his colleague in another place when he asked what our views would be on this particular amendment, which meets a particular demand by shops to open during the Christmas period.
I cannot say that I support this amendment as warmly as I do some of the other amendments before the Committee, but we thought that it was worthwile putting this one down in order to have the benefit of the Committee's wisdom and comments. Certainly the colleague of my noble friend the Minister seemed to be pressing the amendment, saying that this would meet a very real demand because many of the public wanted wide open shops during the Christmas period.
This amendment accedes to that pubic demand. It does not restrict shops to opening on December and late-November Sundays only. If shops are located on holiday sites, they would have the option of opening during other periods if they so wished—for example, during August. I leave this amendment with noble Lords for their consideration. Clearly, it will depend on the deletion of the deletion of Part IV, if I have 710 phrased that correctly and so at present it is hanging slightly in mid-air, just as some of the other amendments are. However, I think that this amendment, in spite of involving a fairly minute change in the present law, meets a very substantial measure of public demand in the country.
§ Baroness Ewart-Biggs
I should like to make a few brief remarks about this amendment, which has been clearly presented by the noble Viscount and by my noble friend Lord Graham. They have put it forward as another option, so that all those who are concerned about de-regulation can think about it, look at it. and briefly discuss it. For that reason it is very important.
It is important that from time to time the argument should be widened from that 61 per cent. of the public, to whom the Minister has referred this evening, who are the consumers. Although it takes much longer, it is important that every amendment looks at all the different sections of the community who will be affected by the Bill. That comes to much more than 61 per cent. It includes those people who will work in the shops and residents near the shops who will be affected in different ways if shops remain open on Sundays.
Briefly, I should like to mention the framework within which we find ourselves discussing most amendments. It was very well described by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester when he spoke about a wider and more generous framework of what makes for the good of the family and the common good of the community. This is the framework within which the right reverend Prelate thought that discussions should take place; he did not think that they should be based on the 61 per cent. of people who would do the shopping.
There is also some logic in this amendment. There is no doubt that people wish to shop at certain times of the year more than at others. Christmas is certainly one such time and the sales period is another. One has only to think of the sales in some shops and of the terrible crowds. Of course it would be much better if shops were allowed to stay open for an extra few days to help get them through the sales period.
Therefore, so as to give us an opportunity to see again this whole question in a wider and more generous framework, as the right reverend Prelate said, and to see it from the logical point of view—there are times when people need to shop more than at other times, and times when shops need to stay open more than at other times—I think that this is a serious amendment to consider.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ The Earl of Arran
If this amendment were to become law and that law were to be effectively enforced, the position would be a great deal worse than it is today. I should like to comment on its effect on London, where I am a retailer. Just consider for a moment the vast number of visitors who come to London each year from other parts of the kingdom and overseas. What sort of impression do you imagine that we shall create on the person hoping to spend an enjoyable weekend here?
At present in many London boroughs the Shops Act is widely ignored. As others in your Lordships 711 Committee have already confirmed, all types of goods are available on Sundays, including books from shops of which I am a director. If the law were to be rigidly enforced and, except for Schedule 5 transactions, trading permitted on only five Sundays, that might cater for the Christmas trade—but for precious little else. Our overseas friends could perhaps be forgiven for assuming that we had returned to the days of Calvin. In practice I believe that even if this amendment were adopted, the law would continue to be ignored, and I doubt very much whether the local authorities would alter their attitude to enforcement. I find this amendment to be wholly unacceptable.
§ Lord Monson
The remarks I have to make may not seem immediately relevant to this amendment, but I can assure the Committee that they are, as they are obliquely relevant to Amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 14. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, yesterday evening took offence when he thought that I had described Amendment No. 4, to which he had added his name, as crazy. In fact it was the list of permitted goods, with all its inevitable anomalies and inconsistences, that I described as crazy. The amendment, taken as a whole, I merely thought mistaken.
However, I should like to extend an olive branch to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and to all those who are unhappy about this Bill. Something that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said when we were debating Amendment No. 4 made me think deeply as I drove home yesterday evening. The noble Baroness, in so many words, asked plaintively whether the Government were willing to accept any amendment whatsoever to this Bill—or were they going to be totally inflexible?
I support this Bill, both as an economic libertarian and because I believe it is wrong to use the criminal law to harass people who are providing a service to the public. Yet I freely admit that if by some extraordinary mischance the passage into law of this Bill totally unamended led to 90 per cent., or even 80 per cent., of shops opening from 9 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. every Sunday in the year, I would be just as dismayed as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and the right reverend Prelates and other opponents of the Bill.
Of course I do not accept for a moment that this is likely to happen, but it is just conceivable. There is therefore perhaps something to be said, in the light of the invervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for making some small gesture in the direction of those who fear the effects of changing the law, if only to minimise the acrimony during the passage of this Bill through both Houses and to get the Act off to a good start when it goes on to the statute book.
What I, in good faith, tentatively suggest, because I devised it in my head when trying to get to sleep last night, is that somebody (whether it be the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and his friends or, better still, the Government) tables an amendment at Report stage which has the effect of obliging all shops, irrespective of floor space, number of employees, the type of goods sold or the locality—except shops at airports, railway stations and petrol filling stations—to close between 1 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. every Sunday of the 712 year, exept for those immediately preceding Christmas Day.
Just think of the advantages. The consumer will scarcely suffer. The consumer is accustomed to most small shops closing for lunch on weekdays in any event. Should the consumer crave cigarettes, drinks or crisps, he can always get them from a pub, which would be open until 2 p.m. on a Sunday. One would only be deprived of food and drink for the half hour between 2 and 2.30. The small shopkeeper would not suffer. He would probably welcome such an amendment, because assuming he lives on or near the premises, it would enable him to have a relaxed lunch with his family.
What such an amendment would do would be to make it uneconomic for most large stores to open all day long on Sundays. In practice they would have to decide whether to open from 9 to 1, or alternatively from 2.30 to, say, 6.30. It would guarantee, if a guarantee is needed (I am not sure that it is, but other noble Lords take the opposite view) that Sunday could not possibly become like any other day. There would still be the occasional slight anomaly such as that described by my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale yesterday when he referred to W. H. Smith at Victoria Station which is open all Sunday, and which would give unfair competition to another bookshop in Victoria Street. But surely enforced closure for one-and-a-half hours a week out of a total of perhaps 60 trading hours can be tolerated.
Above all such an amendment would obviate the need for all those amendments dealing with floor area, the number of employees and the location, which are all so difficult to monitor and police, and those amendments dealing with morning or evening opening only on Sunday, about which there has been so much—and there is going to be much more—dispute. This may be the basis for a possible compromise which would reassure those noble Lords, Members of another place, and the public who are worried about the total disappearance of the traditional Sunday, and at the same time give almost total freedom to the trader.
§ Baroness Trumpington
This rather reminds me of the old days when the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and I seemed to be facing each other daily, either on TV or before a radio microphone, arguing on the same subjects as today. In those days the noble Lord was a consultant for USDAW. Plain curiosity prompts me to ask him whether he still is. He is certainly a valiant champion for them to have on their side.
There is no doubt some attraction in allowing shops to open on five Sundays at periods of peak demand, such as just before Christmas. But I must assure the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that this is no small amendment. It is the Government's view that such limited opening would be no solution to the present difficulties in the law. Exemptions would still be required for Sunday trading for the rest of the year. Once shops were seen to be open on a few Sundays there would be pressure for additional Sunday opening, and we could certainly expect blatant flouting of the law.
Think of the extra pressure on local authorities. Are we to expect local authorities to maintain registers of 713 the number of times a shop has opened on a Sunday during the year, and then ask them to double check each shop to make sure that their doors were closed after they had opened five times? Let us credit shopkeepers with being able to manage their own business affairs.
I cannot leave unchallenged Lord Graham's assertion that Sunday opening will inevitably be harmful to family life. Successful family life has all kinds of shapes and forms. It is absurd to suggest that it is necessary to prohibit the shops from opening in order to preserve family life. For many families the opportunity to go to the shops on a Sunday as a family will be welcome and enjoyable, and 'this includes the families of shopworkers. The families of shopworkers need not suffer either.
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, quoted from a letter. I should like to quote the words of one small shopkeeper, a wife and mother, who will welcome the opportunity to open on Sundays. She wrote to me to say:As for Sunday opening dividing the family, this is another sentimental myth. I actually enjoy being on duty on Sundays because there is such a pleasant relaxed atmosphere without the weekly pressures, and it is very much a happy family day—much less divisive than the traditional day when the wife spends hours roasting lunch, the husband goes to the pub and then dozes in front of the sports on television and the bored children squabble".Having listened to my noble friends Lord Norrie and Lord Arran, I am absolutely sure that the Committee will agree that the regulation proposed by this amendment could not possibly work and I must therefore ask the Committee to reject it.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
To say that I am disappointed at the reception that has been given to this amendment is an understatement. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, valiantly produced another variation. I am prepared to consider that. I only hoped that the Minister would say that she will look at it out of the heat of the debate. I know that speeches are written and the Minister has a clutch of them headed with one word at the top "resist": that is before the debate starts. I should like to feel that from time to time one of the ministerial replies not merely acknowledges what has been said (that is said very often) but agrees that something said in the debate will cause the Department to reflect. The problem for the Committee is that we know from what we have heard before and what we are hearing now, that the Government are apparently not prepared to reflect on any aspect of the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Norrie, began by saying that if he could open on only five Sundays in the year and had to close on 47 he would be in the receiver's hands. An hour ago he voted against an amendment that would have allowed him to open for 52 weeks in a year. He may have thought there was something wrong with that amendment, but there could not be anything wrong with the fact that if the local option had been carried (in my estimation, without anticipating what Enfield or any other council would do) there is a good chance that garden centres per se would be the kind of local area that would be given a consent order. The noble Lord, Lord Norrie, for other reasons, quite clearly not commercial, decided that he 714 did not want his council, wherever they were, to have that option. Having turned down 52 weeks, I can understand why he is apprehensive about having only five. But he cannot have it both ways.
One noble Lord pointed out the detrimental impression on overseas visitors who found that they could shop or be entertained in the way this Bill would provide on only five Sundays, suggesting that this would give a bad impression of the country. I wonder what the noble Lord and other tourists feel when they go to France, Denmark, Austria or Germany, where, as I understand it, though I am open to correction, a kind of blanket closure with minimal exceptions exists. What impression do they get as tourists to those countries? We are not saying that what is good enough for Germany is good enough for us, but we should not make too much of what it is we are asking to do.
The Minister said that we were making far too much of the consequences not just on the little woman or the working mother or family life. She pleaded in aid at least one letter, though I am prepared to believe that there is more than one, the writer of which welcomes the possibility or opportunity of working on a Sunday. Will Ministers take it from me that those who represent working mothers in an organised fashion—this is not the totality, because more than two million work in distribution and more than one million of those are women—represent strongly that the damage that will be done to their pattern of life and work pattern is very serious indeed. A married woman with children working in retailing has to rest upon the protection in Clause 3 and the schedule to enable her to say that she does not wish to work on a Sunday, but the Minister has not thought that through. For the married woman with a family the fewer Sundays—
§ Baroness Trumpington
May I remind the noble Lord that the person who is working in a shop now is protected against working on Sundays? If she is working in a shop now she will go on being protected under the Bill. I also remind the noble Lord that he should not just concentrate on married women, because there are an awful lot of lonely single people.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
I should like to bring them both together, in a spirit of conciliation! The noble Baroness said that the married woman, who at the moment works in a shop with six-day trading, need not worry because she will be protected in the future. She will not have to work on a Sunday if she does not want to. That is the biggest red herring that the Government have attempted to perpetrate in this Bill. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester pointed out, the experience now where shops open on a Sunday though they are not entitled to, is that their employees are invited to work. Of course they can say "No", but all sorts of devices are used to compel them to work, either economically or because otherwise they will become disadvantaged when it comes to promotion and in other ways. But those are debates not just for another day but for another year, because we shall return to those subjects next year. Perhaps we may conclude the Bill next year.
We have heard much about the small shop and the large shop. All the evidence that has been produced and will be produced indicates that the likelihood is 715 that, when they are enabled to, more large shops will open on a Sunday than open at present. That is the purpose of the Bill. Another element is the enterprise of retailers—and I say good luck to them. It only requires a small sector of the market to decide to take advantage and to open. The small shops can continue to be closed if they wish, but they will do so at their peril. Other large shops will remain closed at their peril. We know that the large shops do not want to open but they will be forced to open to retain their market share.
I am very disappointed by the response of the Minister. I would normally say that I shall read carefully what she has said, but I had the advantage of doing that before the debate started. I knew well what she would say on this, on the previous and on the next amendments as well. The Minister has an opportunity of surprising us by saying something different from the one word "resist" at the top of the brief. I shall consult the noble Lord, Lord Monson, to see even at this late stage whether there is some mileage in consulting people outside to get a reaction. Amendments have been tabled and advice has been given. I am bound to say that marrying the two opportunities—that is, up to one o'clock and up to six o'clock with a division in the middle—I think would have an impact which would please me. A number of large shops that may be persuaded to open all day would be disinclined to open if they had a truncated day, with all the problems of staff, wages and the shop being closed when others might be open. I shall consider that, but, in the light of the disappointing though not unexpected reply from the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 7:
Insert the following new clause:
. In the Shops Act 1950, after section 47, there shall be inserted the following:
47A. Section 47 shall not apply to a shop of which the public have access to not more than 25 square metres.".").
§ The noble Lord said: I rise to move Amendment No. 7, and in doing so I believe it is appropriate also to deal with Amendments Nos. 9, 13 and 14.
§ Amendment No. 9: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
. In the Shops Act 1950, after section 47, there shall be inserted the following:
47A. Section 47 shall not apply to a shop where not more than three shop workers (as defined in Schedule 1 to the Shops Act 1968) are employed and present at the same time.")".
§ Amendment No. 13: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
. In the Shops Act 1950, after section 47, there shall be inserted the following:
47A. Section 47 shall not apply to a shop at which the average monthly gross receipts do not exceed £20,000.").
§ Amendment No. 14: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
. In the Shops Act 1950, after section 47, there shall be inserted the following:
47A. Section 47 shall not apply to a shop comprising premises with a rateable value not exceeding £1,500.".").
§ These four amendments are variations of the attempt to define "a small shop". Let me say to your Lordships that the Government have paid lip service to their desire to look after the small businessman in a number of ways, none more patent than their anxiety to protect the small shopkeeper. When the Minister was challenged last night he said it would be not impossible but against the principles to discriminate in favour of one size of shop as opposed to another; in other words, he was not in the business of providing some of the protections that we were putting forward. The small shopkeeper will listen very carefully, and he will not be too impressed by the purity of the Minister's argument.
§ They would certainly have welcomed protection; and, indeed, they expected the Government to protect the small shopkeeper in the same way as the Government pretend to protect the small businessman and the small manufacturer. The Government find ways in other fields. We are all part of the parliamentary machine, and we question, we are caustic, we are cynical about the effectiveness of those ways, but when it comes to a question of protecting other aspects of economic life they are able to do it. When it comes to providing some opportunity to protect the small shopkeeper, however, then there are great difficulties.
The National Chamber of Trade tells me that it represents 150,000 businesses and it is desperate to see some protection. I am not talking about political protection but about what are seen to be the consequences of this Bill, unamended, on the small shop. By and large, the members of the National Chamber of Trade are small shopkeepers. I have a letter here which was sent to me—in fact, it was sent to every Member of Parliament in anticipation of the Bill proceeding first in another place. It is written by John Irish, who is the chairman of the Voluntary Groups Association. He says that the association represents the interests of approximately 8,000 independently-owned United Kingdom grocery shops which would be affected by the Bill. They would not be affected beneficially, as the Minister would have us believe, but detrimentally. This is what the letter says:
We are one of 12 organisations who were privileged to give oral as well as written evidence to the Auld Committee and were comforted by the sympathetic hearing given by its members to our arguments on behalf of the smaller retailer. To summarise, whilst we recognise that there are many failings within the existing Shops Act, we did not wish to see a complete de-regulation of trading hours, but instead to argue that the law should regularise what is happening now, namely that smaller businesses open on Sundays to meet particular trading needs within the community, and that this trading could be regularised by permitting stores of a specific size of up to 3,000 square feet to trade within the legislation.
Whilst they seemed prepared to accept this argument, the eventual outcome of the Auld Committee was to represent to Government that there be a complete de-regulation".
Then they go on to make their case. Of course, 3,000 square feet is much larger than the dimensions mentioned in my amendment.
§ I am deeply interested in support from your Lordships' Committee, but I am even more interested in the Minister's reply. Could the Minister indicate that he is prepared to look at some means of providing some protection for the small shopkeeper, whether by size, turnover, the number of employees or rateable value? All these means have difficulties; they all have 717 bureaucracy and they all have the possibility, as the Minister has pointed out, that there will need to be policing and enforcement. I would simply say to the Minister that we are going to have a situation in future where there will be no need to enforce the means of trading on a Sunday because there will be no regulations by which to police it. There may be no regulations to police the opening hours now, but many people outside believe that because councils have failed to employ an adequate number of enforcement officers and because enforcement officers have not been supported or encouraged by their councils, or by the Minister, to do their job, the law has been brought into disrepute.
§ When it comes to enforcement in future, the enforcement officers will still have far more responsibility than in the past. The county authorities and the Association of County Councils sent to many people, including myself and no doubt the Minister also, their reasons why what, on the face of the Bill, were savings were not there at all. They point out that legislation for weights and measures, hygiene, the sale of goods, trade descriptions and safety at work will all need to be policed on a Sunday. Of course, the Minister may tell us that traders really cannot expect to keep up the standard on a Sunday and that they need only keep it up until 6 or 7 o'clock on weekdays and not on Sunday. I will say to the Minister that there will he traders who will very quickly deduce that councils are not policing those laws after 6 or 7 o'clock on a weekday or on a Sunday, and they will say, "Isn't that marvellous?"
§ What about the protection of the consumer, of the worker and of the environment if in fact this is not going to be enforced? Do not let us have the red herring that all these amendments I am putting forward will need to be enforced: of course they will. I have been distressed more than once by ministerial replies which have said that it will cost a lot of money and it will be difficult to enforce. I would say to the Minister that all the amendments in this group are a genuine attempt to provide a measuring rod whereby we shall be able to indicate that the small shopkeeper has received some support from the Government. If the Minister is still not prepared to accept that the small, independent, specialist retailer is not concerned and apprehensive—in fact, very worried indeed—by the impact unless small traders are protected, let me tell him what some of those specialist groups have told me.
§ The Master Bakers' Association have drawn my attention to their concern at the decline of the specialist bakery and the inevitable growth of the large supermarket. This is not an argument about the pattern of retailing but about how we control shopping on a Sunday. But you must take on board the trend. The Master Bakers have told me that they represent 3,500 businesses and 30,000 people, and 7,000 shops are working with them. So far as they are concerned, if Sunday trading as envisaged by the Minister comes in it will not only mean the loss of their trade but will seriously damage the working conditions of the people they employ. I should like the Minister to take that on board, too.
§ I have also been written to by the National Federation of Meat Traders. The Minister, who does 718 his homework, will be aware of the special provisions in the 1950 Shops Act—I think Clauses 60, 61, 62, 63 and 64, with special exemption for Jewish traders—which are specially written in to protect the lot of the butcher. The butcher argues that a grocery shop can advertise to open at 8 o'clock and that the manager can come along at half-past eight and find the shelves full, and that the shop may be designed to close at six and at a quarter past the whole premises may be closed up—but not so the butcher. The butcher has to be there to prepare the meat. What one wants is fresh meat. It is not a question of opening at nine o'clock, because most butchers' shops are expected to open at eight o'clock. In order to do that, they have to be there very much earlier to accept and prepare the meat. Then when the shop closes down the butcher has to make sure that it is all hygienic. The butchers are very concerned indeed.
§ 7 p.m.
§ The most damaging evidence that I have received as to why the Minister should protect the small shopkeeper is in a document called The Euromonitor. Here we see, without any doubt, the changes which have taken place in a range of businesses. In the food retailers' section in 1980, large grocery retailers accounted for 22 per cent. of the total trade and by 1984 the figure had increased to 25½ per cent. In 1980 the small grocery retailers had 7 per cent. of the total trade which has declined to 5½ per cent. That is a 21 per cent. reduction in their total. For small butchers the figure was 3.7 per cent. in 1980 and in 1984 it had gone down to 2.8 per cent., which is a reduction of 24 per cent. in the total. The figure for bread and confectionery has dropped from 1.4 per cent. to 1 per cent. That does not mean that there is less meat, bread, flour and confectionery sold. It is still being bought, but it is being bought in a larger unit rather than in a smaller unit. But that is for debate on another day.
§ This series of amendments is designed to help the independents, most of whom supported this Government in 1979 and again in 1983. I have a lot of letters which I shall not read tonight—there are many other days when they will be read—from supporters of the Government who say that they have been let down by them and that they are appalled at the fact that no protection has been provided for the small shopkeeper.
§ The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London sought yesterday to define a small shopkeeper as someone having a shop with five employees or less. My amendment refers to three employees. We are talking about other means of defining the word "small". I am not primarily concerned with the detail of the alternatives, because I genuinely accept that some of them will be extremely difficult to work. But these amendments provide the Government with an opportunity of responding to the needs of the small shopkeeper. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, has explained that he is taking all four amendments together and I shall respond accordingly. I have to say to him that all these amendments seek to add alternative complications to the ragbag—and that is not too strong a word—that is the Shops Act 1950. All the 719 present restrictions would remain, but one liberalising measure would be allowed.
The first one to which we come is that of shops with a floor area of 25 square metres or less accessible to customers being allowed to remain open. I have to say that I find his amendment to be based on rather strange logic—and the noble Lord has not really spelled out to me, and perhaps not to others of your Lordships' Committee, the essential difference that he is seeking in each of these amendments. I may buy a pot of paint at 10 o'clock on a Sunday in a tiny shop in the high street and that is acceptable. It is condoned and sanctioned by the law. Yet should I buy that same item at the same time, on the same day, in the same high street, but in a shop possibly only slightly larger, then the shopkeeper has committed a criminal offence and can be punished under the criminal law.
The noble Lord nods his head in assent. That, quite clearly, is the effect of the amendment. I cannot seriously believe that we should be expected to agree that only the smallest of shops can generally open on a Sunday. The amendment appears to support the small shopkeeper, but, in fact, I do not think it does. It may help the owner of a kiosk or other tiny shop, but small shops in general would not be covered by this dispensation.
I am sure, however, that many shops would leap at this opportunity to open. A judicious arrangement of shop fittings on Sunday, limiting customer access, giving more service or operating as a catalogue shop would enable a great many shops to open. This would be less convenient to customers and would require even more shop staff to work on Sundays, and I do not think that is the noble Lord's purpose.
Since all the present restrictions on Sunday trading remain, all the consequent difficulties of enforcement will continue to plague local authorities. In addition, they will have to keep a check on the floor areas of the many shops that will open. These will have to be measured on Sundays, because modern shelving and displays allow shops to change their configurations with very great ease. Many shops are likely to have a weekday self-service configuration and a Sunday restricted access configuration.
I turn now to the question of the three workers, which is covered by Amendment No. 9. Its effect will be that the purchase of goods, when three shopworkers are in a shop, will be unobjectionable and, again, the full panoply of the criminal law is to be applied should one additional worker be present. Another effect of this amendment would be that many of the shops at present open on Sundays illegally—which are not open for the amusement and pleasure of their owners; there exists a demand for their opening which is why they are open—will still not be able to open. In this respect I suggest that the amendment is a pretty poor compromise.
We believe it is wrong, in principle, to intervene in the market place to try to tip the balance in favour of one group of retailers against another. Once there is an intervention there will be accusations of unfairness and temptations to legislate in the other direction to redress the balance. It will be a never-ending saga if the balance is to be decided by Parliament; such as, for example, the balance between bat and ball, which has 720 eluded the MCC after 200 years of tinkering with the rules of cricket.
If a shopkeeper employs, say, six people, what will be the easiest way for him to comply with the terms of this amendment and be able to open on Sunday? The answer is to dismiss three workers or not to replace them when they leave, and what good will that do? It will increase unemployment and leave three shopworkers doing the work of six. Since he is not an employee, the shop owner may feel it incumbent upon himself to work all day every Sunday to assist his three shopworkers. This will surely be a burden on small shopkeepers and on shopworkers, rather than a protection to them.
The proposal leaves us with the problems, the anomalies and the inequity of the present law and adds yet another layer of control, another layer of complexity, so admirably described by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, yesterday. Who is to police this and who is to pay for the policing? It is very easy for the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, to dismiss so simply the question of cost, but I have not heard an answer as to exactly how it is to be funded. We have here another burden proposed for local authorities to shoulder and for ratepayers to pay for.
Some shops gain their market share by low prices, which are made possible by employing self-service methods and a few staff. This is particularly true of chain stores, which have the added advantage of bulk buying. On the other hand, many small shops attract customers by their good service and in many cases that needs more staff. Is it right for Parliament to deem, as this amendment does, that self-service retailing is acceptable on a Sunday but that shops providing service should not be allowed to open?
We now turn to the question of gross monthly receipts over £20,000. I do not know how many times I have said it, but retailing is not a suitable area for the criminal law and for regulation; yet amendment after amendment has attempted to push the criminal law in a variety of different guises back into that arena and to limit the opening of shops by law on Sundays. Retailing is not harmful. A majority of people in this country do not regard it as in any way improper, and earlier I gave the percentage of people who actually go out to buy things. It is not a good principle that the law should intervene to protect one group of retailers and disadvantage another group.
Experience elsewhere has shown that deregulation is not a threat to small shopkeepers, especially those who are enterprising enough to grasp its advantages. This amendment attempts to draw a quite extraordinary arbitrary line between the acceptable and the most unacceptable. Small is beautiful, and yet the mover of the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Graham, has not so far decided how small small is, since as I understand it the amendment will not apply equally to all types of shop.
I am no expert in retailing and I do not intend to analyse in depth the implications of the amendment, but I can perhaps point out to the noble Lord that not only is £20,000 an arbitrary limit, but it is also a limit which would affect different classes of shop in radically different ways depending on the nature of their stock. The amendment does not meet public demand. 721 Garden centres and do-it-yourself shops will still not be able to open. Its anomalies will remain and so will its injustices; and local authorities, as I said in relation to the other amendments, will find themselves engaged in vetting annual accounts as well as the enforcement problems they already have to contend with.
Lastly, we turn to the question of rateable value, another yardstick by which the noble Lord wishes to judge a small shop. I have to say to him that it is not more acceptable than the others. I understand that the rateable value of a shop is based on the rental that it is considered that that shop would earn. It does not directly consider the success of the business within those premises, nor the level of profit earned by the shop. This yardstick is just as unacceptable as the others which the noble Lord has proposed. It could have the effect of allowing small shops in back streets to open but not those on prime sites; or even those in predominantly residential areas but not those in city centres.
Perhaps I may add that the figure of £ 1,500 rateable value is a remarkably low one. I do not know where the noble Lord got it from. I understand that one would be hard pressed to find a shop with a rateable value of £1,500 in cities, although one might find a small shop of about 16 ft. frontage by 40 ft. in depth in the rural areas. This is not very large and virtually rules out Sunday trading for shops in cities where the main demand lies, unless of course the shop is of the kiosk type. I suggest to the noble Lord that this is arbitrary and I can see no way in which it can be anything but inefficient.
I make no apologies for stressing the great and established demand for Sunday trading, even if there are those who say that this is not the case; it is, and it is borne out by opinion polls and is shown by people's present shopping habits. These amendments would not allow shops to open without some trick or some juggling of the furniture. They attempt to impose restrictions where they are not wanted and to prevent popular Sunday shopping venues from opening. The amendments will not achieve the aim which the noble Lord seeks. They will he circumvented by rearranging shops to conform with the terms of these amendments—one or other of them—to the annoyance of customers and at the cost of employing more people on Sundays and making enforcement more difficult and expensive.
I assure the noble Lord, Lord Graham, that I respect his persistence in trying to find some kind of compromise, some half-way house between total deregulation and just a little bit of regulation—a little bit, but with the full weight of the criminal law behind it. I respect his view and I respect the views of his supporters. But I have to say once more that the issue has been discussed again and again. Over the years it has been ducked. It has been examined by the Auld Committee and now at last we have come to the point of Government-led legislation following on the many admirable attempts by Private Members of your Lordships' House and elsewhere to remove the anomalies and the bureacracy which the noble Lord, Lord Graham, himself acknowledges exists. I really 722 cannot see why he wants to maintain it. These amendments would be ineffective. They would bring the law into yet more disrepute when it is found that the law can be avoided by a conjuring trick with the furniture. I hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.
§ Baroness Ewart-Biggs
The only trouble with the reply of the noble Lord the Minister is that he has not really responded to the amendment in the same spirit and light in which the amendment was presented. The point of the amendment, like many others, has been at the same time to restrict Sunday trading and to provide for the needs of the consumer. My noble friend has suggested many different ways of doing that. He is quite honest in admitting that they are all different options and therefore they must be responded to on the basis that they are different ways of changing the present Bill. The noble Lord the Minister has replied time and again that it is not for the Government to intervene in the market place. The noble Lord has always gone back to the area from which he argues.
There are a few arguments in favour of providing protection for small shops and at the same time providing for the consumer which perhaps have not been mentioned. Many large shops would be glad to see an amendment to allow only small shops to open. I understand that many large shops told the Auld Committee that they did not wish to open on Sunday. They included large concerns such as Boots, Marks and Spencer's, Tesco and the John Lewis Partnership. They made it quite clear that if the Bill goes through, they may be forced to open in order to maintain their market share. Why make market conditions such that large shops have to open when they do not want to?
It has been proved through statistics that small shops can satisfy Sunday demand. Survey evidence has shown that people spend very little on a Sunday. I am told that it is £2 or less that people spend to top up their food requirements on a Sunday. It has been repeated many times, though it cannot be repeated often enough, that there is a great social value in the small shop. Many people in the community prefer to shop at a small shop. They may be old and infirm or they may not like the hustle and bustle of large supermarkets.
There is the question of how you define "small". My noble friend has put forward various suggestions about how to define "small" and has offered these ideas to the Committee. My noble friend has done his best with his amendment to produce another way both of responding to Sunday demand as he sees it and protecting us from complete deregulation as the Bill proposes at present.
§ Lord Sandford
I am sure that the noble Lord has done his best, but none of the schemes which he has put before us will work. My noble friend on the Front Bench illustrated how perverse they are in their effects in some ways, but I think perhaps he let the noble Lord, Lord Graham, off a little lightly over his rateable value proposal.
I have with me the average local authority rateable values of all the small shops where the private dwellings are assessed with the business dwellings, and 723 of all the large shops. The effect of the noble Lord's amendment would be that in London, for example, the average large shop in Enfield and in Waltham Forest could trade on Sunday but the average large shop in Redbridge would be prevented from doing so. In the other metropolitan areas, the average large shop in Birmingham would be prevented from trading whereas the average small shop in Coventry would be allowed to trade. In Walsall, the average large shop could trade but in Wolverhampton the average large shop could not. In Exeter, the average large shop would be prevented from trading whereas in Torquay, next door, the average large shop could trade. It is perversities of that kind that make such a solution as that proposed by the noble Lord unacceptable.
§ Lord Stallard
Following on the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I can see the weight of the argument about rateable values. But I can also appreciate the principle behind all the amendments.
§ Lord Stallard
The detail can be changed if we accept the principle that small shops need protection. If we do not accept that principle then I cannot help it. Most of us accept that there is a need to protect small shops.
I will give the Committee one example. It seems to be the case that many of the large shops will be unwilling participants in the free-for-all deregulation of Sunday trading. We have heard details of the big names in the trading world who are unwilling to participate. Big stores are tending to become one-stops. That means that one can go into one large store and buy everything. One can see that system operating in many of the big stores that are open now.
Where does that leave the small shop? One does not go to a one-stop store and then leave it to search for a small shop at which to do more shopping. The small shop will lose out in the normal run of events. One could say that the small shopkeeper only profits on Sundays when there is no competition from the huge supermarkets and hypermarkets. Therefore, Sunday opening must have an effect on the small shop. And just to say, "That's too bad. That's the way it goes. That's life", and all the rest of it, is not good enough.
There is a case, as my noble friend has just said, for some element of protection. It may well be that the amendments are not word perfect. I bow continually to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, for his expertise on drafting. However, the important point is the principle behind the amendments; the principle of providing some form of protection.
The noble Lord the Minister returned to the question of demand. I am still not convinced about that demand. Yesterday I quoted from a document on this subject. It is accepted that there is consumer demand for Sunday trading, but we accept also that an analysis of the polls that have taken place shows that it is a qualified demand. It is a demand to fulfil certain needs. It is not a demand for an overall free-for-all. It is a demand qualified by certain needs.
We have tried to convince the Government that even within the orbit of meeting a demand for certain 724 needs, there could be a compromise written into the Bill. Still the Minister repeats his argument about demand on the basis that if he repeats it often enough, everybody will believe that the whole world is demanding a free-for-all every Sunday for all shops. Worse than that, the Minister gives the impression that the Government are not too worried about enforcement. In fact, the Government give the impression that they see Sunday as being a kind of real free-for-all, with no controls, policing or enforcement. The Minister keeps using the emotive phrase "criminal law". He keeps making mention of the whole weight of criminal law with all the emotion that he can muster. He is really saying that there should be no controls and no enforcement on a Sunday; that people should do what they will on a Sunday and that we should not use the full weight of the criminal law against them. One cannot fool people with that approach.
The Minister did not reply to my noble friend's question concerning the cost of all this. He gives the impression that it will cost nothing because it will not be possible to enforce anything. However, the Association of County Councils thinks differently. It states that:The total additional cost to the trading standards service alone will be nearly £3½ million for the provision of little more than a skeleton service on Sundays. Add to this the cost of additional policing, of traffic and of shop-related crime,"—and there would be a tremendous increase in crime—the extra cost to private industry of discontinuing the present practice of carrying out road blocks on Sunday and other aspects".They know and I know, and all of us who are arguing this point know about the cost, but the Government do not acknowledge it. They seem to believe that they can introduce Sunday trading with no thought of enforcing, policing or costs. The Financial Memorandum is so ridiculous as to be comical. It is not I who say that but the Association of County Councils. I should have thought that the Minister would have paid a little regard to the fact that there will be extra costs.
In conclusion, I must say that in listening to the arguments put forward by my noble friend and others on the need for protection for small shopkeepers, I am amazed that it is people like me who have to stand up and defend small shopkeepers. I do not mind doing so because I am all in favour of the small shopkeeper. However, I thought the party opposite always boasted of being the party of the small shopkeeper. Yet they are taking steps annually, monthly, and in this case almost weekly, that will destroy the small shopkeeper. The one-stop store open seven days a week for all the hours that God sends will destroy the small shopkeeper. There is no doubt of that in the mind of anyone who understands the retail business. For a party that boasts that it protects small shopkeepers, I find its attitude very hollow.
I had hoped that the Minister would be able to accept some small principle, if it was only the need to write into the Bill whatever words he chooses—and his noble friend Lord Sandford could help him choose some words—to give the small shopkeeper a little more protection than he will otherwise have.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, perhaps I may say a few words before the noble Lord, Lord Graham, 725 responds. The noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, chided me for not responding in spirit to the noble Lord's amendment. That was rather the tone also of the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, just now when he asked me to accept some small principle. We are here talking about two very different matters. As to the first, the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, clearly fall on their technical merits, let alone any question of principle. I endeavoured to explain that point when I referred to the amendments. Even the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, suggested that the amendments of his noble friend were not word perfect.
Let me say this. It has been alleged on several occasions over the past day or so that the Government are not prepared to listen to suggestions for amending the law short of total deregulation. The Government are listening, but the Government have not heard any alternative principle or concept that they have not already considered and rejected. The Auld Committee received evidence from 7,000 or so sources, many of which suggested various forms of partial deregulation. The Auld Committee listened, it considered, and it concluded that none was viable. After publication of the Auld Report, the Government received correspondence and representations, again with a number of suggestions for partial deregulation. The Government considered them carefully but again concluded that none was viable.
The Government have been listening very carefully for well over a year. That is why they are able to see so clearly the fundamental problems associated with partial deregulation. It is only fair for me to point that out to all those who, no doubt with the best will in the world, are trying to find a chink somewhere in this armour. I have dealt with those amendments on their merits. We have now returned to the issue of principle. That is all I can say except that I cannot advise the Committee to accept any of these amendments.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
I am very conscious of the words of the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip earlier today that it was hoped that at about 7.30 this evening the proceedings on this Bill would be adjourned. However, I am sure the Committee will understand that I need to make a short response to the debate which has now gone on for 40 minutes.
The Minister kept telling us about demand and he quoted surveys. The figure of 61 per cent. has been mentioned in this and previous debates. The Minister should listen to the figures from a later survey. He spoke about 61 per cent. but that was a decline from a previous survey by the same organisation which gave a figure of 69 per cent. I have here an extract from a Gallup Poll conducted in Oxford Street last month and which was quoted on television. These are the questions and results of that survey. One question was:Do you want all shops to be allowed to open on a Sunday?That is, broadly, the gravamen of the debate. In reply, 54 per cent. agreed. But when people were asked whether they want this if it causes prices to rise, which we assert it will, only 21 per cent. said they did.
The next question asked whether they wanted Sunday opening if it leads to small shops closing down, 726 which we assert will happen, and only 24 per cent. agreed. I ask the Minister to take those figures on board. I assume that Oxford Street is one of those areas where this matter will be tested in a year or two's time. Another question was to ask which of certain changes would be of the greatest improvement to Oxford Street. Out of 100 per cent., Sunday opening managed to get only 13 per cent. Pedestrianisation—that is, to close most of the street to traffic—received 56 per cent. When people were asked about the options on how to improve the area—that is, what is to the benefit of the shopper in Oxford Street—those were the answers received.
I need to remind the Minister once again what this series of amendments is all about. I can accept almost without reservation that the detail of the four amendments is not acceptable because they are not well drawn or the principles of the amendments are not easy to apply. But the Minister is still saying to small and independent shopkeepers—in the main, those who supported his Government at the last election—that the Government can do nothing and intend to do nothing to stop the decline in the number of small, independent shops and shopkeepers and, in fact, will accelerate it. The Auld Report said that it anticipates that when complete deregulation takes place it will accelerate the decline in the small shopkeeper.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I really cannot allow the noble Lord to say either that there are examples elsewhere of small shops declining or that in some curious way the Government are letting down their supporters. On the first point, the fact is that the Swedish example, which we quoted more than once, is a very good example of exactly how small shopkeepers have been helped, despite the worst fears expressed. On the other matter, the fact remains that the Government are only suggesting that shopkeepers and shoppers should have the choice. I should have thought that is a far better way of dealing with the question of opinion polls which the noble Lord so readily produces.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
Let me read these words to the noble Lord:Until May, I was Conservative leader on Ipswich borough council. I am a firm supporter of Mrs. Thatcher and her policies and I am the wife of a shop owner. I was saddened when our Government placed a three-line whip on this issue, and Mrs. Thatcher disappointed me as it is well known that she was, at one time, against lifting all restrictions on Sunday trading.I hold my views for varying reasons. As a wife and mother I know that my husband and his staff work very hard already with our shop open from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on weekdays.He is in the meat trade, and there is a great deal of preparation".The letter continues on those lines. Do not let the Government misunderstand the resentment which is felt in many quarters, which was not started by noble Lords on this side, as a result of what they consider is a betrayal by their Government of their interests as small shopkeepers and small traders.
As your Lordships know, I live in Enfield and the Secretary of the Chamber of Trade, Warwick Mowbray, who at one time was a parliamentary candidate, wrote to me:I myself took part in a discussion with Michael Portillo" —the Member for Enfield, Southgate— 727where I spoke against the proposed legislation while he tried to defend it. There were 160 people in the hall—I think he had one on his side, maybe two … I cannot think why the Government is doing this—there is no great demand".He adds that certainly the small shopkeepers do not want it. I understand the Minister is giving careful consideration to this. People see all around them their fellow small shopkeepers disappearing as a result of the enlargement of already large shops. They are asking what the Government are going to do to protect them.
The City of Sheffield and District Chamber of Trade—
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
I will come on and just a little bit more slowly in view of the invitation.
§ The Earl of Onslow
Would it not be much more helpful—incidentally, I own a garden centre so I declare an interest—and more to the point if, instead of referring to what might happen in Sheffield, the noble Lord referred to what actually happened in Glasgow?
§ The Earl of Onslow
As opposed to what might happen in Enfield or Sheffield, would it not be better to say what actually happened in Glasgow, as it is much more to the point of this discussion?
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
I assume that the noble Earl was here yesterday when my noble friends Lord Galpern and Lord Ross of Marnock told us bluntly not only what is happening now but the trend and the consequences of what is happening in Glasgow.
I believe we have served our purpose well in having a canter over this particular course. Once more I am disappointed at the response of the Minister. The National Federation of Meat Traders and the National Association of Master Bakers have certainly told me that, as trades, they have tried to introduce individual shopkeepers but they are appalled at the inability of the Government to recognise the consequences of this measure as far as it affects their livelihood. I am very disappointed, but there are other stages of the Bill and I intend then to return to these matters. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Viscount Davidson
I believe that we have now reached a suitable moment for taking a break in the Committee's proceedings for the time being. In moving that the House do now resume, I suggest that the House will not resolve itself into a Committee on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill before 8.30 p.m.
§ I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.