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Clause 3—(Citation, Extent, Interpretation And Duration)

Volume 463: debated on Monday 28 March 1949

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Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 20, leave out subsection (2) and insert:

"(2) In this Act the expression 'shop' includes any shop within the meaning of the Shops Acts, 1912 to 1936, or any of those Acts."

11.18 p.m.

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

When the Bill was being discussed in the Scottish Grand Committee a question arose as to the definition of "shop." As a result of the reply it became clear that the definition in the Bill gave rise to some ambiguity, especially when it was discovered that at least one of the Acts did not amend the Act of 1912, and might be held to be excluded from the Bill as it stood There are also in the Acts certain definitions of shops, and as it was intended to cover the points defined in various Acts this Amendment is moved to make the matter abundantly clear.

I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having been so good as to make this Amendment in another place. Indeed the further we go in this Parliament the more deeply are we on this side of the House impressed at the frequency with which right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side are making Amendments in another place and are thus realising the value of the other place. Although the right hon. Gentleman described this, I think, as a drafting Amendment to a small Bill, I think it might perhaps more rightly have been described as a clarifying Amendment. Although it is a small Bill, and this is an Amendment to the citation Clause, yet I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is likely to be far-reaching in effect. That is why we have been favoured, this evening, with three of the four right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who are specially charged with looking after the affairs of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman thought it advisable to have the Lord Advocate present to look after legal points, and the Secretary of State for Scotland is available to come to the Box and if necessary resort to the Whips and so make sure about any point which might come out in the Debate. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman has seen the wisdom of taking the advice tendered to him in Committee, because the mere fact of citing the 1912 Act, or any subsequent enactment, did not go far enough.

The mere fact that the right hon. Gentleman tonight called in aid, if I may so describe it, or hinted at the scope of, the 1934 Shops Acts and various previous enactments, showed that we were right during the Committee stage in calling attention to the lack of character in the Bill when it left the House on Third Reading. Those who will be called upon to administer the Bill in Scotland, the sheriff substitute and sheriff principal, who will have a largely increased burden of responsibility to bear owing to the passage of this quite small Bill, will be glad that the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt on the advice of the Lord Advocate, has lightened their load of responsibility even by this very slight Amendment. We on this side of the House, indeed the House as a whole, will welcome the Amendment. [Interruption.] I do not know why the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) should think that there is any reason for hilarity, because he always especially claims to speak for the small shopkeepers, and I think he may be included in that category himself. I hope that the hon. Member, having indulged in a jibe, will be good enough to get up now and express his vote of thanks to his chief.

Question put, and agreed to.