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Racing (Industrial Production Loss)

Volume 531: debated on Thursday 29 July 1954

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35 and 36.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what estimate was made of the possible loss of industrial production through the running of the Two Thousand Guineas race on a Wednesday, the Epsom Derby on a Wednesday, the Royal Hunt Cup on a Wednesday and the forthcoming Goodwood Cup on a Thursday; and whether the Stewards of the Jockey Club were advised to run these races on a Saturday;

(2) what estimate was made of the possible loss of industrial production if the Doncaster St. Leger was run on a Wednesday; and why Her Majesty's Government advised the Jockey Club to change the traditional day from Wednesday to Saturday.

As regards the St. Leger, the Government have received strong representations about the serious effect which there would be on industrial production, particularly coal-mining, if this race were to be run once again on a Wednesday. Those representations were considered very carefully before my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power asked the Jockey Club to keep the St. Leger on a Saturday. No numerical estimates have been made of the loss of industrial production caused by running the St. Leger or continuing to run the other races, to which the hon. Member refers, in midweek.

We have received no representations about these other races, and we should not regard it as our business, save on the basis of some very substantial evidence, to request the Jockey Club to make alterations in the dates of these other races.

Are we to take it that Her Majesty's Government feel that those who attend the Two Thousand Guineas race in Cambridge, the Derby in Surrey, the Royal Hunt Cup in Berkshire, and the Goodwood Cup in Sussex are all non-workers and, therefore, production is of no account, and that only those in industrial Yorkshire are to be penalised because they cannot have their race meetings on a Wednesday?

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why the Government show no concern at all when these four southern classic races are held on any day that the Jockey Club feel disposed to hold them, and only interest themselves in the North—in Doncaster—as to whether the St. Leger shall be run on a Wednesday or a Saturday?

Very strong representations were made about the date of the St. Leger, and it was in the light of these representations that the request was made to the Jockey Club. No such representations have been made in the case of the other races. I am not anxious to extend the activities of Her Majesty's Government to suggesting when various races should be held.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 47 of the largest pits in Yorkshire are already taking their holidays during Doncaster race week and that it would have no material effect whatever on output if the St. Leger was run on the traditional day, Wednesday?

Will the President consult the Whips on both sides of the House about the desirability of running the Derby on a Saturday, and also consider the private views of the Prime Minister on the subject?

Can my right hon. Friend say from whom the representations have been received?

From the National Production Advisory Council for Industry, the Sheffield and Rotherham Productivity Committees, which include both sides of industry, and the National Coal Board.

Is this not gross discrimination in favour of the South against the North?