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Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade to speed up their examination of the problems of spreading Bank Holidays and annual holidays more evenly throughout the year; and whether he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

This is a very complicated problem in which many outside bodies are closely concerned. It would not be right to obtain a quick solution by disregarding the interests of these bodies.

But is the Home Secretary aware that in the East Midlands, particularly, and also in a great part of the North, quite unnecessary frustration is caused by the concentration of annual holidays round August Bank Holiday? Since I have raised this matter Session after Session by Question and on the Adjournment debate, is it not possible for the Government to give some indication of what the problems are that prevent any such solution?

The matter was dealt with in some detail by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in answer to a debate on the Adjournment on 30th March in which he gave figures of the millions of employees involved and details of their terms of employment. This is a very complicated problem which will take time to solve.

But will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that this problem is linked most intimately with the question of school holidays? While we are urging industrialists to show a greater flexibility of mind, would he not agree that we might apply similar tests to education authorities which tend to have all children away from school about the same time?

I beg to give notice that once again I shall attempt to raise this matter on the Adjournment.