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Bank Holidays (Amendment)

Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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3.48 p.m.

I beg to move.

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to alter the statutory dates for bank holidays.
The purpose of the Bill is to transfer one day of public holiday from Easter to the beginning of May. It is most emphatically not a Bill to provide for a fixed Easter. That is a matter for the Churches, in which politicians should not interfere. However, Easter Monday has no religious significance, and whether it comes early, as it did this year, or late, as it will next year, it comes too early for any likelihood of warm sunny weather, or any possibility of long evenings.

My Bill, therefore, would transfer the holiday to the new public holiday in early May which has proved such a disastrous flop this year. Quite apart from the filthy weather, all the attractions for which the Government are responsible were closed to the public, thereby providing a foretaste of the Socialist paradise to come.

I do not want to celebrate the Feast of Saint Karl Marx, the man whose teachings have been responsible for fastening tyranny on half the world. Like it or not, however, we have an extra day's holiday in early May. It is at present too short to be of much use, except to provide an opportunity to reflect on the horrors of Communism so well set out in the leader in The Times today. One extra day transferred from Easter would make it worth while for people to take a holiday away from home.

A long weekend in early May would be of real benefit to the hotel and tourist industry, the importance of which in our economy is growing rapidly, which is making a major contribution to our balance of payments and which is vital to employment in my constituency and others because it is very labour-intensive.

In my constituency the hotel and tourist industry is the only one that offers any hope whatever of reducing the horrifying level of unemployment. At present those operating tourist facilities and hotels have to open at Easter and then shut down again until the summer season begins in about mid-May. If we had a worthwhile public holiday at the beginning of May that was long enough to tempt people away from home, the season might get off to an earlier start.

Lengthening the season in this way would spread the incidence of fixed costs. This, in turn, would lower prices and reduce congestion, which would be in the interests both of those who work in the tourist industry and of those who make use of its facilities.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir Anthony Meyer, Mr. Robert Adley, Mr. Stephen Ross, Mr. Alan Lee Williams, and Mr. Dafydd Wigley.