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Mr. Forth: My hon. Friend seems none the worse for the experience.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): You should see his mother.

Mr. Forth: We shall leave my hon. Friend's mother out of it for the time being.

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The money resolution has more to it than might at first have met the eye, and it illustrates the value of these debates. I pay tribute to the Minister because, all too often, his colleagues believe that these matters should just be quietly nodded through or do not require explanation. However, the Minister--typically of him--has taken the trouble to come to the House and set out his view briefly.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): My right hon. Friend has paid a generous tribute to the Minister. Perhaps I missed it, but has anyone explained to us how much the measure will cost?

Mr. Forth: Perish the thought; my hon. Friend asks too much. We cannot expect Ministers to put figures on these matters. Money resolutions are essentially blank cheques; the Government say that they need some money, but they do not know how much. They ask us to sign a cheque, hoping that the grateful taxpayer is looking the other way, not noticing what is going on. Our job is to try to winkle out of Ministers how much is involved. We usually fail, which is why I hope that we shall vote against the motion tonight, if only on the basis that we do not believe in blank cheques.

11.13 pm

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate. I served on the Committee that examined the Sunday Trading Act 1994. I remember at the time that the Shopping Hours Reform Council tried to argue with me that there ought to be some compromise on the issue. However, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) that it should be up to people to decide for themselves when they can or cannot work.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are discussing the money resolution and that debate should be limited to that.

Mr. Fabricant: Of course, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I was just outlining the position. During our debates on the 1994 Act, I was in discussion with the John Lewis Partnership, which is owned by the 45,000 partners who work for the company. There was considerable debate as to whether stores should open on Sundays. The John Lewis Partnership's stores remained closed on Sundays, including its Waitrose supermarkets, whereas other stores, such as Tesco--

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman once again--his contribution would be far more appropriate to a Second Reading debate than to a debate on a money resolution.

Mr. Fabricant: I agree, of course, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I would argue that some of these points have direct relevance to the motion.

I am surprised that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst did not mention clause 1(2)(b), which refers to

Those shops would be exempt, but how are inspectors to know--this is directly relevant to the cost of enforcing the Bill--whether the shopkeeper is of the Jewish religion? We discussed that at some length in Committee on the 1994 Act.

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We are approaching the time of Pesach, the Jewish Passover. Should people be exempt--

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. This is the third occasion on which I have had to remind the hon. Gentleman to confine his remarks to the money resolution.

Mr. Fabricant: Inspectors have to be paid for by the state. How are they to ascertain whether a shop is owned by people of the Jewish religion? It is no longer an easy point. The Jewish religion is not a race.

Dr. Julian Lewis: Let me assist my hon. Friend. He and I are both members of the Jewish religion. Does he not think that the mezuzah placed on the doorway of premises occupied by Jewish people might just give the inspectors a clue?

Mr. Fabricant: I disagree. I do not want to be ruled out of order for a fourth time, but let me say that I do not have a mezuzah on any of my properties.

Dr. Lewis: Shame.

Mr. Fabricant: I am none the less of the Jewish religion. I believe that a cost will--

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. These matters could well be debated in Committee rather than under this resolution.

Mr. Fabricant: I am sure that they could be debated in Committee, but this matter relates directly to the money resolution. There is no question but that, if there is difficulty in ascertaining the ownership and the religion of the owners of a shop that may be open on Christmas day, let alone Pesach, Chanukah or any other Jewish holiday, a cost will arise. However, I will move on from that point, as I have explored it to the limit of your patience, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I take my right hon. Friend's point about schedule 3, on powers of entry: it does seem otiose. There is a very large John Lewis store in Bluewater. The employees there voted two or three years ago to open on a Sunday, which they are permitted to do under the 1994 Act. Had they voted differently, the store would have remained closed on a Sunday, which reinforces my right hon. Friend's point that it is up to the employees in many organisations. Indeed, it is up to the employees in all organisations not to be victimised if they--

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. We are fully aware of the provisions of other pieces of legislation. Once again, will the hon. Gentleman please confine his remarks to the resolution?

Mr. Fabricant: My point is that there are costs arising from inspectors' powers of entry. My right hon. Friend said that inspectors have to be paid for, and explored the matter at some length.

Mr. Bercow: Is not the essence of our objection to the money resolution that we have a preference for specificity, whereas the Government insist, apparently, on

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generality? The modern and rather vulgar term is "voting for a pig in a poke". Does my hon. Friend, who is of an historical turn of mind, agree that the words "riddle", "mystery" and "enigma" readily spring to mind?

Mr. Fabricant: Indeed. My hon. Friend knows, because we have served together on several Committees, that I object to the blank cheque syndrome. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst said, the motion is a blank cheque. Yet again, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is asking the House to consider such matters--although we are delighted to see my constituency neighbour, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, who introduced the resolution. However, if we were to ask the Under-Secretary what the costs of the resolution would be, I doubt that he could answer because, as my right hon. Friend has already pointed out, many such money motions are not costed.

The main point of the Bill has direct relevance to the resolution. Paragraph 3 of the schedule refers to the inspectors' powers of entry. It is clear that no analysis has been made of the number of inspectors that may be required; of the wages that they might have to be paid; or of whether the inspectors might be on double, triple or even quadruple time. As my right hon. Friend pointed out--and as I was about to say before my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) intervened--if a store such as John Lewis at Bluewater has chosen to be open, I cannot see why there should be a power of entry. If a large department store is open, people can go in and see that for themselves, so why does the state have to pay--more to the point why does the taxpayer have to pay--for inspectors under the motion? I have to ask that question.

I confess that I support the Bill itself; it is promoted by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), for whom I have the greatest respect--as she knows. However, I must ask why the Bill needs a money resolution. The matter is disturbing, because when the Under-Secretary moved the resolution, he gave no reason for its introduction.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): I fear that my hon. Friend may be missing the point. Even though the shop in question would clearly be open to the public as regards its trading area, surely the powers of entry under the Bill would apply to private areas--perhaps the offices or staff areas. It may be necessary to obtain access to those areas to ascertain whether the proprietors are of the Jewish faith.

Mr. Fabricant: I have to disagree with my hon. Friend--this is a rare occasion. He will note that paragraph 3 of the schedule relates to schedule 2 of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which refers specifically to whether the selling floor is open. That makes my point: if the selling floor is open, that is clear for everyone to see. We do not need inspectors; nor do we need to give them powers. That begs the question: why is motion No. 7 on the Order Paper? Why is a money resolution needed for the Bill?

Mr. Brady: I readily admit my error and my hon. Friend's superior knowledge of the Bill, and I am grateful to him for making that point. He is asking whether it is necessary to have inspectors at all and, therefore, whether

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the resolution is necessary. Has it occurred to him that given that the stores involved doubtless advertise the fact that they will be open on the day in question, that fact could be ascertained from the advertisements, without the need to retain inspectors on Christmas day?

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