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Mr. Greg Knight: The amendment started out as a question: why were the words

included in Lords amendment No. 1? It seemed to me that the provision would remain perfectly lucid without those words, so my main point was to ask why they were deemed necessary.

Mr. Jones: They were included in order to relate specifically to the activity of trading and trading activities in a store. Bringing into the scope of the Bill the broader issues around other activities such as building works would present difficulties.

Mr. Sutcliffe: To shed a little further light on the point, the issue is about the scope of the Bill and the wording is a direct lift from the Sunday Trading Act 1994. Other issues are relevant—for example, someone might be living above a shop and want to move on Christmas day. My hon. Friend's position would stop that person from doing that, but does he really want to stop that sort of activity? The technical drafting of the Bill relates, as I said, to the Sunday Trading Act 1994.

Mr. Jones: I am grateful to the Minister for that point. The broader issues—noise from delivery vehicles, for example—present a whole feast of material for future private Members' Bills. I have learned from what I have heard this morning that some Conservative Members have some exciting hobbies—hanging around loading bays, watching lorries delivering their goods and listening to the noise.

Mr. Randall: In case some people think that my retail days were a bit of a hobby, I want to point out that what I did was part of my job.

Mr. Jones: I am relieved to hear that, because the idea of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) hanging around a Tesco loading bay on Christmas day—
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Mr. Bercow: With his anorak on.

Mr. Jones: Yes, the hon. Gentleman with his anorak on is quite a thought.

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire, because I now know that there is a website called Lorry Watch. I know that as soon as hon. Members leave the Chamber today, they will rush to go online to discover that website. Equally, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister website includes material on noise nuisance and other issues. Overall, the issues have been well argued, but in order to preserve the Bill and maintain its relationship to the 1994 Act, I am inclined to reject the amendments.

Ms Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab): On that point, does my hon. Friend believe that it would be a great tragedy if the amendments to the Lords amendment were accepted and that, as a consequence, the Bill were wrecked on account of running out of time. We are trying to pass a Bill designed to stop shops trading on Christmas day. The Bill has much support and people in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers have worked particularly hard to support it.

Mr. Jones: I totally agree with my hon. Friend, but it is not just USDAW. As has been said on other occasions, the churches, for example, support the Bill and I know from the letters I have received that many members of the public support it. It would also be very sad from the point of view of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst. He is not in his place today. Wherever he is in the world or in the UK, he may be watching our debate and it would be tragic for him to see the Bill fail after all the hard work that he has put into it over recent months.

Mr. Dismore: Does my hon. Friend know whether the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) has gone to the Christmas islands?

Mr. Jones: I have got to know the right hon. Gentleman rather well over the last few months and I have to say that I quite like him, though it may be a sin to say so for some of my hon. Friends. He has not yet, however, got to sending me postcards from wherever he is in the world. When I start receiving postcards from him routinely, I shall seriously start questioning my judgment on certain issues.

It is clear in the Bill that it is down to the local authority to appoint inspectors to enforce the provision. The costs were raised when we debated the money order. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I do not envisage armies of inspectors lurking around the loading bays of Tesco on Christmas day. There may be some volunteers, along with the hon. Member for Uxbridge. What I envisage is inspectors dealing with any complaints raised by the public, as occurs already with noise and other problems.

On amendment (c) and the issue of the level of fines, I agree with the point so eloquently made by the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) when he said that large supermarkets do not want to upset their local communities, which they rely on for their custom. The idea that they would flagrantly flout the law does not
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convince because that convention acts as a deterrent in itself. I would not want to make the fines as onerous as £1,000 to £2,000. Frankly, I do not think that it would make much difference. The deterrent is already there and, at the local level, stores do not want to upset local people. The big multiple retail outlets spend millions of pounds a year not just advertising their products, but on building up their image in local communities.

Mr. Bercow: I fear that the hon. Gentleman's generosity of spirit is getting the better of him. Is he not open to the possibility that a large store might calculate that the number of people whom it would offend by breaking the law would be outweighed by the number of people to whom it would be able to make successful sales and that the logic of the hon. Gentleman's belief that the company would not transgress, even if the fine were modest, is therefore flawed?

Mr. Jones: I do not accept that and I shall explain why. Sunday trading is different in the sense that what the Bill proposes is a popular outcome that many people really want. I am well aware from the large retail stores in my own constituency of the amount of effort that they put into winning the trust of communities. All credit to some of them who put money directly into local community groups and building partnerships. I am not convinced that the stores want to jeopardise that for the sake of being able to load up on a Christmas morning. I am sure that the hon. Member for Uxbridge could tell us about the ways in which the supply chain could be organised without upsetting local residents. If the local Tesco were to flout the law in my constituency, I am sure that the local newspapers would know about it and the stores would receive much bad publicity.

I said earlier that the Bill has widespread support. I give credit to hon. Members on both sides of the House who have genuinely tried to improve it. The Lords have succeeded in doing so with this amendment. I have made it clear that, in seeking to get the Bill passed, I was prepared to accept reasonable amendments. This is a reasonable amendment. I also give tremendous credit to my hon. Friend the Minister, who has worked hard—sometimes against internal opposition—to ensure that this amendment could be considered. I hope that we can ensure that the Bill becomes law today. To that end, I ask the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire to withdraw his amendments. They were well and passionately argued, but if they were accepted the Bill would fall at this very late stage. That would be sad, given the hard work that has been done by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House to get to where we are today.

Mr. Gale: As the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones), who introduced the Bill—which commands widespread support—has just indicated, we are between a rock and a hard place. I take the mood of the House this morning to suggest that tremendous sympathy is felt for the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight), with good reason. Their Lordships went part of the way down the road and many, both in and outside the House, would like to go further or, indeed, much further. I am one of them.
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This is not the place for a Second Reading debate and I shall not rehearse all the arguments. I am sure you will be relieved to hear that, Madam Deputy Speaker. The opposition of some of us even to Sunday trading, never mind Christmas day trading, goes back a long way. We bear the scars—honourably, I hope—to prove it. Mine is one of the names on the apocryphal list in the black handbag after some 60 Conservative Back Benchers voted against the then Government to defeat the first Sunday trading Bill. We did so because we believed passionately that it was a bad thing. We believed that the Lord's day should be available for observance and held as a day of rest and recreation for those of other faiths who did not choose, need or feel obliged to go to church.

It was a glaring omission that Christmas day was inadvertently omitted from the precautions in the legislation that finally went through the House. The hon. Member for North Durham has done a tremendous job—I pay tribute to him—in seeking to redress that imbalance. The amendments are about peace and quiet. I do not share the view that because some large stores, which are exempted by the legislation, need to take deliveries on Christmas day in order to open on Boxing day that they should be allowed to do so. Indeed, I do not share the view that they should be allowed to open on Boxing day.

I am told that there are some sad people who have nothing better to do on the day after Christmas than go shopping. I recall a remark by the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), a longstanding friend of mine, who was standing almost exactly where I am standing today. He said—hon. Members should bear in mind the social sentiments of that time—that there were coffee table books called "The Joy of . . . ", such as the "The Joy of Music" and "The Joy of Sex", but that he had the feeling that if someone published "The Joy of Shopping" it might not be a bestseller. I subscribe to that view myself.

Some people wish to go down that road, but it is still not necessary to deliver on Christmas day. The people who drive the lorries have as much right to that day of rest as anybody else. We all accept that some key workers and some people who work in television and newspapers, as well as those who keep the trains running and the roads clear in the case of snow, have to work on Christmas day. Most particularly and honourably, that includes those who work in the medical professions. But why should a lorry driver have to drive at all on Christmas day, whatever time he arrives, just to ensure that a store can open on Boxing day? I do not accept that that is necessary and I would dearly like to vote against Lords amendment No. 1. Failing that opportunity, I would like to be able to support the amendments tabled by—

11.15 am

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