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SUNDAY TRADING I a WHY PART OF THE I ACT ? f OPEN LETTER TO WATCH COMMITTEE. PROBLEM OF OUT-DOOR TRADING I Gentlemen,—You recently received a dc- putation from tne Swansea Branch of the National League for the Suppression of Sun- day Labour and Trading in Wales. As Sec- retary of an Association that took some part in the previous fight over th." question in Swansea, and of which many of the Sunda% Traders are members, I have been asked to place their case before you. With ail that wad said in regard to the need of one day's rest in seven, we are in thorough agreement. I do not wish to dis- cuss the rightness or wrongness of Sunday Trading per se or the need of legislation in regard to the matter. We should not tor a moment attempt to justify ail sorts of Trad- ing on Sunday. a wlah to see Sunday pre- served as the day upon winch most people have their weekly holiday. The view we take is that if Sunday is to be a real holiday for the vast majority, some amount of la- bour and trading is necessary to ensure the happiness of others, but any legislat-i-on which, provides one day's rest for all em- ployee' and provides reasonable exemptions from any compulsory Sunday Closing i_lav- will receive our support. But as we read the position, the immediate question before the Watch Committee is, not whetiier Sunday Trading is right or wrong, but whether there exists any Statutory Powers for deal- ing with it, and whether it is advisable to exercise such powers as may be possessed. This is the question I wish to deal with. For the sake of argument I will adm:t th?! Sunday trading is bad. I wish to show in as dispassionate and as courteous a. manner as possible that it is inadvisable to proceed m the matter except by agitating for up-to- date legislation. I need not remind you, Gentlemen, that the only Statute which you could enforce against these traders is 29, Charles II., Cap. 7. This is a somewhat long Statute and very little of jt has been repealed. It is urged that although this is an Old Statute it has never been repealed; that it is still on the Statute Book and should be enforced. Allow me to call your attention to its pro- visions, because, contrary to popular ideas, it deals with other matters than Sunday Trading and with other persons than the Shopkeeper. The Act is for the better ob- servation of the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday, and it commences by saying that all the Laws enacted and enforced concern- ing the observation of the Lord's Day and repairing to church, be put into execution. So much by the way of preamble. We are advised that the first Section dealing with offences for which there is a penalty pro- vided, reads as follows:- And that all and every Person and Persons whatsoever, shall on every Lord's Day apply themselves to the observation of the same, by exercising themselves thereon in the duties of Piety and True Religion, publickly and privately and that no Tradesman, Artificer, Workman, Labourer, or other person whatsoever shall do or exercise any worldly Labour, Business or work of their ordinary callings upon the Lord's Day, or any part thereof (Works of Necessity and Charity only ex- cepted) and. that every person being of the age of fourteen years or upwards, of- fending in the premises, shall fot every such offence forfeit the sum of Five Shil- lings. Let me point out that the offence here is "FOLLOWING ONE'S ORDINARY I CALLI-NO on Sunday. It -a no offence to trade or do things on Sunday, if such do not constitute the ordinary worldly occupation of the per- son. On the previous occasion referred to, only one class of offenders, the tradesmen, were proceeded against, and I notice a great deal was said by the recent deputation about the tradesman. But is the tradesman the only person in Swansea who is breaking thfcs Section? Does the Deputation now wish for the whole of this Section to be enforced? if not, why not? It is still on the Statute Book; or vill they be satisfied if, in the name of Religion and Justice, the trader alone is fined week by week. The nurit Section provides — No Person or Persons whatsoever shall publickly cry or shew forth, or expose to Sale, any Wares, Merchandizes, Fruit, Herbs or Chattels whatsoever, upon the Lord's Day, or any part thereof, upon the Pain that, every person so offendmg shall forfeit the same Goods so cried or shewed forth, or exposed to sale." Now this Section provides a good illus- tration of the absurdity of attempting to en- force this Act to-day. If by enforcing the Act you could Stop Sunday Trading, your Committee might feel justified in enforcing it, but you cannot. and this Section illus- trates very clearly the futility of the whole proceedings. Let us see what happened in Swansea before. As a result of the prosecu- tions the smaller shops closed, but trading did not cease, for 9 or 10 of the bigger tra- ders found that in consequence of capturing a good deal of the trade previously done in the smaller shops they were able to pay the fine and snap their fingers at the Law. and make a good thing in consequence of the VALUABLE MONOPOLY BESTOWED I UPON THEM by the Watch Committee, and the faci. is not without significance that none of these Traders worked with us i<n our efforts to stop the prosecutions, or contributed a penny to OUT funds when the prosecutions ceased. After closing many of the shops it was found that newspapers were being sold to an increasing extent in the streets. It was then thought only faar t,hat a« the shopkeepers had been stopped the street sellers should be iftopped also, and so pollers of newspap-p-m in the streets were proceeded against under the seoond Section. But those who sug- gested this course of action had not paid sufficient attention to the Aot. After the summonses had been issued it was pointed out boy us that it was impossible to stop the sa le of papers in the streets for the fol- lowing reasons:—The penalty under this Section is not a sum of money but forfeiture of the goods; further, that THE GOODS COULD NOT BE SEIZED -it the time they were exposed for sale, and oould not be seized without a warrant, and that a warrant could not be applied for "until after" a conviction; so that it was perfectly obvious, if the goods oould not be seized until some days after they were of- fered for sale, the whole thing became a farce. If the police seized them without a warrant action could be taken against them for illegal trespass to goods. I may say that we have the highest legal authority tn' saying this, and I am quite prepared to sub- mit to Mr. Griffith Jones, who I understand is a barrister, and formed one of the de- putation, or to any member of your com mittee, a copy of the case we drew uo for Counsel's Opinion and the Opinion signed by Horace Avory, Charles Matthews. ,Ld Geoffrey Lawrence. Further, in the d,se of street sellers you have no power even to m- flict costs, so that the position is tbie--by prosecuting the shopkeeper you drive his trade into the hands of the street seller. I respectfully urge that this is a point worthy I of serious consideration. Would you rather have papers sold in the streets than quietly in the shops? As you cannot stop the sale in the streets surely it is unfair to prose- cute the shopkeeper for selling quietly in his shop? The next Section of the Act provides: — That no Drover, Waggoner, Butcher, Higler, their or any of their servants, shall travel or come into his of their Inn or Lodging upon the Lord's Day or any Part thereof, upon the pain that each and every such offender shall forfeit Twenty Shillings for every such offence.' And a fu.rthwr provisian:- "That no Person or Persons shall use, employ or travel upon the Lord's Day with a,ny Baa-t, Whorry, Lighter oa- Barge, ex- cept it be upou extraordinary occasion, to be allowed by some Justice of the Peace of the County, or Head Officer or some Justice of the Peace of the City, Bcaougih, or town Corporate. where the fact shall be com- mitted upon the pain that every Person so offending shall forfeit and lose the sum of Five Shillings for every such Offonoe." I have no doubt that most of the shops open on Sunday come under the fallowing ruews :Confectioners, tobacconists, hair- dressers, newsagents, refreshment shops, few chip potato and fried fish shops, and ■snail general shops. Now I submit that it is worth considering how far you can close these by enforcing the Act. You oould not close the hairdresser hc- cause it has been held Palmer v. Snow, King's Benoh, 1900, that these are not ivradere or artificer's within the meaning oi ;,i1-e Act. You could not clo&e refreshment shop keepers seeing that their license al- lows them to supply refreshments for con- sumption on the promises. In reference to eonfectioiners I should like to point out two things. In the first place the larger one's would remain open in sipite of prosecutions, and in the second place it could BIt any rate be partially evaded by taking out refresh- ment licenses which many alxendy possess, and which give them a legal right to remain opetn the whole of Sunday (S?e Parker v. !farris, King's Bench, 1909) to sell mineral waters, ices, hct drinks, cakes, in fact any- thing in the nature of refreshments to be consumed on the premises. I understand that this class of shop, which is FREQUENTLY KEPT BY A FOREIGNER, is the place particularly complained of by the Deputation, and they apparently think you have only to enforce the Act of Charles II., and these shops will straight avvav be closed. Such would not be the case, and has not been the case, whenever or wherever the Act has been enforced. As I have pointed out, if they like to confine the-iir sales to things of the nature of refreshments to be consumed on the premises. they can have their shops open and fill them with lads and lasses, and the Act is powerless to stop them. If it is true that gambling and other objectionable practices take place on these premises, surely the same thing hap- pens on week-days as well as on Sunday, and there are other ways of dealing with such things. The Act of Charles 11'. will not prevent them. Many of them would no doubt continue to sell on Sunday, ?.s during the week, anything and everything to be -eaten on or off the premises, and of course would then come under the Act of Charles II., ao far as they sold for consump- i tion off the premises; but this would not prevent them opening in Swansea any more than it does in other plaoas. These will, if others do not, open as usual and pa y the fine. Fish potato shops cam open with im- punitty as it has be,m held in Bnllen v. Ward, King's Bench, 1905. that these shops come within the meajiing of oook shops and are exempted under the Act. I haive already shown that you cannot stop the sale of papers on Sunday. I ask then, is it advisable to enforce an Act which will close down a few small shops, and leave open a few of the biggest of- fenders, who will really gain considerably by your action# I further submit that it is unfair to en- force one part of one Section of an Act and ignore the others. If the Act is to be en- forced, let it be enforced in its entirety and let not onlv shopkeepers but others who are, breaking the Act be punished as well. If the object is to secure a better j observation of Sunday, why stop at the Act of Oharles II., and why stop at the shopkeeper? There are a great num- ber of Acts relating to Sunday Observance wholly or partially still on the Statute Book, eleven relating to manufacture and commerce, five relating to travelling, five relating to amusements nnd pastimes. Why not proceed under the Act of diaries r., which forbids meetings, assemblies or concourses of peopla out of their own parishes on the Lord's Day for any sports or pastimes whatsoever? Why not prosecute these well-to-do golf players? Why not prosecute the chauffeur who drives the rich man's car? Surely these things are as much a desecration of the Sabbath as selling a pennyworth of sweets or a bottle of ginger-beer In conclusion, may I point out that it is because of the difficulties in connection with enforcing this Act, the insufficiency of the fines, and so on, that the Act is generally disregarded throughout the country. It is true that occasionally the Act is put into operation here and there, but the Local Authorities have found that doing so, they have stirred up' a "hornet's nest. Look at the two recent illustrations, Southport and York. Here the Traders' naturauyl turned and took out summonses against the Corporation and other persons for also breaking one Section or another of this Old Act. In both cases the prosecutions against the shopkeepers were abandoned. It is proved everywhere that such prosecu- tions are unpopular. The matter has recently been before places like Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Halifax, Oldham, etc., etc., and after considering the matter they decided not to enforce the Act. At Wolver- hampton, before cominer to their decision, the Chief Constable was instructed to address the following questions to the Chief Constables of every Police Force in England (1) Are the provisions of the Sunday Observance Act, 1677, enforced in your jurisdiction? (2) If so, what, do you con- sider the effect c-f the same to be? (3) What method of procedure is followed in bringing the case before the Court? i (4) Have you any local Acts or Bye-laws dealing with Sunday Trading: if so, can you furnish me with a copy of the same? In 98 towns th- Act is not in force; in six of thess towns there are Bye-laws relating to the sale of newspapers and hawking on Sundays; and in fifteen towns the Act is in force more or less. The fifteen towns are :—Shrewsbury ("But not strictly"), Gravesend, Maidstone ("Occasionally"). Bedford, Dudley ("Not satisfactory and looked on as a great hardship"), Hull ("Makes no appreciable difference in number of cases"), King's Lynn, Burnley ("Occasionally in special cases looked upon as a cheap advertise- ment"), Middlesborough ("Sometimes, very difficult to express opinion"), Aocrington ("Yes, so far as shops where there is a nuisance caused by people congregating and causing annoyance to residents and passengers"), B-verley ("Yes, one man, an Italian, is prosecuted weekly"), Liverpool ("Not been enforced here, but on 6th inst. Watch Committee resolved to enforce the Act"), Hereford, Congleton, Great Grimsby. Liverpool afterwards reversed their decision and decided not to prosecute. I have no doubt that in Swansea, as else- where, a number ot people are strongly opposed to Ruridev trading, yet I venture to suggest that the majority of these are opposed to the putting intr- on era tion of this old Statute against offenders. I remain, gentlemen. Yourt respectful'v, WILLIAM LEAVI. General Secretary. I The Shopkeepers' and Small Traders' Protection Association. Chief Office, 160, Fleet-street, London. Central South Wales Office, 102, Broadway, Cardiff. 1 y


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