THE SHOP HOURS BILL.
The question of early closing has been so fully discussed m Ashburton recently, as wall on the public meeting held to initiate the half-holiday movement as m letters published m our columns, that no doubt considerable interest will be taken m the progress of Mr Joyce's Shop Hours Bill. The Bill referred to has, our readers are aware, ' passed the second reading m the House of Representatives, and is set down for the stage of committal for this day fortnight. Barring the contingency of the, ordinary course of business being interrupted by a debate^ on a Want of Confidence motion, which is not impossible, though we scarcely think probable, the Bill will get iuto Committee on the date mentioned. Whether it will ever emerge therefrom or not depends upon the shape which it may assume after the discussion of the proposed amendments. As at present framed the Bill proposes to enact that three months after its coming into operation all shops, save those excepted m the schedule, shall be closed from 7 p.m. till 6 a.m., except on Saturdays, and the day preceding any public holiday, when they may be kept open till 10 p.m. The excepted shops or premises are hotels, refreshment houses, newspaper offices and chemists shops. Employees may not remain m any closed shop or premises more than one hour after the hour appointed for closing, except for the purpose of stocktaking. There are minor provisions relating to special excSptions, and clauses providing for the imposition and recovery of penalties for the breach of the Act \ but the fore going embraces its cardinal features. It is true that an Act of this nature is m force m Victoria, but we hardly think it likely that our own legislature will agree to Mr Joyce's measure m its present compulsory form, and we understand that it will be proposed m Committee to strike out section 2 as printed (really the kernel ofihe Bill), and to substitute the following, namely "After the receipt of a requisition signed by two-thirds or more of the total number of, persons within any borough who keep shops or premises other than such as are enumerated m the schedule hereto, or after the receipt of a requisition signed by two-thirds or more of the keepers of shops or premises devoted to any particular trade or trades, the Council of suph borough shall by special order publicly notified appoint the hours during which all shops and premises devoted to such particular trade or trades, as the case may be, may remain open ; provided that the time of opening shall be m no case earlier than six o'clock, a.m., and the time of closing not earlier than six o'clock, p.m. except on Saturday and the day preceding any public holiday, on which days the time of closing may not be I fixed at an earlier hour than ten o'clock p.m., unless with the unanira.Qns con- ! sent of all persons keeping shops or 1 premises within such bprough, or of 1 all persons keeping shops or prerm'ieß devoted to the pirticuUy fri^i 0 |
trades as the case may be. Such special ■ order as aforesaid shall take effect as and from a day to be named therein, and shall remain m force until varied or rescinded; and such special order then shall be varied or rescinded so soon as the same can be conveniently done after the receipt by the Council of a requisition signed as herein before mentioned, praying tor such variation, which shall be publicly notified, and shall take effect from a day. to be named m such notification." If this amendment be agreed to, the Act can j be brought into operation by the general body of shopkeepers m any borough, or by those belonging to any particular line or lines of business, upon the requisition of two-thirds ol their number, and m like manner any closing hours appointed thereundei for early closing can be altered or rescinded. In this iorm the measure should be a workable one, and will, we imagine, be acceptable ?o the large majority of business men.
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