MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
Minutes of Evidence
Dé Mairt, 12adh Eanair, 1926.
Tuesday, 12th January, 1926.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
DEPUTY RODDY in the Chair.
Mr. William J. Calvert called and examined.
1. Chairman.—Whom do you represent?—The Small Traders’ Association.
2. What is the title of the Association? —The Drapers, Outfitters and Small Traders’ Association. I think I have the correct title here.
3. Is not the title the Irish Drapers, Outfitters and Boot Trades Association?— Yes, that is correct.
4. You have received a copy of this Bill?—Yes.
5. What number of shops in Dublin do you represent?—Do you mean the shops promoting the Bill?
6. Yes?—About 400.
7. You have submitted a précis of evidence here. Do you wish to supplement that?—I suppose the members of the Committee have a copy of our evidence before them.
8. Yes, but do you wish to supplement that précis of evidence?—If any of the members of the Committee desire to question me on the evidence, I will endeavour to answer them.
Deputy Hennessy.—It might be better to read out the précis of evidence, paragraph by paragraph.
9. I think it would be better to deal with it in that way. I will read the first paragraph in the précis of evidence and Deputies can then ask the witness questions relating to that paragraph. The first paragraph says:—
Evidence will be given by the Drapers’ representatives that 50 per cent. of the trade done by small drapers is done on Saturday, and that 50 per cent. of Saturday trade is done between 6 and 9 p.m. on Saturday, and that such trade will be irrevocably lost if they are not permitted to remain open.
Perhaps you would deal more fully with that paragraph, for the information of the Committee?—I cannot enlarge very much on that, because it states what is actually the fact, so far as our experience goes. Those of us who have been in trade for some years—especially working-class trade—know perfectly well that Saturday evening is looked upon as the evening off for the working classes. That is really the only evening they have to go out with their wives to do their shopping. The leisured classes can do their shopping at any time during the week. They are not waiting on the week’s money, and, besides that, you must consider that the working people have not very much money to spare and they have to put their heads together when they go out together and study every penny they spend, so that it may be spent as wisely as possible. That is their one evening off. They cannot shop on any other evening, because the shops are closed too early. A good many of them do not come out until after tea. We can prove that by our books. Some of our drapers are prepared to show you their books, provided the information is regarded as confidential. Fifty per cent. of the trade is done on Saturday and 50 per cent. of that is done after six o’clock on Saturday night. That is a statement that can be proved by several of our drapers who will show their books if necessary.
10. You make the point that there is a great deal of trading to be done, on Saturday especially, between the hours of seven and nine o’clock?—I do.
11. In fact, you would not make a fight at all if there were not trade to be done? —I would not be so foolish.
12. And if the same thing applied to any other day of the week, you would make a fight for it too?—Yes; it really means our bread and butter
13. Fifty per cent. of the Saturday trade is done between six and nine o’clock p.m.?—Yes.
14. What percentage would that be of your whole trade?—About 25 per cent. of the whole week’s trading.
15. Chairman.—What position do you occupy in the Association?—I am Chairman of the Association.
16. I do not want to see your books, but perhaps you would tell me whether your books show the exact hour at which transactions take place?—In the case I refer to, they do. We have had it so fixed that we time the different sales down the column of the book—4.30, 5.30, 6.30 and 7.30. That has been done for reasons of our own for the past twelve months.
17. Fifty per cent. of the Saturday trading and 25 per cent. of the whole week’s trading take place between 6 and 9 p.m.?—Yes.
18. Could you say how much is done between 6 and 7.30 p.m. and how much between 7.30 and 9 p.m. I would like to have details of that?—I suppose we could give that too.
19. That would be rather valuable?— We do as much trade between 7.30 and 9 as we do between 6 and 7.30.
20. You do not think that if the shops were closed at 7.30 the people who come between 7.30 and 9 o’clock would come earlier?—I should say that it would be impossible for them to do so.
21. Do you claim that owing to the operation of the 1925 Act your trade has fallen off 25 per cent.?—That is for the shops that closed. All our people say they have lost trade—that is, all who closed.
They attribute that loss to this cause? —Absolutely.
22. They do not think there might be other causes contributing to this diminution of trade?—I do not think so.
23. Such a cause, for instance, as taxes on clothing?—I do not think that comes in. They have got to buy whether the tax is on or not.
24. They might do with less?—If you want an overcoat or a pair of boots, you have got to pay the price, whether it includes tax or not.
25. People might do with fewer articles. You stated your trade has fallen off 25 per cent. and you attribute the whole of that to the operation of this Act?—The shops that closed at 7.30 have lost 25 per cent. of their Saturday trade. We attribute that to the shortening of the hours, apart from any other interest.
26. You were not very sure of the name of your Association?—Just for the moment, I had not it in my head, but I had it here in these papers.
27. It is not very familiar to you?— Quite familiar. I have been connected with it for the last four or five years.
28. Would you tell us when it was started?—It was certainly started before 1920—in 1919, I think.
29. Was it started under the same title as it holds at present?—I think we changed the title. We made the title broader.
30. Could you tell us what the title was before that?—I think it was the Drapers, Outfitters and Boot Trades Association.
Chairman.—We are now dealing with the first paragraph and I do not think we can enter into this question.
Deputy Johnson.—Are we not entitled to find out what body of opinion the Association represents. The witness states the Association represents 400 shops. Surely it is permissible to enquire what the title of the Association was originally and how the Association is composed now.
Chairman.—I do not think that, on this paragraph, we should go into the antecedents or history of the Association.
31. Deputy Johnson.—Very well. Do I understand that there are 400 shops in the city of Dublin connected with your Association?—Not connected with our Association.
32. How many members of your Association are there in Dublin and district?— Do you mean actually connected with the Association?
33. Yes?—Last year there were over 200 and this year we will have more. It is early in the year yet.
34. You are including in that the district outside as well as the city?—Yes, Dublin and district.
35. Could you tell me how many assistants are employed by these 200 members? —I could not tell you how many.
36. Could you tell me how many assistants are employed by the 400 shops which. you say, your Association represents?—I could not tell you. We have not gone into that definitely.
37. Could you tell me what the valuation of the shops is?—No.
38. Do you know the total number of shops affected by this Bill?—About 400, roughly.
39. I mean the total number of shops affected by the Act of 1925?—All drapers’ shops are affected by the Act of 1925.
40. Could you tell me what the number is?—I could not tell you the number, because the Merchant Drapers claim about 27 shops and we claim to have over 400 I suppose there would be between 400 and 500.
41. You realise that it is of a certain amount of importance to know the proportion of the total number of shops affected by the Bill you speak for?—I can only go so far as to say that over 400 shops are affected by the Bill, shops which close at nine-thirty or ten on a Saturday night.
42. You mean to say that there are 400 shops outside the 1925 Act?—No. The four hundred are included in the 1925 Act.
43. What is the total number of shops affected by that Act?—The answer would be the same.
44. That would imply that only four hundred shops are affected in the whole area dealt with, which is nonsense?— There may be more, but I am putting it within a reasonable limit.
45. All shops in the drapery trade, the outfitting trade, the boot and shoe trade, the upholstery trade and so forth, are affected by the 1925 Act?—Except those that close at one o’clock on a Saturday.
46. They are affected too. All shops are affected except those which do not employ other than members of the employer’s family. Can you tell me what the number is of such shops. If you say you do not know, I will take it at that?— I do not know. I could not put it further than that.
47. You do not know the number of assistants employed by members of your Association?—I could not say definitely, but we hold that we employ more assistants than the firms which are opposing our amending Bill.
48. You do not know what the number of shops is in the area, and therefore you are not in a position to say what the proportions are?—I could not say within a dozen of the number of shops.
49. Can you give me any information as to the sales per assistant, on an average roughly. What I mean to say is, what would you reckon to be a fair estimate of sale per week per assistant?—I could not say. It would depend on the class of trade.
50. Take women’s drapery. Would a hundred pounds a week be rather over the average?—It all depends on the size of the shop and the number of the assistants.
51. Would fifty pounds be an average? —The answer is the same.
52. Can you give me any information as to what may be considered a reasonable week’s takings so as to justify a reasonable wage?—It depends on the situation, the size of the shop, and the class of trade being done.
52a. Assuming that an assistant was paid three or four pounds a week, what amount of trade should that assistant be expected to do to justify the retention of his employment?—The same answer applies. If he is selling boots he will not take in as much money as if he were selling fur coats.
53. No, but surely there is some relation to the wages paid?—That depends to a large extent on the class of employer.
54. As regards the amount of trade between six and nine, you say that as between six and seven-thirty and as between seven-thirty and nine, it may be roughly half and half?—Yes.
55. And as between six and nine, your evidence is that there is a quarter of the total trade of the week done between those hours?—Between six and nine we do as much trade as we do for the whole day on a Saturday.
56. Have you any reason for fixing nine as the hour which would suit the convenience of the purchasing public?—Yes, because trade starts to fall off after nine o’clock. We might do a little trade between nine and ten.
57. I take it that you fixed nine o’clock because from that hour the particular establishments which you speak for find that their trade falls off?—Yes. We came to the conclusion that we would not lose much by closing at nine o’clock.
58. Can you tell me what would be the effect on the trade of the shops for which you speak, if all the shops opened for those hours?—We would be delighted to have them all open.
59. What effect is a universal law going to have on the general public?— There would be a certain amount of inconvenience to the public who purchase on a Saturday night.
60. If they were all closed there would be no loss so far as shopkeepers were concerned?—Certainly there would. The workingmen cannot shop any day but Saturday.
61. Is it your view that because a person cannot shop between seven and nine o’clock, he would rather do without his goods than purchase at any other time?— In some cases the money might find itself in other channels not so beneficial.
62. This Bill is not promoted to improve the morals of the working classes? —No; but it has an effect, all the same.
63. If the rival shops were open, the particular shops for which you speak would take a share of that saving from the publichouse?—Exactly.
64. Can you tell me whether the Act of 1925 has at any time been in force amongst the shops you speak for?—Yes.
65. Has there been any period since the Act was passed during which the shops you speak for, or any or all of them, were closed?—Yes, they were closed on several Saturdays.
66. Can you produce statistical evidence to show what the trade was on those days when the shops were closed, and what the trade was in the same shops during the time they disobeyed the law?—Yes. We can prove that there was a considerable loss.
I think, Mr. Chairman, if we ask, at a later stage, for some evidence from the books respecting definite periods, we might be allowed to have it?
67. Would it surprise you if I said that the total number of shops affected was over one thousand?—If you included all the outlying districts, such as Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Blackrock, I am sure it would amount to that number.
68. So that this number of four hundred for which you speak, of which two hundred are members of your association, is still less than half the number of shops in the area affected?—All shops are affected in the areas included in the Bill. We want to keep well within the number of shops. We do not want to give an outside figure.
Deputy Johnson.—When giving evidence on matters of such importance it might be as well to have the facts.
69. You speak in the second line of this paragraph in your evidence about the fifty per cent. of trade done by small traders. Can you give the Committee a definition of the term “small trader”?—The definition would include a draper who employed no assistant, or who employed, perhaps, three or four.
70. A draper who employs say less than six?—Or perhaps less than a dozen.
71. I was thinking that it might be possible to meet the case you are putting up by extending the exemption clause and by exempting small traders as well as those who carry on a family business?—If you did that I think you would make the situation worse than it is at present, because the exemption clause is a bugbear.
72. You stated in reply to Deputy Thrift that it was necessary to buy suits in spite of the tax, but would it not also be necessary to buy suits in spite of the hours?—If a man cannot get out to buy a suit before the shops close, what is he to do.
73. I have had a good deal of experience of this question, and I remember that twenty years ago, or less, drapers might keep their premises open until 11 o’clock. Was it because they did little trade after 11 o’clock that they abolished the later closing hour?—No. Drapers have seen that 11 o’clock closing hour was too late. You have to have regard for the public as well as for the working of the shops.
74. I saw people crowding into drapers’ shops until 11.30 p.m., and I found that if you left a shop open until 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, the crush would start about 2.30 a.m.?—I do not think that is so
I submit that your evidence is not in accordance with facts.
75. As regards the definition of a small trader, according to you that phrase includes all who employ less than a dozen assistants?—There is no limit to the number of assistants.
76. If they employed fifty assistants, would you call such people small traders? —A good deal depends on the district.
77. Then what is meant by the term “small traders”?—The phrase “small traders” is understood to mean small shops in working-class districts.
78. Irrespective of the number of assistants?—I do not think that that would have any effect. Some small traders employ up to 18 assistants in certain districts.
79. Then it really means traders who are doing a particular class of trade?— Our association is composed of small traders who stay open to do a Saturday trade for their own benefit and for that of the community at large.
80. If they open late on a Saturday and do a working-class trade, then they are called small traders?—Exactly.
81. If Arnott’s, for instance, opened an establishment in Talbot street, and employed 150 hands, they would be within the category of small traders?—If they did so, they would have to fall in line with the other small traders.
82. Your Association had circulated, some little time ago, a list of people opposed to the 1925 Act, containing 200 odd names?—Yes.
83. Would it be correct to say that not more than fifteen shops on that list employed more than four employees?—It might be; some of them might employ more.
84. You say that not more than fifteen on that list employed more than four?— I would say that more than fifteen employed more than four, probably six or eight.
85. I do not think you understand my point. Eliminating six of those names on that list none of the shops employed more than four assistants?—Outside fifteen.
86. Yes?—That is wrong.
87. Could you give any information on this point, that of the total number of shops affected by the 1925 Act the poor-law valuation is £100,000, and that of the firms on your list the poor-law valuation is not more than £8,000?—I could not go into that at all.
88. You say there is a falling off in the trade since the passing of the 1925 Act? —Yes.
89. Did that mean the doing away with any of the assistants?—Yes. I know of several cases where assistants have been dispensed with.
90. When you say 400 are affected, do you mean adversely by the 1925 Act?— Yes.
91. Deputy Johnson has been pressing you about the number of your Association affected. Do you know if there was a plebiscite taken in 1923 of the Borough of Dublin?—Yes.
92. Would not that give us a fair indication of the number affected by their voting?—Yes.
93. That is in existence. Might I ask you has every shopkeeper the same number of votes?—No, shopkeepers have votes according to departments.
94. That is to say, larger shopkeepers like Pim’s or Todd’s might have thirty, where a small shopkeeper would have only one?—They might not have that much; every department, I understand, has a vote.
95. I suppose there are up to twenty departments?—Yes.
96. They would have twenty votes to one vote of the small shopkeeper?—Yes.
97. The voting does not stand for valuation?—No.
98. That plebiscite is there and would give us a fair idea of how the voting went?—Yes.
99. A man buying a suit of clothes ready-made or to order must have the money?—Yes.
The most suitable time to buy is Saturday evening.
Deputy Cooper.—Are we not going on further down here?
100. Deputy Hennessy.—As a matter of fact, what I propose to do later is to ask the witness to read the general evidence. One paragraph is connected with another. I want to ask a further question. A man buys the clothes, and we know the money will be spent somehow. I suppose it is your contention that it is as well that he should buy external apparel as any internal application?—Yes.
101. I suppose a small trader will not sell four of five pounds’ worth of a hat to a lady?—Not very often.
He is not patronised.
Chairman.—This discussion is more or less general, because I consider this is really the important paragraph in the précis of evidence.
Deputy Cooper.—I want to go into the time of the football match. Shall I take it now?
Chairman.—I had better read the paragraph.
Deputy Johnson.—I think it is desirable that the witness should read the evidence. I think we should have it in as the witness’s evidence.
Chairman.—Do you not think, for the sake of clearness, it is better to have each paragraph read?
Deputy Johnson.—I think the witness ought to give us his evidence.
102. Chairman.—I think it is only fair to the witness that we should deal with it paragraph by paragraph and allow the witness to elaborate any points. The next paragraph is:
The reason why the hours 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday are so important is that a large number of the community can only get out for their requirements between these hours.
103. Why do you select 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.? The question is 7.30 to 9 p.m.?— Because from 6 to 9 the majority of the trade is done.
104. The 1925 Act makes no change between 6 and 7.30?—We hold that our business is done from 6 to 9. They want to close it down to 7.30.
The Committee have to consider whether 7.30 to 9 should be the closing hour. There is no suggestion of 6 to 9. Therefore it is outside the issue, and that paragraph might be misleading.
105. I should like to ask how many assistants are taken on in the establishment represented by the witness to do this extraordinary amount of work after 6?—In a good many establishments at present, if we had not the Saturday evening trade, we could dispense with assistants.
106. Is it the custom to take on temporary assistants to cater for this rush? —No, we keep assistants going the whole week simply for the rush on Saturday.
107. Is it the custom to take on assistants at especially busy times like Christmas?—It is.
108. It is not customary to keep assistants all the year for the sake of the Christmas trade?—No.
109. It is customary to keep assistants the whole week for the sake of three hours’ trade on Saturday night?—Not for the three hours trade, but for Saturday’s trade generally. The evening trade is the busiest time.
110. Have you any recollection of the position in Dublin during the Curfew time?—I have.
111. What happened then?—You had compulsory closing then.
112-113. It affected the trade?—No, because money was more plentiful then. It certainly affected the trade at night. The people were afraid to come out then, and they had to make provision some way.
114. It is your evidence that it is the lack of purchasing power on the part of the public that makes it necessary for you to extend the hours of sale?—No.
115. At the time of the Curfew you say people had plenty of money, and that, therefore it did not matter when they purchased?—They were not so particular how they spent their money as at present. During an upheaval like that things were altogether abnormal, and you could not take any evidence of what happened then.
116. You said they were not so particular during those days as to how they spent money as they are now. That means that they are more particular now? —They are.
117. Previously you suggested that, although they are more particular now than they used to be, if the shops were closed from 7.30 until 9 they might spend it on beer?—Not in all cases. I say it might go into other channels.
118. If they are more particular now they certainly would not be inclined to spend it in the wrong way, which you suggested previously?—It would have a very bad affect on the working-classes to have these shops closed before the others.
119. We were speaking before as if it were a case of 25 per cent. of the trade being affected?—Yes.
120. You wish to correct that now, and point out that it is really only 12½ per cent.?—No, I do not.
121. I should like to have a numerical figure. You say 50 per cent. of the trade is done on Saturday?—Yes.
122. Half of that, or 25 per cent. of the whole, is done between six and nine?— Yes.
123. And half of that again is done between 7.30 and 9?—I do not quite understand that. What we say is that 50 per cent. of the week’s trade is done on Saturday, and half of that is done between six and nine o’clock.
124. As Deputy Cooper has pointed out, there has been no closing at six o’clock, it has been 7.30 o’clock, and you, yourself, have said it was only a half of this— half of the half?—I cannot go into every half hour like that. A good deal depends on the weather. Some Saturdays we might be busy until seven.
125. You say that half the whole trade is done on Saturday?—Yes.
126. And half of that, or twenty-five per cent. of the whole, would be done if the shop were open?—Yes.
127. As a matter of fact, the shop is not closed between six and nine, and, therefore, only half of the 25 per cent., according to your own statement, is really affected by this proposed change?—We cannot go into half hours.
128. There is no question of half hours? —My friend suggests to me that after the tea hour we would be busier—we would be taking more money after seven o’clock.
129. That is to say, you rather seem to be mending your hand with reference to the first statement?—We can bring books to prove what trade is done between the different hours, if necessary. In a good many cases—not in all cases— we can bring evidence to prove that. Of course, every Saturday is not the same. You may have a heavy shower of rain between six and seven and not have three customers.
130. Deputy Johnson.—Supposing the rain came between 7.30 and 9, what would happen?—The same thing applies. That particular Saturday we might not do anything at all.
131. Deputy Cooper.—You can only average?—That is all.
132. As a matter of fact, there are shopkeepers who say that from 6 to 7.30 is a bad business time on Saturday?— That is quite right.
133. Because it is the people’s feeding time?—Yes. My friend has reminded me of that.
134. I know when they interviewed me they said that the hours they attributed the most importance to were from 7.30 to 9?—Yes, from 7 to 9.
135. You can understand that there are men who are stating the truth in that?— Quite so. I hope I will state nothing but the truth while I am here.
136. There may be differences of custom in certain localities?—Yes.
137. Chairman.—The next paragraph is:—
A great number of the artisan class who attend football matches and other sports fixtures on Saturday afternoon go direct to same, and can only go on Saturday after tea hour (with their wives or singly) to get their necessary requirements.
138. Deputy Nagle.—What time do football matches usually finish on Saturdays?—About five.
139. What time do they start?—About 2.30 or 3.
Deputy Cooper.—As Vice-President of Shelbourne, I may say that it depends entirely on the time of the year. When the days are short they have to start at two. It ranges from two to three o’clock.
140. Professor Thrift.—Seldom later than five. In the middle of winter they will be over by four or earlier?—It all depends on the time of the year.
141. What percentage of the artisan class would attend those football matches?—There was a match on Saturday last at which there were 18,000 people, I am told.
142. What proportion would that bear to the number attending the picture houses, say, between 8 and 10.30 p.m.?— I could not answer that.
143. I submit it has some relation to it, because the picture houses really cut in. I often go to the pictures and know something about them. They really cut in on the last one and a half hours’ of these traders’ time. If you want to get a full round at a picture house you must go at eight o’clock. That means that you must leave home about 7.30, which is the time that you people object to closing the shops?—If the working-class man wants to go to the pictures he wants to get a cheap seat, and he will not get a cheap seat if he goes at 8 o’clock any night of the week. I have gone to them looking for a cheap seat and I had to pay 2/4 when I wanted a 1/3 seat.
144. If you want to get a cheap seat at a football match you will want to go before the match starts, so it cuts both ways?—They go there first and buy the stuff afterwards.
145. Deputy Hennessy.— Football matches are not the only attraction?— No.
146. You have instanced football matches as a reason why the extension is desirable?—Yes.
147. A football match begins at 2.30 or 3 and is over by 4.30?—Yes, from 4.30 to 5 o’clock.
148. You have already told Deputy Hennessy that the feeding hour is 6 to 7.30. Why should a man not do his shopping in the hour or hour and a half between 4.30 or 5 and 6 o’clock?—Perhaps he has to go home to get his wife to come with him or some of the children.
149. If he knew the shops were going to be closed later on, would not he so arrange his time-table as to enable him to do his shopping early?—I think the working man would resent being rushed like that, because it is the only evening he has off. People in your position can buy goods at any time, but he has only the one evening for recreation and purchasing.
150. People in my position do not get away from work until 8.30 and sometimes 10.30 if the Dáil is sitting. I do very little of my own shopping. Apart from that, you say that he would resent having to do his shopping then?—He would resent being rushed.
151. Supposing he wants to buy a postage stamp, he has to buy it before 7 o’clock. Does he resent that?—A postage stamp would be of very little importance to the working man, as he does not do much writing.
152. At any rate, you think there is no parallel between the two cases?— None. He can purchase a postage stamp up to 9 o’clock or on Sunday.
153. On this point of the convenience of the working people whom the witness is speaking for, I should like to ask if he has any information as to any expressions of opinion that have been uttered on behalf of the working people in favour of the early closing of shops?— Yes. I have heard it repeatedly stated in my own shop. I stated that they would have to try and come earlier now as we were closing early. I have heard it stated by the wives of working people that it was ridiculous to close them early.
154. So far as any organised expression of opinion is concerned it has not been in favour of the longer opening? You have no knowledge of any public expression of opinion from any organised bodies of working men in favour of the extension of the hours?—No organised body that I know of.
155. You know that there is definite information to the contrary, and in favour of the earlier closing?—I have heard so, yet the very people who advocate that are the people who do the buying.
156. You spoke of the wives who attended your shop. Those are people who did shopping late?—Yes.
157. Can you tell me what the position is regarding clubs. You are familiar with the practice of organising clubs for purchasing by the working classes?—Yes.
158. Some of the establishments you speak for run these clubs?—Yes.
159. And some of the other establishments run clubs?—Yes.
160. Those who are opposing this proposal of yours to extend the hours?—Yes I am aware that there are clubs run.
161. Do you know, as a matter of fact, that those establishments which are opposing the extension of the opening hours do a greater proportion of that club trade than those which are in favour of extending the hours?—I do not think that is so.
162. Chairman.—The next paragraph reads:—
Those hours are also very important for domestic servants, the farming class, nurses, and others of that class, who cannot very well get out until their household duties have been performed, which duties are rarely performed until after the evening meal has been disposed of, and those are the hours at which ready money is available with this class, and if not spent by them on drapery wear may be spent in a manner not very beneficial.
163. Deputy Johnson.—Is it your experience that domestic servants to any large number shop on Saturday night?— We get a good many on Saturday nights.
164. And that they are precluded from buying at any other time?—Those of them who have the night off. There are a number of servants employed in big houses who do not get off on any night in fact, as dinner is at a late hour. The farming classes certainly, by the time they finish their work and change their clothes, do not get into town to purchase before eight.
165. They come to purchase on a Saturday night?—A great many of them make it a rule to come to town on Saturday night—farm labourers and people of that sort. Several of them told me they could not get into town before 8 o’clock.
166. With regard to the farming class, you stated that this is the time ready-money is available to the farming class. Are you aware that we have heard over and over again that the farming class have no ready money of any kind?—We mean the farm labourer class.
167. With regard to domestic servants, do you mean where a general servant is employed single-handed?—We do not mean the ordinary servant maid who has generally an evening off. There are other classes of servants employed in houses who do not get an evening off, as domestic servants do.
168. Do you mean the class who work single-handed, or do you mean a servant in a house where there are three or four employed?—It is very hard to define, but what we mean by the suggestion is that there are many different classes of servants employed in houses who do not get an evening off. The ordinary general servant has an evening off to make purchases. Unfortunately, some of them have Wednesday evening off when we are closed. I have known servants to ask their mistresses to get off on Saturday evening to do some shopping. They can only get off after dinner when they have washed-up.
169. You are not referring to the whole class of domestic servants, but to those who do not get an evening off?—I refer to a class like nurses.
170. Do you mean hospital nurses?— No.
171. You mean children’s nurses?— Yes.
172. Is that class you refer to paid weekly or monthly?—I think, as a rule monthly, except that in many cases money is advanced to them.
173. And that money would not be specially available on Saturday evening if they were paid monthly?—Except they were paid weekly or asked for an advance, as they often do.
174. After all, they can ask for an advance so that it is not a case of waiting until Friday or Saturday. They could ask for an advance if they were going out on a Tuesday?—They could if they could get out on Tuesday.
175. Is it not generally understood, or do you want to contradict what we all believe to be the case, that farmers and farm labourers in practically 100 per cent. of cases purchase boots and clothing on Church holidays when they have not to work?—No, that is not the general rule. I must admit that that is a busy time.
176. I think that applies to Dublin as well as to the rural districts. In a great many cases in the South, where there is agreement to close, the plea is put forward that the business premises must be kept open so that the farmers and farm labourers may make their purchases on church holidays. In my opinion that applies to Dublin also. As we all know, work is carried on in Dublin on church holidays, but it is not carried on in the County Dublin and the surrounding districts.
Witness.—That does not get away from the fact that we get a lot of country people on Saturday evenings, especially in working-class districts.
177. Deputy Nagle.—Women of the working class do most of the purchasing on Saturday morning?—No; the men buy suits and overcoats in the evening.
178. Arising out of the question of holiday business, I do not know if you are a theologian, Mr. Calvert, but is it not a fact that a month or six weeks ensues between church holidays?—Yes.
179. And in the meantime if a man wants a pair of boots or a suit of clothes is he to do without them until then?— It is not my experience that they buy everything on holidays. Every Saturday I have men in up to 10 o’clock at night.
180. Deputy Nagle.—Most of the members of the Committee are ignorant of the conditions in the drapery trade, and that is one of the reasons we asked for evidence. In contradiction of Deputy Hennessy’s statement, the number of pairs of boots or suits that a man buys in the year is not affected by holidays. Take my own case. I can get on with one suit of clothes in the year, and I cannot afford to buy any more. I can get on at the most with three pairs of boots in the year.
Witness.—Perhaps you are not a family man with six or ten children?
Deputy Nagle.—I have not that number. As a matter of fact, I never make purchases at all, and I know nothing about them.
Deputy Hennessy.—You only mind the house while the purchases are being made?
Witness.—The working man has to buy a pair of boots for his family nearly every Saturday night, if he has the money. If he has not the money he waits until he has it to buy them. That man cannot get in to make purchases before 7.30 or 8 o’clock at night. The men have told me that themselves; it is not hearsay.
181. Deputy Cooper.—These are farm labourers?—Farm labourers and men from country districts.
182. Chairman.—The next paragraph states:—
If facilities are not offered to this class they may possibly shop by post from English centres as some of them are already doing (a policy detrimental and which must be stopped).
183. Deputy Cooper.—I presume that paragraph refers to the class you have been talking about in the previous paragraph?—Yes.
184. These people do not keep bank accounts?—Very few.
185. I mean they are not in a position to write a cheque?—No.
186. If they shop by post from England they have to send a remittance?—A postal order.
187. They cannot buy a postal order after 7 o’clock?—No.
188. Your case is that if the shops here are closed at 7.30 they cannot do their shopping, but they are able to get out to buy postal orders in order to shop in England?—It is very easy to send anyone for a postal order. That can be done in five minutes. It is different to go into a shop and have a “try-on.”
189. How are they going to “try-on” the goods they order by post?—They do not, as a rule. Your point is that they can get out to buy a postal order but cannot get out to shop.
190. Shopping is such a difficult and complicated process in connection with your trade that it would be impossible to do it in the time in which a postal order could be bought?—Exactly.
191. Do you ever buy a postal order yourself?—No.
192. You could not tell me if it is a very quick and expeditious process in some of the city post offices?—No.
Deputy Cooper.—At any rate it would not be fair to ask you.
193. Deputy Johnson.—I would like to ask Mr. Calvert if he is really laying any stress upon this particular argument, and that one of the reasons against closing at 7.30 is that otherwise artisans, labourers, nurses and domestic servants will send across to England for their goods. Do you lay any stress upon that?—I cannot say that we lay very much stress on it.
194. You prefer to withdraw it?—I do not think I will withdraw it, but I will not lay very much stress on it.
195. Would the difference between 7.30 and 9 o’clock make any difference to the purchaser or to those sending over the water for goods?—Not to the purchaser who is in the habit of sending across the water for goods. There are people who think that they can get stuff cheaper across the water at all times, unfortunately for us.
196. That would happen whether the hours are 7.30 or 9?—I admit that.
197. Deputy Hennessy.—It is a fact that domestic servants do a good deal of shopping by post with English shops. I do not ask you to attribute any reason for it?—It has been done.
Deputy Hennessy.—I have personal experience of it.
198. Deputy Nagle.—Would it be true, as many shopkeepers in the country say it is, that shopping by post is due to the fact that the Daily Mail circulates here?
Chairman.—That has nothing to do with it.
Deputy Nagle.—I am putting forward that as a reason.
Chairman.—We want to elucidate the evidence.
Deputy Nagle.—I submit it has, as it is stated here, that if these people will not be given facilities after 7.30 they will shop by post from England.
Chairman.—He suggests that as a possibility.
Deputy Nagle.—I do not think it is a serious possibility.
Chairman.—Mr. Calvert mentioned that he did not put forward that reason in support of the Bill.
199. Chairman.—The next paragraph states:—
Evidence will also be given that all the legislation has been directed against the small shopkeeper, and that prior to the 1912 Act the larger shops ordinarily close at 6 p.m. and at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and the small drapers (who have been affected by the 1912 Act and 1925 Act) were previously permitted to remain open till 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on week-days, and up to 11 p.m. on Saturdays, so from this it will be seen that legislation seems to have been only directed to their class.
Perhaps before any member of the Committee asks any questions with reference to this clause you would like to explain it more fully?—That really means that before there was any legislation at all for shopkeepers there was a bigger difference between the closing hours for large shops and small shops than at present, even with the hours we mentioned. Shops like Arnott’s and others of that description usually closed at 4 o’clock on Saturday evening. Shops of our description did not close sometimes until 12 midnight, usually 11 p.m. We hold that even now we are not asking for any unfair advantage over the larger shops, compared to what the hours were before there was any legislation.
200. Do I gather from that paragraph that you resent the change and think you have not been fairly treated?—Yes. we resent any change.
201. To assimilate you to the larger shops, you consider it unfair?—Yes.
202. Can you give any reason for that? —Simply because we trade with a poorer class of people who, for centuries, have been in the habit of shopping on Saturday night. Late shopping is an institution with that class as long as I can remember, and I am in business forty years.
203. You do a trade with a different class of people and therefore ought to be allowed to keep open to a later hour?— Yes, for the convenience of the public and for our own benefit.
204. Might not the larger shops also put forward the plea of their own benefit?—They can open if they like. We do not object to them staying open. We do not mind if they all open.
205. Might not that point be put forward, that it is for their own benefit, and also because the class of people whom you serve would not shop early?— Exactly.
206. You resent any limitation being imposed on them in that direction. Would you like to go back to eleven o’clock?—No.
207. You do not resent it to that extent?—No.
208. Your test as to the convenience of the public is, as I understand it, that the public attend your shops in greater numbers after seven-thirty and up to nine o’clock?—That is so.
209. If the public attended after ten o’clock, you still think it would be for their convenience to open?—No. We are getting a little bit more enlightened now as compared with the time when there was no legislation at all, and when shopkeepers were allowed to open at all hours. Some shops, of course, took advantage of that. We are prepared to admit that legislation is necessary, within reasonable bounds.
210. You agree there should be some stop put upon the convenience of the public?—There should. As a matter of fact, we are shortening the hours under the 1912 Act; we are shortening them by an hour on Saturday night.
211. Take the Sunday shoppers, for instance—you are not in favour of catering for them?—No.
212. Then the convenience of the public who desire to shop on a Sunday should be frustrated?—We hold that nine o’clock on a Saturday night gives time enough to allow anybody to do shopping, and there should be no need to open on a Sunday morning.
213. You fix the nine o’clock not so much for the convenience of the public as for the convenience of yourselves?— No. it is for the convenience of the public. There is not so much trade done after nine o’clock
214. Suppose the public think it would convenience them more to have the hour extended to 10 o’clock, would you seek further to amend legislation?—I do not think the people would want the shops open later than 10 o’clock. Of course if you had the shops open until 12, you would get customers to come in.
215. Exactly. Your experience is that if the shops are open the people will continue to purchase?—Our experience is that the shops do a trade up to 9 o’clock and they do a little trade between 9 and 10 o’clock. The 1912 Act permits us to open until 10 o’clock. We are quite prepared to open to 9 o’clock, which we consider is late enough for the benefit of the working-class people and our own benefit.
216. If the working-class people—so far as they are organised—express the view that they would prefer the shops to be closed at an earlier hour than nine and that they only attend because the shops are open, would you controvert it?—As far as I understand, the working-class people are the people who do their shopping late on Saturday nights, for the reasons that I have stated.
217. They used to do shopping up to 11 o’clock?—That is so.
218. And you are willing to frustrate the working classes in their desire to shop up to 11 o’clock?—I am in favour of keeping open within reasonable bounds.
219. It is really a question of what is reasonable?—We consider that 9 o’clock is a reasonable hour, reasonable to ourselves, never mind the working classes.
220. Mr. Calvert, you say the larger shops, partly wholesale and retail, closed at the same hours, previous to there being any legislation, as they close at now?— The hours of closing are the same, but for the most part there is a big contrast between the hours then and now.
221. The larger shops showed no inclination to extend those hours even when they were not affected by legislation?— No; in fact, they shortened the hours.
222. That goes to show that they had not any business. As regards public convenience, do you not think that there is such a thing as a legitimate public convenience and an illegitimate public convenience?—That is our point.
223. In a paragraph of your précis of evidence, you have shown reason why people are not free to trade earlier than 9 o’clock?—Exactly.
224. I suppose you feel as a small trader that you should be as free to keep open as, say, a publican?—I would say more so. Our stuff is more useful to the people.
225. Sundays included?—If I had my way, I would have the publichouses closed on Sunday. The phrase has been used, “larger shop.” I would like to have that made more clear. What is understood by the phrase “larger shop”? We had a definition in regard to the smaller shop, indicating that the smaller shop does a particular class of trade. What does the “larger shop” mean?—The shops that now shut at 1 o’clock; they are the larger shops.
226. Does it depend upon the class of trade they do? Is that how they are classified?—Not so much the class of trade. It is well known that the smaller shops do the working-class trade.
227. You spoke of certain smaller shops having eighteen assistants?—Yes.
228. Then what is meant? Is it the size of the shop or the size of the average purchase?—No.
229. The fact that it is in a working-class district, no matter how many assistants are employed, defines the smaller shop. Am I to understand the larger shop is a shop which does not do a working-class business, but rather a middleclass or a higher class of business, irrespective of the number of assistants?—I do not think you can get away from the fact that what is meant by the larger shop is a shop like Arnott’s, Clery’s, Kellett’s or Pim’s.
230. Is Kellett’s one of the larger shops?—I would say it is included under the heading of larger shops.
231. Do you know to what hour Kellett’s remain open now?—I do not.
232. Would you be surprised to learn that in view of the competition for late shoppers, they have extended their hours of opening?—I am glad to hear it.
233. Although it is a large shop? Suppose Arnott’s followed that example?— We would be glad to hear that.
Your object is to encourage the opening of all shops?—Not to encourage them, but to convenience the public.
234. Then it is to convenience the public?—Yes, and ourselves.
235. If the larger shops think that they are conveniencing the public you would be glad if they fell in with this arrangement?—We do not object to them opening at all.
236. Your object is to extend the opening hours in connection with all shops? —No, certainly not; that is not our object at all; in fact, we are shortening our hours.
237. You would be glad to see shops open to 9 o’clock at night?—We are shortening our hours on week nights as well. We would not mind if shops opened. It is a matter for themselves, and we would have no objection.
238. Your only anxiety is to convenience the public?—Yes.
239. If all the shops opened as it is suggested Kellett’s are opening, the extra benefit you gain would be taken away from you or would, at least, be distributed amongst other shops?—I do not think it would have any effect on our trade at all.
240. What is the reason given by Kellett’s?—Perhaps they find they can do a trade after the hours at which they have been closing. Probably that is the reason why they want to close at a later hour.
241. Do any of the assistants in the small shops also work in the large ones? —Not that I know of. There are some assistants who have shops of their own, and they work in the larger shops and then look after their own shops.
242. They work in the larger shops?— Yes, and they have sisters, or perhaps wives, working in the small shops.
243. They are bound by two sets of rules?—Yes; the rules of the large shops and then the rules in regard to their own shops. They have their own shops open to the same hours as we have.
244. Can you say how many of the people for whom you speak are in the position of being owners of shops, who work in the daytime in some of the large shops?—I could not say. There is a large number, but I could not say how many.
245. And they are the persons anxious for a late opening on Saturday night?— They are keeping their shops open to the some hour as we observe.
246. You say they are married men?— Yes, some of them.
247. Do you think it is necessary for them to supplement their incomes from the larger shops by keeping open these smaller shops?—They evidently find it necessary, otherwise I suppose they would not bother.
248. Chairman.—We will now proceed to deal with Section 6 of the Act of 1925. It reads as follows:—“This Act shall not apply to a shop where the only persons employed at any time during the week are members of the employer’s family dwelling in the building of which the shop forms a part or to which the shop is attached.
249. The Bill repeals that section, and I have down an amendment the effect of which is that this Bill will not repeal Section 6 of the 1925 Act. The reason I put down the amendment was because I thought it desirable that we should have a discussion on the subject as to why the section should be repealed.
250. I think we would like to know Mr. Calvert’s opinion of the working of Section 6 of the Act of 1925?—That is where the exemption clause comes in?
251. Yes?—We are altogether opposed to any exemption.
252. Would you give your grounds?— We do not think it is fair trading. I say that although I am speaking against myself, because I could work my own business without assistants if I wanted, and I am doing it at the present moment, as a matter of fact. But I do not think it is fair trading for anyone to be allowed to stay open in the same locality. There is one point in that exemption clause which is most unfair. If a man works his own shop and locks it up and goes home he must close at 7.30 under the 1925 Act, but the man who lives overhead can stay open in the same street.
253. That is one ground on which you object, but you object also on the general ground that it is unfair trading?—Yes.
254. What sort of trade do those shops do?—They do a working class trade.
255. A small working class trade?— Yes.
256. With the poorest classes?—Not always with the poorest classes.
257. But it is a working class trade?— Yes.
258. You told me, when dealing with the last paragraph, that small shops should be allowed to stay open later because they do a trade with the working-class. Do not those shops come under the same definition?—The two positions are different because the shops now allowed to remain open are in the same districts as the shops that have to close.
259. Then it is a question of area?—I do not think it is fair. I can stay open until 10 o’clock now, but I do not think that it is fair that my next door neighbour should have to close at 7.30. It is a different question if the shops are in a different area and doing a different class of trade.
260. You were very anxious that workingmen should be convenienced. If a certain number of these shops are kept open, will it not convenience them?—As well as conveniencing the public, we must look to our own interests and see that the trade is done under fair conditions.
261. Your objection is that that injures the trade of people who are not in a position to avail themselves of the exemption?—It is not so much the injury to the trade, but that it is unfair.
262. If it does not injure the trade, then it is not unfair?—They will get some trade, of course, when the others are closed in that district. It is open to a good many objections, apart from that altogether.
263. I want to know does the exemption of these one-man businesses injure your trade or does it not?—It injures trade in this way, that they will get trade certainly that they would not get otherwise.
264. Which would otherwise come to you?—Which we would get a share of.
265. Which might come to you?—Yes.
266. This paragraph refers to the hardships caused by exemption on the drapers’ assistants. Would you explain how that hardship arises?—In my own case—I do not like having to say it—I had to part with two assistants to bring myself under this exemption clause.
267. Therefore, you suggest it causes unemployment?—Yes. In my case I dismissed two assistants to bring myself under the exemption clause—a thing I was legally entitled to do. Other cases of the same description have occurred. This clause, too, his given rise to what I might call bogus partnerships, where assistants were made partners in the firm in order that there might be no assistants employed.
268. Do you seriously argue that in order to safeguard 12½ per cent. of his trade a trader would seriously handicap himself for the rest of the week?—I took on members of my own family.
269. There is a general statement made that this exemption causes hardship to the drapers’ assistants, and you put up the argument that in order to save 12½ per cent. of his trade, a man would handicap himself for the rest of the week with regard to 87½ per cent. of the trade. The argument does not appear to hold water?—If we dismiss our assistants, we have to make other arrangements whereby our trade is done equally well. The assistants go, all the same.
270. The trader requires assistants for the rest of the week, but because of this small bit of trade on a Saturday evening he will get rid of the assistants. Is that your suggestion?—You have to get somebody else to take their places.
271. Then, it is a question of A instead of B?—You can employ a member of your own family, according to the exemption clause.
272. The case is that the trader gets rid of assistants and takes in members of his own family?—Yes.
273. Would he keep members of his own family in idleness or would they be engaged in work elsewhere?—They might be employed in the house in other ways.
274. The net increase of unemployment would not, therefore, be very great?— You will find it is.
275. That is my point. It is only an interchange?—I know several cases where assistants have been dismissed, and if it goes on further there will be more dismissals.
276. Will nobody else be taken on instead?—They will bring members of their own families in.
277. Are the profits in the trade so great that these members of the families can stay at home and do nothing?—They will not be paying assistants then.
278. Surely if a man has to pay assistants and he has members of his family of a suitable age to act as assistants, he will get some employment for them and not merely keep them at home to help in the house?—In some cases they are not employed. For instance, I have a school-girl helping me at present on a Saturday evening only.
279. If a man had a son or daughter and he employed an assistant, though the son or daughter would be able to do the work, would he be liable, on account of this exemption, to dismiss the assistants and take on his own son or daughter?—He would.
280. Deputy Thrift.—It leads to an interchange of work rather than to an increase of unemployment?—Not in all cases.
281. Mr. Calvert stated that he disemployed two assistants, and that at present he employs for the Saturday evening trade a school girl. Would it be out of order to ask what salary he was paying the two assistants whose weekly work is being done fairly efficiently on a Saturday afternoon by a school girl?—I did not say “fairly efficiently.”
282. But she must be doing the work? —She is a daughter of my own and she helps.
283. We are discussing this question of the disemployment of assistants, and in my opinion it looks as if the assistants disemployed would be receiving 5/- a week if a school girl can do the work. If that is the amount the assistants were getting, it is very little loss to themselves or to anybody else that they have been disemployed?—Very few assistants are receiving 5/- a week.
Chairman.—We cannot go into a question of wages.
284. Is it your point that small traders having assistants will, in order to qualify for the late trading, dismiss their assistants?—That is quite right.
285. Deputy Cooper agreed with you on the question as to whether small people should keep open for the public convenience.
Deputy Cooper.—I did not agree with Mr. Calvert. I only intimated that I understood his meaning.
286. Deputy Hennessy.—At all events, Deputy Cooper put you a question suggesting that they should be allowed to convenience the public. Is not your position that you do not object to these people being allowed to convenience the public, but that because you have assistants you are deprived of conveniencing the public?—That is the point.
287. Chairman.—The next paragraph states:—
The ill results of such limited exemption is the creating of hasty partnerships, and the vagueness of the definition of relationship, etc. makes it almost a moral impossibility for the local body (on whom the working of the Act falls) to carry out same.
288. Deputy Johnson.—You lay great stress upon the evils arising from what you call hasty partnerships-partnerships which, perhaps, are not strictly genuine, but are entered into for the purpose of evading the law?—I have heard that that has been done.
289. Your case is that it is quite possible for the employer to enter into a kind of partnership with the employee, and then say that they are not bound by the Act?—It is open to abuse.
290. Deputy Thrift.—Do you refer only to business partnerships?—Yes. I am not referring to matrimonial partnerships, though that has been done, too.
291. Can you give many instances of cases in which these partnerships have been created?—I could not give you instances, but I have heard it.
292. You do not know them of your own personal knowledge?—I know two or three of my own personal knowledge, but I do not know how many there are.
293. You object to the vagueness of the definition of “relationship.” Would your objection be removed if the definition were made more exact?—No; as a body of traders we object to any exemption.
294. This is only an additional argument?—Yes.
295. You say that it is almost a moral impossibility for a local body to carry out the Act. Have any representations been made by local bodies that they find such difficulty?—In some cases where people were summoned for keeping open it was proved that they employed no assistants, or that they were helped by a sister, and the summonses were dismissed.
296. That does not show the difficulty of local bodies?—The difficulty of local bodies is to find out who should be summoned and who should not.
297. That point has not been raised by the local bodies?—It has been raised in the Police Courts.
298. Not by the Shop Inspectors?—It has been proved that they made mistakes.
299. Can you give an instance in which a local body complained of the difficulty of carrying out the Act?—The Public Health Department, so far as I know, have never raised the point, but it is a well-known fact that they have issued summonses for alleged breaches of the Act, and it has been proved that the people who were summoned for keeping their premises open were within their rights in doing so.
300. I am a member of a local body, and so is another Deputy. Would it surprise you to hear that we never had a report from the Shop Inspector that this exemption was making it difficult for him to carry out his duties?—I would not be surprised.
301. As regards this matter, you prefer to depend on your main arguments rather than upon these subsidiary ones? —Yes.
302. In your next paragraph you say that by the Amending Bill a further reduction in the working hours has been brought about, a point which must appeal greatly to the assistants. You further say: “Under the 1925 Act the working hours were 49. Under the Amending Bill the hours are 47”?—That should be 47½.
303. “It has been suggested that there is a twelve-hour working day on Saturday. This is not correct, as upwards of two hours are taken off Saturday on account of meal times.” Perhaps you would like to explain that a little more fully?—That clause speaks for itself. Our Amending Bill is shortening the working hours by one and a half hours. From the twelve-hour working day on a Saturday you must take two hours for meals, and that brings it down to a ten-hour day.
304. Are the assistants free immediately on the stroke of nine?—Yes.
305. They can put on their hats and go home?—Yes.
306. They have not to tidy up?—If there were customers about, the assistants might have to put away the stuff when they were finished, and that might occupy a few minutes. Generally, if they are not employed, they get their things ready so as to get out sharp to time.
307. What is the custom regarding the hours on Saturday?—There is from an hour to an hour and a-half for dinner, and from half an hour to three-quarters of an hour for tea.
308. What is the usual tea hour?—It depends on the number of assistants. They may have to go in turns. It may start at 5 and go on until 7.
309. You say that at present when 7.30 closing is observed there are two hours for meals in between?—Yes. It is very awkward.
310. If the assistant lives away from home there are ten and a-half hours spent in the shop minus the period for meal time but plus the coming and going. You propose to extend that by an hour and a-half on Saturday?—Yes. Assistants who work until 7.30 on a Saturday night are exempt, so far as amusements are concerned, as they can go nowhere after that hour. They prefer to get off earlier on week evenings, so as to be able to go to a dance or a theatre. It is all the same to them whether they work until 9 or not on Saturday.
311. Have the assistants forwarded any demands on that score?—They are prepared to work until 9 o’clock.
312. Have they put forward a demand to that effect?—They have not, but they expressed their willingness to work until 9 o’clock if they got off earlier during the week evenings. This gives them four evenings earlier as we are prepared to close at six o’clock on certain evenings in the week.
313. What is the present arrangement among those who observe the agreement in the trades?—The closing hour for week evenings is mostly 7 o’clock.
314. With regard to the two hours on a Saturday, the Shops Act only gives the right for an hour to dinner, but you say that the present arrangement gives from an hour to an hour and a-half?—Yes.
315. That is the practice of the trade in Dublin?—Yes. A good deal depends on where the assistant lives.
316. The assistant has only a statutory right to one hour for dinner and to half an hour for tea?—Yes, but we do not stick to that.
317. There is nothing to prevent you keeping to the letter of the law?— Nothing whatever.
318. If you wished to keep open on Saturday would it be feasible to open later in the morning; is the morning trade of great value?—It depends on circumstances. I do not think it would be of any use. You must have your shop cleaned early. It looks bad to see windows being cleaned at 10 o’clock in the morning. In any event the authorities would not allow you to adopt that system.
319. Are many of the establishments for which you speak in the centre of the city?—Yes; in such streets as Talbot Street, North King Street, and Capel Street.
320. You recognise that when an assistant works a ten-and-a-half hour day, including meal times, she has in addition to take a journey which occupies a certain amount of time?—Yes, fifteen or twenty minutes would cover it. It generally means a penny or three-halfpenny tram journey.
321. Have you any idea of the trading hours for similar shops in similar centres in England?—So far as I know, they have their late shopping centres. I do not know any town in England which has not its late shopping centre.
322. You mean in working-class districts?—Yes.
323. What are the hours?—The closing hour is from eight to ten o’clock on Saturday night. That would be in a working-class district in Liverpool.
324. Chairman.—What is the closing hour on week nights?—About seven.
325. And on Saturday night?—Up to ten o’clock.
326. Do you think that it is desirable in matters of shop legislation to follow the English practice?—I would not say o, but it only goes to show that late shopping is an institution, and that people have got so used to it, it is almost impossible to get them to break away from it.
327. Is it your view that it is an institution which should be catered for?— Up to a certain extent, we are shortening our hours, and we might shorten them further later on if it is feasible. We say that from 7.30 to 10 o’clock is too much of a jump.
328. Are you speaking on behalf of firms employing from ten to eighteen assistants, or more, or are you speaking on behalf of shops employing one or no assistant?—I am not speaking for any particular shop, but for the shops doing trade in working-class districts.
329. Take Talbot Street. There are some shops which oppose and some which approve of your proposals. You are making certain statements in regard to the hours of opening and in regard to the hours for meals, etc. I would like to know whether you are making those statements for the shops in Talbot Street or in outlying districts?—For both.
330. Is it one of the rules of your Association that there should be certain hours observed and conditions followed, or have your Association any rule with regard to this matter?—No, we have been guided by the 1912 Act up to last year.
331. You made statements regarding conditions, assistants, hours allowed for meals, and the practice regarding closing, and a question was raised as to whether it was the practice to close at 6 or 7 o’clock, but I want to have it clear whether there is any difference of view between what I may call the large small-shopkeepers employing anything from ten assistants and the shopkeepers in outlying districts employing one or no assistant?—No; some of them close earlier.
332. They are all of one mind within your Association in regard to this?—I would not say that, because I think some of them would prefer to stay open until 10 o’clock under the 1912 Act.
333. Are you desirous of curtailing their facilities in that matter?—The majority of small traders would prefer to close at 9 o’clock.
334. On that account you think that the majority should prevail?—I do.
335. Do you mean the majority of the people affected or the majority of the establishments?—The majority of the establishments.
“It may be suggested by those opposed to the Amending Act that the 1925 Act was the result of an agreement entered into at the Gresham Hotel. This is incorrect.
“The only agreement entered into at the Gresham was that before any action took place with regard to the opening or closing of shops a plebiscite should be taken, as provided in the 1912 Act (Sections 5 to 8), to ascertain the views of those in the trade.
“The plebiscite was, in point of fact, taken, and resulted in a substantial majority for remaining open. The figures were as follows: For remaining open, ............; against remaining open, ............”
No figures have been supplied?—By some oversight the figures have not been supplied.
337. Have you the figures available?— Yes; 262 in favour of the new 7.30 closing and 392 against.
338. Deputy Johnson.—When was that taken?—June, 1923.
339. Chairman.—Have you any addendum to make?—The agreement referred to here was between members of the Merchants’ Association. They called a meeting at the Gresham Hotel at which I was present. For some reason they invited a few of the smaller traders to attend.
340. Who called the meeting?—The Merchant Drapers’ Association.
341. Deputy Wolfe.—Only the larger drapers?—We call the Merchant Drapers’ Association the large drapers.
342. Deputy Johnson.—Does that mean only those people who close at 1 o’clock on Saturday?—Some of them close at different hours, I understand.
343. Chairman.—You mean by large drapers, members of the Merchant Drapers’ Association?—Yes, they invited a few of us to attend the meeting, I think, so that they could call it a representative meeting of the trade. It was proposed there that the hours be fixed at 6.30 for the large drapers, and 7.30 for the smaller drapers. I objected to any voluntary closing agreement being entered into except it was carried out through the Corporation under the plebiscite. We dissented and refused to vote except we got out the papers, but they passed a resolution. Mr. Kidney was there, and in order to get the papers brought out by the Corporation a requisition had to be signed by a certain number. That was signed by myself and several others of the smaller traders, with a view to sending it to the Corporation. Those papers were not got out then, but when they were got out you got the figures as the result of the voting. Unfortunately, at the time, whether through inadvertence or deliberately, the Merchant Drapers’ Association used our names, saying the following had agreed to close at 7.30. That was from the list given out to go to the Corporation. I am not saying that was done deliberately, but our names appeared in the local papers in advertisements. Representing the small traders, I refused to vote. The resolution was carried, but they had only about one per cent. of the Irish trade at that meeting.
344. Deputy Wolfe.—There was no general invitation to the small traders to attend?—No, only to a few.
345. By special invitation?—Yes.
346. Deputy Johnson.—Were you invited to attend as representing the Association?—No, but in my private capacity as a small trader.
347. Deputy Cooper.—Was the plebiscite taken in the city only?—Yes.
348. It would not affect Rathmines or Pembroke?—No.
349. We have no indication of the views of the traders there or at Dun Laoghaire?—Not at that time, but we have it now.
350. How have we it now?—We have a requisition signed by over 400 traders.
351. In reply to Deputy Johnson, you said it was possible that 1,000 traders were affected?—Deputy Johnson said so, and I said it was possible. I do not agree with Deputy Johnson there.
352. Is the firm of Cahill, Talbot Street, members of your Association?—At present they are.
353. Is the firm of Kelly and Sons, Earl Street?—I believe so.
354. Is the firm of Duffy, Thomas Street?—I am not sure.
355. Is the firm of Fallon, Mary Street? —It is not now.
356. Is the firm of J. Brennan, Camden Street?—I believe so.
357. Is the firm of C. Heather, Arran Quay?—No.
358. Are you aware that the Merchant Drapers’ Association passed a resolution agreeing to close at 6.30, with the exception of the six firms whom I read out, who were stated to have agreed at 7.30? —I am aware that they passed a resolution to close their shops at 6.30.
359. Were those six firms members of the Merchant Traders’ Association?—I believe they were then.
360. They were given a special exemption?—Yes.
361. They have since left the Merchants’ Association and come to your Association?—Yes.
362. They are not now satisfied with the policy of the Merchants’ and have joined your Association?—They found it did not suit their trade.
363. You were not a member of the Merchant Traders’ Association when you went to this meeting and dissented?—I dissented on behalf of the small traders.
364. You did not consider it bound you? —It did not bind us; we bound ourselves by the vote afterwards.
365. With regard to the plebiscite, can you tell the Committee what the regulations are regarding the qualifications for voting in such a case?—Each shopkeeper has one vote, and in a case where the shopkeeper can prove he is carrying on two departments and doing an equal trade he gets two votes, and so on.
366. Do you mean that he is allowed two votes?—Yes. He gets a voting paper for both those trades.
367. If the plebiscite is in relation to two different trades and he is carrying on two different votes?—Yes.
368. Firms such as those which Deputy Cooper read out and which employ fifteen or twenty assistants would be in the same position as the shop which employs no assistants?—They would have votes according to the number of departments they would carry.
369. Supposing you were dealing with outfitting only?—Then he would have only one vote.
370. He would have only one vote no matter what size the shop was?—There are very few of those shops.
371. What class of shops were referred to in the voting paper?—All classes of shops.
372. Within what trades?—Boots, drapery, and outfitting.
373. In the case in question, in a shop having twenty assistants, with three different departments, carrying on, in fact, three different trades, there would be three, votes; but if a small shop having three assistants had two trades they would have two votes?—Yes.
374. The valuation, the importance of the trade, or the capital involved, does not affect the voting power at all?—No.
375. Could you say what number of shops there was on the register for voting at that time?—The number of shops on the register of drapers was 302; of outfitters 224, and of boot and shoe dealers 207.
376. Deputy Cooper.—There were about eighty firms who did not vote, who were not sufficiently interested?—They all got voting papers.
377. You had 654 votes altogether?— That is right.
378. About how many owners or firms were represented in that 654?—I could not answer that. I would have to know how many votes each person had.
379. That is the point I want to get at Was there much duplication?—The average number would be one or two votes.
380. Were there many cases of the same firm voting twice?—They could not vote twice.
381. Getting two votes?—Yes, for two departments they could have.
382. Were there many cases of the same firm getting two votes for different departments?—There were a good many cases where firms would have two votes.
383. What do you mean by a good many—how many approximately?—I could not tell you. I would say the majority would only have one vote.
384. Would there be more than twenty or thirty having two votes?—There would.
385. Would there be half of them?—A shop that only conducts one trade has only one vote.
386. Chairman.—A shop with a drapery and a boot trade would have two votes?— Yes.
387. Deputy Thrift.—Do you think most of the interested firms cast votes?— There are only 733 altogether, a difference of 79.
388. All but 79 gave votes?—Must have.
389. That refers to departments though, not firms?—Yes.
Deputy Thrift.—You do not seem to have the information I am trying to get.
390. Deputy Hennessy.—When the Corporation is taking a plebiscite on what basis does it go?—The Corporation satisfies itself that you are doing a certain trade, and an inspector goes round if your name is on the register. Supposing I applied for a drapery trade vote and I was also in the boot trade, he would come round and might demand to inspect my books in order to see what drapery trade I was doing before I got a second vote.
391. Does the Corporation, as the local authority under the 1912 Act, regulate the number of votes?—Yes.
392. There is no reason why non-members of your Association should not be in full agreement with you as regards this Bill?—We know they are.
393. You have evidence of that?—Yes.
394. There is a subscription for membership of your Association?—Yes.
395. And people are quite satisfied to derive benefit from your Association and still not subscribe or join—that is an every day occurrence?—Yes.
396. Deputy Johnson.—Have you put a levy on the people engaged in the trade for the purpose of promoting this Bill?— We did not put any levy on; we got it voluntarily.
397. Chairman.—The final paragraph reads:
It is scarcely necessary to point out that if the statutory majority of those concerned in the trade desire an early closing hour the local authority has ample power under Sections 5 to 8 of the 1912 Act to make a Closing Order. The result of the 1925 Act has been to wipe out the equitable and democratic provisions of Sections 5 to 8 of the 1912 Act.
398. Is it your view that it is a democratic provision which says that the establishment in which 50 people earn their living is entitled only to the same weight in a plebiscite as the establishment in which only two or three people earn their living?—They have more weight—they would have more votes.
399. Will you tell me how?—They have a vote for each department.
400. Apart from departments?—That is how they are arranged.
401. The establishment which has 15 people working in a particular department has only the same weight in the plebiscite as a shop having one person in the same trade?—Exactly.
402. Do you consider that a democratic provision?—I do. There is no reason why a man who has a small shop should not have the same privileges as the man who has a bigger shop.
403. You are not thinking of the number of citizens affected by not closing?— Do you mean the assistants? We are considering our assistants in this amending Bill.
404. That is not the matter. I am dealing with this assertion that it is a democratic provision, and that there is no need to legislate in any other direction except to allow a majority, such as is provided for in the 1912 Act, to decide?— I am quite agreeable to state that the 1912 Act gives us the proper provisions for deciding our own destiny, and I think that is what we ought to be allowed to do.
405. I want to have it on record. Do you, on behalf of your Association, say that the establishment which provides a livelihood for 15 or 20 or 30 citizens, when affected by the provisions of any Closing Order, is only entitled to the same weight in the vote as the establishment which has one?—I would not go so far as that.
406. How far would you go?—The 1912 Act goes further than that, because where the number of assistants you mention are employed they have more than one department, and they get more votes.
407. I suggest to you that Messrs. Clery have departments which employ up to 30 assistants?—Very few, if any, departments in Clerys employ 30 assistants.
408. Have they one?—I do not believe they have one department employing 30.
409. Or twenty?—Or twenty either.
410. I am not concerned with the precise number, but with the view of your Association regarding the value or weight of a vote?—We consider that the department vote gives the larger employer equal facilities or better facilities than we get.
411. Irrespective of the number of persons employed in the department?—The same thing, I suppose, would apply to Parliamentary votes.
412. Will you explain how?—A firm like Clerys would not have more than one Parliamentary vote, while I have one.
413. Every assistant would have a vote if he was of age?—If he was of age.
414. Am I to take it that it is your view that the system adopted for Parliamentary voting should apply to the taking of a plebiscite?—No, my point is that where a shop employs up to 20 or 30 assistants there must be more than one department. Therefore, they have more than one vote.
415. I want to have this made quite clear. Speaking of departments and not shops, a department which employs 10 assistants has only the same weight in a plebiscite as a department which employs one?—Yes.
416. You think that is just and democratic?—I think it is. I think every shopkeeper paying rates or taxes is just the same.
417. You think the 1912 Act perfectly satisfactory as applied to the conditions of Dublin district?—It is.
418. You would be satisfied, if a majority were obtained by a plebiscite in the City of Dublin, to close down while Rathmines and Pembroke remained open? —The same thing applies to Pembroke and Rathmines.
419. That is just the difficulty. The same thing does not apply to Pembroke and Rathmines. They are under separate local authorities. Therefore, you might have a situation in which the Dublin shops would be closed and the shops in Pembroke and Rathmines open and vice versa. Equally you might have a situation in which Dun Laoghaire would be closed and Dalkey and Blackrock open, taking trade away from Dun Laoghaire?—Under the different local authorities you mean.
420. That is why some people consider a special measure necessary, because of these adjoining districts under different local bodies?—They have all the same facilities for regulating the closing hour as we have.
421. Suppose they see a chance of getting your trade? Is it not a fact that there is competition between these different bodies and different local authorities and that that makes it impossible to apply the machinery of the Shops Act, because no one place will take the lead in closing—they will be afraid of losing their trade to neighbouring townships?—We have not found it so up to now. We are satisfied to go on under the 1912 Act and to take the view of the shopkeepers in the different districts.
Deputy Cooper.—The fear of neighbouring districts remaining open would induce many people to vote against this.
421a. Deputy Hennessy.—Does not the 1925 Act cover all the authorities to which Deputy Cooper referred?—Yes.
422. You are not interfering with that arrangement?—No, we are only altering the Saturday night hours. That is all we are trying to do.
423. Could you state, approximately, how many departments there would be? Would there be 15 or 20?—Yes.
424. That would mean 15 or 16 votes? —Yes.
425. How many votes have you?—One.
426. Deputy Johnson.—How many assistants are employed in Clery’s?—I could not say.
Chairman.—I thought you were over-labouring that point.
Deputy Johnson.—A great deal of stress was laid on it by the Witness and by the Association.
Chairman.—I notice that it is stated evidence will be given against the amendments. We will take that at a later stage. We will resume to-morrow morning at 11 o’clock and hear evidence on behalf of the Merchant Drapers’ Association.
The Committee adjourned at 2.5 p.m.