25 APRIL 1931, Page 2

On Monday last the Sunday Performances (Regulation) Bill passed its

second reading in the Commons by 258 votes to 210 on a " free vote." The Home Secretary introduced the Bill with well-known arguments. . That which appeals most strongly to us is that without, en- forcing anything • it enables the local authorities, to dispense with restrictions that have not been enforced; The business arose from widely tolerated breaches of the law. Inoperative laws which have lost the general consent of the governed and of which breaches are generally tolerated are harmful as well as undignified. We must express our respect for the House of Commons as it shows itself on these occasions. The public recog- nition of Sunday as a day for spiritual exercise or for rest from worldly pursuits is not dead or moribund. There was no sympathy with the making of commercial profit by privileged people on a Sunday, nor any humbug about charity to the hospitals being an object nearer to the hearts of the proprietors than their substantial profits. There was no gibing at Puritan opinion, which we should be sorry to see extinguished, for it is a valuable ingredient in our national life. The Fourth Command- ment is recognized as a social guiding not to be neglected. Presbyterian and dissenting opinion was mainly against the Bill, though Sir John Simon, who comes of Noncon- formist stock, made a good speech in its favour. Lord Eustace Percy claimed to be a Sabbatarian, but made an excellent speech for the Bill, saying that the law should be in harmony with the conscience and judgment of the people.