§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that the Inland Revenue Commissioners have permitted their officers to grant licences for the sale of wines to grocers and other applicants without their having previously obtained the certificates of the justices duly granted and confirmed at the annual Licensing Sessions, according to the provisions of the Licensing 305 Act of 1872; and if the sale of intoxicating liquors, under such circumstances, will have the immediate attention of the Home Department as an infringement of the Act of last Session?
Sir, the Licensing Bill of last year as introduced by the Government, and as it passed the House of Lords, left the position of grocers and retail wine-sellers unaltered. At that time they required no magistrate's certificate to enable them to hold a licence. An Amendment, however, was carried in this House, which prohibited the Inland Revenue Commissioners from granting licences to those dealers, unless on production of a magistrate's certificate. It thus happened that many of those dealers were not aware of the change made in their position, and neglected to apply for certificates at the last Brewster Sessions. They applied for relief to the Inland Revenue Commissioners, who were, of course, unable to grant licences, but forwarded their case for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend took, as he well might, a compassionate view of the matter, and made them the following answer:—In any case where a dealer in British wine omitted to obtain a certificate in September last in accordance with the provisions of the new Act, on his producing a letter from the licensing magistrates, to the effect that a licence would have been granted had application been made. and that such an application will be favourably entertained at the next licensing sessions, the Board of Inland Revenue will allow him to deposit the duty with the collector, and will thereupon instruct their officers not to interfere with the sale ad interim."I am unable to say whether any magistrates have signed the required assurance. But whether they have or not, I have no reason to believe that the Inland Revenue Commissioners have issued any licences.