§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 4:—
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
moved to omit the words from "confirming" to "county borough" in order to insert the words "the county licensing committee to confirm new licences, and any other power of that committee shall." The object of the Amendment, he said, was almost entirely consequent on the Amendments which had already been accepted by the Government limiting the compensation clauses of the Bill to existing licences. As the Bill was first adopted the compensation clauses applied to new licences. It was therefore necessary to provide that in the case of the non-county boroughs the county quarter sessions should consent to the grant of new licences; but now that the compensation clauses of the Bill only applied to existing licences, this necessity no longer existed and the provision which required consent to be given by quarter sessions might therefore be omitted. Non-county boroughs would retain exactly the same power which they had now over new licences. They would have the same confirming authority, viz., the whole body of magistrates or the special committee as the case might be. He thought that this Amendment would meet, at all events, if not entirely, in a very large 1370 degree, the Amendments which were on the Paper in the names of the hon. Members for Anglesey, Lancaster, Flint, and Huddersfield. As regarded county boroughs the Government, after having heard what had been said during the Second Reading and in the earlier stages of the Committee, had decided not to interfere with the present confirmation of new licences, so that the whole body of justices, acting for the borough, would continue to act as the confirming authority and need not, unless they wished to do so, appoint a special committee. So far as the county quarter sessions were concerned, they would appoint a committee, but the committee which they would appoint would be in substitution of the licensing committee which they now appointed and which now acted. Sub-section 1, as they proposed to amend it, was therefore limited to the provision necessary to transfer to quarter sessions the present statutory powers which were possessed by the licensing committee of quarter sessions for the purpose of confirming licences. It was really the same authority, but a new committee would have to be appointed, and they would deal with new licences as well as with the question of the extinction of licences which had been reported to them as redundant by the brewster sessions. The same committee in the county and the same body of justices in the county borough would deal both with the confirmation of new licences and with references from the licensing justices as to the renewal of existing licences. The Committee would see that the Government had gone very far to meet many of the suggestions which had been made both from non-county and county borough Members, and he trusted they would think that the proposals they had made were an improvement on the Bill. They certainly simplified the powers very much indeed, because they left, to a very much greater extent than was formerly proposed, the jurisdiction where it was before.
In page 3, line 8, to leave out from the word 'of' to the word 'be,' in line 10, and to insert the words, 'the county licensing committee to confirm new licences, and any other power of
that committee shall."—(Mr. Scretary Akers Douglas.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. HELME (Lancashire, Lancaster)
said that on behalf of the interest represented by the non-county boroughs he desired to thank the Home Secretary for the consideration and courtesy with which he had received the deputations which had waited upon him. He reserved to the Report stage the raising of the question of non-county boroughs having powers equal to those conferred upon county boroughs where the population exceeded 25,000. In such boroughs the compensation area was sufficiently large and valuable to allow such powers to be exercised without any injury to the principle contained in the Bill.
§ MR. LLOYD WHARTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)
said that hitherto the licensing bodies had put forward a claim for a new licence. They had sat on the county licensing committees and had made recommendations for new licences. The county licensing committee in dealing with the whole county had inquired into these cases and had either confirmed or rejected the original suggestions. Now, if he understood the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman rightly, the county licensing committee would cease to be the qua licensing authority, and the powers of the committee would be relegated to quarter sessions, who, he supposed, would delegate them again to the new committee, which would clear away difficulties that might arise from having two committees, one a licensing committee and the other what they might call a compensation committee. They had a provisional power given to county boroughs which, instead of sending their claims to the new licensing committees, would formulate their own licensing committees and would either confirm or reject the recommendations of the brewster sessions, so that there would be considerable access of power to justices in county boroughs.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
asked if it was made perfectly clear that quarter sessions could delegate 1372 their powers under Section 4 to the committee to be appointed under Section 5. He thought there was some danger it might be suggested there was no such power of delegation. Personally he was in favour of it.
§ MR. MANSFIELD (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
inquired whether, supposing the licensing justices refused an application for a new licence, quarter sessions or their committee would have power to override their decision and grant the new licence.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
asked if the Government were prepared to insert provisions to ensure that the inhabitants of a district affected had full notice of any intention to apply for a new licence so that they might attend the Court and put forward their views. Every possible avenue for the expression of public opinion should be left open.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
replied that under the law as it stood there was a very elaborate system of notice insisted on as a precedent to applications for new licences.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Words inserted.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
moved an Amendment to give power to quarter sessions to sanction or vary any conditions attached to a new licence under the provisions of the section. His object was to extend the powers of quarter sessions. A new licensing system was practically to be set up, 1373 and personally he thought it a considerable improvement on the present one. It was in fact much more elastic. He believed it would work satisfactorily provided that there was some power of controlling within reasonable limits the various conditions that might be attached to licences. The present power of quarter sessions only extended to confirming or not confirming; but if they were to extend the power of the licensing justices in the way proposed by the Home Secretary, he thought they must also make a corresponding extension of the powers of quarter sessions, which ought to have the power to refuse conditions attached to licences.
In page 3, line 11, after the word 'sessions' to insert the words 'and shall include the power to sanction any conditions attached to a new licence under the provisions of this section.'"—(Mr. Henry Hobhouse.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY(Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
said the point raised by his right hon. friend was one well worthy of consideration. His right hon. Friend suggested that when now licences were granted there should be some power in quarter sessions so to vary the conditions imposed by local magistrates that there should be some kind of uniformity in the terms on which the new licences were granted. Personally he was rather in favour of leaving such liberty to the local magistrates as might producs a large variety of experiment in this matter. On the whole he was disposed to think that, instead of having a controversy between the local magistrates and quarter sessions as to the terms upon which in a given locality new licences should be granted, they might leave the power with the local magistrates. He thought they would have a very valuable series of experiments made, some of which would doubtless be abortive, but none of which, so far as he could see, would inflict injustice on individuals, because from the nature of the case a man who took a new licence knew the conditions under which he took it, and if he did not think those condi- 1374 tions were tolerable he had the liberty of refusing to enter into the contract.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Barghs)
said he was not in favour of the Amendment, because he did not desire to see the authority of the local magistrates more circumscribed than it was at present. Quarter sessions might say to a licensee, "If you are not prepared to accept modifications in the sense that we desire we shall refuse to confirm the licence."
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
said that if quarter sessions had power to bargain with the licensee his object would be achieved; but it seemed to him they must either confirm or veto the licence. As the Government were not prepared to accept the Amendment he asked leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W. R., Spen Valley)
moved the following proviso, "Provided that no new licence shall be granted before the 1st day of January, 1907." He regarded the provisions of the clause in regard to the granting of new licences as a considerable improvement on the original Bill, but he could not help feeling that the discussion on these important although somewhat crude proposals was being rushed. The fact that the Government had already altered their scheme showed the difficulty and complexity of the problem for the discussion of which they were only being allowed one day. He wished to recognise that the revised proposal of the Government was a genuine attempt to propound a bona fide scheme for the issue of new licences in the interests of the public. There was no trace of the brewer in this proposal, and he was, perhaps, a little strengthened in his support of it by the fact that the trade papers were strongly condemning it. The object of his Amendment was to relieve the licensing justices of the necessity of dealing with that very complicated and difficult problem just at the moment when they had the new reduction proposals on their hands. The justices under the revised clause would fix the price to be charged for a licence for a 1375 period of seven years; and he thought that when they had had a year or two's experience in dealing with the question of compensation for non-renewal they would have gathered a large amount of very useful information as to the value of a licence and the conditions which ought to be attached to it. They were framing the new licensing system somewhat in a hurry, and one advantage of deferring the granting of new licences for two years would be that the Government would have an opportunity of reconsidering the whole matter. Many difficult problems were connected with the granting of new licences. There was the question whether there should be a heavy licence fee, fixed according to population if they liked, which would keep down the number of licences simply by the amount which would have to be paid, or whether they should adopt a system under which persons should tender, stating how much they would give for a licence. For these and other reasons it would be well to post-pone for two years the granting of new licences.
In page 3, line 8, at beginning, to insert the words 'No new licences shall be granted before the 1st day of January, 1907, and after that date.'"—(Mr. Whittaker.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
thought it would be a very great pity to interfere in any way with the discretion of the magistrates in the granting of new licences. The matter had been dealt with by the Home Secretary and the Solicitor-General with the greatest care and ability, and in his opinion the sooner the magistrates got to work the better. The hon. Member must not forget that many benches of licensing magistrates had already formulated schemes for a reduction in the number of licensed houses, and had obtained full particulars of the premises it was proposed to deal with, so that the pressure on them immediately after the passing of the Bill was not so great as he had suggested.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
dissented from the view of the hon. Member for the 1376 Spen Valley that the discussion was being rushed. He could not accept the Amendment. He had always had sympathy with the view that very few licences ought to be granted. But he did not see the necessity for the Amendment, because the magistrates would have the power to refuse to issue new licences for two years if they thought well to do so, and because, in the interest of growing districts which would require new licences to satisfy their needs, it would not be right to fetter the discretion of the magistrates.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
feared that the Home Secretary had not appreciated the full force of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley. What it was desired to point out was that in the administration of this great and complicated Act the magistrates would be overburdened with work, and, therefore, it was quite a reasonable suggestion to suspend the granting of new licences for two years, when the magistrates would have more time to-give to the consideration of the matter. After all, the main object of the Bill was to reduce the number of drinking shops, and surely it was not a very drastic proposal to suggest that no new licences. I should be granted for two years. As a rule licensing justices were men who were engaged in other businesses, and it was not right to make too heavy calls on their time.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 3, line 11, to leave out from the word 'sessions' to end of sub-section."— (Mr. Secretary Akers-Douglas.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
next moved to add at the end of the sub-section—" (1) No application for a new licence shall be received or considered by the justices of a licensing district unless and until they have issued a public notice that in their opinion a new licence is required in a particular locality, and they are prepared to receive applications for it." This was, he said, one of the recommendations in the 1377 Majority Report of the Royal Commission on Licensing, and he hoped, therefore, it would receive the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon. The proposal was a very simple one. His object was to save the magistrates from being badgered and worried by people coming continually with applications for new licences in the hope that some year they would influence a majority of the Court. It would be a very great advantage indeed if the magistrates had greater control and if it were left for them in the first place to decide where new licences were required and to invite suitable applications.
In page 3, line 11, at end, to insert the words' (1) No application for a new licence shall be received or considered by the justices of a licensing district unless and until they have issued a public notice that in their opinion a new licence is required in a particular locality and they are prepared to receive applications for it.' "—(Mr. Whittaker.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment. He had great doubts whether many persons would apply for new licences under the stringent conditions imposed by the Bill; but supposing in a new and growing district an hotel was built, was the owner to wait before he could apply for a licence until the justices of the licensing district had made up their minds about the necessity of a new licensed hotel in the locality? Was it not much better that the person applying for the licence should give evidence before the magistrates as to the necessity for such an hotel, and that on hearing that evidence the licensing magistrates should make up their minds as to whether or not they should grant the licence? The hon. Member must know that at present the greatest pains were taken to make known that an application for a licence had been lodged with the magistrates. There had to be publication of it in the papers for a month or more before the licence could be granted, and also on the site and on certain public buildings. Any member of the public had the power to come before the magistrates to object to the granting of the licence, and have 1378 his side of the case thrashed out. He could not see that anything would be gained by the Amendment.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire,. E.)
said that as he had placed on the Paper an Amendment with the same object but in another form, he wished to say a word or two in support of the proposal of his hon. friend. The Home Secretary had just said that it was undesirable to restrict the power of the licensing magistrates, and now they were told by the Solicitor-General that it was undesirable to extend the powers of the magistrates to represent their locality in dealing with this question of new licences. The magistrates were trusted with the duty of granting licences because they were supposed to be the most sober-minded men in dealing with licences in their own locality; and they should be allowed to form their own judgment as to the time at which they should deal with the needs of their own district. He thought the Amendment was in the right direction, and it was supported by those authorities which the Government ought to respect.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said that the Amendment which he wished to move raised two questions of very great importance. One was as to the advisability of having some change in the system under which the liquor trade was to be carried on; and the other was that an opportunity should be given to public opinion to express itself through a representative public authority. Many who were interested in temperance reform had been for some time of opinion that one of the most hopeful directions in which that reform could be carried out was that of endeavouring to have a change in the system of the liquor trade. As at present carried on it was inevitable that the sale of liquor should be pushed to the utmost degree possible. And, whilst it was his object to eliminate this, his Amendment would not interfere in any way with the liberty of people who wished to obtain alcoholic liquor. His object was to discourage the system of pushing the sale of liquor. He knew, 1379 of course, that the Amendment was open to one criticism, that if they got rid of the incentive to drink for the good of the landlord or the good of the house, it was only to substitute the incentive to drink for the good of the parish. That was a possible danger to which the system was open, but he would point out that, in his Amendment, there was nothing to restrict the disposal of the profits. It would be for purposes so wide—purposes of general utility that there would be no incentive to push the sale of liquor in any particular locality. The Amendment had been drawn in such a way as to guard against any such danger as he had described. After having got rid of the incentive to push the sale of liquor, he provided that the profits should be devoted to counter-attractions to the public-house. [An HON. MEMBER: TO fountains?] What was in his mind when he spoke of counter-attractions was that in every village there should be a place of resort—a public hall or club for social entertainment, where village societies could meet and spend their time in interesting and profitable discussions. "Counter-attractions," of course, was not quite the full description of what he meant. Public halls were in themselves eminently desirable, whether there was a public-house close by or not. The phrase had been drawn intentionally wide, because it would include fountains up to the highest form of scientific education.
As to the second most important point in the Amendment, it was to bring in a representative authority. Now, he quite saw that they could not bring in a representative authority in such a way as to confuse the administration of the licensing authority. But, if the local authority were given no administrative power whatever, and only an opportunity of passing resolutions in regard to the issue of new licences, he thought that might be done in such a way as not to lead to confusion in administration. Under this Bill it was impossible to change the administrative authority from the justices to a representative authority; and if his Amendment would entail anything of that kind he admitted that it would be against the principle of the Bill. At the same time 1380 he, and those who thought with him, had never looked upon the justices as the ideal authority to decide all questions in regard to licences; and just as they were beginning to have some hope of a change in the system, their hopes had been dashed by the introduction of this Bill. He wished the introduction of a representative authority, because he believed that in recent years public opinion had been ripening in regard to temperance reform, and had been keenly investigating possible methods of such reform. The Prime Minister himself had admitted that there was some hope in liberty of experiment in this matter. He entirely agreed that foolish experiments might be made; still in liberty of experiment there was really some hope of temperance reform. But there could be no liberty of experiment unless some opportunity was given for the expression of public opinion. He insisted that that opportunity of giving expression to the desire of the people for temperance reform could be afforded without conflicting with the administration of the licensing authority set up by the Bill. If it were the case, as everybody admitted, that the liquor trade and excess in drinking was a real national danger, and if that danger were greatly increased by leaving the trade in private hands, surely no opportunity of introducing a change in the present licensing system should be neglected. Excess was the real national danger, and if that danger were greatly increased, as it must be, by leaving the trade in private hands, and if it were the case that private hands had literally got the country by the throat, surely no opportunity of introducing a change of system in the future, should be ignored.
So far as existing licences were concerned, the Amendment did not refer to them, but, where the creation of new licences was concerned, public opinion should be given the greatest possible opportunity of starting new and improved systems. The Prime Minister spoke somewhat disparagingly of temperance reformers as a hopeless body because they were never agreed. If they took too extreme a view of the matter it was difficult to get agreement, but he thought there were many creeks and inlets into which a favourable 1381 tide would flow if they only dug a channel for it. He wanted to dig a channel for it in that Amendment in which public opinion might flow. The real hope was not so much in a great general movement as in the fact that they would have one community more progressive than another, which afforded a practical way of advancing to which they should give every facility. He wanted any progressive communities to have an opportunity of having their say, and experiment to have a fair trial, in the hope of a better system of control of the liquor trade. Even if the number of new licences must be for many years comparatively small, and as he saw in the clause as moved by the Government nothing of the hand of the brewer, and no desire to tie licensing authorities down with regard to the new system, he would ask the Government whether they could not favourably consider his Amendment, which introduced the representative authority, and so gave facilities for the expression of public opinion without conflicting with the administrative powers of their own licensing authority, and to say whether it would not be desirable that they should give some invitation to local authorities to take steps in the direction of putting new licences, at any rate, under a better system than that which had hitherto had the monopoly of the trade.
In page 3, line 13, at end, to insert the words 'provided that a local authority may, by resolution, declare that no new on-licence shall be so granted or confirmed in respect of premises within their area except to a company or association of persons formed for the purpose of devoting any profits (or any such proportion of profits as may be specified in the resolution) to public purposes and complying with regulations made for the purpose by the Secretary of State, and any such resolution shall have effect accordingly.'"—(Sir Edward Grey.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said there was a great deal in the general observations of the right hon. Baronet with which, as the Committee knew, he was in sympathy; but he did not think it would be desirable to adopt the Amendment which he had put upon the Paper; nor did he think 1382 that Amendment really carried out the general principles which the right hon. Baronet had laid down in his speech. He would not go into the question of how the money which could be derived from the sale of liquor in a parish or district could be applied for the entertainment and improvement of the inhabitants. He remembered the late Lord Salisbury suggested that if they wanted to amuse a parish the best way was by giving a circus rather than by giving a parish council; and he would venture to suggest to his hon. friend behind, who made in-terjectory interruption in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, that probably circuses would be more effective for that particular purpose than the fountain which his hon. friend would regard apparently as the substitute in this case. He did not gather that the intention of the right hon. Baronet was to substitute a non-intoxicating for an intoxicating beverage, but rather to see if any profits made out of the monopoly value could be transferred to some public purpose. There were many temperance reformers who would regard that as a very serious blow to their own particular views as to how the cause of temperance could be best advanced. He neither shared their apprehensions in that matter nor did he share to the full some of the hopes which the right hon. Baronet expressed as to the substitution of companies like those indicated in the Amendment for the present system. He must honestly say he thought there had been an exaggeration in much temperance literature as to the degree of alcoholic consumption which was due to what was called pushing the sale of drink. He had not much experience in those matters, but his own impression was that the people drank in public-houses because they wanted to drink, and not because the liquor was pressed upon them by the publican. There might be, and no doubt were, especially in country districts, cases in which the sale might be pressed to the great detriment of the locality and of the individuals who fell a prey to that temptation; but that the great bulk of the drinking in this country was regulated by the pressure put upon the consumer by the publican, and not by the pressure put upon the publican by the consumer, 'he had very great doubts. It was not 1383 really those considerations, which were subsidiary, on which he based his objection to that Amendment.
That Amendment was recommended to the Committee because it introduced the public opinion of the locality, and enabled it to pronounce in favour of a particular form of experiment in regard to the sale of alcoholic liquors. He quite understood the policy, though he did not agree with it, or think it would be desirable, at all events in the existing conditions, to say that every question connected with drinking facilities, so long as injustice were not inflicted on individuals, should be left to the locality itself, That was an intelligible but probably not an expedient policy; but he did not think the limited form proposed by the Amendment was consistent either with sound theory or practice. It would only allow the local authority to intervene in that question in one particular form and in favour of one particular kind of experiment. That seemed to him illogical and inconsistent with the general principles they desired to lay down, and also inimical to that other liberty of experiment which he regarded as one of the most valuable results of Clause 4 in its present shape. Under the Amendment the liberty of the local authority would be absolutely restricted to saying aye or no to that one particular question.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
If the Govern-would insert the wider and larger Amendment I should be delighted to withdraw this. I thought, being small, it might be acceptable.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he thought if they were going to give power to the locality at all they should give the locality freedom all round. But they had gone throughout on the hypothesis that they were to interfere as little as possible with the magisterial management. That was the view embodied in the Bill, and it had received its most violent expression from hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had been obliged to change the magisterial authority in order to carry out the scheme of compensation, but where they could leave it alone they had done so. He did not think it would be wise in Clause 4 alone 1384 of the Bill to bring in for the first time the local authority as settling the precise kind of experiment which should be tried. He was not sure they would be well suited to carry that out, and it would be both illogical and imprudent in any case to say, "We cannot trust you with the whole decision on all the points that arise, but you are to have the power to say aye or no to the one particular form of experiment. "He thought the public-house trust system a most proper experiment, and one well worthy of trial. Whether it was going to succeed, and going gradually to supplant other methods, he was not rash enough to prophesy, but it was an experiment which had been supported with the most earnest intentions of dealing with some of the evils in the country, and full liberty to try it with regard to new licences was left under the clause as they had drafted it. He would venture to suggest, however, they ought not to lay it down that in this particular, and in this particular alone, the local authorities should be dragged in, and be permitted to give a veto on any other than one particular form of experiment among the many forms of experiment which were open to the magistrates to try. For these reasons he hoped the Committee would agree with the Government in refusing to accept this limitation.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
thought it was unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman could not meet the invitation of the right hon. Member for Berwick, and leave the whole matter in the hands of the local authorities. He considered local authorities should have greater powers in this matter than they had at present. The door, of course, was closed so far as existing licences were concerned, but they ought to have a locus standi whenever application was made for a new licence. At present the local authority had no right to appear before the magistrates, or instruct counsel to place the case for the locality officially before the Court of quarter sessions. It had been decided by the House of Lords that if a watch committee employed counsel for the purpose of presenting its views on a licensing question, the money so spent should be disallowed. He would suggest that where a new licence was applied for, notice should be given to the local authority 1385 of the district, and that the authority should be able to appear before the licensing magistrates and quarter sessions. It would be practically useless in London, for instance, to advertise these notices in the local newspapers, because they had a very poor circulation, and probably not one-tenth of the population ever saw them. The notice should be sent to the authority, and appear on the agenda paper of their meetings and be considered. He agreed that drinking did not depend on the pressure of the publican so much as it did on a man's sense of honour. A man who had nowhere else to spend the evening, and who had any sense of honour, felt that he could not sit in a public-house all the evening for 2d. That was the sort of pressure that existed. He felt he was not welcome if he did not spend, and therefore he continued to drink and spend his money. A man ought to be able to feel that he was just as welcome if he did not spend his money as if he did. A man was not scowled at in his club if he did not spend his money, and that was one of the elements of these great trusts. This question of licensing would never be settled except by means of experiment, and he thought the should not only be allowed to experiment, but encouraged to do so. But what was a good experiment in one district might be a bad experiment for another. He knew districts in Wales where prohibition was a success, but there were others where, if prohibition were tried, a wholesale defiance of the law would follow. The local authority would be much more likely to experiment, and therefore he would ask the Prime Minister to consider whether some means could not be devised which would give greater elasticity with regard to new licences. Not much harm would, at any rate, be done if the local authority were brought in, and it would test how they would set to work. In some districts it would be quite possible that the whole system of licensing would be recast, but that could only be done by trusting local opinion.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
thought the Committee, at all events, were entitled to ask that the Amendment should be sufficiently clearly worded to ensure that the new licensed houses should be so managed that extra profits 1386 should not go to the brewers. It was only human nature that the brewers and distillers should endeavour to sell as much liquor as they possibly could, because it was their living. That was the result of the present system. It also had the effect of increasing the sale of inferior and doctored liquor, which ruined people's health and increased the craving for drink, a result from which the poor were the chief sufferers, because this inferior liquor was sold at a low price. The huge mistake that had been made in the past afforded a strong reason why every care should be taken against any such mistake in the future. As a loyal supporter he appealed to the Government to make it, as far as possible, certain that under all future licences it should not be in the interests of either owners or managers of licensed premises to increase the sale of beer or spirits. He hoped the Liberal Party, when they returned to power with serried ranks and gigantic battalions, would find a way of dealing with grocers' licences, which it was generally admitted had had the effect of teaching the women of England to drink.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said the Committee were now engaged in remodelling the licensing system so far as new licences were concerned, and that in itself was a matter of extreme importance. The Amendment proposed that in one direction the local authority should have power to require a particular experiment to be tried. That experiment was not municipalisation, but disinterested management, and under it a man would be able to enter a licensed house as a place of recreation, without feeling that he was obliged to spend more than he could afford. There was nothing in the idea of providing counter-attractions that ought to excite derision. The harder the life of the people, the more need was there for amusement and diversion, and the provision of that relaxation without the necessity to drink was an object of which every sensible man must thoroughly approve. Existing organisations for this purpose had done much good already, and with the experience they had secured they would doubtless do better in the future. The objection of the Prime Minister was not so much to the principle 1387 as to the empowering of the local authority to require the experiment to be tried, but the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman urged his objection rather gave the idea that he was not altogether beyond persuasion or pressure. The suggestions of the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, that the local authority should be given a loeus standi in the matter, would not do all that was required; but his further proposal that the relations between the local authority and the licensing authority should be considered was well worth attention. He would join his hon. friend in urging the Government to see whether something could rot be done to give the local authority some potent voice—a consultative voice, if nothing more—in the granting of new licences. The field was absolutely open. Personally, he would like to supersede the justices by a complete scheme of local option. There was no chance of that, however, at present, but was it not possible to harmonise local opinion with the authority and power of the licensing justices? The question could not be properly discussed on the present occasion, but he hoped that before the Report stage the Government would consider whether they could do anything to assist in that direction.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that one would imagine, from the discussion, that no regard had been had in the drafting of this clause for the interests of the experiment to which reference had been made. As the Prime Minister had stated, that experiment was a most valuable one, though whether it would eventually succeed was another matter. But the Committee must not be under the impression that the Government were not fostering that experiment. Under the proposal of the Home Secretary, power was to be given to the justices to attach "such conditions as they think best adapted for preventing any private person from obtaining any benefit for any monopoly value of the licence." That meant that the justices could attach such conditions as they pleased as to any proportion of profits being handed over for public purposes. There was to be no private gain in the matter. That provision would to a large extent help the trust experiment, because it was hardly 1388 conceivable that any private ndividua for a commercial speculation would accept such a proposition. It might happen, however, that an association carried on on non-dividend-earning lines might fail, and then the trust would come to an end, and the private individual would have to be set up again. The right hon. Baronet asked the Committee to go a step further, and empower the local authority to say that only to such a trust as was willing to agree to pay over the profits for public purposes would they grant new licences. That was an absolutely impracticable and impossible proposition. It might, in practice, amount to local option. In a new neighbourhood it was only as a matter of speculation that a hotel would be built. A trust was hardly likely to enter into such a speculation, so that the local authority would practically be empowered to say that no such hotel or refreshment room should be built. The same argument would apply to railway refreshment rooms, which were frequently carried on not for profit, but simply for the convenience of passengers. The right hon. Baronet would probably admit that in reality he was trying to introduce the thin end of the wedge of local option—a principle to which the Unionist Party had never in any way lent its support. To introduce that principle to the extent suggested in this Amendment would be a very serious matter. It might be a good or bad thing, but it could not be introduced into a Bill of this kind without having far-reaching consequences. A proposal had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Carnarvon to give the local authority a locus standi, but that was really the same principle as local option. In the case of an application for a new licence any member of the public t might come in and object, or any member of the council. He regarded this Amendment as the thin end of the wedge for local option, and it would have more far-reaching consequences than it appeared at first sight to indicate.
§ MR ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
said the Solicitor-General had presented them with a new form of the simile of the thin end of the wedge, but the right hon. Gentleman could not have had in his mind at the time the legislation of his own Government in regard to Scotland. 1389 What did the Government do in regard to Scotland? They actually gave direct representation to the local authority, and last year that principle was actually carried into effect in regard to Scotland, The Solicitor-General had asked what about hotels and railway stations? If the Government would accept the Amendment in substance and in spirit there would be no difficulty in moulding it into a form which would prevent any such cases of special hardships as those he had mentioned. The Solicitor-General asked what would happen supposing there were no trusts in the district prepared to undertake the matter? He did not think that was a very probable case, and a local authority under those circumstances would not pass any such resolution. If they did pass such a resolution it would be a clear indication of their view, in which one would imagine they were supported by the opinion of the locality, that it would be better not to have any public-houses at all rather than have them carried on merely for private profit under demoralising conditions. He doubted whether they would find any local authority, if there were no trusts, which would consider that it was fulfilling its obligations under this proviso by taking such a step. Let them clearly understand whether it was the opinion of the Government that this particular proposal should not be accepted here in England, and that local authorities as such should have no voice of any sort or kind and no power of remonstrance in its official capacity in regard to this great question. It had been determined in the House of Lords that local authorities could not lawfully expend the borough funds upon licensing appeals and that was a monstrous state of the law. He did not think there was any duty which could more properly be cast upon local authorities, and in the performances of which they could more rightly and justly resort to the rates, than that of expressing before the licensing justices what the general opinion of their district was in regard to public-house accommodation.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said he thought it was agreed on both sides of the House that the authority dealing with licensing questions should be 1390 the justices. He never could see why a distinction should be drawn between the justices acting in one place and the same justices acting in another place. This Amendment would prevent the justices from granting a new licence if the local authority said the licence must only be granted on the trust principle, because then the licensing justices were not to be allowed to grant that licence upon any other principle. That seemed to him to be interfering with the discretion of the magistrates which he wished to maintain. He would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that the feeling upon this matter of licensing was not always on one side. From experience in his own county he could state that local opinion in favour of licensing was much stronger than local opinion on the other side, as expressed at the petty sessions and quarter sessions. He had often had great difficulty in persuading his colleagues to take the views he held against the granting of new licences because public opinion as expressed in Court was often on the side of licensed houses. The other day he was sitting as chairman of a licensing committee, and they had an application from a town in Kent to be made what was known as "a populous place," which allowed more time for drinking in the evening. Not without difficulty it was shown that there was another side to the question and the licensing committee took the bold line, and, in the face of all the local opinion, which seemed to preponderate on the other side, they determined to deny this boon. He mentioned that to show that local opinion was not always on the temperance side.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid)
said the right hon. Gentleman opposite had given instances where local opinion had been expressed unfavourable to the temperance cause, but he did not think that argument would apply to the local authority. They could always get influential persons to give their individual opinion in one direction or the other, but if they trusted the local authority, which had the responsibility of acting not merely for themselves but for those they represented, it would in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred express the real wishes of the locality. 1391 The Solicitor-General had directed his criticism chiefly to the particular form of the Amendment, but his right hon. friend had stated his willingness to simplify his Amendment in any way which would induce the Government to support it. The valuable part of the Amendment was the suggestion that they should bring into play in dealing with new licences the intervention of the local authority. It was quite true that, theoretically, any one had power to appear before the licensing justices, but all those who had had experience of licensing justices knew that the representations made either by petition, through the chairman of a public meeting, or by means of a committee, were really not allowed to have the influence they deserved before the local justices. In days gone by it was decided in many cases not to permit petitions to be presented, and they were simply placed upon the table. He wished to remind the Prime Minister that this was the only part of the Bill in which this proposal could properly be made. Here they were dealing with licences that might be granted in the future, and they said that the local authority should have some locus standi in the determination of the questions which arose. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to give very full power in the case of public-house trusts, but something might be done to introduce the local bodies. His hon. and learned friend had suggested that they should have some locus standi before the justices, and it was, he understood, his intention to move an Amendment dealing with that matter. It would not be denied by anybody on the other side of the House that it would come well within the proper power of a local authority, at any rate, to make some representation in regard to this matter. The local authority were entrusted with the care of the health of the people, and they had to police the district, and surely it was not too much to ask that they should have the right to make representations to the justices, and that they should be placed in such a position that the justices would not be able to brush them on one side entirely in connection with any representations they might make. The Solicitor-General had stated that notice of an ample kind had to be made to many people 1392 before an application for a new licence could be made. He thought it would be well now to determine that notice should be given to the local authority. If that were done the public authority would deal with the matter and determine to do something with regard to it. He would make it the duty of the local authority to consider a proposed application for a new licence, to determine one way or other with regard to it, and to make a representation of their views to the justices. If Parliament declared that the local authorities themselves should consider these very important questions, and make representations regarding them, the justices would feel for the first time the real force which ought to attach to the opinions of the representatives of the people. He entirely approved of the new Clause 4 so far as it went, but he hoped something would be put in to enable local authorities to make representations to the justices.
§ MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said it was very desirable that the local authority should have power to advise in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University said he agreed with the speeches on both sides. He found himself in the unhappy position of disagreeing with both parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He disagreed with the view that the local authority should not have any power of intervention, and he disagreed also with the very sanguine hope formed as to the experiment which the trusts were carrying out. Mr. Charles Booth, no mean experimenter, had experimented with five houses, and his report was to the effect that the idea that a manager could decrease the alcoholic trade was disproved. A friend with whom he had a conversation informed him that he had been told by one of the trust managers lately, "If I offer my customers tea and coffee they are fit to kill me." If they had a publican carrying on his business for his own private profit with all the interest he used to have at stake, under a bench of magistrates, active and vigilant in their supervision over him, they got as efficient a means of carrying on the business as they were likely to have through a manager. A good deal had been said as to the elimination of the element of private profit, but people did not work for 1393 profit alone. They worked for success and they became as enthusiastic about success as about profit. He knew of two prohibition areas in the neighbourhood of London where the population entirely appreciated the prohibition. Whenever it was proposed to open a public-house on the borders of these areas the people were prepared with practical unanimity to sign petitions against it. He had received letter after letter from a public-house trust, urging him to have a trust public-house in one of these areas. He maintained that their desire to have a public-house in one of these areas where there was no liquor sold at present, and where the people did not want liquor to be sold, did not arise from love of temperance, which might have been the original cause of forming the trust, but to that love of success which took hold of a man whenever he engaged in a business enterprise. He had intervened in the debate to express his strong feeling that the hope attached to this kind of work was very apt to be disappointed.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
said he was very strongly in favour of power being given to local authorities to make representations to the justices. He had not seen his way to support the Amendment of his right hon. friend. He was not in favour of entrusting the licensing system to the local representative authorities, because he did not want to see this liquor business introduced into municipal elections. He thought the influences of the liquor traffic in municipal elections would be all to the bad. He could imagine the dining, and otherwise influencing, to which the members of local authorities would be subjected. He would like to see some means devised whereby they would get the opinion of the public direct. He did see a good deal of advantage, in suitable localities, of eliminating the matter of private interests in the sale of liquor. The Prime Minister had suggested that there was practically nothing in the contention that the publican pushed the sale of drink. If the right hon. Gentleman would study the tied house system of the country, he would find how great was the number of publicans who were turned out because they had not pressed the sale of liquor and had not sold enough. If it were not to induce people to go in 1394 and buy liquor, why had licence-holders spent so much money to make their places attractive? If the element of private profit could be got rid of a great deal would be done to shorten hours as had been done in Norway. Much had been accomplished in the way of providing parks and playgrounds for the outdoor enjoyment of the people. But they were apt to forget that a majority of working people could only enjoy these places for a short time. He suggested that there should be provided "indoor parks," in the shape of free clubs and places of recreation, altogether disconnected with places of worship or instruction, and conducted with the utmost freedom, and quite clear of liquor. It was the social instinct which brought men together in the public-houses, and if such clubs as he had suggested were established much could be done to meet the great evil of drinking clubs which were springing up up and down the country. To close public-houses and yet allow drinking clubs to spring up would be to make very little headway indeed. The only way to grapple with the drinking club was to provide counter-attractions under the management of local authorities He was very much attracted by the idea of getting the money to provide these counter-attractions from the liquor trade
His objection to the trusts associated with the name of Lord Grey was, first of all, that they brought very definite and potent pressure to bear in applications for new licences, thereby increasing the number of licences. They brought pressure of a potent kind to bear, because those connected with the trusts were all influential noblemen and gentlemen in their localities. These noblemen and gentlemen waited upon the bench of magistrates and urged that licences should be granted. In that way they could bring a pressure to bear which no private individual could do. Their contention was that all they asked for was that if the justices were prepared to grant a licence, the licence should be granted to them. But in practice they were pressing for licences in districts where there were already numerous licences; and consequently they were a very potent influence aiming at the increase of public-houses. His second 1395 objection was that the money was to be used for local purposes. That was a species of bribery to the local justices to grant a licence. If the profits were to be used to endow an hospital, a new library, or a nurse, it would be a very great inducement to grant an additional licence which would not otherwise be granted. The right hon. Baronet suggested that the gifts should be distributed over a wide area; but there was nothing of that in the Amendment.
The Solicitor General had referred to the complications which might ensue. He agreed that the many difficulties surrounding this proposal of the right hon. Baronet were too extensive to be discussed on this Amendment. One point of importance not mentioned in the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet, or in the amended clause the Government had put on the Paper, was the rate of interest that was to be allowed to these public-house trusts. He could see that a 5 per cent. investment might become very attractive indeed, especially if there was a tinge of philanthropy connected with it; and that the investor persuaded himself that he was thereby working in the direction of temperance reform. He was quite in favour of wide-spread local experiments; but they should be made under safeguarded conditions. He thought that disinterested management of public-houses would be of little value anywhere unless the company or the local authority had the control of all the licensed houses in the locality. A single house with disinterested management would have no value whatever. Before they could embark on the principle of disinterested management they ought to have a very well thought-out scheme; and such a scheme could not be introduced into this Bill. The Amendment did not propose that licences should be granted to a municipality, and he was glad to note that, because he believed it would be fatal. To grant licences to a municipality would be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire. It was because the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet introduced in the crudest way the possibility of the element of public profit out of the sale of liquor that he much regretted that he could not see his way to support it.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
said he had moved his Amendment in the hope that the Government might see their way to accept it. It had been drafted on a limited scale in the anticipation that the Government would think it possible to admit it into the rather close meshes they had drawn round their Bill. But as the Government would not accept the small experiment which he had suggested he would not press his Amendment to a division. However, he felt very strongly that the local representatives were not to have any say at all in the granting of licences. The Solicitor-General said that this was the thin end of the wedge of local option. Well, in a sense it was, if local option was used in a wide sense, and not in that of local veto. He did not know why the thin end of the wedge should not be inserted here as well as in the Transvaal, which was not a highly democratic community. He had no desire to press this particular Amendment to a division; but he thought the sense of the House ought to be taken on the question of whether the representative authority was to have any say or any interest whatever in the direction of a trade which was admitted to be one of great danger.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
said that the ideal of the hon. Member for Spen Valley was a land in which there should be no public-houses. His ideal was a land where there were enough public-houses. The question before the Committee was whether they were to have public-houses managed by trusts from philanthropic motives. He thought the Prime Minister rather under-estimated the power of the managers of tied houses in pushing the sale of drink. The tied house system had enormously increased during the last twenty years. In the old days a publican had a sort of pride in his business. It was a kind of a social institution; not a mere money-making establishment. Under the new system there was a decrease of the places in the public-houses where a man could sit down and quietly enjoy his evening. He thought if the Prime Minister, who did not seem to travel abroad much, were to go over to the Continent, he might see, for instance in France, what an ideal public-house was. There a man could sit all 1397 the evening, and write his letters, and have his glass of beer, or cup of coffee, and feel comfortable. But that could not be done in a tied house. His own opinion was that the local authority should have, in questions of granting new licences, not an authoritative position, but a consultative position. From a practical business point of view, he thought that a new licence should be sold by auction. In that way a very large sum of money would be obtained for public purposes. There ought to be some elasticity for experiments in a new system of licensing; but no bench of licensing magistrates would sanction these experiments unless they had the strengthening advice of the local authorities. Therefore, the local authority ought to be able to express the feeling of the community as a whole in regard to new licences. The Prime Minister said that any one could appeal to the licensing magistrates, but he could only do so individually and not as one speaking for the community. He urged on the Prime Minister to allow the local authority to have a consultative voice in the granting of a new licence.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said that a great deal had been urged that afternoon as to the advantage of experiments being made on a new licensing system on right lines. He thought that the Amendment of his right hon. friend would fairly ensure that experiments might be made on trust lines, but it did not leave the way open to the adoption of a high licence system. It was said that under the Government scheme high licences would be possible. But, although high licences might, to a certain extent, destroy the monopoly, they would not promote temperance, because the man who had to pay a high licence would press the sale of liquor even more than a man who only had to pay a low licence. He would support the Amendment, not in the interests of the trusts, but because he did not believe that the Government scheme was on the right lines. His hon. friend had referred to trusts; but there was one variety of trust which had not been mentioned. That was the village trust started by miners in villages in Scotland, and run by them under extraordinarily difficult cir- 1398 cumstances but with great financial success. He admitted that that was rather a dangerous form of trust, especially where a village was deriving a large income from the public-house. It would be far better if the Government recognised the trust system, and provided that the profits should be spread over a large area and not concentrated in one hard-drinking village. It was time that the whole system should be put on a better thought-out basis than that on which it now rested. These drinking clubs were extending from Scotland to the North of England, and they were on the highway to similar village trusts there to those which existed in Scotland.
§ MR. OSMOND WILLIAMS (Merionethshire)
said he wished to support the Amendment. The principle of legislation in this country for years had been in the direction of decentralisation. The Bill, however, laid an axe to the root of local control and removed any power from the man on the spot, transferring it to a distant body whose local knowledge was of necessity extremely imperfect. The Home Secretary stated that quarter sessions would be an imparitial tribunal. He had attended quarter sessions for thirty years, and during recent years he had had the honour of presiding over the Court; but, although he had the greatest respect for quarter sessions, he could not subscribe to the sweeping statement of the Home Secretary. Why go through the farce of asking the local justices to act at all? Why not make quarter sessions the sole authority? A more wanton insult to the local justices could not be imagined; and the public would be quite ready to lay hold of it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
moved an Amendment providing that no new licence should be granted until at least three weeks notice of the hearing of the application had been given to the local authority in the area in which the public-house was situated, and the justices had considered all representations made to 1399 them by the local authority either in writing or at the hearing of the application. His object was to give a locus standi to the local authority, to allow it to make a full report as to the circumstances of the case, and to make suggestions to the justices so as to assist them in coming to a conclusion with reference to the terms on which they should grant a licence. The local authority was responsible for law and order and for the expense which new licences would throw upon the district, and surely they should be able to appear before the licensing bench and express their views freely. The Solicitor-General suggested that this would be an approach to local option; but it required a very keen Celtic imagination indeed to evolve local option out of the Amendment. The local authority would probably refer the matter to a committee, which would consider all the local circumstances, and then decide as to whether a licence should be opposed or supported, and on what conditions it should be granted. He thought that quarter sessions would be rather pleased to have the assistance of the local authority. He could not see what possible objection there could be to the proposal. The late Archbishop Temple favoured it; and it was the opinion of every moderate-minded man that the local authorities should have the power to appear and express an opinion through counsel as to the granting of new licences. The Home Secretary proposed that any money obtained from new licences should go to the local taxation account; but, surely, the authority which had the expenditure of that money ought to be able to suggest to the licensing bench the payment which ought to be made. He hoped the Prime Minister would see his way to accept the Amendment.
In page 3, line 13, after the words last omitted, to insert the words, 'provided that no new licence shall be granted until at least three weeks notice shall have been first given to the local authority for the area in which the premises are situate, and the justices have considered all representations made by such local authority, either in writing or at the hearing of the application, in respect of such application.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the hon. Member desired that the local authority should have some means of saying how the money was to be made which they were to spend. That was exactly what temperance reformers on the other side of the House most vehemently objected to. Was not the Amendment, moreover, unnecessary fron the point of view of the hon. Member? He talked as if the local authority had now no right to appear before the magistrates. The law at present was, he understood, and would still remain, that "in the case of an application for a new licence any member of the public may appear before the licensing justices and oppose the grant of such licence," etc. A fortiori a person so much a member of the public as the representative of the local authority might do so.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, and therefore he cannot employ counsel; but surely in a matter like this that would not be the best way of dealing with a purely administrative point.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
The applicant employs counsel invariably, and so does anyone who opposes. Surely the local authority ought to have counsel.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he would have thought otherwise. The local authority must know what was going on and have full cognisance of the fact that a new licence was to be granted. They could make any proposals they liked to the magistrates. Whilst they would not gain anything by the Amendment, he thought a great deal would be lost. He did not think the general management of public affairs would be greatly improved by throwing this additional controversial subject upon their shoulders. The Amendment would do nothing which might not be done now, but it would be making a suggestion, which he would regret to see in an Act of Parliament, that part of the normal duties of a local authority should be to 1401 canvass the kind of advice they should give to the magistrates in the case of a new licence, not only as to the necessity of it, but as to the terms on which it should be granted. It would be better to leave the law as it was, allowing full liberty to all local authorities to say what they had to say to the magistrates responsible for granting new licences.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he was much interested as to the little red volume from which the Prime Minister had quoted the law. The local authority had not now the power which the Amendment proposed to give them. If the local authority had, as the Prime Minister himself assumed, an interest as to the granting or withholding of a licence, surely they ought to be in a position to employ counsel and meet the other side upon equal terms. Unfortunately the House of Lords had been induced to correct the impression which formerly prevailed that local authorities were entitled to spend a modest sum out of the rates for the purpose of making their views known, and local authorities were now unable to voice the views of their constituents in that matter. He thought the Government might make a concession of that kind without in any way interfering with the general principles of their scheme.
§ MR. HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said he wished to appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment in the interests of the children of the country. Recent legislation in connection with education had put new responsibilities on the local authorities. The old school boards could only protest against the granting of new licences; but they had no power to spend money or to employ counsel. In the interests of the child life of the country it was necessary that the Amendment should be accepted.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
pointed out that the municipal corporations had a position in this matter somewhat different from anything which would accrue if they were made the licensing authority. Municipal corporations, through their watch committees, had control of the police, than whom nobody knew more as to the necessity or desirability of the granting or the renewal of licences; but 1402 the local authority had no power to engage legal assistance in pursuing to the Court of Appeal the opinions of their watch committees. He submitted that the watch committee, inasmuch as they had control of the police, ought to have power through the local authority to employ at the public cost legal assistance in order that the opinion of the police might be adequately expressed before the licensing authority. The Amendment was a very modest one, and he hoped the Government would accept it.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
supported the appeal of the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division. A constant ground of objection to proposed sites for elementary schools was the existence of a public-house in the neighbourhood which would interfere either with the school itself or with the children attending the school. That power of objection was all very well with regard to existing public-houses, but there was nothing to prevent a new public-house being placed in a position disadvantageous to an elementary school. He submitted that it was only right that a local authority, which was charged with the duty of superintending public education, should have a voice before the magistrates in order to warn them of the evils which, from the point of view of the school, might result from the grant or the renewal of a licence.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thought the case just brought forward was not one which required to be supported by counsel or solicitors. He was quite willing to rate as highly as the right hon. Gentleman opposite the skill of the profession of which he was so great an ornament, but it was surely enough that the members of the local authority, or the chairman on their behalf, should tell the magistrates that if a new public-house was required it must not be put down close to an elementary school. Such a case appealed to everybody, and he could not see what would be gained by the local authority being empowered to pay for such presentation to be made to the licensing magistrates. He hardly thought that such a change in the existing law was at all required to carry out the object hon. Members had in view.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said the Prime Minister had treated this Amendment merely as a proposal for enabling the local authorities to employ counsel, but such a view was based upon a complete misconception of the position occupied by the local authorities on these matters, and the practical steps which had been taken to give effect to their views. In the Tynemouth case, to which reference had been made, the justices had deprived six or seven houses of their licences, and the corporation decided to use public funds for the purpose of sustaining the action of the magistrates on appeal. That decision involved the employment of counsel, the collection of evidence, the engagement of a solicitor, and the payment of the costs of securing the attendance of witnesses; and while the crown of the structure might have teen the counsel who ultimately adorned it, the earlier steps, which were infinitely more important, were all necessary in order to enable the local authority to make its opinion felt before the quarter sessions. The situation at present was that local authorities could not spend a single sixpence out of the rates for the purpose of conveying to the committee of quarter sessions their opinion upon matters of enormous importance to themselves. A phrase in the Amendment of the Home Secretary placed the matter on an entirely new basis, because the justices were to consider, amongst other things, "the interests of the public." How were they to know what were the interests of the public in connection with a matter with reference to which they had not necessarily any local knowledge whatever? They were being called upon to discharge an important function without having the means of ascertaining the facts. They would have a highly partisan aspect of the case presented by the applicant, but the other side would be left to the uninstructed zeal of private individuals who were opposed to the licence. It was true that members of the local authority might appear as individuals, but there was no voice of the authority as such, and no official representation was conveyed to the licensing committee to guide them in their decision. The Amendment involved no infringement of the principle of the Bill; it simply freed local authorities from the 1404 fetters placed upon their action by the decision of the House of Lords in the Tynemouth case—a decision which on public grounds could not be sustained— and he hoped the Government would grant the concession asked for.
§ MR. PEMBERTON (Sunderland)
joined in the appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment, which was certainly not against the principle of the Bill. It was not the case that the expression of public opinion of the district was always before the licensing authority when the question of the granting or the renewal of licences was considered. An individual might come before the licensing committee, but he came only as an individual, and naturally his views had not the same force as if he came as a representative of the local authority. One had only to think of the position before a Committee upstairs. When an individual appeared as the chairman of a public body he carried much more weight than the, man who, although the chairman of a public body, appeared simply as an individual. The same argument really applied to the case they were now considering, and he therefore hoped that the Government would favourably consider the Amendment. As an attempt to meet those Members of the Party who did not see eye to eye with their leaders on the Bill the acceptance of the Amendment would be welcomed.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that on the question of expense he might remind the Committee that two years ago they enabled the licensing justices to defend their decisions on appeal at the cost of the rates. That made it no longer necessary for the local authority to duplicate that operation practically out of the same pockets. As to the contention that this Amendment was necessary in order to get the opinion of the police authority in boroughs, he knew a case where, whether legally or otherwise, the licensing justices, in their capacity as conservators of the peace, called upon the chief constable to supply all the necessary information as to the police aspects of the case. Really, as a matter of practice, with all respect to the hon. Member for Sunderland, could any man in his senses dream that it was 1405 necessary for a local authority to employ counsel in order to convey to the justices the simple fact that the resolution against the granting of a licence had been passed by the local authority? When they had conveyed that resolution what was there more?
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said this looked like an attempt to quarter the lawyers on the rates. They had already got the school board rate, the poor rate, and the police rate, and under this Amendment there would be a lawyer's rate. In his opinion there was no need whatever for the employment of any lawyer in so simple a matter as this. He must protest against this attempt to set up a tyranny of lawyers in every matter in which the public interest was concerned. Quarter sessions would be able to deal with all the representations made before them in the public interest even if they were not placed before them by a lawyer. He hoped the Solicitor-General was not going to join with his associates in making this further demand upon the rates. He trusted that this Amendment would be dismissed with the contempt which it deserved.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
said he trusted, on the other hand, that the Amendment would be received with the respect it deserved. He hoped the hon. Member for King's Lynn would welcome his intervention, for whatever other faults or qualities he might have, he was not a lawyer. It was the Prime Minister who had stumbled upon the legal point. The right hon. Gentleman had taken up a red book written, he believed, by a lawyer, and had been misled by that book apparently. The Prime Minister used two arguments against the Amendment. The first was that local authorities could already do under the law what it had been clearly proved they could not do. That argument therefore fell to the ground. The other argument was that, even if they could, it was undesirable that they should busy themselves with this very contentious matter of licensing. He thought that local authorities could not be kept free from contentious matters of this kind. Very often, indeed, the more contentious the matter the more necessary it was that they should be introduced into it. 1406 It would have been more useful if, instead of the red book, the right hon. Gentleman had had in his hand the Liquor Licensing Ordinance applied to the Transvaal. There the right hon. Gentleman would find that upon this question of the sale of liquor by retail, control was given by a vote of the majority of the voters, or, in their absence, to a majority of the white male population over twenty-one years of age, residing within the village or ward. When they heard of the thin end of the wedge for local option being introduced by this Amendment surely that argument was a little late in the day, more especially after the Government had gone so far in regard to a community in the Transvaal, in a backward state as regarded representative institutions. He thought the Prime Minister ought to feel that he owed the Opposition a concession. The right hon. Gentleman charged them with inconsistency because he had been bombarded with representations not to interfere with the discretion of the justices. Now that he had fettered the discretion of the justices he thought the right hon. Gentleman might give them some compensation by bringing in the popular element to the extent of enabling representative bodies to advise the justices. The Bill said that the licensing authority should consider the public interest. Surely those words contained the logical conclusion that a representative authority should have the right to offer such advice or make such representations as they thought fit.
§ MR. BUTCHER (York)
said that in this matter of new licences it had been said that the public interest could not be properly represented unless counsel or solicitors were employed by the local authority.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said his Amendment provided that notice should be given to the local authority before the hearing of applications for new licences, and it provided that magistrates must hear the representatives of the local authorities.
§ MR. BUTCHER
said it had been pointed out that every member of the local authority was entitled to go before quarter sessions with all the authority he 1407 possessed as a member of that local authority, and this was not disputed.
§ MR. BUTCHER
said they could appear as members of the public, and he should be very much surprised if their authority was diminished at all, because they were members of a public authority. On the contrary, it seems to him that their authority would be very much increased when it was known that they were members of the authority. Proceeding, the hon. Member said he knew no reason why the chairman of a local authority should not be authorised by resolution of his board to appear before quarter sessions and state their views authoritatively on his own behalf and on behalf of his council; and he should be astonished to hear that quarter sessions would refuse to hear him. It had been argued that this was not sufficient, and that it was necessary to appear by counsel or solicitor; but if laymen appearing before quarter sessions showed half the ability many laymen in that House had shown they would do extremely well. If there was a general feeling that the local authority ought to collect evidence, it would be necessary to allow them to go to a certain amount of expense. In the present state of the law the cost of putting quarter sessions in full possession of the facts of the case could not be got out of the public rates. If there was a general feeling in the House that in order to collect evidence it was necessary that the local authority should go to a certain amount of expense, and if it were a fact that at present that expense could not be paid for out of the rates, then he hoped that the Government would at a later stage of the Bill take this matter into consideration.
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said an appeal had been made to the Government by the hon. Member for York, who was regarded as the author of this Bill—
§ MR. YOXALL
said he could not help thinking that if the Prime Minister were 1408 present he would, after hearing the views of the hon. Member for York, have yielded on this particular point. A great feature of the debates had been that, when the Solicitor-General had exercised his great knowledge and ability and was evidently in a mood to concede something, he had been unable to make that concession because of the furtive and temporary appearances of the Prime Minister. So now the Solicitor-General was to be overridden by the Prime Minister. The Amendment generally commended itself to the whole Committee. The Government had brought into existence all over the country local authorities for education. It was part of the duty of these authorities, when any private enterprise in the neighbourhood of their schools was likely to be injurious to those schools, to protest against it, but the chairman of the local authority could not go before the licensing justices in his official capacity, and make a representation against a licence being given to a house near a school, which, in the view of the authority, would be prejudicial. There was no doubt that the local authority should be given such power, and he hoped the Government would take that view.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said he did not think he was open to the particular charge the hon. Member had made against him, because before the Prime Minister spoke he had expressed the opinion that this Amendment, as drawn, would not enable the local authority to defray costs out of the rates. But the Amendment was intended to serve an entirely different purpose. It had been pointed out over and over again that any member of the public could go before the justices. The whole of the local authority could appear in a body, wearing their robes if they had any, and express their views before the justices. They could pass resolutions and forward them to the justices. They could hold meetings and publish the resolutions passed there, and the justices would know them just as well as if the members of the local authority appeared in their official capacity. This was not a question of the employment or the non-employment of counsel. What this Amendment sought was to give the local 1409 authority a statutory right to interfere at the investigation of licensing cases. The hon. Baronet had said that there was no question of interference. But there was a question of interference, and he would tell the Committee why. What would be the effect if the treatment of a particular case entered into politics at local elections? Could anybody maintain that such a proceeding would not conflict with the administration of the law by the local justices? Everybody must know that an immediate conflict would arise, and that it would become an acute question of politics in the neighbourhood. They would go further and say that the local justices were not representative of the people, not elected by the people, and that they were absolutely overriding what had been thoroughly investigated before the electors at the election. Whether it would be a good system to allow the local authorities to administer the clause instead of allowing the justices to do so, was a question that might be argued, but he hoped the Committee would not pass this Amendment with the idea that it only involved the collection of evidence. The Amendment would set up in the licensing districts the power of the local authority as against the power of the justices.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said the Solicitor-General was under a misapprehension as to the case made on the Opposition side. They were accustomed to sympathetic consideration of Amendments from the hon. and learned Gentleman, but on this occasion he had departed from that rule. He understood the Solicitor-General to say, Why not go there as individuals? If it was just as powerful for officials to go in their individual capacity, why that strong tirade at the end of his speech? He submitted that there ought to be authority of some kind given to local authorities to go before the justices. It had been a complaint for many years past that if there was opposition to a licence it was left to private individuals, and it very often happened that what was everyone's duty was no one's duty. In that way the temperance party had had to contend against a powerful trade. It was not reasonable that where a local authority took a view on a matter of this 1410 kind they should not be allowed to state that view in an official way. This was not a question of employing counsel. The local authority must judge of the necessity of that in each particular case. He noticed that the Bill provided that the brewers might be represented by counsel at quarter Sessions. It should be remembered that at present the licensing justices could be represented by counsel at quarter sessions; but as he understood, that would not happen under the Bill, because it was the licensing justices' report that was to be considered by quarter sessions. He must say that the opposition of the Government to this Amendment showed once more their preference of the interests of the brewers' to the interests of the public, so far as this Bill was concerned. His hon. friend the Member for Carnarvon had referred to the old cricketer playing the game, while the gate-money went to the brewers. As the game was going on the brewers were the umpires, because it was for them to say whether the Government were to be in or out. It was because the umpires would not allow them to accept this Amendment that the Solicitor-General had hardened his heart.
§ MR. RITCHIE (Croydon)
said he did not think that the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken was justified in adopting such a tone. He wished to express his regret that the Government had not seen their way to accept, at any rate, the principle of the Amendment, which he considered to be eminently reasonable, There was no question of the local authority being brought in to deal with anything in the nature of a vested interest; but he could not conceive of anything more proper than that the local authority should have a voice in the question whether a new interest should be created. Indeed he did not understand the Government to deny that the local authority were, or ought to be, charged with certain responsibility in this matter, because the hon. and learned Gentleman said that any member of the local authority might appear before the justices. If it were true that the local authority had or ought to have an interest in these matters, it could not be wrong that they should have some means for putting forward the views that they held. He could 1411 not conceive why, when a new licence was proposed to be created, the local authority, which was responsible for good order and conduct in the locality, should not have the means of putting their views before the licensing authorities. He could not but think that the Government might reconsider the question. A Government lost nothing by being reasonable upon Amendments which were not in themselves vital, but which did commend themselves to a very considerable number of Members. He would suggest to his right hon. and learned friend that he might at least say that on this matter the Government were prepared to keep an open mind, even if they could not accept this particular Amendment. It was a very general feeling in the House that local authorities should have the power to put their views or objections before the licensing authorities.
§ MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire,) Eifion
said he thought it would be extremely desirable if the question of granting licences was taken out of the hands of the justices and put into the hands of some public authority. He thought that the brewers themselves would be rather in favour of this Amendment, because they complained that any teetotaler was able to oppose the renewal or the grant of a licence. Down to 1894 any person could enforce a right to a public footpath at his own expense, but no public authority had the right to expend public money for that purpose. The power, however, was given in the Act of 1894. The result was that if there was any question of defending footpaths, it was taken in hand by the district council or the county council, and private persons had practically abandoned their rights. He thought it would
§ be very desirable that the same course should be followed in regard to licences. He thought that any Amendment which tended to take opposition to applications for licences out of private hands and put it on the public authority should be adopted.
§ MR. MARSHALL HALL (Lancashire, Southport)
said he thought that this was an Amendment which the Government ought to allow. The local authority ought to have some right to appear at quarter sessions on the question whether these licences were to be granted or not, and it would be far better that they should be able to appear in their representative capacity. He thought, however, that there ought to be some provision to protect the views of the minority, in the event of the local authority being against a licence by a bare majority. What was wanted was some opportunity of showing what was the real feeling of the local authority on the matter.
§ MR. LLOYD WHARTON
said he would like to know what the local authority was which was referred to in the Amendment. Was it the parish council, or the district council, or the county council? He had heard of a parish council which consisted of two members. If it was a district council, its chairman, who was a county magistrate, would represent its views; and if it was the county council the clerk of the peace would represent it. He did not see what more was needed or why counsel should be employed.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 178; Noes, 262. (Division List No. 223.)1415
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Crooks, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Cullinan, J.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Burt, Thomas||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Asher, Alexander||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Caldwell, James||Delany, William|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Cameron, Robert||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay(Galway)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Cawley, Frederick||Dobbie, Joseph|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Channing, Francis Allston||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Black, Alexander William||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Doogan, P. C.|
|Boland, John||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Dunn, Sir William|
|Brigg, John||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Edwards, Frank|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Cremer, William Randal||Ellice, Capt. E. C. (S. Andrw'sBghs|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Emmott, Alfred||Levy, Maurice||Runciman, Walter|
|Evans, Sir Fran. H. (Maidstone)||Lewis, John Herbert||Russell, T. W.|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lloyd-George, David||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lundon, W.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Shackleton, David James|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Sheehy, David|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||M'Crae, George||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||M' Kenna, Reginald||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Markham, Arthur Basil||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||Morgan J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Moss, Samuel||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hain, Edward||Moulton, John Fletcher||Tennant, Harold John|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Murphy, John||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale)||Newnes, Sir George||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Harwood, George||Norman, Henry||Tomkinson, James|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Toulmin, George|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wallace, Robert|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Higham, John Sharpe||O'Dowd, John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hn. H. (Somers't E)||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Malley, William||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Sliaughnessy, P. J.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||O'Shee, James John||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Parrott, William||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Paulton, James Mellor||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Joicey, Sir James||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea)||Perks, Robert William||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire.)||Price, Robert John||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Joyce, Michael||Priestley, Arthur||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Rea, Russell||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan,W.)||Reckitt, Harold James||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh., N.)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Reddy, M.||Woodhouse, Sir J.T (Huddersf'd)|
|Kitson, Sir James||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Langley, Batty||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Rigg, Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Charles Morley and Mr.|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Pemberton.|
|Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Clare, Octavius Leigh|
|Aird, Sir John||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Clive, Captain Percy A.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Bigwood, James||Coates, Edward Feetham|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bill, Charles||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bingham, Lord||Coddington, Sir William|
|Arrol, Sir William||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bond, Edward||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Bousfield, William Robert||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas|
|Austin, Sir John||Bowles, T. Gibson(King's Lynn)||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Cross, Herbert Shepherd ( Bolton)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Butcher, John George||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Campbell, J.H.M.(Dublin Univ.)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Balfour, Capt, C. B. (Hornsey)||Carson, Rt, Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Davenport, William Bromley-|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire)||Davies, Sir Horatio D.(Chatham)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.)||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc.)||Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Charrington, Spencer||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Dougla, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N.R.)||Ridley, Hon. M.W.(Staly bridge)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Eardell, Sir T. George||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Mancr.)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol,S.)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lowe, Francis William||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Samuel, Sir Harry S.(Limehouse)|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Macdona, John Cumming||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Maconochie, A. W.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||M'Fadden, Edward||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Galloway, William Johnson||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W)||Smith, H.C.(North'mb. Tyneside)|
|Gardner, Ernest||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Majendie, James A. H.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwioh)|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset)|
|Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets)||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes.)|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Line)||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E(Wigt'n)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Maxwell, W. J. H.(Dumfriessh.)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stock, James Henry|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G(Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Gretton, John||Milvain, Thomas||Thompson. Dr E.C (Monagh'n, N)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Mitchell, William (Burpley)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Hardy, Lawrenee (Kent, Ashford||Moon, Edward Robert Paey||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Morpeth, Viscount||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Morrell, George Herbert||Tuff, Charles|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Morrison, James Archibald||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Tully, Jasper|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Mount, William Arthur||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield)|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Heath, James (Staffords., N. W.)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Helder, Augustus||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Stafiord, W.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Myers, William Henry||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Nicholson, William Graham||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne)|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway,N.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Horner, Frederick William||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hoult, Joseph||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Howard, Jn.(Kent, Faversham)||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Percy, Earl||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pierpoint, Robert||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Hunt, Rowland||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Young, Samuel|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Younger, William|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop.)||Pryce-Tones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Kerr, John||Purvis, Robert||TELLERS FOB THE NOES—Sir|
|Kimber, Henry||Pym, C. Guy||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Randies, John S.||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Rankin, Sir James|
Question, "That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
said that at an earlier period of the afternoon he explained the reason for putting down the 1416 Amendment to Sub-section I, and in stating the reasons for putting down these new clauses he need only add a few 1417 words to what he said then. The provisions he now proposed in place of Subsaction 2 were really to explain the provisions of the Bill. The licensing justices were given power to grant new licences, subject to any reasonable conditions. It was further suggested the licences might be granted at the discretion of the licensing justices for any period not exceeding seven years. During that period the licences would not be subject to renewal, hut at the end of seven years they would again be treated as new licences, and the? conditions under which the justices originally granted them would apply. The reason for giving the justices this power was that these new licences would not come under the compensation clauses of the Bill, and therefore it was desirable that they should be granted in this form, in order that a substantial tenant might be obtained. There was no obligation on the part of the justices to grant a licence for the full seven years; they could grant a licence for any period not exceeding the term; or they need not make use of this method at all. As those licences when granted would not require renewal, or come under the supervision of the licensing justices every year, provision had been made for enforcing the conditions under which they were granted-A Court of summary jurisdiction would have the power of forfeiture if the licensee did not observe the conditions, and in that way the proper observance of the conditions under which the licence was granted was assured. Having excluded those new licences from the operation of the compensation fund, it had been necessary to find a fund into which any money derived from the higher payments in respect of the licences should be placed, and the Government, therefore, had arrived at the conclusion that that money should be transferred and used in a similar way to those funds, which under Section 20 of the Local Government Act, 1888, were transferred to the Local Taxation Fund and used in the relief of rates. The object was to secure to the justices in the granting of new licences power to insist upon reasonable conditions, and to ensure that they should take particular care that no new monopoly value was created. He begged to move.
'In page 3, line 14, to leave out Sub-section (2) and insert—
(2) The justices of a licensing district on the grant of a new licence may attach to the grant of the licence such conditions, both as to the payments to be made and the tenure of the licence, and as to any other matters, as they think proper in the interests of the public, and shall attach such conditions as they think best adapted for preventing any private person from obtaining any benefit from any monopoly value of the licence.
'(3) For the purposes of this section a new on-licence may be granted for a term not exceeding seven years, and where a licence is so granted for a term, any application for a re-grant of the licence on the expiration of the term shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new licence, not as an application for the renewal of a licence, and during the continuance of the term the licence shall not require renewal.
'(4) The amount of any payments made in pursuance of any conditions under this section shall be collected and dealt with in the same manner as the duties on local taxation licences within the meaning of Section 20 of the Local Government Act, 1888.
'(5) A licence granted for a term under this section may (without prejudice to any other provisions as to forfeiture) be forfeited, if any condition imposed under this section is not complied with, by order of a Court of summary jurisdiction made on complaint, or if the holder of the licence is convicted of any offence committed by him, as such, by the Court by whom he is convicted; but where a licence is so forfeited the owner of the licensed premises shall have all the rights conferred on owners by Section 15 of the Licensing Act, 1874.'"—(Mr. Secretary Ahem-Douglas.)
§ Question proposed, "That Sub-section (2) stand part of the clause."
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
asked whether this new proposal ought not to have originated in Committee of the Whole House. It was in fact a proposal to increase the licence duties, and on the Finance Bill the Chairman had ruled that Such a proposal required origination in Committee of the Whole House. The only differences in the present proposal were that the burden was to be imposed by the magistrates, that it was optional, and that it applied only to new licences. Unless those slight differences were held to alter the principle, he submitted that the ruling to which he had referred applied to the proposal now before the Committee.
I am relieved from the necessity of making any original pronouncement on the matter, as the question has already been brought before the notice of Mr. Speaker, who, after full consideration, has ruled that no Committee was necessary.
Yes. I may say that I had come to the same conclusion, because this charge is levied not Imperially but locally. It goes to local purposes, and it need not even be levied at all. But it is unnecessary for me to go into reasons, because Mr. Speaker has already ruled on the subject.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
Will it be competent for any private Member to move to increase the licence duties proposed by this clause?
The clause gives the fullest latitude. The justices are to be given power to fix "any such sum"; they may fix £1,000,000 for each licence if they choose.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
Are we at liberty to propose that the full amount be imposed, instead of leaving the amount at the option of the justices?
I do not understand what the hon. and learned Member means by "the full amount." If the justices think fit to impose the condition that for every new licence £1,000,000 should be paid, they will be able to do so.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I take it, then, the Amendment of my hon. and learned friend to impose 4 per cent., and so on, will be perfectly in order?
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that in his opinion the present proposals of the Home Secretary met the real 1420 difficulties of the licensing question much less satisfactorily than the oiiginal proposals of the Bill, and there were two or three points on which ho hoped the righ hon. Gentleman would enlighten the Committee before they went into the details of the question. Under the Bill the terms to be imposed on the granting of new licences were placed in the discretion of quarter sessions. They were now to be placed in the discretion of the authority for the particular licensing district in which the licence was applied for. That, he thought, was a great mistake. It ought not to be possible for different conditions to be imposed in each licensing district of a county; unless the same conditions applied throughout the county at large the administration of the law would be rendered exceedingly difficult. For instance, if the licensing authority in any particular district imposed conditions which quarter sessions thought to be not in the public interest, quarter sessions would have the power to refuse the new licence on that ground, but not to impose such conditions as they thought right and proper. Was that really a practicable method of dealing with the question It was a serious question, because it might load to a complete deadlock. If quarter sessions thought the conditions imposed were unsatisfactory, when the licence came up for confirmation they ought to deal with the whole subject-matter, and decide not merely whether they should refuse the licence on the ground that the conditions were unsatisfactory, but also whether they themselves should not impose conditions which they thought were in the public interest. Wore the hands of quarter sessions to-be tied by this power being withheld? The responsibility for confirmation rested, in the last resort, not with the licensing district but with quarter sessions, and they could not exercise that authority without full powers being given to them.
The second proposition was much more serious. He understood that in future new licences were practically to be put up to auction and sold to the highest bidder. He did not think that would be in the public interest and they ought not to deal with new licences in that way. There were much larger interests involved, and they ought to grant new licences under the best conditions and to the 1421 best applicants whether they were prepared to pay the highest price or not. Instead of having the power to deal with licences from year to year as regarded ill-conduct and disciplinary powers, which were so important and which had worked so admirably in regard to the licensing laws in the past, all those powers were now to be taken away. They proposed to put new licences up to auction and then give the purchaser a seven years term during which he was not to be interfered with however much the local magistrates might think it desirable to interfere. It had been suggested as regarded these licences that they ought to see that the persons who applied for them did not get a monopoly value. He quite agreed with that, but that was an entirely different matter from putting the licences up to auction, a proceeding which might be exercised to the detriment of true temperance reform. He hoped that no principle of that kind would be introduced into this Bill. This was not a matter of sale and purchase, but a matter of the public interest. There ought to be the same annual power to deal with them as at present and he was not prepared to tie the hands of the magistrates for seven years and take away their disciplinary powers. The proposal of the Home Secretary provided—(2) The justices of a licensing district on the grant of a new licence may attach to the grant of the licence such conditions, both as to the payments to be made and the tenure of the licence, and as to any other matters, as they think proper in the interests of the public, and shall attach such conditions as they think best adapted for preventing any private person from obtaining any benefit from any monopoly value of the licence.It was difficult to know exactly what that meant, but he thought its effect would be that a person who in the ordinary way would be willing to invest money would not be willing, under those rules, to erect the class of public-house wanted. How could they expect any man to do that if he was not going to get a profit? It meant that they would drive out of the competition the best class of men, and would practically compel people to erect in the future houses of a less efficient type, or else reintroduce the very class of house they all wanted to get rid of. This 1422 difficulty was all owing to the absurd notion of seeking to introduce so great a matter as State regulation. By adopting this system they would defeat their own ends, and drive away the people they ought to encourage, for he could not imagine anyone building good public-houses under those conditions, because at the end of seven years the purchaser might be dispossessed and have to pay again. Could they conceive anyone investing money to build public-houses or rebuilding them so as to be satisfactory from the hotel or saloon point of view under such conditions? Every new licence in the future would come under these terms and the old law would be altered from top to bottom and altered in the wrong direction. Was it important to introduce the best article and to provide the best premises? Was it important to have the business carried on so as to have the best social conditions? He considered that the terms of this Amendment so far from conducing to a higher level of our licensing system in the future would tend entirely to have a contrary effect. The Amendment would tend to reduce the system to a level which they would all regret. If the present licence duty was not sufficient that was a matter for the House to consider, but to put a particular licence up to auction, and to put every obstacle in the way of a house being well-conducted, would, he thought, interfere to a most serious extent with the proper management of the house. That was not the proper way to conduce to temperance reform, and he sincerely hoped that some Amendment would be introduced which would not revolutionise our licensing system in the future as was proposed by the Amendment of the Home Secretary.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said he agreed with one observation of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, namely, that it was not possible to adequately discuss this new system in the limited time allowed. He thought the Amendment a very great improvement on the original proposals of the Government, and in default of a better he would support it. Annual licences had hitherto been granted, and all that law, justice, and the statutes could do had been done to express the undoubted rule that they were subject 1423 to be discontinued at the end of every year. That could not be made clearer than it already was. That system had broken down, or, at least, so far that the Government and a majority of this House had thought themselves bound to confer property and a freehold tenure on those who held licences. The moral originating from this consideration was that a person was not likely to invest money on an annual tenure on account of its being so short. It was contended that if the period were longer what was called the equity or expectation would not arise, at all events in so strong a form, especially as it was said in the Amendment that after seven, years it was to be treated as an application for a new licence, and not an application for a renewal. The point, therefore, was that when the seven years tenure had come to an end the licence was not to last longer. He thought words should be put in to say that at the end of seven years the licence would not be continued unless public necessity required that it should be renewed. He did not know that that was not implied. He did not think the Amendment was open to the strictures of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
said the points dealt with by the hon. and learned Gentleman on that side of the House were whether all these conditions were only to be applied by the licensing session, and whether quarter sessions, when the matter came before them for confirmation, should have some power of altering the conditions or whether the question ought to be: Shall we grant this licence or not? In regard to the first point he thought there was a very great deal to be said for it. Conditions might be inserted for bringing the general administration in the different licensing quarters in a county into some kind of similarity. On the next point he could not help feeling that the hon. and learned Gentleman had to some extent exaggerated the words that were placed in the clause when he said that the putting up of a licence to the highest bidder would be an extremely bad thing for the general public. Hon. Members on the Opposition side had been contending that too much power was placed in the hands of brewers and brewery companies. It seemed to him that the conditions now proposed were 1424 so severe that small men would not be got to put money into licensed houses. It would only be possible for the large brewer or brewery company to get the licence, and it would be, acquired in some cases not for the purpose of getting money out of it but to prevent other parties from getting the licence. In that way the proposal might not work to the best advantage. He was not sure that his hon. and learned friend had attached sufficient importance to some of the other words in the Amendment.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to; make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.