§ On the Order for going into Committee on this Bill.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
As to the Instructions to the Committee standing on the Paper, the first, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, is to give the Committee power to divide the Bill into two Bills, the one to deal with the limitation of the jurisdiction of local magistrates, and the other with the provisions for compensation. That is out of order because it is not competent to an hon. Member to move an Instruction of that kind unless the Bill is actually divided into two separate parts, or the two matters are independent of one another and fall naturally into separate Bills. That is not the case here. The next Instruction, in the name of the hon. Member for West 809 Nottingham, proposes that the Committee should have power to differentiate on the amount and mode of compensation payable in the case of what are known as tied houses. It seems to me quite competent for the Committee to deal with that matter by way of Amendment to the Bill, and, therefore, an Instruction is not required. The same remark applies to the next two Instructions, one standing in the name of the hon. Member for Anglesey to exclude Wales and Monmouthshire from the Bill, and the other in the name of the hon. Member for Spen Valley. That Instruction, which calls on the Committee to provide that the issue of licences shall not be confined to selected and favoured persons to the exclusion of others equally qualified and equally willing to comply with the conditions and regulations, appears to me to be bad for another reason, and that is that it is altogether too vague and indefinite and does not direct the Committee as to the precise object the hon. Member has in view.
§ (Considered in Committee.)
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
§ *MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W. R., Spen Valley)
said that in rising to move the postponement of Clause 1, he did so on the ground that that clause proposed a very important change in the administration of the licensing law which, according to the statement of Ministers of the Crown, was rendered necessary by the shape in which the compensation clauses had been drawn. It was quite possible, in view of the large number of Amendments there were upon the Paper to the compensation clauses, that they might be amended in such a way that it would not be necessary to make the sweeping and important changes in the jurisdiction of local justices which the passing of this clause would entail. The Bill, as he understood it, was in principle a Compensation Bill. Compensation was its main principle, and he imagined that hon. Members who voted for it did so chiefly on the ground that it was a Compensation Bill. That portion of the Bill 810 which interfered with the discretion of the justices was merely an incident. It seemed to him extremely desirable that they should settle the method and plan of compensation before they proposed to do so important a thing as to alter the discretionary powers of the justices, because they might get some particular kind of compensation carried which would entirely alter the method which the Bill at present proposed. He would venture to quote in support of that the words uttered by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor-General, on the Second Reading of the measure. He then said—The whole difficulty in framing the Bill in regard to the renewal of licences has been to define what is the proper compensation area. The Bill has no intention whatever of taking away any power whatever from the magistrates which they already have.He regretted that this clause did not bear out that statement, but the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that it would be necessary to have a compensation area so large that it would be able to raise sufficient revenue for the purpose of extinguishing licences. Was not that an interference with the present tribunal? The Prime Minister made a similar statement, and therefore it was clear that the sole reason for interfering with the discretion of the justices was that the quarter sessions area had been selected as the compensation area. If they decided to have some other area, then it would not be necessary to make the very serious interference with the authority of the licensing justices which was proposed in the clause. Other arrangements might render Clause 1 altogether needless, and therefore the suggestion was justified that the clause should be postponed until they had discussed the compensation area. The contention in regard to compensation was that the area must be a large one because sufficient funds could not be raised without it, and that the authority which dealt with questions of licences must be the authority throughout that area. The levy must decide what was to be the licensing authority, and he submitted that that question had been entirely overlooked. Another point was whether the levy to be made for compensation purposes was to be a limited one. If they made it unlimited then they need not touch the licensing authority 811 and they need not pass Clause 1 at all but could allow the licencing authority I to remain as it at present stood. He submitted that the sound principle was I that the levy should depend upon the reduction, and that the reduction should not depend upon the levy. The whole necessity for that most undesirable and objectionable clause arose from the fact that they had provided for a limited levy. When they came to the compensation clause they had this simple thing to do to make the levy unlimited, and they would thus avoid any necessity for Clause 1 on that ground. That was why he suggested its postponement.
It was well known that one of the most important subjects that would come up for discussion on this Bill was in connection with the question of a time limit, involving the point whether the compensation arrangement was to be temporary or permanent. He suggested that if the House should decide that the compensation should be a temporary arrangement, by adopting a time limit, it was undesirable that they should make a permanent change in the character and power of the licensing authority. They ought not to take away for all time the valuable discretion which the local justices now possessed simply to meet the temporary arrangement which he hoped it was quite within the bounds of possibility they would agree to make in regard to this compensation question. That, again, was another reason why they should postpone the consideration of the clause. The clause was an important one. It represented an entire revolution in the procedure and tendency of legislation. They had never had anything like it before, and that was a strong reason why no change should be made unless it was absolutely necessary and absolutely essential. The necessity for the change depended entirely upon the compensation arrangement, and they could not declare it to be essential until they had decided what those arrangements should be. He should like to remind the House that it was proposed to transfer from the local justices to quarter sessions their powers, and to practically turn an administrative authority into a Court. It practically deprived the justices of the powers which the recent decisions in the Dover and 812 Farnham cases had shown they were justified in exercising.
Order, order The hon. Member is now proceeding to discuss he clause in detail. He must confine himself to giving reasons for the postponement.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
said his object vas to point out the serious nature of the change which was projected, and to justify on that ground his contention that they should delay the consideration of she clause. He quite admitted that under the limitation of the rulings from the Chair he could not pursue in detail these matters, and therefore he would content himself with the question of principle. He would point out that this was a most serious change in the administrative powers of local justices which ought not to be made if it could be avoided, and unless it was admittedly rendered necessary by the scheme of compensation embodied in the Bill. He appealed to the House to settle the question of compensation before they proceeded to deal with the machinery for carrying it into effect.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 1 be postponed."—(Mr. Whittaker.)
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
could not agree with the hon. Member that it was desirable to postpone the discussion of this clause. It had always been held to be a good thing to have the principle on which a Bill was founded as near to the beginning of the Bill as possible. The principle on which this Bill and all its clauses depended was contained in the first clause, which set up the authority and also established compensation. It provided that licences should not be taken away on any ground other than that the licensed premises had been ill-conducted or were structurally deficient or unsuitable, or on grounds connected with the character or fitness of the proposed holder of the licence, except on payment of compensation. There they had the principle on which the Bill was founded, and therefore he thought it was perfectly 813 right that this clause should stand first in the Bill, and that the Committee, having disposed of it, should know where they were when they considered the other clauses. He, therefore, saw no reason for accepting the Amendment.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said the right hon. Gentleman, according to his mind, had accurately stated the argument upon which the supporters of the Amendment relied, but unfortunately for him it was the case that Clause 1 dealt with the machinery, and Clause 2 embodied the principle of the Bill. If the Solicitor-General would only look at Clause 2 he would find that the question of compensation for the non-renewal of licences was the main point raised by it. It was quite true that the same point was incidentally mentioned in Clause 1, but, under any circumstances, in Clause 2 it would be necessary for them to discuss the principle of compensation or no compensation. His submission to the Committee was that the Bill consisted of two clauses, the first of which embodied the machinery, and the second the principle of the Bill, and that it would be far more convenient and more suitable for discussion if the first clause were postponed until after the second had been dealt with. The Solicitor-General would no doubt remember that, in the course of the Second Reading debate, he had held out some hope that courts of quarter sessions would not be courts within the technical meaning of the word, but that they would become administrative bodies. Surely it would be useful if they could be informed what was to occur in connection with that. They wanted to know what were to be the provisions of the Bill as to compensation before they could deal with the machinery which was to administer that compensation. The hon. and learned Gentleman also gave them some hope chat a time limit might be accepted by the Government. The Solicitor-General shook his head. Well, perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman had changed his mind, and in that he did not differ very much from other members of the Government. Still he did hope that the Government would keep an open mind on this question. Whether or not they had, he submitted it would be for the convenience of the Home, and that 814 it would conduce to the speedy passing of the Bill if Ministers would accept the Amendment postponing the first clause. When they had settled the questions of compensation and of area, then it would be sufficient time to deal with that of machinery.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said he regretted that the Government could not see their way to postpone the consideration of the first clause. What they really wanted to know was, What was the attitude of the Government going to be on the question of compensation, and on the question, also, of the time limit Because that would decide the attitude of the House in regard to questions of relatively minor importance. As his hon. friend the Member for the Spen Valley had said, if the question of compensation were settled, and if the Government adhered to their present position, the first clause became more or less immaterial. It would be simply an additional protection in the brewers' interest. Oh the other hand, if the Government acceded to the views of those who were in favour of a time limit, they would find the House in a less controversial frame of mind when it came to discuss the question of procedure. He had another point to raise. He held that the Government, in a thing of this sort affecting the magistrates' discretion, should take an opportunity of consulting the magistrates themselves in regard to their proposals. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No, No!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think it ridiculous that the Government should consult anyone except the brewers. He could not, however, help thinking that in a matter of this kind it was only fair that the magistrates should be consulted, and in view of the fact that within the next three weeks the Courts of quarter sessions would be sitting, and that by that time they would only have got through, the second and third clauses, he held there was ample opportunity for the Government to ascertain the opinions of the magistrates in regard to the first clause of the Bill. He hoped, therefore, that steps would be taken to secure that information.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said he could quite understand the desire of the Government that the first clause should be taken at once if that clause were intended to provide some additional security to those who had property in public-houses. If the transfer of jurisdiction to quarter sessions were intended to bestow on owners of licensed property a more favourable tribunal and one less likely to interfere with their interests than the existing one, then anyone could easily see that that was a substantial reason in itself for supporting the proposal of the Government in its present form. But on the Second Reading that was not represented to be the purpose of the transfer of jurisdiction. The purpose was to harmonise the jurisdiction with the system of compensation by counties. If a different system of compensation should be adopted by the Committee, there would be no necessity for altering the jurisdiction and allowing quarter sessions to usurp the jurisdiction of the local justices. The fact that the first clause merely provided the method by which the compensation should be distributed seemed to be an adequate reason for postponing it.
Mr. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said his hon. friend who moved the Amendment had already given most of the important reasons in favour of postponing the consideration of the clause. There was, however, one point to which he had not referred, and that was that the Bill, as it at present stood, did not appear to make the levy compulsory, and therefore they might have the magistrates of the different counties exercising their discretionary powers in different manners. It seemed to him that before they could decide their attitude on the first clause they must know the views of the Government as to the conditions which were to regulate the compensation fund, and he hoped, especially in regard to the most important question of the time limit, that they would have the views of the Solicitor-General before the Amendment was put to the vote.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said he would take his stand on the case set up by the Solicitor-General. If Clause 1 816 were passed as it stood, they might have the compensation under Clause 2 varying from one year to ten years or even twenty years, and they might have a variation also in the areas. But supposing that, under Clause 2, they established a time limit for compensation, what was to be done in regard to the change in the jurisdiction of the licensing authority? Was that change to be permanent? Why should it be permanent when the compensation proposal was only of a temporary character. It must be obvious that, if they were to proceed on the lines laid down by the Home Secretary, they must establish the main principle of the Bill, and that main principle was compensation for the withdrawal of licences on grounds other than those specified under Clause 1. Until that principle was established they could not decide whether the compensation should be permanent or temporary, they could not decide either what should be the area, whether it should be divisional, or county, or local, and how could they reasonably be asked to set up the machinery in Clause 1 until they knew what would be done in these matters. He was not particularly in favour of the quick passage of the measure, but he warned the Government that if they did desire to get it passed they must make plain their views on these questions. There were a considerable number of Amendments down to Clause 2, and it was absolutely essential to get a decision in regard to them before they could decide on the machinery by which the compensation fund was to be administered, otherwise they would run the risk of setting up machinery which, after all, might not be suitable to the Bill in its final form.
§ MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
said he did not often interest himself in proposals to postpone a clause, but in this case he saw strong reasons for the postponement. He was surprised that the Government had not accepted the proposal to postpone the clause, because to do so would undoubtedly save much time. He frankly admitted that he had no special desire to save time in the interest of a Bill to which he did not give even that minimum support the Solicitor-General was in the habit of giving to measures of the 817 Government. Considering the main purposes of the Bill, the giving of security on the one hand and setting up compensation on the other, obviously the more logical course would be to proceed with the second clause first.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)
said the Home Secretary appeared to oppose the Motion on the very ground on which it had been moved. A mere reference to the side-notes to the clauses showed that the main principle of the Bill was contained in Clause 2, which dealt with "Payment of compensation on non-renewal of licence." Surely, then, the second clause should be considered first.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R., Elland)
said the Prime Minister, in his speech on the Second Reading, rebuked them for being so indignant at the transfer of power from petty to quarter sessions on the ground that the whole was better than the part; that showed that in the opinion of the Prime Minister the transfer of power from the justices to quarter sessions was of lesser importance, for, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it was merely a transfer from the part to the whole. It was perfectly
§ clear that the only clause of vital importance was the compensation clause. The theory of the Government seemed to be that the opposition to the Bill came only from temperance reformers, who according to the right hon. Gentleman were imbued with hatred of the publicans. That they gathered from his speech on the Second Reading. But several weeks had elapsed since the Second Reading, and the great body of opposition to the Bill was now seen to come from moderate men and not from extreme temperance reformers, their main demand being for a time limit. This constituted a strong reason for taking the compensation clause first. The matter had become more important since the Solicitor-General had by gesture intimated that he had not suggested that the Government would yield on the question of a time limit. Perhaps they had not made up their minds and were still open to persuasion. In that case let them at once proceed to discuss what, after all, was the most important part of the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 116; Noes, 227. (Division List No. 134.)821
|Abraham, William, (Cork, N.E.||Emmott, Alfred||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Leng, Sir John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Allen, Charles P.||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lloyd-George, David|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lough, Thomas|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herb. John||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Grant, Corrie||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Griffith, Ellis J.||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norman, Henry|
|Burns, John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Burt, Thomas||Harcourt, Rt Hn. Sir W (Monm't||Hussey, Thomas Willans|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hayter, Rt. Hon Sir Arthur D.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Caldwell, James||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Malley, William|
|Cameron, Robert||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durham)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Holland, Sir William Henry||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Horniman, Frederick John||Perks, Robert William|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Price, Robert John|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Jacoby, James Alfred||Rea, Russell|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Joicey, Sir James||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rigg, Richard|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Kearley, Hudson E.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Labouchere, Henry||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Edwards, Frank||Lambert, George||Rose, Charles Day|
|Ellice,Capt. E. C (SAndrw'sBghs||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Runciman, Walter|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Russell, T. W.|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Schwann, Charles E.||Tomkinson, James||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Toulmin, George||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Ure, Alexander||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Tennant, Harold John||Weir, James Galloway||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,—Mr. Trevelyan and Mr. Slack.|
|Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N.R.|
|Aird, Sir John||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hen. Eden||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Flower, Sir Ernest||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Forster, Henry William||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.)|
|Austin, Sir John||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Galloway, William Johnson||Lowe, Francis William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Garfit, William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J.(Manch'r||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Gordon, Hn.J.E.(Elgin&Nairn)||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Gore, Hn G.R.C. Ormsby-(Salop||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Gore, Hon. S.F. Ormsby-(Linc)||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Goulding, Edward Alfred||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Graham, Henry Robert||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Boland, John||Greene, Sir E. W (B'rySEdm'nds||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Brassey, Albert||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Gretton, John||Milvain, Thomas|
|Burke E. Haviland||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Mitchell, William (Burnley)|
|Butcher, John George||Groves, James Grimble||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Campbell, J.H.M. (Dublin Uuiv.)||Gunter, Sir Robert||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mooney, John J.|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry||Moore, William|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A (Worc.||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hayden, John Patrick||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Chapman, Edward||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Mount, William Arthur|
|Charrington, Spencer||Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Heaton, John Henniker||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hobhouse, Rt Hn H (Somers't, E||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Newdegate, Francis A. N.|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Horner, Frederick William||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Cullinan, J.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hunt, Rowland||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Percy, Earl|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Pilkington, Colonel Richard|
|Delany, William||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop.||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Kerr, John||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Kimber, Henry||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Doughty, George||Knowles, Sir Lees||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lambton, Hon. Ferderick Wm.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Randles, John S.|
|Rankin, Sir James||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Smith, H. C (North'mb. Tyneside||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Spear, John Ward||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Redshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Wharton, Rt. Hon, John Lloyd|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und.Lyne|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Robinson, Brooke||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Stock, James Henry||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Stroyan, John||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H.(Yorks.)|
|Rothschld, Hon. Lionel Walter||Sullivan, Donal||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Round, Rt. Hon. James||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Thorburn, Sir Walter||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Tollemache, Henry James||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)||Tritton, Charles Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Tuff, Charles|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Valentia, Viscount|
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH moved to insert at the beginning of the clause, "During the period of seven years after the passing of this Act." The question of a time limit, which was raised by this Amendment, was one of the most important matters that would come up in connection with the Committee stage of the Bill, and he had hoped the Government would have an open mind on the matter. He trusted that even now the Committee would be allowed to decide the matter without any pressure from the Government Whips, in which case he believed a time limit would be inserted in the Bill. He was in the unusual position of having the whole Bench of Bishops on his side, and the Houses of Convocation had unanimously passed a resolution in favour of some such proposal as he was now putting forward. The particular period of seven years was not to be considered as in any way a vital portion of the Amendment; it might be ten or any other number of years; he desired to draw attention to the principle of a time limit without reference to the number of years concerned. In the Minority Report of the Royal Commission signed by Lord Peel and the Archbishop of Canterbury, a time limit of seven years was suggested. He understood the Prime Minister's attitude was that, although he was somewhat friendly in theory to the principle of a time limit, he thought it was quite alien to the, principle of this measure. He could not see why this Bill should not be put into operation for seven years.
§ According to the Prime Minister, there were two theories. One was that a licence 822 had the attributes of property and must not be taken away, without compensation, from the licensee, and the other theory was that the right hon. Gentleman was clearly of opinion that no trade was likely to be carried on under an uncertain tenure. They had already urged this question from a farmer's point of I view, but the Prime Minister was not quite so emphatic about that, and he said that public-houses could not be conducted properly without some substantial system of tenure. He wished to point out that from 1830 to 1869 there was security of tenure, and that was just the time when public-houses were very badly managed. The metropolitan figures went back to the year 1844. These figures were very remarkable from the point of view that the more security they had the worse were public-houses conducted. For the three years 1844–45–46 the summonses averaged 907, but for 1867–68–69 the average rose to 1,233, so that free trade in beerhouses was a bad thing as far, as the number of summonses was concerned. In 1869, after the power of magistrates was established, the number of summonses dropped from 1,233 to 444, whilst for 1897–98–99 they dropped to 391. The Prime Minister's view on this, point was not one which commended itself to most hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House, because they thought there was no legal right—and many of them thought that there was no moral right—to compensation, and they believed that this Bill would create a perpetual vested interest in licensed property. Many of them held the opinion that 823 between the two extremes there was a medium course, and he thought the Amendment he proposed would meet the views of the moderates on both sides of the House. He was not committed to seven years limit, having given the licence-holders compensation for a certain number of years, after that period the justices should have unfettered discretion over the remaining public-houses.
§ The Prime Minister desired to prevent a loss to the trade, but temperance reform meant drinking less and that necessarily meant a loss to the trade and they could not get out of it. If this was to be a great temperance measure they must not complain if it should result in a little loss to the trade. The Prime Minister complained that if a time limit of seven years was accepted one man might lose his licence in the sixth year and another in the eighth year. No doubt there would be hard cases, but they should remember that the man who lost his licence in the eighth year had had possession of it for seven years. If they went back to the year of the decision given in "Sharpe v. Wakefield" and added the limit of seven years which he was proposing, the licensee would have had a period of enjoyment of his licence for twenty years. That, he thought, was a reasonable time, and a man could not complain after that if he lost his licence in the public interest. Without a time limit, instead of promoting temperance, this Bill would make the reduction of licences more difficult. To bring the number of licences in Wales and Monmouthshire down to the limit mentioned in the Minority Report, based upon the revenue provided for in this Bill, would take three-quarters of a century. He submitted that if the Government were really in earnest in this matter they would take this into their serious consideration. There was a large body of public opinion in this country in favour of a time limit. The Archbishop of Canterbury had declared himself in favour of it, and there was a great body inside the Church of England, as well as outside, who thought that a great deal of harm would be done unless some such Amendment as he had proposed were adopted. He asked the Prime Minister to leave this an open question, and, if he would do so, he believed the Committee, by a great majority, would 824 come to the conclusion that this Bill would be improved, and its chance of doing good would be greatly magnified by the introduction of some such Amendment as he had proposed. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 5, to insert, at the beginning, the words 'During the period of seven years after the passing of this Act.'"—(Mr. Ellis Griffith.)
§ Question proposed, That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)
asked if this Amendment would preclude the Committee from raising the question of the time limit for compensation at a later stage.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
thought if the words of the Amendment were inserted they would apply to Clause 1 and to that clause only, and they would not limit the time for compensation to subsequent clauses, but only to the machinery of Clause 1.
I do not think that is quite so, because Clause 1 contains three principles. The first is that the jurisdiction shall be vested in quarter sessions instead of the justices; the second, that it shall only be exercised on a reference from those justices; and the third, that it shall only be exercised on payment of compensation. If a time limit is inserted it will apply to all of these principles, and no Amendment in Clause 2 will have to be made with reference to the time limit inserted in Clause 1. Therefore no Amendment either diminishing or increasing the time limit of this Amendment, if it is inserted, would be in order on Clause 2.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
Supposing the Amendment of my hon. friend is rejected, would it then be out of order to move an Amendment on Clause 2 confining it to compensation only.
That will largely depend upon the character of the debate. If the debate follows the line opened by the hon. Member it must be assumed that the Committee will either accept or 825 reject the time limit as applied to compensation, and that being so it could not be raised again on the second clause.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said according to the ruling the time limit to the clause proposed by the hon. Member would be a limit upon three things. In case the Committee should reject the limit upon those three things, surely they might consistently accept a limit upon one of those things. Was it not in order that the Committee should have an opportunity of saying on the second clause, or elsewhere, that although they were not prepared to limit the period daring which the transfer of jurisdiction should take place nor the period during which there should be a reference from the petty sessions, yet they were prepared to insert a limit in other respects.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said the clause now under consideration, which was to be limited by the words proposed by the hon. Member, said that the refusal to renew a licence should be subject to "payment of compensation in accordance with this Act." If the clause were passed without any limitation, would it not be open to any hon. Member to move a restriction upon the payment of compensation under the Act—that was to say, that compensation should be paid only down to a certain date?
If no Amendment were made on the first clause, that would be so, but if the Committee now engages in a discussion which ranges over the question of the time limit, I think I should be precluded by the Rules of the House from allowing the same question to be opened up on a subsequent Amendment. If the House spends its time to-day, and possibly part of to-morrow, on that question it would be a pure loss of time to start the same question and discuss it all over again when the second clause is reached.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that in view of what had been stated by the Chairman, it would be far better that this Amendment should be withdrawn, and that the question of the time limit should be discussed later on.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
After the appeal of my right hon. friend, and as I understand it would meet the wishes of the Committee [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said that if the Amendment should not be withdrawn it would, as he understood the ruling of the Chairman, apply to the three principles contained in the first clause. If there was a general desire to take the opinion of the Committee on the time limit for compensation, would it not be possible, if the Amendment were not withdrawn, that the debate should be confined to that point?
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
As I understand your ruling it is this. It is not the wording of the Amendment that causes the difficulty, but the substance of the debate that follows on the Amendment. If the Amendment is negatived I submit to you the question whether it would not be possible to raise the whole question on a subsequent clause.
I think, looking to the Amendments placed on the Paper, that the general view of the Committee is that the time limit should be discussed on the first clause. I have looked through the Amendments, and I say that obviously that is what the Committee expected. There are twelve or fifteen Amendments raising the question of the time limit on the first clause, and there are two or three on the second clause. I cannot undertake to say that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Anglesey is out of order, but it is possible that some 827 skilled draftsman might be able to devise some means by which the time limit for compensation might be better raised; I do say, however, that it is raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member, and if the Committee desires to discuss it now, and does discuss it now, I do not think that it can be discussed a second time. I do not wish to commit myself any further than that.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
The question is whether if the Amendment is negatived now a discussion on the question of the time limit for compensation can arise later on.
I think there is something in what has fallen from the hon. Member, because the words of the Amendment are applicable to the three principles contained in the clause. If the Committee now says that it means the time limit shall not be applied to the three principles, it would be possible, I think, to raise the question at a later stage; but again I repeat, what I am afraid I have already said twice, that if the discussion in the Committee covers the whole ground, then I do not think I should be justified in allowing a repetition of the same arguments.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH
asked whether the case would be met by putting the words of the Amendment in line eleven before the words "on payment of compensation." The greater proportion of the fifteen Amendments to the first clause referred to line eleven and not to the first part of the clause.
I must put the Amendment which is moved provided it is in order, and I cannot undertake to say that it is not in order. Therefore, I must leave the Committee to decide in what manner the question is to be raised.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
said that on previous occasions the Chairman had ruled that no words could be inserted before the first line in a clause. In view of these rulings, was his hon. friend's Amendment in order?
I do not think I have gone so far as that. I have depre- 828 cated the inserting of Amendments before the first words, but I have never gone so far as to say that it cannot be done. I know of some cases in which it has been done. I have carefully considered the hon. Member's Amendment, and I do not think I should be justified in saying it is not in order, although some draftsmen might have drafted an Amendment which would have carried out the views of its supporters better.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said Clause 1 consisted of two sub-clauses. There were no words in the clause itself which applied to the whole clause. If the words of the Amendment were inserted they would apply only to the first paragraph and not to the second sub-clause.
If it became necessary to insert these words at the beginning of the clause they would be read right through the Bill. The second sub-clause of the first clause is really only the machinery by which the first sub-clause is carried out.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
asked whether the Amendments to Clause 1 put down by himself and others, and affecting merely the question of the exercise of the power with respect to the payment of compensation, would be ruled out of order under the ruling now given if the general principle in regard to the time limit was rejected by the House.
I am sorry to repeat again what I have already said. The question is raised by the Amendment now before the Committee. If it is discussed by the Committee at the present stage it cannot be discussed again.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
said he understood the ruling of the Chairman was that if they now discussed the Amendment proposed by his hon. friend, the three points contained in the clause would be decided. It was possible that the Committee might be against putting in a time limit on one of the points and in favour of a time limit on others. Many hon. Members wished only to deal with, the time limit at present on the point of compensation.
It must depend very largely on the course of the debate whether this question can be discussed again.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said the question before the Committee was whether the Amendment should be withdrawn. He was afraid he was not quite in harmony with some of his hon. friends in thinking that they should negative the proposal. He did not think they should gain anything by taking a decision on a false issue. The desire was that they should decide whether compensation should be limited to a certain number of years. They would gain nothing by avoiding a decision on that point, and complicating it by the question of jurisdiction which the other side did not desire at present to raise. He ventured to suggest to his hon. friends that they ought not to resist the request for leave to withdraw the Amendment. It could then be taken at a time when the real question could he submitted.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he did not see what the difficulty was of his right hon. friend. There was every opportunity of discussing this question now. Nobody ever said that this question was to be passed without any discussion. It was stated for days that this question was to be discussed on the first clause and everybody understood that that was to be so. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had suddenly discovered that it might not altogether suit their tactics, but he saw no reason why the discussion should not go on when all arrangements had been made for doing so. He heartily hoped that the Committee would insist on the discussion being proceeded with.
COLONEL WILLIAMS (Dorsetshire, W.)
said that many hon. Members on that side of the House were of opinion that the time limit ought to apply to compensation and to compensation alone. He and others would naturally vote against the time limit being applied to the other two principles of the Bill. The time limit applied to compensation could be raised not on line 1 but on line 11.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he wanted to know where the Committee stood. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was obviously anxious that the discussion on this Amendment should be proceeded with at once; while there were others on both sides who wished it postponed, the reason being that the Amendment did not raise the specific points they wished to debate. He understood that by the ruling of the Chairman, even if this Amendment were negatived that would not preclude other Amendments in which a very large number of hon. Members were interested from being raised on a later clause. Surely it was not the desire of the Leader of the House, or of the Committee itself, that the discussion of one of the most important and far-reaching questions that was to come before the House, should be hampered by a technicality! He appealed to the Prime Minister to define the course which he desired the debate to take.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
It was not I who put down the Amendments providing for a time limit, nor do I admit any responsibility, direct or indirect, for the difficulty, if there be a difficulty, in which the Committee finds itself placed. Frankly, I do not think there is a difficulty. Has any human being ever doubted that the real and only point on which those who desire to see a time limit introduced into the Bill is the point raised by the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman? Everybody regards that as probably involving the greatest fight of the Bill. There is a prima facie objection to upsetting any general expectation of that sort, because it does interfere with the conduct of our debates. What is the theory? It is that there are a certain number of Gentlemen in this House who are anxious that the machinery in the Bill for distributing compensation should be made perpetual, but there are others who are anxious that the compensation to be distributed should be limited in time, and that we should not deliberate these matters as one. But does anybody, either on platforms or in newspapers, inside or outside this House, suggest that we should be 831 called upon to make the dispossession of the brewster sessions of their present privileges and qualifications perpetual, whilst the reason for this change—the distribution of compensation—should be limited? Hon. Gentlemen opposite have always said that this dispossession of the privileges and qualifications of the brewster sessions was the last thing they wished for, but we have always associated the two things with the time limit, and I do not see why we should put the Committee to the great inconvenience, for the first time in all these debates, of making this unnatural divorce. I hope hon. Gentlemen will see that this Amendment raises questions which have been debated in this House and outside in the most convenient way.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
said he did not think the Prime Minister gauged the point raised. He did not believe that they on that side of the House objected to take the discussion on the Amendment as it stood; but the objection to take it at the present moment came from the right hon. Gentleman's own side of the House. [An HON. MEMBER: From the Home Secretary.] Surely it was an unnecessary objection to insist that the discussion on the question of a time limit for compensation should be taken at a time inconvenient to many hon. Members, when it was perfectly possible to take it at another time.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH
said he ventured to make an appeal to the Prime Minister. The difficulty in which hon. Members were placed was that a considerable number of the supporters of the Prime Minister had a very strong opinion as to the necessity for a time limit for compensation, but were not at all anxious to disturb the general framework of the Bill. They would be precluded altogether from indicating their opinions on the time limit if the Amendment was taken now. They wanted to discuss every part of the Bill on its merits. He was certain that the Government had not introduced this Bill simply and solely for the purpose of giving compensation to the trade; it was introduced to provide for a general improvement of the trade. He 832 was afraid many of them on that side of the House would have to express their opinions very strongly as regarded compensation without a time limit.
§ Ms. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said that before the question was settled he would give another reason. The Chairman had said it all depended upon the character of the discussion, but the Prime Minister could not absolutely dictate the character of any discussion. Therefore if they took the discussion now it would be very inadequate and inconclusive.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I should have liked, before making any argumentative statement to the House, to have heard the opinions of other hon. Gentlemen opposite, besides the able speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Amendment. I gather that the Committee would like to heart he opinion of the Government upon the general question raised by the suggestion that the provisions of the Bill should be limited in their character. I am well aware that there are a certain number of hon. Members behind me who are in favour of this Amendment, and I am well aware that outside this House authorities who justly carry great weight have thrown in that great weight in favour of the time limit. I think the hon. and learned Member himself has made allusion to Convocation and to the line taken up by a very large body of clergy. Now, I am the last person in the world to speak with the smallest shade of disrespect of the clergy of any denomination in connection with the temperance question. I believe there is no class of the community which from the circumstances of their position are brought more closely into touch with the appalling evils which excess in drink produces in the community at large, and all the clergy who work among the poor must, if it be possible, have a livelier feeling upon this subject than the ordinary layman. They come even more closely than we do into connection with the evils which we and they desire to see mitigated by temperance reform. The ardour of their passion for the reform 833 of this great evil, I think, deserves and has received the full sympathy and approval of every man in every part of the House; but when they come to discuss the purely secular methods by which this House—this Parliament—ought to deal with questions of legislation affecting the public at large, affecting questions of property, and all the varied and complicated interests of society, I do not think that any special training which the clergy may have had gives them any special title to give an opinion upon such matters. In the employment of spiritual weapons, in the endeavour to raise the moral tone of all classes of the community, upon which ultimately every great reform must be based, the services of the clergy are invaluable and cannot be dispensed with. But when they come to tell us without, as far as I know, any critical examination of the subject at all, exactly what provision this House should introduce into Bills dealing with temperance questions, then, Sir, I think we must all feel that, however much individual clergy by their ability or special knowledge of this subject may be qualified to help us, the clergy, as such, of any denomination have no peculiar title to be heard.
Let us turn, as behoves this Committee, to know exactly what it is we should gain or lose by endeavouring to introduce into this Bill the question of a time limit. I do not know whether hon. Members who advocate that have made up their minds what precisely is to happen when the time limit comes to an end. I gather from the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment that his view of what would happen is that we should return to the status quo, so far as the law is concerned, but that there will be a great change in the equities of the case because at the end of the time limit, although the law will be precisely what it is now, and although at present the licence-holder may have some title to compensation, at the end of the period the law will again revert to its present position, and that then that equitable title will have lapsed. That is the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not quite see how that is to happen. What is there in the mere lapse of time under this Bill which will take away the equitable right to compensation which, not by the universal 834 consent of this House, but in the view of the great majority of this House, the licence-holder now possesses. Let the House observe that I do not at all deny that you might continue a time limit which would altogether obliterate any further equitable title to compensation which the licence-holder might possess. I do not say whether it would be wise to have such a time limit or not. I think there are strong reasons, or reasons of considerable substance, against it. At all events, a time limit might be conceived. For example, the licence-holder has, and after this Bill will continue to have, in spite of what fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman, not a freehold at all, but, as it seems to me, an equitable right to consideration. If you chose to have a time limit during which you give him what he has not got now, absolute security of tenure, which this Bill will not give him, why, of course, at the end of that time, if you make the time of adequate length, he will have had compensation, because you will have given him something in return for what he loses by the fact that his property becomes absolutely subject to the magistrates' jurisdiction. Does anyone propose that? Is there any Amendment put down proposing that? Does anyone desire to see during the seven, fourteen, twenty-one, or thirty years—because all these periods are mentioned in various Amendments—that during any of those terms of years the licence-holder shall be free from interference except for misconduct. That is not proposed; and, therefore, the kind of compensation which a time limit may possibly give will not be given if you simply gradually introduce a time limit into this Bill as it is now framed.
Again, I can perfectly understand that a time limit might be equitable—I am not now discussing its expediency—if you did not give this absolute security of tenure for the period before the time limit came to an end but if you paid compensation to anyone dispossessed during that period out of public funds. But, there again, you do not do that; and I am perfectly unable I to understand why, in the seven, fourteen, twenty-one, or thirty years, for which the time limit is proposed the mere fact that the licence-holders and the trade have been paying what amounts to an 835 insurance for that period—I am quite unable to see how, when that insurance comes to an end with the time limit, any equitable right they now possess to consideration should vanish with the vanishing of the period during which this Bill is to last. Those are arguments based on the pure equities of the case; and I would earnestly ask my friends on this side of the House who are anxious to deal equitably with the trade whether they can see any answer to that argument. I have turned it every way in my mind; and I am unable to find any answer. If they came forward and proposed that the public should pay this insurance or proposed that without any payment of insurance there should be at all events fixity of tenure for a certain period, then I should understand the position; but at present I find it very difficult to see how they justify the attitude they take up on this question with their general view that the trade deserves equitable, though I quite admit not more than equitable, treatment.
Let me turn from the equities of the case to the expediencies of the case, because the expediencies of the case may, at all events, appeal to those who are deaf to the arguments I have endeavoured to base on the equities of the case. What are you going to do for the cause of temperance or the better conduct of public-houses by introducing a time limit? In the first place let it be noted that by introducing a time limit into your compensation you reduce the fund out of which compensation is to be given, and by reducing that fund you reduce the amount which can be immediately applied to the purpose of compensation. [An HON. MEMBER: No.] Of course you cannot borrow on a seven years term a capital sum at all comparable to that which the local authority can now borrow and instantly apply to the diminution of public-houses. I should have thought, from that point of view, those who are interested in this measure as temperance reformers would hesitate before accepting a time limit.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
May I suggest that the time for making the levy on the trade need not be the same as the time for making compensation to the trade.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then I quite believe that the hon. Gentleman, who takes a somewhat different view from many on this side of the House, would be responsible for a proposition that would require the trade to insure themselves for all time, but to get the benefit of the insurance for only seven years. I hardly think he will find many supporters on our side, and even on his own side of the House there may be some who will shrink from so very drastic a proceeding. Then I take up another point, based on what I may call the temperance expediency of this question. Who is going to take a public-house or enter the trade during the last few years before the time limit expires? The hon. Gentleman proposes seven years. Who in the last three years of this period is going to take a public-house, or, if he takes a public house, is going to conduct it or spend capital upon it in order to fit it for the purpose for which it is intended? You will clearly only get into the trade on those terms and with such a period the very men whom you do not want, the men who are irresponsible, who do not either themselves possess or cannot command the capital to carry it on; who live from hand to mouth, and who, living from hand to mouth, have no sense of the responsibility which attaches and which ought to attach to the conduct of a trade which, whatever else you may say of it, is carried on under extremely difficult conditions. The third point based on the question of temperance expediency to which I will call attention is, what are you going to do with the beerhouses? I used to be told in the earlier days of the discussions on this Bill that as between beerhouses and ordinary public-houses, it was the beerhouse that was the great difficulty, the great scandal, and the great obstacle to temperance reform, and that it was the freehold tenure of the beerhouses, which of course you cannot take away, and which was established by Mr. Gladstone in 1869, which has always been the obstacle in the way of temperance reform in dealing with licensed houses. If yon have a time limit, at the end of the time limit your insurance stops, your power of taking away any licence without compensation stops, your power of taking away beerhouse licences stops also, because although inequitably but legally 837 you can take away a public-house licence at the end of the term, you cannot take away a beerhouse licence. That reverts to its existing condition, a stumbling block in the way of temperance reform, unless you are prepared to find funds for its extinction—the class of house which has been the despair of everybody who has endeavoured to deal with this question. The hon. Gentleman has not made a suggestion of how to deal with this difficult problem. I do not see how you can deal with it at all if you insist on mutilating the Bill in the sense in which the hon. Gentleman proposes. You may say that, provided the trade gets a sufficiently long period in which the Bill is to be in operation, whether it is to be the hon. Gentleman's seven years or the Archbishop's twenty years, they could insure the whole of their property against the expiration of that period. But then you will be imposing a double insurance upon the trade—you compel them under this Bill to insure out of their funds, and if you adopt a time limit you make it necessary for them to prepare for the evil day by insuring against the magistrates making havoc with their property. Again, if you come to the conclusion that the trade ought to bear that additional burden—which, as I have said, I do not think just—you ought to put that second insurance into the schedule of the Bill, for then you will place in the hands of the local authorities a larger sum of money for the abolition of licences. But in my view, unless you mean to inflict a considerable injustice upon the trade, it would be far better, in the interest of temperance, that the Bill should remain as it stands.
Then how about the magistrates? What position do you put them in? At the end of the period of the time limit they will be exactly in the same difficulty that they find themselves in now. The difficulty of the magistrates—as I have more than once pointed out—is that they have to compare and balance two things which cannot be compared and balanced—the interest of the general community of a particular locality in regard to the number of public-houses in that locality, and the hardship they must inflict upon a publican by turning him out of his holding into the street. I do not know 838 whether you will ever get rid of that difficulty. It is perfectly true that in regard to new public-houses the magistrates I will be able, and it will be their duty, so to arrange matters that none of the monopoly value of the license goes to the licence-holder, but that it all goes to the public in some form or other. Bat there is a part of the value of the licence which represents the capital the licence-holder must expend if he is to have a public-house at all. Of course, if the magistrates gave a lease to such a man, that would be compensation, or if they paid him compensation for the capital which he expended upon the public-house that would be a fair way of dealing with him. But so long as there are men whom you require to spend in this business capital which they may lose, you must, either in the form of the tenure you give them, or in the form of the compansation you give them, compensate them, and so you will never escape from the problem of compensation. One other observation occurs to me. If the local authorities do their duty, by the end of a long period of fifteen or twenty years I do not believe that the number of public-houses will be in excess of the requirements of the district. If that be so, what is the object of throwing everything into confusion before the end of the period, and at the end of the period leaving these people, who, after all, are carrying out a public necessity, to hold under a tenure which you do not require any other business to hold under? I think that after what I have said the Committee will feel that it is not without serious consideration, and not without grave and adequate reasons, that the Government think that a time limit ought not to be introduced. I can assure them that the matter has been subjected by us to the most careful and critical examination, and if in the speech which I have just made I have not convinced the Committee that we had real and sound reasons for the decision which we have arrived at, that is the defect of my oratory, and not the defect of the case which we defend.
§ MR. LLOYD WHARTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)
said it had been stated in the course of the debate that those who signed the Majority Report of the Royal Commission which sat to consider this 839 question were in favour of a time limit. He was the only representative now in the House of the seventeen men who signed that Report, and he begged leave to state that the whole seventeen were utterly and absolutely opposed to any time limit whatever. Of the seven Gentlemen who drew up the Majority Report two had passed away but the five who remained, of whom he himself was one, were absolutely agreed as to the question of a time limit. His own notion was that if this time limit was introduced into the Bill it would kill all good the Bill desired to do. His firm conviction and belief was that by this Bill the magistrates would be enabled to do the justice which they could not now do. Over and over again magistrates would, as it were, have supported the Court below had they been able to give compensation and justice, and it was the inability to give compensation that very often prevented them from doing what they believed to be their duty. The proposition laid down in the Majority Report was that an annual sum of £500,000 a year should be raised; this Bill proposed to raise £1,200,000, a very different thing, and consequently there was no necessity to provide large borrowing powers. What would happen at the expiration of the time limit if there was a considerable sum of money in the hands of the country? Who would take that? This Bill was a good Bill as it stood. To leave out compensation would leave the Bill like "Hamlet" with the Prince of Denmark left out, but to insert a time limit would kill the Bill.
§ MR. HENRY CHAPLIN
said no Member of the House was more anxious to see reform in favour of temperance than himself. He had himself never hesitated, when he thought the public-houses on his own estate were in excess of what was required, to close them when he found he could do so with honesty and justice. He had been a Member of that House for a longer period than many hon. Members, but he never remembered a time when the question of temperance reform was not before them, yet nothing whatever had been done. There was an opportunity of doing something at last and he appealed to the Committee not to lose that opportunity. 840 The Bill contained provision for compensation, and an Amendment had been moved for the purpose of inserting a time limit. If the Opposition could find a time limit that would work and that would not have the effect of making the Bill practically a dead letter, he would be perfectly ready to consider it, but the House had had no enlightenment whatever on that point. He was unable to see how any proposal of the kind could work consistently with the Bill. He asked the hon. Gentlemen who supported the Amendment to offer some explanation, to the House. They knew perfectly well that the men who were to contribute for the purposes of compensation were those in the trade, and how could they be expected to make any contribution, if there was to be a time limit for either a short or long period? If a time limit, was inserted it would be impossible to give compensation, because if it was known that at the end of a certain period they would receive no compensation, the people would not contribute to the fund. He began to suspect that hon. Gentlemen opposite were finding out that there was very little indeed to be said for their proposals, otherwise they would tell the Committee how the Amendment would work. If any Member could tell him of a reasonable scheme for a time limit, not only would he most carefully consider it—because he had an open mind on the question—but he would support it. He did not, however, think any such scheme was possible. In view of the absence of any explanation of the probable working of a time limit, the only inference to be drawn was that the real object of the Amendment was not so much to have a time limit as to devise a means by which the Bill could be wrecked.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
said he had listened with great interest to the arguments of the Prime Minister, but he had come to the conclusion that the difficulties mentioned, although great, were not so insurmountable as they were made out to be. It might not be unfairly stated that a licensee who paid £10 a year for fifteen or twenty years would receive adequate consideration in the security he would enjoy during that period, and that as the time approached for the expiry of 841 compensation he would able to make arrangements, by insurance or otherwise, to meet a possible crisis. He was not, however, wedded to a time limit. His feeling was that, as they were making a very great experiment by which they would create vested interests which it would be very difficult indeed afterwards to deal with, there should be some time for reconsideration of the scheme after they had embarked upon it. If the scheme were found to be good there would be no difficulty in continuing it, but if they passed the Bill just as it was without any time limit or alternative to a time limit, they would place themselves in a position from which there would be no retreat, however great might be the mistake they had made. He did not despair that they might in some way or other find a means whereby the working of the Bill could be reviewed after a certain time without doing any injustice. There had been so many mistakes in temperance legislation, which had been passed with the best intentions, that he felt there should be something not absolutely final in the Bill until they had seen how it worked.
§ *SIR WALTER THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
said he had clearly stated to his constituents that under no circumstances would he vote for a Bill in which compensation was not given in the shape either of a time limit or of a monetary grant contributed by the trade itself, and he had also declared most emphatically that he would never support a measure under which compensation was to be paid to licence-holders out of the rates or taxes of the country. The Government had adopted one of the two alternatives he had always suggested, and he thought their decision was a wise one, because under the present proposals the reduction of licences would be rapidly proceeded with, whereas, if a time limit was given, practically no reduction whatever would be effected during the period of that limit. The Amendment before the Committee was absolutely impracticable, and, inasmuch as it was inconsistent with the principle of the Bill, he failed to see how it could be supported by any of his hon. friends who voted in favour of the Second Reading of the measure. It was possible to have a time 842 limit without compensation, or compensation without a time limit, but in his opinion it was impossible in the same Bill to have both. He regarded the as a mutual insurance scheme on the part of the trade, in which the premiums were collected by the Government and if any man was unwilling or failed to pay his premium, his business automatically ceased. He asked the House to look at the proposal as practical men of business. Take for example the insurance of a ship. If underwriters, when a proposal was made to them stipulated that unless the ship was lost or damaged within a certain period, they should be relieved of all liability, the shipowner would not insure except at a very low premium. But what would be the position of the licence-holders under the Bill if a time limit was inserted? The licence-holder would be unable to insure after the period of the time limit unless at an impossible premium to an Insurance Company, and, after having paid his premiums for a series of years, he would be liable to lose his business without a penny of compensation. In this matter he wished to do as he would like to be done by. He had no interest whatever in any business connected with the licensed trade, but he contended that the licence-holder was entitled to the same treatment as any other legalised trade. Upon this question he respected the feelings of teetotalers, although he did not take their extreme view. He considered the Bill a just and good one and one which would tend very largely to decrease the number of licensed houses, and as he believed it was impossible to engraft on it a time limit he must vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH
said he had listened with great interest to the statement of the Prime Minister upon this question. It appeared to him that they were proceeding upon a basis which he did not think was well founded. The case of each licence depanded upon the proposition that the present licensee in the country had some sort of a vested interest of a freehold character, and if the right hon. Gentleman did not say this in so many words, at any rate his arguments were 843 based upon some latent assumption of that kind. He was in favour of compensation, but he believed that there ought to be compensation and consideration. In the interests of temperance he felt strongly the position in which the magistrates were Paced and their hands would be very much strengthened if they were able to give cooperation in cases where they took away licences without misconduct on the part of the holder. At the same time they must very seriously consider what they were doing if there was anytime limit. They were entirely altering the tenure of the licence-holders and for all time they were altering their position m the country. They all knew that legally and equitably the licence-holders had taken these licences on a yearly tenancy, and when they heard of the large sums paid for these licences—unless they were rash and reckless speculations, which he was afraid in some eases they were, for ulterior purposes—there must be in the mind of a person who bought one of these houses some idea of the value based upon the profit-earning power, and he must to a certain extent take into account the possibility that the licence might be ultimately terminated. The only justification for consideration—though he thought it would be a great advantage and would promote temperance—was that Parliament was proposing, with the assent of the country, to place the magistrates in a position which would enable them to reduce the number of public-houses to a much greater extent and much more rapidly than appeared to be possible under the present system. But that did not justify in the slightest degree a Bill which would confer a permanent vested interest and a freehold property on men who at present had nothing of the kind. He was anxious to promote this compensation Bill, but he and his friends were also anxious to leave the door open for other temperance reforms to take place. There was a great deal going on in the country besides this Bill, which the Prime Minister claimed was a temperance measure. It to a certain extent extent was so, but a grea many other temperance reforms were going on, and efforts were being made to institute public-houses which would do much less injury to the people, because 844 they would not be maintained for profit personal gain. He alluded to that great movement organised by the public-house Trust Association. He believed that there was a great future before that association, and it seemed to him that this Bill as it stood would militate very much against the progress of that body. There were also other temperance proposals which he thought it would be unfair for then to make impossible of consideration. There was the question of popular control and other mpvements which if these houses got a permanent vested interest would be very seriously affected in the future. They were in a great difficulty in dealing with this matter on the spur of the moment, and under the position in which they were placed by this Amendment. It might be possible to limit this Amendment to the question of compensation and that would get one difficulty out of the way; but there was another difficulty, and it was that rainy of them were strongly in favour of a time limit and would carry their support of that principle to very great lengths, but they were not prepared to subscribe to a seven years limit, which they thought was too short. In an addendum which he put to the Minority Report he stated that he felt that seven years was too short and he suggested twelve years. Consequently he believed that fourteen or fifteen years would be a fair compromise which would carry with it temperance reformers on the one hand, and would not be oppressive to licence-holders on the other hand. Unfortunately they had to argue this matter upon this Amendment and they did not know what form it would take at the end of the discussion. At any rate, he and a number of his friends felt absolutely committed to a time limit for compensation, and they would be bound to support that view in the division lobby.
§ MR. ASQUITH
asked the Chairman if he would be good enough to give the Committee a definite ruling upon this point—whether, having regard to the manner in which the Amendment had been debated and to the obvious desire of hon. Gentlemen who were in favour of a time limit confined to compensation, and to compensation alone, to reserve 845 their arguments and their votes until that specific issue was raised, the negativing of the present Amendment would necessarily preclude the raising of the question of confining it to compensation.
The debate has not yet concluded and therefore it is difficult to pronounce a judgment upon it. Although the majority of those who have taken part in the debate have been so far against the Amendment, the Amendment has been supported by at least three hon. Gentlemen. I do not think I can hold, I therefore, that the question has not been debated. I would also remind the Committee that there are no fewer than ten Amendments, nine of them coming from hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches, all raising the question of a time limit at this stage. Therefore, in coming to any conclusion in regard to the character of the debate, I think I shall have to take into consideration the fact that these Amendments were given notice of, although they may not be supported by speeches.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Are we to take it, then, Sir, that you hold that, in view of the fact that the Amendment has been supported and opposed, if this Amendment were negatived it would not be competent for hon. Gentlemen to raise the same question, confining it to the limited point of compensation, either upon this or upon any subsequent clause?
§ *MR. MILVAIN (Hampstead)
said he would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife that the mover of the Amendment dealt with nothing else except the question of compensation. Personally he could not understand why, after so much had been made of this question of compensation on both sides of the House, and after it had been known for weeks that the first Amendment on the Paper was one affecting the principle of the Bill, hon. Members opposite should, if he might use the term, go down to avoid punishment. That was not facing the audience. Either they had no arguments to face the audience with, or they were afraid of the division lobby, or possibly both. He could not help thinking that the question of a time limit was altogether 846 inconsistent with the nature of this Bill. On that side of the House he had heard hon. Members, in referring to the property held by licence-holders, describe it as not a vested interest. He had heard it described as an interest which was tenable only for one year. That might be so according to the letter of the law, but it was not so in the administration of the law. It had not been so regarded by the collectors of revenue who had levied rates and taxes as though a licensee had a right to the continuance of his licence during good behaviour.
There was one point which had not been mentioned in the House and which ought at all events to appeal to the hon. Members connected with the legal profession. It was this: When a person applied for a licence he had to show cause why the licence should be granted to him, and those who opposed the application had to show cause why it should not be granted. Whilst he was the holder of a licence, if any person objected to its being continued it was the objector who had to show cause why it should not be continued, leaving the inference that the licensee was entitled to continue to hold the licence until it was shown that it should be taken away. He was aware of the case of "Sharpe v. Wakefield," and everybody was aware that the magistrates had a discretion, but it was a discretion which must be exercised judicially, and not from caprice. It must be exercised discreetly, and if it was not exercised discreetly it was not exercised judicially. There was a feeling in a section of the community that licence-holders did not receive at the hands of licensing sessions such justice as was usually extended to the holders of other kinds of property. If in a district there were two public-houses, one on one side of the street and the other on the other side, and one was required for the carrying out of a local improvement, the licensee of that house received compensation for his property as a going concern, while the licensce of the other house would receive no compensation if his licence was refused for purposes of public policy. He wanted to know whether that was consistent, and he would ask any conscientious man where the difference existed between the two cases. If the licensee, subject to the judicial discretion 847 of the justices, was entitled to a continuance of his licence; then it was property of a certain nature. If it was property of a certain nature why was it to be treated in any respect differently from other property? He would ask any hon. Member who was in favour of a time limit whether, if he held a leasehold property for sixty years, he would be content if told at the end of twenty years that it was to cease to have its value. Another consideration in connection with this matter was that a large number of these houses were mortgaged. What was to happen at the end of seven years if they said that then these mortgaged properties were to cease to have the value they had to-day? The result would naturally be that there would be foreclosure on the property, and again the trade would be put to a very severe and, in his opinion, a very unfair strain.
So much for inconsistency. He wanted to put another question as to expediency. What was going to be the result of the time limit? It was not, as the Prime Minister had said already, a matter where the public found the funds. The trade found the funds. It was not public money. It was compulsory insurance by the trade. The licence-holders were bound to subscribe. There might be insurance now, but all the members of the trade could not be got to go into it, and the result was that the premium charged to those who insured was heavier than it otherwise would be. But if they had a time limit they would have the anomalous position that the public-houses bought out would be the worst and probably the smallest. The licensee who was undesirable, though there might be against him nothing that could be shown to be legally wrong, would be bought out. He would receive his compensation, while the good man who conducted his house well would until the expiry of the time limit continue to subscribe to his insurance and at the end he would get nothing. But in addition to that the licensees would be obliged to enter upon a voluntary insurance at a higher premium to cover the risks after the time had expired. The Bill would have a result which was exceptionally desirable, namely, to drive the unscrupulous man out of 848 the trade, and it would be an inducement to good men to enter it. He had heard of some clergymen conducting public-houses for the benefit of the community, and in order to supply good drink. There were also private gentlemen who conducted public-houses on the same principle. The Bill would encourage the sale of good stuff, and licensed victuallers would be so in fact and not in word only. A time limit would result in driving good men out of the trade, and men not so scrupulous would be tempted to take the risk of making money in the shortest possible time either by the sale of bad liquor or by illicit means. He thought it was an admitted fact that drinking was a decreasing vice. He thought experience justified the conclusion that the existence of too many public-houses was an encouragement of drinking. On the other hand, he thought it was equally true to say that if there were too few public-houses the evil was driven under the surface. What they ought to do was to find the mean, and the only way to find the mean was to approach the question and find what the result was over a term of years. [Laughter.] Not a limited term of years. He thought possibly after a very few years indeed they would find a very large and desirable reduction in the number of public-houses.
said he thought it was time that something should be said about the Amendment itself, and specially about the term of years for which this Amendment was supposed to run. With all respect to his hon. friend below him, he always thought that a term of years must have an end, and to speak of an indefinite term waft a contradiction in terms. Many hon. Members on that side of the House thought seven years was much too short a time limit, and he desired by his Amendment to substitute for the word "seven" the word "fourteen." He took fourteen as the term, because in questions of compensation, and in settlements as to the amount of death duties, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue adopted that term. It had been said that if a time limit were inserted, the owners of licensed premises had to enter into a double insurance; but there were 849 many forms of insurance which were divided into two parts—one at one rate to insure for fourteen years, and another at a lower rate for a longer period afterwards. There was no difficulty as long as a man knew these conditions beforehand. It had been said that by making the insurance compulsory they were not converting an annual licence into a freehold licence, because the money came from the publicans; but so long as the insurance was compulsory, and so long as the publican paid the premium, so long did he get the right to have his annual licence renewed. Therefore, that made the licence practically a freehold. He contended that a time limit was necessary if it was wanted to maintain the annual character of the licence. In the course of years the annual licence had come to be practically regarded as renewable of right, but he wanted to revert to the old legal theory that it was only an annual licence still. In the course of years a certain vested interest had been allowed to grow up, and that, he admitted, should be bought out, and the vested interest done for. It had been said that if a period to compensation was imposed, in the last few years of that period inferior men would enter the trade and that nobody would spend money in keeping the houses in repair and be careful to maintain good order. His answer to that was that an annual licence conferred a very substantial bonus on the owner for which he had never paid a penny, and if he did not keep his house in good order he would lose the licence for these few years. That would compel him to conduct his house properly. For these reasons he thought a fourteen years limit was sufficient and would bring down the number of licences to the ratio which would be considered by moderate men as appropriate to the whole population.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the word 'seven,' insert the word 'fourteen.'"—(Colonel Williams.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'seven' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
said he was sorry to take part to the debate in this incon- 850 venient way, but he was not responsible for having put down the Amendment to the first clause. It seemed to him that the key to the position was that the licence-holder had no right to a renewal. The State had carefully and specially reserved the power to refuse a renewal each year—so carefully that it required the licence-holder to specially apply each year for renewal to remind him that he held a precarious licence and that he might be refused it any year. All he had got was, as Lord Selborne had said, a locus standi for renewal. The market value of a licence was only the chance that the holder would get a renewal; but that was not property in any proper sense of the term. It should be borne in mind that every licence-holder had all along known the law and the risk he ran. He had deliberately and willingly taken that risk for the sake of the profits which he would get through being protected from competition. The Prime Minister dwelt an the fact that the licence-holders had to pity taxes and death duties. That was no argument. The Inland Revenue demanded taxes on the market value of anything a man held, but that did not imply that the Inland Revenue guaranteed that that was a reasonable value. Take the case of a gold mine, the shares of which might be worth £5. If the owner died these shares would be assessed at £5 each for death duties, but the shares might, in three or four years, not be worth 1s. or a penny. The Inland Revenue did not guarantee that they would always remain at a value of £5. Or the case of a racehorse; at the time of the owner's death it might be worth hundreds of pounds, but die in a few months. The Inland Revenue did not guarantee that the horse would live and win races. Or the case of pictures, which might be of exceedingly great value at the time of the owner's death; fashions, however, changed in pictures as in many things else, and the value might go down in a few years, but what the Inland Revenue took at the time was the market value. The successor took his chance.
It had been said that municipal corporations gave full compensation when a licence was taken away to effect public improvements, but the municipal authority had no power to interfere with the licence, and if they took it away they should pay 851 compensation. It was the licensing justices who conferred the right and who could take it away at the end of a year—a very different case indeed. It had been said that the Lord Chancellor had decided that the licensing magistrates must exercise judicial discretion in refusing a licence, but the Lord Chancellor took occasion in a later discussion to explain what he had said and to point out that it had been misunderstood. If the magistrates took away a licence capriciously, and if that was proved to be the case, the licence-holder had a remedy. Therefore, that was no reason for giving compensation to licence-holders whose annual licence was taken away in the exercise of judicial discretion. He was one of those who was quite willing that some consideration should be shown to a a licence-holder, but that was not a matter of legal or moral right, but of grace to facilitate temperance reform. He was in favour of compensation being given to the trade from the trade, for f the public advantage in clearing away unnecessary licences. The Prime I Minister said that it would be all right to give a licence-holder absolute security for a considerable term, subject to good behaviour, but that this Bill did not do that. His contention, however, was that it did give absolute security, and a pretty good security too, for the holder was to be handsomely paid for it if he lost it. The Prime Minister also said that the right which a licence-holder now had should not end with the end of the insurance; if the public paid the insurance it would be different. He (Mr. Whittaker) contended that the licence-holder bad no right at present and therefore he would have none under this Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said if he used I the word "right" he used it in the sense of an equitable claim.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
contended that if an equitable claim was something less than a right, and the tenure something less than a freehold, then it was reasonable to terminate it by a notice. The real difficulty that had to be faced was that when they wanted to reduce a number of licences the justices found a great difficulty in selection. They found a dozen 852 licences in a small area and thought three or four of them ought to disappear, but there was nothing that could be said against one of them that could not be said against the rest, and there was nothing that could be said in favour of one that could not be equally well said in favour of all. They felt that if they took away a licence they would inflict financial loss on the person whose licence they suppressed, and would confer a financial benefit on those whose licences were renewed. He himself favoured compensation to be paid by the licence-holders who were left, in which case it was easy to get over the difficulty of selection.
The Prime Minister had asked what benefit to temperance reform would accrue from a time limit. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Who would take a house for the last year of that period?" and developed an argument which he had to a small extent expounded on the Second Reading of the Bill, "At the end of the time1, limit you would get irresponsible men, living from hand to mouth, and the house would go to rack and ruin and no house would be worth anything at all." He ventured to say that precisely the contrary would be the result. The 1869 beerhouses had been referred to. They were the very worst houses in existence and the most difficult to deal with, but they were the houses with a security of tenure, and that fact alone should have shown the right hon. Gentleman that he had a weak point in his argument. That weak point was this, that the only thing that kept a house efficient and kept it well-conducted was the fear of losing the licence. In a locality where the time was running out the anxiety of every licence-holder would be that his should be the house whose licence would be renewed, and the result would be that there would be a competition between the licence-holders as to whose house should be best kept. There was no danger that the character of a house would deteriorate by the introduction of a time limit. It would improve. He had been informed by a justice on the Liverpool Bench only recently that when the Liverpool Bench first refused the renewal of its licence to a large house that was badly conducted no one could conceive the effect which it had upon other houses in the district. The prospect that a badly-managed house 853 would lose its licence at the end of the time limit period would do more than anything else to insure its being properly conducted. The 1869 beerhouse stood in a different position to the ordinary public-house, but nobody would contend that it should have a licence for all time. It had a licence granted by Parliament for the benefit of the public, but it was in the power of Parliament to revise and reverse its decision with regard to it. It was not a freehold—an absolute property [An HON. MEMBER: It is a freehold now.] It was merely a Parliamentary grant and subject to revision. An instance of that was seen in the case of the off-licences for beer. "Off-beerhouses" were in precisely the same position. The Act of 1869 put "off-beer" licences in exactly the same position as the 1869 beerhouses; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the instigation of the trade itself, passed a Bill through this House without discussion, which gave the magistrates full and free discretion in the case of the "off"-licences. What was fair for "off-beer" could not be unfair for "on-beer," and they could not now claim that the 1869 licences were exempt.
The Prime Minister had suggested that under a time limit the trade would be put in the position of paying an insurance against the risk of non-renewal of the licences, and then paying an insurance for the purpose of insuring the capital value of the licences at the end of the time limit. It must be remembered that these licence-holders held an extremely profitable monopoly. It had been said they would get nothing by such an insurance, but he would venture to point out that for the premium paid they would get protection against the risk of the non-renewal of their licence. Then they would have to set up a sinking fund to redeem the value of the licence at the end of the time limit, and thus deal with it as every other wasting security was dealt with by a wise man. The object of this compensation in this Bill was to reduce the number of licences, but the effect of reducing the number of licences would be to make those that remained much more profitable; it meant that in the future the licences would not increase in proportion to the population of a district, 854 and the great additional value which would be given to those houses would be more than sufficient to pay the sinking fund. They could not have temperance reform without less profit being made out of drink, but that process could be made easier by spreading the loss over the whole trade for a considerable time. All these brewery companies—and four-fifths of the licensed houses were in the hands of the brewers—had either provided large reserves out of profit, or sinking fund, for the redemption of the loans, or they ought to have done so. They knew they had a wasting security and were prepared for it, and therefore the losses would not be much to them.
The right hon. Gentleman had also said the justices would be in the same difficulty at the end of the period as they were now; that there would still be the difficulty of selection. They had been giving people this valuable privilege and charging them a nominal sum for it. That was the whole difficulty. If they charged the full value for a licence it would have no market value, and no compensation difficulty would arise. Take an illustration. If a man rented a house worth £100 for £100, there was no market value in that tenancy, and no one would give him anything for the right to live in that house. But if the landlord let that £100 house for £20, then the tenancy would have a market value and the tenant could sell it. That was the position with regard to licences. They let people have licences of great value for a nominal sum, and, therefore, they acquired a market value. If at the end of the time limit, Parliament continued to allow licences to be issued at a nominal sum, certainly compensation value would accrue again, and they would have the same difficulty to face as they had to-day. But he thought that sane, business-like men would at the end of the time limit put the issue of licences on an altogether different footing. They would at once begin to issue licences at their full market value. That did not mean that men holding licences should not continue to hold them, but they would have to pay full value for them. There would be no compensation difficulty, no market value, and that was the answer to the Prime Minister when he said that the 855 licensing justices would at the end of the time limit have the same difficulty to face as now. First, let them get the number of licences down to something like a reasonable number in proportion to population, and then they would be readily insurable at a very low rate, because everyone would know that further reductions would be few indeed, It should be remembered in the whole of this discussion that a licence was not a freehold. Licences were not bought and sold in the market as if they were a freehold. A licence was a wasting security, and there should be a time limit when the equity of the matter could be arranged. The prices of licensed houses varied very much; but he believed it was a fair estimate to say that a good price would be twelve or fourteen years purchase. Every one knew that fourteen years purchase was equivalent to a twenty-five years run. £1 a year for twenty-five years at 5 per cent. was worth £14 to-day; and fourteen years purchase would represent a twenty-five years run. His point was that a licence was a terminable security, not a freehold; and it was essential that there should be a time limit. The Inland Revenue dealt with licences on the basis of something like twelve or fourteen years purchase. It did not assess them as if they were to continue for ever, but assessed them as terminable securities which had a fair chance of a considerable run.
As regarded the length of the time limit, he would be quite amenable; but what he felt anxious about was that the levy should be a national levy. The local levy was the seat of much difficulty in this matter. Clause 1 would never be required if a local levy were not proposed; and if a national levy were substituted they would get over a great deal of their difficulty. Further, he would have no objection to supplement the levy with a Certain amount of additional taxation on liquor. An addition of 5 per cent. to the amount which the trade now paid would be more than ample to bring about any reduction which the most sanguine person had ever thought of. It would manage everything and would sweep away the greatest number of licences that anyone had ever spoken about. But under this Bill they were not 856 going to get any substantial reduction; the value of the licences would increase, and the difficulties they now had to contend with would be intensified.
Something was said by an hon. Gentleman opposite with which he cordially agreed, and that was that whatever might be their views as to certain reforms that were suggested, certain facilities for popular control and disinterested management, they ought not to close the door against them in the future. This Bill did fatally close the door; and that was, in his judgment, a great objection to the measure. At the present time, with licences which might be refused renewal, they were in a position, whenever Parliament deemed it advisable, to institute any method of controlling the liquor trade they might wish. He felt more than some people recognised the enormous difficulty of dealing with the liquor question. It was one of the most difficult problems they ever had to deal with, and he attached an enormous importance to allowing localities to make experiments and to work out their own salvation in their own way. If they did that they might in the course of time discover some method, not antagonistic to the national sentiment, which would enable them to grapple with this question in a satisfactory way. They could not have those experiments without giving the fullest freedom to the localities; and whatever their opinion might be as to this, that, or the other reform, they ought not to close the door to the possibility of their being introduced. The Prime Minister did not think that the Bill would close the door to further reform. Might he take local veto as a test? That was a remedy which was widely resorted to in every English-speaking country in the world except this country. Hon. Members opposite might be of the opinion that this country was not ripe for it; but they should not close the door against that remedy. Local veto would be absolutely impossible under this Bill, because if the compensation levy was to be made on houses in the locality, houses must be retained in order to pay it. If they were all swept away compensation would have to be paid by the public; and the Bill admitted that there was no claim against the public and no right to compensation in the ordinary sense. 857 Compensation was not the proper word. This was a levy on the trade itself to find money for itself. If anyone had a right to compensation, would it not be an insult to ask him to put his hand into his own pocket? Therefore, the fact that the Government proposed that the compensation should be paid by the trade was proof enough that the trade had no claim whatever on the public; and that it was not compensation in any sense. Further, it would be a gross wrong if, in order to introduce some other methods of reform, they were to put this money on the rates or taxes, and give the trade a claim to which this Bill admitted they had no right. Therefore, the Bill blocked the way as regarded local veto; and it also blocked the way with regard to any satisfactory measure of distinterested management. The keynote of disinterested management was that they should get rid of the stimulus of private profit; but they would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire if they transferred private profit into public profit. If they had to raise a large sum of money in order to buy out licences they would be blocking the way to disinterested management. Under disinterested management, the amount of money invested was extremely small; but if they could only have philanthropic management at the cost of scores and hundreds of millions sterling to buy up the trade it would cease to be disinterested management and would be only another form of speculation. Therefore the Bill blocked the way to the two methods of reform which were most prominently before the country at the present time.
He contended there ought to be a time limit, in order that there might be full freedom and ability to introduce any measure of reform they might desire. The Bill would stereotype monopoly. The Prime Minister expressed his desire to end this monopoly, but the Bill would increase it. The Bill would increase and intensify that monopoly, and stereotype the tied-house system, which was one of the most objectionable features of the business. A different method should be tried. The present monopoly had been in existence long enough. It had had protection from competition, and had made enormous profits. He doubted whether the Com- 858 mittee realised how great were the profits which had accrued to the trade by virtue of its monopoly, and thos3 excessive profits were the real compensation. In 1802 to 1830 the liquor trade paid two and a half times as much taxation per barrel of beer as they now paid. They were taxed to the extent of 10s. per barrel of beer; 4s. 5d. per bushel of malt (and two bushels of malt were required for one barrel of beer); and this, together with the impost on hops, made the taxation on the beer trade range from 12s. to 20s. per barrel. The tax of 10s. per barrel was taken off when the Beer Act of 1830 was passed and had never been reimposed, but the consumer still paid just as much for his glass of beer, every penny of the relief from taxation having gone into the pockets of the liquor sellers. Moreover, the cost of the grain out of which she the liquor was made was only a fractional part of what it used to be, and scientific improvements had enabled brewers to get five barrels of beer out of the material formerly used for four. This monopoly had prevented the working of the ordinary economic laws. Lower taxation, cheaper material and improved scientific methods, instead of resulting in a cheaper article had simply enabled the makers of the article greatly to enhance their profits, and now, forsooth, because those profits had rendered the houses in which the liquor was sold enormously valuable they asked for compensation! The monopoly had been its own compensation; it had been long enjoyed, and there was no claim, legal or moral, for any compensation whatever.
The only ground on which he supported compensation was as a matter of expediency to facilitate a great public reform. Those who had enjoyed this great privilege had no right whatever to its continuance; and certainly they had no legal right to its continuance at the present licence fee. Parliament had always retained full right to fix the licence fee at any amount it chose, and whatever might be said about the liquor seller's equity in the renewal of his licence, he had no equity whatever in the present licence fee. With perfect justice and considerable ease Parliament could raise the licence fee, and the bottom would be knocked out of the compensation claim within twenty-four hours. He, therefore, 859 reminded members of the liquor trade that if this Bill were forced upon this country in its present form and by this Parliament there were more ways of killing a cat than by banging it. Liquor sellers had no right to licences at the present rate of duty; they had no moral or legal right to object to anybody else having a licence; the value of their; licences depended upon the monopoly; and if everybody who desired one could have a licence on the same terms there could be no market or compensation value. If Parliament fixed the licence fee sufficiently high, and declared that every man of suitable character with suitable premises might have a licence, he believed the number of licences would be reduced and there would be no compensation value attaching to any. They would then get rid of all the obnoxious—
I think the hon. Member has rather forgotten the Amendment that is now before the Committee. That Amendment deals with a time limit, but the hon. Member is ranging over the whole subject.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
admitted that he had gone somewhat beyond the Amendment, and apologised for so doing. His point was that the holders had no claim, legal or moral, to these licences; that they were not entitled to anything like full compensation, inasmuch as Parliament had certain rights in reserve which would cut down the value of the licence; that the licence was not a freehold or a permanency; and that, therefore, Parliament was entitled to impose a time limit. Possibly his argument was somewhat involved, but he thought it was relevant in the long run. An hon. Member on the other side had given the real name for what ought to be done, when he said the Bill was a mutual insurance scheme under which the payment of premiums was compulsory. That was what it ought to be. What was the position in which Parliament found itself? There had grown up in licences a market value to which the holders had no legal right, and the existence of that value placed a serious difficulty in the way of the administration of the licensing laws, of securing such a reduction of licences as was necessary, and of obtaining that free- 860 dom to deal with licences which everybody desired. The practical question with which Parliament had to deal was how should that difficulty be dealt with as a matter of expediency and practical politics? One thing was perfectly clear, viz., that the proper way to deal with it was not to turn the licence into a freehold.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
submitted that if full value were paid the licence would practically be turned into a freehold. He suggested that substantial notice should be given, that a substantial time limit should be fixed, during which compensation should be paid to the trade; and at the end of that period licences should be issued on entirely new conditions. Parliament would then have a clear field to introduce whatever reforms it chose, and no wrong would be done to anybody. In some way, at some time, Parliament must recover full liberty to deal with the trade, and that could not possibly be done unless a time limit was fixed: the Bill as it stood would block the way. That was a serious position; in his judgment it was intolerable, and should the Bill in its present form be passed it could never be accepted as a final settlement of the question.
§ *SIR FREDERICK MILNER (Nottinghamshire, Bassetlaw)
said there was another side to this question to that which had been taken by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley. He had heard with great pleasure the decisive line taken by the Prime Minister with regard to the question of a time limit, and he hoped he would remain firm upon that point. If the Government accepted a time limit they might as well drop this Bill altogether. How could it reasonably be argued that this Bill was creating a freehold or a vested interest in licences, when at any time a licence might be taken away for transgressions under the Act? How could they be giving the licence-holder a freehold when they had 861 power at any time to deprive him of his means of livelihood; and the compensation they would give would be fixed by the State, and provided by the licence-holder himself? That provision alone would prevent any increase in the value of licences. If any person was foolish enough to give an increased price for a licence on account of this Bill he did so entirely at his own risk and he would receive nothing extra as compensation. The compensation would be ealculated as if this Act had not been passed, and therefore this Bill did not create either a freehold or a vested interest in the licence. The procedure adopted in this measure was the only way in which they could get this question settled. Temperance reformers had been pledged up to the hilt for the last fifty years to pass some drastic reform, but they could never do this until the question of compensation was settled. It had always been recognised as a principle in this country that they ought not to take away a man's property by an Act of Parliament without compensation by the State. In this case, however, the whole of the compensation was provided by the trade, and the only way to settle it was to adopt this clause without any time limit. If this Bill was passed he thought they would certainly see a steady, automatic reduction in the number of public-houses, a reform which was much needed. He hoped the Government would firmly stand by the attitude they had taken up on this question and remember the fiascoes of 1888 and 1890. With reasonable. Amendments this Bill would effect whit they all desired, namely, a steady reduction of the worse class of beer-shops and steady progress intemperance.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said he wished to say a few words in support of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for West Dorset. He recognised the enormous value of real temperance legislation, and whether they called it an equitable claim or, to use the phrase of his hon. friend, a locus standi for having his licence renewed, the publican had some claim to com-pen nation. But tin licence ought not to be a freehold and the compensation ought to have some term put to it. Although he thought fourteen years was 862 hardly long enough and should prefer twenty-one, he hoped the former period would be accepted as a compromise. Seven years was evidently inadequate, and he trusted his hon. friends on the opposite side would accept fourteen years. At the end of fourteen years the number of licences would have been so reduced that the fear of a licence-holder losing his licence would have disappeared and the Government could accept this compromise without injuring the licence-holder. In the interests of the cause of temperance there ought to be a time limit, and they ought not to tie the hands of posterity by adopting any hard-and-fast rule of compensation.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said hon. Members opposite were under a misapprehension as to the effect of a time limit upon compensation, because that question was entirely outside the freehold question altogether. If the Bill was left in its present form without a time limit all that the licence-holder would be entitled to was what he would receive in an ordinary compensation case and neither more nor loss than that. No licence-holder had ever been entitled to compensation as a freeholder, and all he was entitled to was what all property owners were entitled to when questions of compensation arose. A licence-holder was compensated as regarded the fair expectation of renewal he had in connection with the licensed premisas, and that was the view on which this Bill was framed. The hon. Member opposite said that the time limit might be for twenty years. If they introduced a time limit in the way proposed by the hon. Member the first effect would be, not to diminish the amount to the licence-holder, but to give him an unfair amount of compensation to which he was not entitled at ail. They wanted to see how the Bill would work out as between the public on the one side and the licence-holders on the other. The Bill, in his opinion, made fair provision in regard to the temperance question. With a time limit such as that suggested by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division the licence-holder would get a far larger measure of compensation than he could possibly get under the Bill as it stood. 863 If he did not mean that, the one argument of the hon. Member was that in regard to grace and propriety which, as he understood him, were both immoral and illegal. That was a matter for the consideration of the hon. Member. The true answer was that the question of the time limit had to be divorced from the question of compensation. They were not really dealing with the same subject-matter. By introducing a time limit they were not proposing that the licence-holder should have a certain number of years purchase. They were really diminishing the fund, and thereby decreasing the opportunities for temperance. They were reducing the fund which could be used under this Bill for the purpose of compensation in order to get rid of unnecessary public-houses. That would be the real result of introducing a time limit as proposed by hon. Members opposite and supported by some hon. Members on his side of the House. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division took as an illustration the ease of fire insurance, and said they did not necessarily want the house to be burned down while the insurance was running. That was if the insurance was effected in perpetuity, but according to the time limit proposal there would only be compensation if the house was burned down in the first seven years.
What was the equity of a provision of that kind? These compensation questions were difficult and complicated. In the county of Buckingham, in which he was interested, an effort was made to work out a scheme on the same lines as those proposed in this Bill, but they were prevented because some of the brewers would not come into the scheme. Under this Bill they would be able to raise sufficient money as capital in the first instance to get rid of supernumerary public-houses, which they thought in the cause of temperance ought to be abolished. Supposing they had a time limit of seven, or fifteen, years they would be unable to raise a sufficient sum to carry out a proper temperance scheme. He wanted to know why the advocates of temperance on the other side should seek to put in a limitation of that sort. By doing so they would limit the fund from which compensation could be got and in that way they would make the Bill less effective for the purpose of temperance reform. 864 If they wanted to make the anticipations of the enemies of the Bill true, they would put in a time limit, because, with that time limit, they would never get sufficient funds to enable them to carry out this measure of temperance reform. He saw from one of the numerous pamphlets which had been sent to him that in regard to the ante-1869 houses, which practically could not be dealt with at the present moment, it would take thirty years of this fund to get rid of them from the temperance point of view. He asked the Committee to consider that if they had this fund in perpetuity they would probably be able to raise money to get rid of the supernumerary houses in the first year. The scheme of the Bill was not to wait for thirty years. The scheme was that they might capitalise the sum required in order to bring about as soon as possible a great measure of temperance reform. The time limit made that absolutely impossible. He could not understand why the advocates of temperance wanted to mutilate a scheme of this sort, and make it a bad scheme, by crippling the compensation fund, which was really the basis of the whole question of temperance reform. He thought the real fact of the matter was that there was a prejudice, more or less openly avowed by the opponents of the Bill, against giving any compensation to the trade at all. They seemed not to realise that this compensation was not to be given from the public funds; it was simply a compulsory insurance provided by the trade itself. One could easily pick to pieces this provision, because there was not the slightest doubt that the houses to be shut first would be the worst, and the big hotels would have to contribute large amounts for compensation, whereas the risk of their being shut up would be very slight. The funds required to carry out this great scheme of temperance reform could not be raised without a perpetuity tax on which to raise a sufficient capital sum in the first instance to enable the local authorities to get rid of unnecessary licences. He could not understand why the advocates of temperance reform opposite wanted to mutilate a Bill of this sort. The fact was that there was a prejudice more or less openly avowed by the opponents of the Bill against giving any compensation 865 the trade at all. He appealed to Gentlemen who were anxious for temperance reform to see what they were doing. They were reducing the amount to be obtained for granting compensation for the reduction of the unnecessary licences. The question of freehold had nothing whatever to do with compensation. If anyone could show that the compensation to be given under the scheme of the Bill would be on the scale of a freehold, he would be the first to oppose it. The time limit would only introduce confusion, create great difficulties as far as the magistrates were concerned, and cripple the funds necessary to advance the desires of the temperance reformers.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, and he confessed that his argument a little puzzled him. The position of the hon. Gentleman was that unless a tenure of a perpetuity character were given, there would not be any capitalised source of income from which to proceed with the work of reform.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that that meant that it was of the essence of the Bill to give a perpetuity tenure to a very large number of licences. That would be so. Now the Committee knew where they stood, and he contended that it would be perfectly impossible, under the scheme of the Bill, for any effective work to be done in reducing the number of public-houses. The hon. and learned Member was not contemplating any considerable addition to existing licences. They could not have their cake and eat it at one and the same time. If the number of licences came down the fund for compensation would disappear. That meant that the operation of the Bill would be confined to comparatively small limits. The proper conception of the use of a time limit was that it should lead to the general liquidation of the whole existing system. The existing licence-holders would have their title to consideration at the hands of the Legislature recognised, and would be given a certain time in which to recoup themselves for what they had expended in 866 the purchase of their licences, but they would be warned that the character of their tenure, as laid down by the highest Court in the land, could not be altered. This Bill, however, did alter the tenure, and made the work of the temperance reformer one of enormously greater difficulty than before. Those of them who felt great misapprehension with regard to this Bill did so on more than one ground. It was not that they had any fanatical desire to use hardly people who were engaged in a trade which the law of the land had caused to grow up, and which was recognised as legitimate; but they felt that there were very great evils connected with that trade which ought to have been dealt with long ago; and that this measure, framed as it was, would make the work of the reformer enormously more difficult than it was before. His hon. friend the Member for the Spen Valley pointed out that not only one reform movement but every reform movement would be hampered. The Bill would create a new situation with which people would have to deal in the future; and it would be very difficult to apply remedies which could be applied comparatively easily without this Bill. They felt that the Bill blocked the avenue to further reform; and it was on that ground that they regarded it as a retrograde step, and that he ventured to express disagreement with the theory of his hon. and learned friend opposite, a theory which his hon. and learned friend regarded as a good theory, but which, to his mind, marked out the Bill as a step which was really retrograde, and one which would retard the cause of reform.
§ *MR DUKE (Plymouth)
said that on the other side of the House there was a great readiness to put upon some future House of Commons or upon the justices at some future time the invidious task of abolishing licences without compensation. It was agreed that for today the ordinary principles of fair play and justice should apply, that they should not takeaway a licence to-day, some said within seven years, or as others said fourteen years, or as others again said twenty-one years, without giving something in lien of the licence. He submitted, however, 867 that the moral question which raised the real difficulty in this case would be the same whether it arose this year, or in seven years, or any other number of years time, and if the object of the Bill were really to provide a means for dealing with the greatest difficulty there was at the present time in the way of temperance reform, they would not serve it by making their measure of such a temporary character that it failed for the present to have any effective operation by reason of the trammels they put upon it, and in the future, and early future, would inflict upon everybody who remained in the trade what at present was felt to be a measure of injustice. The real question was what was to be done to liberate the conscience of the country from the fetters which had been put upon it in getting rid of the redundant supply of licensed houses at the present time. If there had been no difficulty of the kind, a difficulty not in point of law, but in point of morals and fair play, all these redundant public-houses would have ceased to exist. It was not because the justices of England were indisposed to get rid of them that the controversy arose. The cry of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House at the present time was, "Leave this matter to the unfettered discretion of the justices"; but the justices refused to take upon themselves the task of depriving fellow citizens of—whether they called it property or not—something which, in fact, belonged to them, and leaving them nothing in the place of it. This was the real difficulty, and how was it to be lessened in the least by the course proposed by hon. Members on the other side of the House.
The hon. Member for the Spen Valley had spoken of the course which would be taken during the period of his time limit. He said that within that period they would get rid of the undesirable houses and that they would get rid of them with compensation. But they would leave the whole number of the useful and deserving houses and, when the hon. Member's time limit had come into operation, they would get rid of them without compensation. Well, we had heard of equal treatment for the evil and the just, but we had never heard of meting out compensation to a less deserving 868 claimant and keeping the more deserving claimant for the future when there was to be no compensation. The hon. Member proposed at the end of seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years to introduce some system of local veto, philanthropic management, or high licence, or One or other of those various panaceas which had been before the country as long as he had been conscious of anything having been before it, and which were, he had no doubt, in full blast before that, and which had always been rejected by the common sense of the people. If local veto had been a real and practical remedy for the difficulties of the problem, it had had a generation or a generation and a half to commend itself to the people of the country, and it was more recognised as a myth to-day than it was when it was discussed on every platform thirty or forty years ago. Why should this Bill be framed to work with a system of local veto? Then there was a new sort of idea of philanthropic management of public-houses. There was nothing at the present time to prevent every Bench of justices in the country from licensing public-houses to come into existence and be carried on under philanthropic management. It was another notion and figment of the imagination, and nobody dreamed that the philanthropic public-house was going to replace the commercial public-house.
Further there was the proposal of a high licence in lieu of the proposal of His Majesty's Government. He was not going to discuss it, but, in the form in which the hon. Member for the Spen Valley put it, it was a mere proposal for confiscation. The Bill ought not to be hampered with these projects. He submitted that the real difficulty was to find terms upon which they could prevent licence-holders who had embarked their capital in their business from continuing that business where there was no sort of moral complaint against them; and in his opinion His Majesty's Government had found fair terms in this Bill. If, however, fair terms had not been found in it, what would be thought of those proposed from the other side of the House, where they compensated the undeserving and penalised the deserving; and what would be thought of 869 a system, if it were proposed by His Majesty's Government, under which for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years a man paid compensation to licensees when it was desirable in the public interest to get rid of although, at the end of that period, his own property was to be extinguished without compensation? He desired to support the proposal of His Majesty's Government as a practical proposal which really introduced temperance reform at once, and did not postpone it until the hon. Member for the Spen Valley and his friends had persuaded the public to reconsider local option, and which was a proposal, upon the admission of those who criticised the measure, which would within a measurable time get rid of the class of houses of which it was to the interest of the public to get rid.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
complained that in the Bill not one single effort was made or would be made in the true interests of temperance. It could not be called a temperance measure at all, for it was nothing more nor less than a compensation Bill. He was wholly opposed to any time limit, and, therefore, he could not vote for either Amendment before the House. The publicans were only legitimately entitled to an annual interest in their licences, and therefore he proposed at a later stage to move an Amendment restricting his right to a year only. Since the case of "Sharpe v. Wakefield", in the district where he lived the value of licences had risen in many instances no less than 150 or 200 per cent. Where there was a commodity which cost something like 7d. and was retailed at something like 2s. to the general public—and that owing to the monopoly under which that beer was sold—speculative brewery companies came into the market and put up the price of the licences, well knowing what the law was and depending on Ministerialist Members to give them compensation. It had been a pure speculation on the part of the brewers, and now they came to Parliament and asked for full compensation for the value of the licences they had been speculating in, well knowing what the state of the law was. Now the Government absolutely refused to accept any time limit whatsoever, and 870 those licences were to become freehold. Where the value of public-houses had been so enormously increased by speculative brewery companies it was wholly wrong that the House should compensate the brewers. His objection to the scheme was that it would not reduce licences to any material extent. He lived in a village where 4,500 gallons of beer were drunk every week, representing a sum of something like £400 a week, and he would like to know how the Bill was going to decrease drinking there? It would not touch that evil. The value of the houses was over £25,000. How were they going to deal with licences like that? They would not have the money to deal with them.
§ *MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
said it appeared to him that very few Members grasped what this Amendment meant.
§ 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.