§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [9th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Which Amendment was,
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon tins day six months.'—(Mr. Burt.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
held that the House and the country were deeply indebted to the Government for the temperance measures they had passed for England and Scotland, and for proposing this measure, which would reduce the number of licences. It was a measure which should receive the most careful and anxious consideration of the House. He held that I here were too many licensed houses and he was convinced that they would not secure any substantial reduction in the number except by recognising the principle of compensation. Hon. Members opposite had acquiesced in that principle under certain conditions, and that marked a nearer approach between the two sides than had hitherto been the case with temperance legislation. He appealed to all sides of the House for a careful consideration of the measure on these grounds. Excessive drinking had done enormous damage to the country, and considering the amount of money annually spent they should be anxious to do something to curtail that expenditure, and the evil consequences that followed thereon. Although the licence-holder had only one year's right, he had a moral claim of something like twelve or fourteen years holding in his licence. It was the recognition of that claim which had caused magistrates to abstain from withholding licences when in many instances it would have been in the interest of the community for them to cancel them. He held the reduction of the number of public-houses would cause some reduction in the amount of liquor consumed, but at the same time it would bring more custom to the surviving houses, and he thought the principle enunciated in the Bill that the surviving houses should compensate those whose licences were lost was sound and equitable. As far as 846 that went he was in sympathy with the Bill. His objection to the Bill was not that it acknowledged the existence of that interest, but that it proposed to turn that interest into a permanent freehold. He was anxious to deal fairly by the licence-holder, but to create a permanent holding in the licence would be to inflict a great injustice on the rights of the people. He earnestly appealed to the Government, therefore, to introduce into the Bill a time limit. He would like to see a liberal time limit, even going so far as eighteen years, and the compensation given under the time limit should be on a sliding scale. There should be full compensation given to houses closed during the first year, seventeen-eighteenths during the second year, sixteen-eighteenths during the third, and so on. The contributions to the compensation fund should be pro rata or a similar sliding scale. It had been said that would inflict injustice on men who paid contributions for several years and then got no benefit from it. But those who had contributed to the fund all these years would have been receiving the advantage of the trade which they enjoyed, and there was no ground of complaint from that point of view. As the end of the time limit approached, having regard to the fact that a great number of the unnecessary houses would be closed, it would be quite easy for the surviving houses to form a mutual insurance fund for any further reductions that might be made.
His chief reason for advocating the introduction of a time limit was that they might do nothing to alienate the rights of the people to deal with this question as they thought right, after they had taken precautious to deal fairly with the vested interests of the licence-holders. He had another reason. Under the system proposed, contributions to the compensation fund would be levied on the better class of hotels. He did not say that the levy was too great, but they must remember that they were paying towards a fund from which they could never expect to receive any return whatever, because it was hardly likely that those licences would be withheld. It was too much to expect them to contribute heavily 847 for all time towards the fund. In justice to them the time should come when the goodwill of the trade should have been supposed to have been equitably dealt with and the houses stand on their own responsibility. He should be glad, too, if the Government could see their way clear to insist that new licences should be granted with full knowledge that no compensation would be paid in case of their suppression. With regard to the magistrates' control he should be glad if the change could be avoided, although the decision of brewster sessions had always been liable to be overruled by quarter sessions. But whatever the tribunal was the people must have access to it to represent the wishes of the neighbourhood. If the Government fastened a permanent freehold in licences round the necks of the people they would not be promoting the cause of temperance reform.
§ * MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
said it appeared to him that the Licensing Pill transferred no further power to quarter sessions, with the exception that it created a new power by allowing quarter sessions to agree that compensation should be paid, and in default of agreement as to the amount. H failed to see how in any way injustice was done to the magistrates. In his opinion, it would be absolutely necessary, in view of the probability of the justices' policy as to renewals, that some safeguards should be provided to insure that no injustice was done to those who were interested in the licence, other than the licensee, whereby they might suffer the loss of thousands of pounds in consequence of some trivial fault of the licensee which might only involve a nominal fine in itself. He intended, therefore, to propose an Amendment to Clause 1 to provide that there should be in all cases an appeal to quarter sessions for any first offence that was not enumerated for appeal to quarter sessions. Justices had in reality every right they were entitled to, and quarter sessions had alone to determine whether compensation should be given or not. By a large majority of the House, when the last Licensing Bill was under debate 848 it was practically allowed that compensation ought to be given to those who were deprived of their licences. Even the right hon. Member for East Fife stated he would give them a "solatium"; thus approving of compensation, and only differing in the name he chose to apply to it. Again, in the somewhat remarkable speech they had on the First Reading of the Bill from the hon. Member for Spen Valley, who quoted a decision of 1852 to show that the public-houses had no claim to compensation— he would certainly say that licensed houses which had had fifty years of tenure since then had an inalienable right to compensation. That was absolutely beyond any argument. The hon. Member for Spen Valley also stated that public-houses had filled the gaols and prisons. He deprecated that assertion; excessive drinking might have helped to do so, but the ill-effects of drink had been far worse where no well-conducted public-houses were, and it had been shown without fear of contradiction that the number of public-houses in any district had had nothing whatever to do with the amount of drunkenness in that district. The hon. Member for Spen Valley forgot to add that the public-houses had also filled the Exchequer, for they had been taxed and pigeoned beyond any industry in this country, and he would ask hon. Members to recollect that when Mr. Goschen raised money from the trade for the purpose of compensation, they were plundered of their money, which was taken away for an entirely different purpose.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Camborne took the Prime Minister to task for having met the representatives of the trade with his usual courtesy. It was a great pity, in his opinion, that in a debate on the question of licensing, courtesy appeared to be forgotten by their opponents. He did not believe that any members of the trade desired anything but the public good and the public welfare, and it was monstrous that the good and well-being of the people should be claimed to be the desire of one Party only in that House, and that Members who were connected with the trade should be excluded by them from desiring to participate in the same. Those 849 who stated that there should be a time limit to compensation appeared to forget that justice did not cease at any limited period, and that fifty years hence right would be right and equity would be equity. He regretted he was unable to speak on the subject of this Bill on the First Reading, but he had not the good fortune to be called, and he looked upon it that he lost the chance of, a lifetime, for, for the first time during the ten years he had been in that House, he had the honour of sitting next to the hon. Baronet the Member for Camborne, for whom he had the deepest respect, and he could not help thinking that if he had had the opportunity of speaking to the House in the happy position in which he was then placed be could have brought home the fact of what a duet they could have played by relating what happened under similar circumstances in America. There the temperance party who desired licence reform sent out two lecturers all over the great cities of the United States, one was to lecture and the other was to be exhibited as the "miserable victim of intemperance." They were to take turn about as to which happy position they occupied. They agreed to take their turns in this way, but the "miserable victim of intemperance" declined to be the, lecturer when the lecturer desired to take his turn as a "miserable victim of intemperance" so at the end of the first fortnight the lecturers were obliged to return home without having accomplished their work. He could not help thinking if the hon. Member for Camborne and himself were to pose before the House, one to lecture on intemperance, and the other (himself of course) to pose as "the miserable victim of intemperance," they, at all events, would not quarrel as regarded the positions they occupied, and there might be a happy alliance between the two.
The rejection of this Bill had been moved by the hon. Member for Morpeth, who told them that vested interests were well taken care of, especially the interests of the well-to do. He would like to point out that this Bill was to secure the interests not only of the well-to-do, but of those who would be thrown into penury and want by being compelled to renounce a trade which had been legalised by the State, and which 850 had been conducted by them as respectable and honest citizens. The hon. Member for Morpeth quoted Napoleon who stated that "vices were better taxpayers than virtues." The hon. Member, in quoting the greatest despot that this world had ever seen, was advocating the despotism of the few as against the wants and desires of the many He spoke seriously of the great care that was being taken that no one who had a shadow of a slur upon his character should have a chance of getting a licence. Surely that would commend this Bill, not only to the hon. Member who had moved its rejection, but to every Member of the House. He stated that the families of public-house keepers as a rule turned out better than the families of ministers or of clergymen, and yet these were the very people he desired to see robbed of their trade, and plunged into misery and penury. He then spoke of John Bull's family, who, he said, should be taken care of. He stated that if there were no Public-houses for him to go to, there would be enough money and to spare for all the wants that he or his family could have. Surely the teachings he should have learned from those places in America where total prohibition was practised and where there was more drunkenness than in any other country in the world, should have been a lesson to him in making such an assertion. The hon. Member for Morpeth also desired to revert to the liquor that met the wants of our ancestors. Did the hon. Member mean the liquor that was drunk by Adam and Eve, or did he mean the liquor of our immediate ancestors in Great Britain and Ireland fifty years ago, when it was the fashion to drink a bottle of port per head every night and lay in a stock of gout for all their unfortunate descendants. If so he differed from him upon this point. The hon. Member stated that his great hope was that people would not take more spirituous liquor than was good for them, and in this he cordially agreed, but that hope was in education.
The hon. Member for Morpeth had spoken of His Majesty the King's speech in Ireland the other day, in which His Majesty stated the enormous benefits that higher education would bring to Ireland, 851 and he trusted that would go to the hearts and minds of every Member of this House. But while speaking upon education, he would once more remind them that Mr. Goschen taxed the trade to the amount of £450,000 per annum in order to find money for compensation for non-renewals of licences, and that that money had been misappropriated, and part of it given to the county councils for the purposes of education. The hon. Member in moving the rejection of the Bill spoke of the healthier and better surroundings of the people, which alone could wean the British working man, who was inclined to take more spirituous liquor than was good for him, from the habit they all deplored. That alone could be done by better housing and by making him more comfortable at home, and the money of some of their greatest brewers and distillers had been voluntarily given for that purpose. He trusted that both healthier and better surroundings would be found by the State as well as by private individuals, but the rejection of this Bill would only increase the evils of which the hon. Member who moved its rejection spoke, and he hoped that in the interests of sobriety and of the honour and justice o1 this country the Bill now before them would be passed into law.
* COLONEL WILLIAMS (Dorsetshire, W.)
said that if a time limit of seven or eight years were fixed it would afford ample time for writing down the value of licensed premises. It seemed to him that public opinion was so far awakening upon this subject that they ought to review the question some years hence. He hoped and believed that then public opinion would demand a far more drastic dealing with the question, and a more drastic reduction of licences than it did at the present day. They were told that the time limit would introduce a great deal of injustice to the trade, and that they would have to provide what had been railed a double insurance in order to insure themselves if a time limit was fixed. He thought it had been forgotten that the situation with which they were now dealing was a new one, and public opinion had very much awakened within the last few years in regard to dealing with licences, and it was now earnestly desired that some speedy step should be 852 taken to curtail the number of licences. It had also been realised that there had grown a certain limited vested interest in licences, and it seemed to him that some sort of limit, not so long as that mentioned by the hon. Member for Devonshire of eighteen years, but more like seven or ten years, should be adopted, and that would provide ample opportunity for the writing down of the licensed value above the value of the house without the licence. He thought that extra value had been very much exaggerated. Although it was quite true that there might be large gin-palaces and places where the licensed value was enormous, where the reduction would take place was in the public-houses in back streets and in country villages where the licensed houses were too thickly together. They had been told of instances where the business, but for the licence, would not be kept on, but if such business was a losing game then there could be no extra value in that house because it had a licence. There were many public-houses where the value was not increased by more than £50 or £100 because of the licence on account of the competition with other houses near at hand. It would not be just to pay a competition value. He had heard of an instance in a village where there was keen competition between two breweries to acquire a certain public-house, and one brewery gave a price far above its proper value in order to prevent the other brewery acquiring it. That was not the real value of the house, and therefore a competition value ought not to he accepted. It seemed to him that public opinion was so much awakening on this subject that they ought to have an opportunity for reviewing this question a few years hence.
The hon. Member for Spen Valley said he had hoped the Government would have produced a Bill which would have settled this question. To settle this question would take a, long time, because public opinion changed very much from time to time, and public opinion upon this subject was now very different to what it was thirty years ago. Thirty years ago a Bill could not have been brought in dealing with compensation, but now such a proposal was made 853 with the general approval of the country. Therefore he thought it was no hardship on the publican to put a time limit in the Bill, and to ask him to write down every year by 10 per cent. the value at which the house stood above its mere property value, and at the same time to provide for the extinction of some other licences. If his own licence was taken away the publican would benefit, and if his licence was not taken away he would benefit because the licences on each side of him might be taken away. The time limit would make the publicans and the brewers look more to the needs of the locality and judge more as to what houses were likely to continue. It would make them more careful as to the sort of house they bought and the sort of man they put into it. He hoped that the Government would see their way to introduce a time limit into the Bill. He should vote for the Second Reading because he thought that the time limit was a matter for discussion in Committee, bur he reserved to himself the entire right of exercising his judgment on the Third Reading as to how far the provisions of the measure had been improved.
MR. MUNRO FURGUSON (Leith Burghs)
claimed to take an interest in the fate of this measure as a Scottish Member, because they could not have freehold licences on the south side of the Tweed and yearly licences on the north side. Therefore he felt that the change of a licence from an annual to a freehold tenure was a matter in which the representatives of Scotland were equally interested. He found himself in very general agreement with the two last speakers. He believed it was essential to have a time limit, and although he did not adopt exactly the same form as the hon. Member for Morpeth, yet it came to much the same thing in the end. The 854 question of a time limit traversed the whole principle of this Bill, which proposed to hand over the whole monopoly value of licences in England to the trade. He had an Amendment on the Paper which, instead of handing over the whole of the monopoly value of licences to the trade, as the Bill did, would secure the whole of the monopoly value to the people. That was the real issue raised between them in the discussion. He believed the policy of securing to the country the monopoly value of licences was a feasible policy, and it was one upon which he appealed to the Colonial Secretary, who took a great interest in this measure. Probably the least controversial of the measures enacted in the Transvaal since its union with the British Empire was the Transvaal Liquor Law, which provided for the elimination of the element of private property from the retail trade in liquor. That was the object to which they should direct their attention. It had been said that there was no alternative to the present policy, but ho would suggest the elimination of the element of private property altogether. If there were no alternative, there might be strong arguments in favour of the Bill. It was said if property in licences was rendered secure and stable that capital would be attracted to it, and that it would be made respectable and responsible, and so forth; but the whole history of the conduct of the liquor traffic in England did not support that proposition. In the publications of Mr. Sidney Webb, and others who had given the history of the liquor trade, it was shown that the influx of capital into the trade had not been followed by responsibility, respectability or sobriety. He did not believe that any influx of capital would secure the end they all had at heart. That was where this measure would fail.
855 The only security they had under the present system was the maintenance of the control of the justices and the maintenance of the public rights. What he objected to in the Bill was that it surrendered the public rights and in large measure the control of the justices. It surrendered the public rights in this way it could not be said there was a freehold in licences at present. Licences did not fetch twenty-five years' purchase now. They might do so under the present Bill, but at present they did not fetch anything like the same number of years' purchase as ordinary private property. The balance was a public asset. They had no right to surrender that asset. They were the trustees of the public, and the public had rights under the existing system which they ought to be slow to surrender. For himself, he declined to surrender those rights and also to surrender control to the extent asked for by the Bill. He thought that under the Bill they would lose valuable public assets, and instead of travelling on the right road they were travelling on the wrong. The right road to follow was the elimination of private property in licences. That principle was not entirely strange to them. For the last two or three years many of them had been working hard on that question, and, if their efforts were not progressing rapidly, they were progressing surely, and the results were good. He himself was not an abstainer; but he took a part in that movement because he felt that the influence of the liquor traffic in local and political affairs was a bad influence. He wished to eliminate it, and he believed that under the trust system they would get rid of it in time. In Scandinavia the whole liquor traffic was under the trust system, and no one in Scandinavia 856 would dream of returning to the former system of individual profits. The whole of that country was in favour of the elimination of private property in licences. Not only was that system applicable to a democratic country like Norway and to a monarchial country like Sweden, but it had been established to a great extent in Russia. He was not defending the Russian system, but it had accomplished a great deal of good, and had brought to the Russian Exchequer a gross revenue of £55,000,000, and a net revenue of £32,000,000, or £33,000,000. This country might, however, compare itself more fairly with Scandinavia. In Scandinavia alternatives to public-houses were established on a scale of which there was no conception in this country. In Gottenburg no resident would assert that the old system was better than that now established in that city. There public institutions were supported out of the liquor traffic, to the great advantage of the community. He thought, on the whole, that it could not be denied that that system was a success.
It was not fair to say that there was no alternative policy to the policy of the Government. It should not be assumed that the whole of the monopoly value of the trade belonged to it. The greater portion of it, in his opinion, belonged to the public, and the Government were asking the House to transfer a public right to the trade. As the representatives of the people they were not justified in doing that. By the Amendment which he suggested the retail trade would be freed from the the liquor ring, and by giving fair notice compensation could be allotted to the trade. What that compensation should be was a matter of argument. Lord Peel proposed five years, he himself 857 proposed seven years on the Scottish Licensing Bill, and he would not object to ten years if he could get a settlement of the question. But beyond ten years he would not go. He had had requests from a very important association in his constituency asking him to support the extension of the Bill to Scotland, but he declined, on the ground that the association was asking for what did not belong to it. They had now the choice between two opposite paths, the path which led to the control of the liquor traffic by the people for the people, and the path which led towards the transfer of the whole of the value of existing licences to the trade.
He himself did not believe in the importance of the clause to which the right lion. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had alluded. The proposal was really nothing new. What was to be the criterion of the value of a public-house in a mining district? They might sink a shaft so that the value of a licence which was £300 before might be increased to £3,000. It was difficult now to fix ground values, but it would be ten times more difficult to fix the value of a licence so that the future unearned increment might go to the community or to a compensation fund. When the Archbishop of Canterbury stated the other day that the Bill would be likely to turn a publican's licence into a freehold it was contended by The Times that the licensed value would be as before the Bill was passed. But The Times admitted that the Bill omitted to provide any authentic record of value, which, however, it added was a defect which could be easily remedied. He himself was not quite sure that it could be easily remedied. The question was by what method they were to arrive at the value. The policy of the Government was to come to terms 858 with the trade; but they could not come to terms with the trade except by surrender, and if they could not come to terms with the trade they must adopt the policy of the elimination of the element of private property. He was satisfied that the progress of that principle was such that the country would be ready to adopt the larger system, and that it was moving slowly but surely in the direction of eliminating private property. In his own county there were eight or nine trust companies. In many of the mining villages the miners had formed companies and established public-houses, the profits of which were more like four figures than three and were laid out in counter-attractions such as libraries, public halls and wash-houses. The system was not altogether defensible in theory, but it was very effective in practice; and it showed how, in even a rough community, they could have an element of control of the liquor traffic which was capable of producing results far better than any scheme which any Government had been able to introduce. They required greater security than they had in those village trusts; but the trusts in their essence had shown that even under very difficult conditions they had been able to eliminate private property. That was not an impossible, policy in this country, according to the experience they had had. He had had this question very much at heart, and had worked for it in co-operation with many who did not hold his own political faith. Ho believed that as far as both Parties were concerned, the influence of the trade was an evil influence, which could not be got rid of except by the elimination of the element of private property in the control of the retail trade. If they had been able to show 859 such results in Scotland, and if Lord Grey had been able to show such considerable results in England also, it could not be said that there was not a substantial policy opposed to the policy of the Government.
With gambling and speculation in licences they had nothing to do. From the rates at which licences were sold, it was evident that, those who went into the trade went into it as a speculation, and they certainly should not be given twenty-five years purchase. The liquor monopoly had bean fairly plundered by private adventures and he should very much like to see that brought to an end. He should hesitate to oppose the Bill if it had a time limit, because he was perfectly satisfied that within a limited period the country would be educated up to the point of supporting a much more general system of licensing control under the trust system than am thing they had been able to get by voluntary effort. He was sure also that a great deal of the money which was required to improve the general community could only be obtained from this monopoly; the value of which was £20,000,000 a year, and which was now used in a manner which was disastrous to the public and local life of the country.
§ * MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken said he would vote for the Bill unless he had any other alternative placed before him; but the alternatives mentioned by the hon. Gentleman were certainly not before the House and he was quite certain they never could be. The hon. Gentleman had been advocating two systems. He had been advocating the system 860 associated with the name of Lord Grey. That system had certainly worked in some cases well; but he was quite certain it could not be introduced all over the country.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said that what he stated was that he should hesitate to vote against the Bill if it contained a time limit.
§ * MR. PEEL
said that the hon. Gentleman was, therefore, prepared to vote for the Bill under certain circumstances; although he really advocated a totally different system. The temperance party were themselves strongly opposed to Lord Grey's scheme. He had himself some practical experience of that in his own constituency, and also as a member of the London County Council. Lord Grey came before a committee of the London County Council, of which he was a member, and argued with his usual vivacity and eloquence in favour of his scheme; but the temperance party rejected it. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the question of the elimination of private profit. Did he mean the municipalisation of the liquor tram? He believed the temperance party was also opposed to that. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Camborne Division was very much opposed to it. Ho himself was also opposed to it, because he believed that no system could be worse than placing the management—he was not now talking of control—of the liquor traffic in the hands of the municipalities. It would be the worse kind of municipal trading it was possible to imagine. He thought the municipalities had already laid upon them all the duties they were capable of discharging; but, even if they had not, the liquor traffic was one which 861 he would not like to see laid upon them. The Bill had been opposed strongly, but more as to its details than as to its principle. Only those opposed the Bill root and branch who, like the hon. Member for Camborne, were opposed to any kind of compensation whatever. They apparently thought that compensation should come from nowhere, from the pockets neither of the publican nor of the public. Into that dilemma the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division refused to be drawn. It carried with it the further difficulty that as the fund available for compensation would necessarily be limited, there must inevitably be some limitation of the discretion of the magistrates in dealing with the whole of the licences under their control. He believed, however, that the limitation of discretion implied in the limitation of the fund was much more verbal than real, because the discretion of the magistrates could hardly be said to extend to the taking away of all the licences under their control.
The point he particularly wished to deal with was whether the Bill would give to the licence-holder a, greater degree of security or a greater interest than he at present possessed. Mr. Arthur Chamberlain had placed the value of public-house property in the country at £300,000,000, which value he had declared would be doubled by this Bill, and that consequently the sum available for compensation would be extremely small in proportion. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division, a much more accurate authority, had rudely dispelled this dream of wealth, placing the value at £125,000,000, and even he had probably not taken into consideration the fact that compensation 862 was not to be based on the value of the licence and of the house together.
§ * MR. PEEL
said he had not understood that. It was an extremely difficult sum to arrive at, and he failed to see how it could be done without a proper valuation, as the value of the houses varied considerably. But what was the precise advantage or value given to the trade by this Bill? At the highest it could not be described as a freehold, because that would entitle the owner to compensation out of public funds. The most the Bill would do was to entitle the publican to compensation out of the trade, and as the risk of losing the licence rarely materialised, except for misconduct, he thought that such a provision could hardly appreciate the value to any extent. The meaning of the words in Clause 2—"That the houses should be valued as if this Act had not been passed"—was rather obscure. If it meant that the present value, as estimated under some scheme, was to be taken as the value for a number of years to come, it would not allow for the ordinary fluctuations of value.
With regard to the time limit, there were great difficulties in the way of fixing any definite term. As the Bill gave power of borrowing on the fund, it was obvious that a time limit would be perfectly useless unless the money so borrowed had to be repaid within the term of the limit, and the money having to be repaid in a shorter number of years would diminish the number of houses that could be bought up. Two kinds of time limit had been suggested. One was 863 that at the end of a certain number of years no compensation whatever should be paid. To make such a definite provision would be neither fair nor workable. It would fall very unequally on different classes of houses. Some would have enjoyed a greater security of tenure; others would have enjoyed a greater share of trade in consequence of the suppression of competing establishments; but a very large number, which had derived no advantage whatever from the suppression of houses, and had been paying to the compensation fund all the time, would suddenly find themselves in the position of having their licences taken away. He thought something more limited would have to be devised. The object of the Bill was not, he believed, to give any undue increment of value to the trade, and the idea should be rather to allow Parliament at the end of a certain period to deal with the question more freely. It had been the practice for owners to keep a certain number of public-houses going as a means of bargaining, as certain benches of magistrates had made it a rule not to grant a new licence unless an old one was surrendered. The Bill gave a statutory position to these negotiable instruments, and one of the conditions laid down for obtaining a new licence was the surrender of one or more old ones. He thought that full compensation for such houses ought not to be exacted, and he suggested that some provision, with proper safeguards, should be introduced by which the magistrates would have a discretion in the matter. Another class of cases in which a distinction should be drawn, were those in which licences were withdrawn on the joint grounds of misconduct and non-requirement.
864 He thought there was not sufficient stimulus in the Bill to quarter sessions to take action on their own account. They had no right to initiate any reduction of licences; they could act only when requested to do so by the brewster sessions. When the report was presented at quarter sessions it was only a report, and there was apparently no means by which that report could be defended. He thought, however, that the criticism of the position of magistrates at brewster sessions went for very little. Any Bill which provided a fund to be levied on the public-houses to be devoted to the extinction of some of their number must be open to the difficulty that it was limited and that to that extent the power of the magistrates was limited. But if they refused a Bill of this kind they were really thrown back on the system advocated by the hon. Member opposite of having no compensation at all. Those were the two alternatives— either compensation out of the trade and a limited number of houses taken away, or no compensation at all. He thought (here was no possibility of a Bill giving no compensation ever being carried in this House.
§ And, it being Midnight, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.