§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
In introducing this Bill to amend the Scottish licensing law I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House, but as the Bill involves certain principles and goes into some detail, a fairly full explanation is. I think, necessary.
First, the background. Over the past fifty years, I think that hon. Members, or at least those of us who are old enough to cover that period, will agree that there has been a very substantial change in drinking habits in Scotland, and a change without any doubt for the better. Those of us who remember certain parts of our great cities on a Saturday evening even twenty-five years ago and know them today, will not disagree with what I have said.
But why this change for the better has come about is not easy to define. Fiscal measures, licensing laws, what one may call the general improvement in our way of life—all of these are undoubtedly involved. Perhaps the most difficult to assess is the part which licensing laws have played.
It can be suggested that any relaxation of the licensing laws must produce more drunkenness. It can equally be argued that sensible relaxation removes the urge to concentrate one's drinking and, therefore, produces less drunkenness. Overseas, there has been a good deal of evidence that over-restrictive licensing laws can have very harmful results. Elsewhere overseas, lack of control has produced equally alarming results. At home, while the great majority of people impose their own self-discipline, the evidence is that control of a fairly positive kind is still necessary. The question for judgment is how much control and of what kind.
In coming to decisions on a matter of this kind, I am quite certain that it is right to have regard, so far as that is 32 practicable, to what seems to be the public attitude to drink in Scotland. I think that it is fair to say that, whereas everyone would agree that things have changed for the better, drink still remains a cause of unease and anxiety among large sections of public opinion.
A main objective must undoubtedly be, so far as legislation can help, to try to encourage what one can reasonably call sensible habits in drinking. Existing legislation dates back for a considerable period—to the Licensing Act, 1921, and, so far as Scottish legislation is concerned, to the Licensing Act, 1903, and the Temperance (Scotland) Act, 1913. The 1959 Act was purely a consolidation Measure.
It has become very clear that the present law is in some respects outdated and no longer in line with modern needs. The most glaring anomaly of all is, of course, the situation on Sundays, with its qualified but none the less 24-hour drinking possibilities, not available to local people, resulting from the now notorious bona fide traveller provision. I have yet to find anyone—hotel keepers, members of the trade, police, magistrates, local authorities, members of the public—who would defend the present position on Sundays. Certainly, no one has come forward to do so, and small wonder, because the present position is quite absurd.
For that and for other reasons, the Government decided that legislation was desirable and that it would be most helpful to us and to Parliament if a committee of inquiry were to examine those parts of the law which most clearly required reconsideration. I therefore set up a Committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Guest, with four terms of reference. The four questions I asked the Committee to examine were, briefly, Sunday drinking, permitted hours, the constitution of licensing courts and courts of appeal, and the situation regarding licensed premises in the areas of new housing development and redevelopment. As the first two questions were urgent ones, I ask the Committee to concentrate on these and it is these two heads of its remit which are dealt with in its first Report.
I should make it clear that the Bill is not intended to be a comprehensive revision of the Scottish licensing laws. 33 Lord Guest's Committee is at present engaged in the consideration of the remaining parts of the remit. Its conclusions, particularly on the question of the constitution of licensing courts and courts of appeal, matters of far reaching importance, may well have a substantial effect on many aspects of the law.
Until the Committee has made its second report, it would clearly be inappropriate to contemplate any general revision. The matters dealt with in the Bill are, however, matters which, in the opinion of the Government, should not be left until the publication of that second report and the completion of the consultations which will be necessary after we have received that report.
I should, at this stage, like to pay interim tribute to Lord Guest and to the members of his Committee for the most valuable work which they have done in preparing their first Report. They have taken great pains to ensure that they received evidence from all the sources which had any view to express on their remit. Anyone who has studied the Report will, I am sure, agree that it is an admirable and dispassionate survey of a complex and potentially controversial subject.
Before I turn to a more detailed explanation of the provisions of the Bill, I should like to deal, first, with what was clearly the most urgent problem with which we had to deal and also the most substantial decision that the Government had to take in drafting the Bill which is now before the House. I refer, of course, to Sunday drinking.
The Government have no doubt that the present law regarding the sale of liquor on Sundays in Scotland cannot be justified and must be amended, as I said earlier. Here is the present legal position. The permitted hours system does not apply to Sunday. Public houses are closed; hotels can supply residents, but not the ordinary public. But the law provides for the supply of liquor in hotels without any limitation as to hours,for the accommodation of … travellers".Whatever its original justification, the ease and frequency of modem travel has made a nonsense of this provision. It has been suggested that, so easy is it to overcome the prohibition on sale of 34 drink to the general public, it is not the case that there are no permitted hours on Sunday, but that there are 24 permitted hours. All country hotel keepers have experience of the "traveller" who descends on them and seeks "accommodation" from very early morning until late at night.
If, however, we repeal the "traveller" provision, what are we to put in its place? This was the main problem with which the Guest Committee had to deal. It considered the possibility of putting nothing in its place—of leaving hotel residents as the only people who could buy a drink on Sundays. It rejected that possibility as unacceptable, and the Government certainly agree with the Committee.
The Committee also rejected a proposal that, as in some parts of the country during the last war, the supply of liquor should be confined to liquor with meals. It recommended the introduction of the same principle of permitted hours for drinking on Sundays in Scotland as we already have on weekdays.
Hon. Members will not underestimate the radical nature of this change. It was the Forbes-Mackenzie Act of 1853, introduced in a context of excessive Sunday drinking, which prohibited the sale of liquor to local inhabitants on Sundays. One hundred and nine years have passed since that Act and it is only in relatively recent years that the ease of modern travel has shown its deficiencies. The ease of modern travel has changed public habits and the Government do not doubt that the introduction of Sunday permitted hours its the right provision to replace the "traveller" provision.
We come now to the crux of the question, permitted hours for which classes of premises? This question caused the Guest Committee much careful and anxious thought and its recommendation was that we should go the whole way and have permitted hours for all types of licensed premises, hotels, public houses and restaurants, which supply liquor for consumption on the premises. It is here that the Government have felt it necessary to depart from the Committee's recommendations.
Since the publication of the first Guest Report this is the only one of its recommendations which has given rise to substantial opposition. I do not wish to 35 give undue weight to this, for the decision to depart from the Committee's recommendation was essentially a decision taken by the Government on the merits of the arguments, but after the publication of the Guest Report the general consensus of opinion of those who have expressed views to me has been overwhelmingly against the Sunday opening of public houses.
Nor, since the Bill was published, has my experience been different. I know that the opposition has been mainly from organised bodies and that it is easier for organised bodies than the unorganised public to express a view, but, none the less, if the Government's decision had not been acceptable to unorganised public opinion, by now the public would have had plenty of opportunity to tell us so. It is of some significance that since the publication of the Bill I have had fewer than half a dozen letters opposing this decision of the Government, and in conversations with a big diversity of Scots the reaction has been precisely the same.
It must be a matter of speculation why the public has reacted—or not reacted—in this way. Religious considerations, an innate disquiet about drink—who can say precisely? But I feel that a main factor has been the widely held view that the Scottish Sunday is a day apart, a day of rest and quiet, and that this position should not be upset. This itself lends significance to the expressed view of the publicans—and they were among the objectors to the Sunday opening of "pubs"—that there was not such public demand for liquor on Sunday as would justify such a step.
The Church of Scotland, and the other religious bodies which joined the Church in representations, expressed the view that the fact that there were so few alternative recreational facilities for young people on Sundays made it undesirable that there should be any widespread opening of licensed premises. This was undoubtedly a major consideration.
On the other hand, I took careful account of the arguments in paragraphs 24 and 25 of the Guest Committee's Report that the opening of public houses was necessary because hotels and restaurants were not necessarily well distri- 36 buted for supply to local inhabitants. Sunday opening for hotels and restaurants only will result in some inequality of supply and will result in some travel, but travelling is inherent in licensing control: we do not all live next door to a "pub"
The opposite danger is excessive provision of points of supply, particularly on a day when in Scotland few recreational facilities are available, and this might in itself create a new demand for drink which I do not think anybody wants to encourage. Having taken all these factors into account the Government decided that the opening of hotels and restaurants, but not of public houses, provided the best practicable solution to the present problem, and this is the provision which is made in the Bill.
It may help if I restate the position in another way. It is the Government's view that, even after taking account of their distribution, the 2,000 licensed hotels in Scotland are sufficient to meet the demand for the supply of liquor on Sundays; the opening of the 4,000 or so public houses as well would be over-provision for this need.
Turning now to the contents of the Bill, Clauses 1 and 2 derive from Recommendation (33) of the Guest Report, that there should be a new type of certificate restricted to drinks with meals. Under the present law, hotels and restaurants which wish to supply drinks with meals can do so only under the authority of a full hotel or public house certificate, but such a certificate authorises also the supply of drinks to the public without a meal—what might be described as "bar drinking". This leads to a considerable amount of difficulty. We would all agree, I think, that, of the ways in which drink may be consumed, its consumption with meals is comparatively beneficial and should be encouraged at the expense of bar drinking. The word "comparatively" was carefully chosen.
However, since the only suitable existing forms of certificate authorise drinks without meals the licensing court, when application is made to it by an applicant who wishes to provide drinks with meals, is in a difficult situation. The court may well come to the conclusion that there is no objection to an additional licensed 37 restaurant in the area, but it may feel obliged to refuse the certificate, not because it thinks it wrong to provide additional facilities for drinks with meals, but because the public house facilities in the area are already adequate. Accordingly, the present law does militate against consumption with meals.
Clauses 1 and 2, therefore, provide for two new types of certificate, a restaurant certificate authorising only the supply of drinks with meals, and a restricted hotel certificate, which the House will see recommended in paragraph 118 of the Report, authorising only the supply of drinks for residents, and drinks with meals. As in the case of other licensing certificates, grant or refusal of a certificate is in the entire discretion of the licensing court.
In accordance with the main purpose of the new certificates, the authority is limited to supply for consumption on the premises and off-sales are prohibited. The only exception to this, and it is a reasonable one and one which will be of value to tourism, is that under the restricted hotel certificate the resident who is given a picnic lunch may be provided with drinks to take out with that lunch.
Clauses 3 and 4 are the most important provisions in the Bill. Clause 3 contains a number of important modifications to the permitted hours system itself. Subsection (1) exempts off-sale premises from the permitted hours. This is in accordance with Recommendation (25) of the Guest Report. The Committee found that the existing permitted hours, which are primarily governed by the on-sale position, cause considerable difficulties in relation to off-sale premises which normally follow the general shopping hours pattern. The Committee also came to the conclusion that hours for off-sales need not be limited so severely as those for on-sales.
The important thing is that off-sales should be prohibited at the end of the evening permitted hours for on-sales, so as to remove the possibility of people coming out of public houses and looking for another drink from off-sales premises at that time. Clause 3 (1) therefore exempts off-sale premises from the permitted hours system. Clause 18 sets out the hours—8 a.m. to 10 p.m.—during which off-sale premises may sell liquor.
38 Clause 3 (2) follows the English Licensing Act, 1961, in dealing with off-sales in hotels and public houses. The existing hotel and public house certificates authorise off-sales and there is no difference in nature between off-sales in such premises and off-sales from off-sale premises. On the other hand, as the Guest Committee saw, there are difficulties of enforcement if two sets of hours, one for off-sales and for on-sales, apply to a single set of premises. The 1961 Act found a way out of this difficulty which we have adopted, that where there is a completely separate part of the premises devoted to off-sales the certificate holder can apply to the licensing court to have this part of the premises exempted from the permitted hours, and the off-sale premises hours in Clause 18 will then apply to that part.
Clause 3 (3) makes a number of adjustments to the permitted hours system, providing up to 10 minutes' drinking-up time at the end of permitted hours and extending the exemption of residents from the permitted hours system to guests whom the resident entertains at his own expense. I should also refer to Clause 3 (4). In our view—and this is important—the purpose of the permitted hours system is to define the hours in which drink may be sold, not when it must be sold.
We do not think that laws intended to control the supply of drink should have the effect of obliging those who supply it to remain open regardless of need. But, perhaps arising from the common law obligation on inns to provide board and lodging, some licensing courts have tended to take the view that certificate holders must keep their premises open throughout the whole of the permitted hours. This subsection makes it clear that the hours are permitted hours, not obligatory ones.
Clause 4 deals with the permitted hours themselves. Subsection (1, b), introduces Sunday permitted hours for hotels and restaurants, limited, in accordance with Recommendation (5) of the Guest Report, to consumption on the premises. The weekday permitted hours are provided in subsections (1, a) and (2), and subsection (2) also provides that there shall be no Sunday permitted hours in public houses. Subsection (3) repeals 39 all the old legislation—including the "traveller" provision—dealing with hours of sale and supply.
It was a very strong recommendation of the Guest Committee that there should be standard hours throughout Scotland and for all types of premises, mainly licensed premises and registered clubs, to which the permitted hours system applies. The Committee, in paragraph 55, recognised that, in the case of clubs devoted to certain types of activity, this might result in a certain degree of hardship, and this is a matter at which I think we might look again at a later stage. It is certainly a matter which has been pressed upon me, and no doubt upon hon. Members on both sides of the House, and we will listen with interest to any views that may be put forward about it. But apart from these special cases which really concern outdoor clubs, the Guest Committee recommendation of uniform hours has received a very warm welcome and is implemented in the Clause.
The weekday hours—11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.—are those recommended in the Report. The Sunday hours, as amended in another place, depart somewhat from the Report. They are slightly longer and have a later closing hour—10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.—than the hour recommended by the Committee. But it must be borne in mind that, when the Committee made its recommendation, it was in the context of Sunday opening of public houses. Registered clubs can at present have a Sunday closing hour of 10 p.m. and it appears to the Government that a 10 p.m. closing hour on Sunday is appropriate.
Clauses 5 and 6 deal with minor extensions to the permitted hours system. Clause 5 revises, to take account of other provisions of the Bill, the one-hour supper hour extension for drinks with meals in restaurants. Clause 6 deals with the case of public houses which contain restaurants. If we are having Sunday opening for restaurants, with a new type of certificate, the same principle should apply to restaurants in public houses as to others. The Clause provides a procedure by which, if the licensing court is satisfied that the public house contains 40 a restaurant, the permitted hours provided in Clause 4 may be applied to such a restaurant, with, of course, the restriction to drinks with meals only.
Clause 8 introduces the seasonal certificate, a provision on lines recommended by the Guest Committee, which should be of real assistance in the development of tourism. To meet the case mainly of hotels in the north of Scotland, which cannot remain open economically throughout the year, it permits licensing courts, if they are satisfied that the requirements of the licensing area make it desirable, to grant a seasonal certificate operative for part of the year only.
Before turning to the next group of Clauses, I should mention the second main source—the Guest Committee being the first—of the provisions of the Bill. This is the English Licensing Act, 1961. Although, as I have said, it would be inappropriate while the Guest Committee is still sitting to attempt a complete revision of the Scottish licensing law, and although many of the provisions of the English Act were in the field which the Guest Committee is still considering, the English Act made some changes of substance to the English licensing law in fields in which uniformity, as I think everyone would agree, is clearly desirable. Clause 9 prohibiting licensed premises on motorways and Clause 14 dealing with the sale of liqueur chocolates are examples of such provisions.
Clauses 10 and 11 have the same source. They deal with the structure of licensed premises and are somewhat technical in form. But their purpose is to remove minor inconveniences in the way of those wishing to develop licensed premises and to improve them without weakening the licensing courts' essential controls over facilities for drinking. This will be of assistance in the development of tourism.
Clause 12 re-enacts, with improvements, the existing law restricting the supply of liquor to young persons. The main improvement is that the prohibition of the sale of liquor to young persons is extended from liquor for consumption on the premises to liquor for consumption off the premises. The existing law assumed—appropriately enough at the time—that anyone under 41 18 who bought liquor for consumption off the premises was buying it on behalf of his parents and not for himself.
But young people, particularly teenagers, now seem to have much more money to spend than ever before, and this assumption is no longer a safe one. The underlying principle is that, with the minor exception Which the House will find in subsection (4), persons under 18 should not be permitted to buy liquor for their own consumption, and the amendment proposed in this Clause is intended to achieve this.
The next group of Clauses derives mainly from the Guest Committee's Report and deals with registered clubs. Clause 15 deals with extensions of club permitted hours for special occasions. Under the present law, if a club has a special occasion—say, a club dinner—for which it is reasonable that liquor should be supplied outside the normal permitted hours, it is necessary for the club to go to an outside caterer who can, under Section 60 of the 1959 Act, apply to the licensing court for a special permission. The effect of this is that, although the club has facilities to supply its own drink for such an occasion, it is forced to call on and to pay for the services of an outside caterer.
The new provision enables the club itself to provide and apply for what is essentially an extension of hours for a special purpose. The grant or refusal of a special permission will remain, as in the case of a special permission for a certificate holder under Section 60. entirely within the discretion of the licensing court. The special permission will only permit the supply of liquor in the same way as it may be supplied during the permitted hours—that is, to members and their guests. There is no question of the club being able to supply the public. I am certain that this is a useful and wise change.
Clause 16 deals with one of the most substantial recommendations of the Guest Committee. The Committee received very weighty evidence to the effect that there were clubs—a minority of all clubs, but, nevertheless, a substantial problem in themselves—which consistently broke the law both about permitted hours and in supplying liquor to the public. Clubs, unlike licensed premises, are private places, and under 42 the present law the police can only gain entry to them on the authority of a judicial warrant. This puts the police in an embarrassingly difficult position. It is not their desire to catch clubs out, but it is their duty to ensure that the law is obeyed and that public concern resulting from the breaking of the law is removed.
If the police are satisfied that a club is not obeying the law it is their practice to approach the secretary and the committee to warn them, so that they can put their house in order. This procedure is often effective, but in some cases it is not. The committee may be irresponsible or—worse—it may try to put its house in order and be voted out of office by irresponsible members. In either case the result is the same, with the abuse continuing. The only thing the police can do is to start on a course of action to have the club struck off in terms of Section 175 of the 1959 Act.
As the House will appreciate, this is a very drastic step and, apart from that, one which makes an exceptionally heavy demand on police manpower. A police raid is almost an essential preliminary in order to get evidence of a sufficiently substantial nature. To be sure that the application for a judicial warrant is justified, the police have to spend long hours of watching before they make the application. The raid itself and the subsequent court action are, of course, attended by a great deal of publicity.
The Guest Committee's recommendation for dealing with this problem was that clubs should be subjected to the same police supervision as licensed premises, that is, that they should be open to inspection by any constable at any time. During the passage of the Bill through another place it was clearly felt that this recommendation did not take sufficient account of the fact that clubs were private places and that police inspection was an intrusion into privacy. There was also a good deal of correspondence on the subject. On the other hand, it was accepted that a provision of this kind was justified in order to assist the police in getting the law obeyed without having to take the drastic and manpower-consuming steps which they have to take under the present law.
The Clause therefore includes two modifications on the Guest Committee 43 recommendation which recognise the essential difference between clubs and "pubs" without, as the chief constables have assured us, substantially impairing the purpose of the recommendation. The first restriction limits the right of entry to a police officer of the rank of inspector or above. The second limits the right in time to the permitted hours and half-an-hour on either side of them. This, I believe, is a sensible solution to what is admittedly a different and an awkward problem. The object is to meet public concern, but it is also to avoid the need to take extreme steps which no one wants to take.
I have already dealt with Clause 18. Clause 19 modifies Recommendation (8) of the Guest Committee, that the prohibition on the sale of liquor on Sundays on short trip passenger vesselsmight with advantage be abolished".This Clause permits sale on such vessels, but only during the Sunday permitted hours for hotels and restaurants.
Clause 20 contains a provision that has caused the Government considerable difficulty. We are all aware of what has been termed the problem of the "boozing bus party", and the nuisance which it causes—the rowdy behaviour and the offences against decency. This may have grown out of the "traveller" provision, and to that extent the abolition of that provision will help. But it has now become a habit and, in many cases, the parties are quite independent of the seven-day hotels as they carry their own liquor in the bus.
I do not think that any complete solution to the problem can be found in legislation. The fault is primarily a lack of consideration for others; a lack of thought, by a few of the many who go on trips from our towns on a Sunday, for the local inhabitants and for others who seek a quieter form of enjoyment. The Guest Committee felt—it was clearly the feeling in another place—that additional legislation could contribute towards the solution of the problem. The Guest Committee recommended that.it should be an offence to carry liquor in quantity in a public service vehicle used as a contract carriagethat is, a hired bus.
It is, of course, the case that much of the misbehaviour of "boozing bus 44 parties" already constitutes offences against the criminal law—breach of the peace, public indecency, and so on. The trouble is that these offences take place in open country and are committed by mobile parties. Thus the present law is difficult to enforce and, because of the inherent difficulties, it does not seem possible to look for any great improvement in the standard of enforcement.
We fully sympathise with the Guest Committee in its decision to provide additional help to cope with this public nuisance. However, careful examination of the proposal of the Committee led the Government to the conclusion that it was not workable in the form in which it was proposed. I do not want to go into this matter at any great length now. It may be enough to say that, relying on the words "in quantity", it was impossible to define a satisfactory offence—if that is how one may describe an offence—in terms which would be both reasonable and enforceable. If the chief difficulty is that the present law is not enforceable, it is no remedy to place upon the Statute Book a new and equally unenforceable law.
The present Clause, devised after a great deal of thought, does not go as far as the Guest Committee recommended. It does, however, create a clearly defined and enforceable criminal offence, namely, the carriage of liquor in hired buses in any receptacle constructed or adapted for the purpose of carrying liquor in quantity. The Government appreciate that the Clause is open to evasion, for instance, by "breaking bulk" and strewing bottles around the bus. But this type of party is primarily a habit and those who indulge in it will, to say the least, find it highly inconvenient to carry liquor in quantity in any way which does not contravene the provisions of the Clause.
We are satisfied therefore, that the Clause will make a substantial contribution towards the breaking of this habit.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
Will those who travel on these buses find it difficult to get round the provisions of this Clause? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that these people will be able to get round the provisions merely by putting the liquor in a shooting brake which would accompany the bus? There are many also who travel 45 by motor car, and the cars or the shooting brake could be loaded to the roof with crates.
§ Mr. Maclay
I fully accept that this is a matter which is full of difficulties. But I think that we have produced a clearly defined offence against which action may be taken. It will certainly do a good deal to discourage that which we all want to discourage.
I have covered the major provisions of the Bill in some detail and I will now try to summarise. It would have been easy to ignore the nonsenses which the passage of time has revealed, and in some cases caused, in our Scottish law relating to drinking, no matter how appropriate those laws might have been at the times at which they were enacted. But we decided that we could not ignore them any longer.
The provisions in the Bill will get rid of the law which prevents a local inhabitant from buying himself a drink in his own locality on a Sunday although a stranger is permitted to do so. They limit the hours during which drink may be supplied on a Sunday, and that is something which, I believe, will be to the great relief of everyone. They introduce a new type of certificate, the restaurant certificate, which will be of value to a very useful kind of restaurant.
They make off-sales possible at hours of the day when many people find it convenient to make their purchases. It is absurd that a man should not be able to buy a bottle of sherry which his wife has asked him to bring home on the occasion of a visit from his mother-in-law at the only moment when he can get away from his job for 10 minutes.
The provisions in the Bill will make for a sensible easing of the position in relation to clubs by allowing for application by club officials for special permission on the occasion of the club dinner, and so on. The Measure provides for seasonal certificates—a new provision which will be of substantial value to hotels and restaurants—catering for the tourist trade, particularly in the North of Scotland. It makes clear that permitted hours are not obligatory hours, which is a very important and necessary clarification. I hope that the ordinary citizen, the traveller, and the person who does not wish to travel, the 46 tourist, and the tourist industry, will find that it serves a very useful purpose. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
First, I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland for his explanation of the Bill. Perhaps I may join with him, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, in thanking Lord Guest and his Committee for presenting an interim Report.
May I say that I do not believe, and I have never understood, why it should be that if a mother-in-law should arrive at eight o'clock in the morning it should be necessary for her son-in-law to be able to go out and buy a bottle of sherry—unless, of course, it is proposed to use the bottle of sherry to knock out the mother-in-law and keep her silent for the rest of the day. It was noble of the Secretary of State to give that explanation for having licensed premises open from eight o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at night.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am all in favour of visits from mothers-in-law. But they do sometimes arrive at unexpected times, and that is where the trouble often arises—to get the bottle in time.
§ Mr. Hoy
Whatever the right hon Gentleman says, there is no doubt about how he wants to treat his mother-in-law when she arrives.
We agree that the Scottish licensing laws were in such a state that they had to be brought up to date. Indeed, this has been pressed for from this side of the House. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced his consolidation Bill, in 1959, I remember the vehement protest made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), who thought that the right hon. Gentleman had been very lax in his duties. Because of the slack way in which the law was being administered, my hon. Friend thought that it ought to have been brought up to date, and that rather than introduce his consolidation Bill the right hon. Gentleman ought to have introduced a comprehensive Measure.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, even this Bill is not comprehensive. It deals with only certain points affecting licensing in Scotland. Perhaps I should 47 make it clear at the outset that I am expressing my own opinions this afternoon. My right hon. and hon. Friends are free to speak and vote as they desire. I know that the Government will not be prepared to extend this freedom to hon. Gentlemen opposite, although for the life of me I cannot understand why, because the Bill has nothing to do with party politics as such, and I would have thought that on an occasion such as this it would not be a bad thing if all hon. Members were able to speak freely.
Having said that, I think that I ought to make clear, also—and here I am sure that I am speaking on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends—that, despite the proposals in the Bill, it is a little difficult to understand why it has been given priority over so many other things that need to foe done for Scotland. The House will remember that we have had to guillotine the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which affects thousands of people more acutely than the proposals in this Bill, and when we think of Scotland's industrial record at the moment, and remember that thousands of men in all walks of life are losing their jobs, we feel strongly that the time of the House and the Standing Committee which will consider the Bill in detail might have been better spent in dealing with this more urgent problem.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, four items were referred to Lord Guest and his Committee: the sale and supply of excisable liquor on Sundays; hours on weekdays; the constitution of licensing courts; and arrangements for the granting of certificates. The first of those is undoubtedly the most pressing problem, because we have had considerable trouble in Scotland about the drinking arrangements for, or drinking habits of, some people. We have had complaints from all over Scotland about the conduct of the bona fide traveller, and I know that some of my hon. Friends feel that the provisions of the Bill do not go far enough to eradicate what they consider to be a scandal in respect of Sunday drinking in Scotland.
We know that the present practice causes considerable disturbance in the countryside and in areas adjacent to large towns, and if the Bill does any- 48 thing to alleviate the abuse to which the people in these areas are subjected it will be welcomed by the House and by the people in those areas.
The Guest Committee recommended that not only hotels but public houses should be open on Sundays, and this recommendation became the No. 1 talking point in Scotland. I do not believe that the Scottish people as a whole want public houses to be open on Sundays. However one looks at it, there is a feeling in Scotland that whatever else happens public houses should not be opened on Sundays. Even those who frequent "pubs" from Monday to Saturday object to them being opened on a Sunday. It was to meet this feeling, and against the recommendation of the Guest Committee, that the Government came to their decision not to permit Sunday opening.
This proposal brought about a lot of strange unions. For instance, we find that the publicans joined the Church, and as has been truly said, "What these two parties have brought together, let not the Secretary of State for Scotland put asunder". This must be the first time in our history that the Church has united with the publicans to keep the "pubs" closed.
The decision to keep the "pubs" closed on Sundays having been made in another place, this point will not come before the House or the Committee upstairs. Of course, it is open to an hon. Member to table an Amendment asking that "pubs" should be opened on Sundays, but unless this is done the decision to keep them closed has not only been made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, but has been promulgated in another place. I think that it was wittily described in the Economist as a "hauf an' hauf". This expression is perhaps better known in Scotland than it is to our English colleagues, but it seems to sum up admirably the decision that has been reached.
Many reasons have been given for not extending Sunday opening to public houses in Scotland. I think that one of the main reasons is that a considerable number of them, because of their condition, should not be open on a Sunday, or, for that matter, on any other day. However, I must in fairness say that 49 over the years there has been a tremendous improvement in the standard of public houses in Scotland.
There has been a tremendous improvement over the conditions described in a very forthright speech, made in Committee a year or two ago, by a late colleague who represented West Lothian. Many changes have been made, but far too many operate unfairly, especially in relation to serving meals on Sundays. This defect was partly responsible for the decision being made. It was said that if public houses were opened on Sundays they might attract too many young people who have very little else to do. If the Secretary of State agrees with that, it is an indictment of the Government and society, in that alternative entertainments have not been provided for young people on Sundays or, for that matter, on other days of the week. If the effect of the Committee's recommendation has been to make clear to the Government the necessity for providing such alternative entertainment, its efforts will have been well worth while.
§ The question of "boozing bus parties", as they have been so aptly described, is another very difficult problem. It if can be cured Scottish people in general will be happy. Surely nothing can be worse than to see these buses trundling along our streets, supposedly taking the occupants on an outing in the pleasant countryside, and loaded up with drink. Not even a publican would want to encourage that. It is appalling that because of the bad behaviour of a very small section of the population restrictive measures must be taken.
§ I do not want to deal with all the points which are likely to arise in Committee, but I understand that in future these buses will have to be no more than 6-pint buses; in other words, a bus will be allowed to take no more than 6 pints of alcohol aboard. I do not see how this provision will work. My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton has mentioned one difficulty. Furthermore, as far as I can see there is no limit to the amount of drink that any person going on the outing can take on board the bus with him. There seems to be nothing in the Bill to limit this. The only thing that the Bill does is to tell the bus owner that he must not provide more than 6 pints of alcohol. I 50 therefore look forward to listening to some very interesting arguments on this problem in Committee. I look forward, for example, to the Lord Advocate explaining how he proposes to enforce this law.
§ If we are to protect young persons by providing increased facilities in respect of other occupations than drinking it is right that the Bill should prohibit the employment in licensed clubs of persons under the age of 18. All hon. Members will welcome this provision.
§ The question of the police inspection of clubs will cause some difficulty in Committee. Some people argue that the police ought to have the right of inspection. We know that some clubs—especially in London—require almost daily inspection, in order to protect citizens against their activities.
§ Mr. Hoy
Nightly inspection, if my hon. Friend prefers that.
It is always true that when legislation is introduced to deal with certain offenders other people who do not wish to cause offence have to suffer. On the other hand, if clubs have no cause to fear police inspection, no harm will be done. The Secretary of State accepted an Amendment in another place limiting the categories of police officer who have the right to inspect at any time during the permitted hours to inspectors and above. I wonder whether this is necessary. I am sure that some of my hon. Friends regard a police N.C.O. as quite efficient at this sort of job, in which case we could allow police officers from the rank of sergeant upwards to inspect. I am not objecting to the provision; I merely point out that this is another matter that may have to be considered in Committee.
We agree in general that people's privacy should be respected, but if we wish to limit the activities of undesirable clubs it will be difficult to deal with different clubs in different ways. The Secretary of State referred to residential clubs. If he intends to treat those clubs differently from working men's clubs he will be heading for trouble. The right of inspection should be limited as much as possible. We merely wish to ensure that clubs maintain a good standard.
51 The right hon. Gentleman will run into trouble if he thinks he can limit the hours during which on-sales establishments operate and, at the same time, allow all the licensed grocers and wine merchants to operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. He has said that he is imposing a ten o'clock limit upon the sale of liquor by licensed grocers to prevent a man leaving a public house at closing time and still being able to obtain a drink at the grocer's. What will he do at the other end of the day? How will he prevent such a man from getting a drink at the grocer's at eight o'clock in the morning? This point will have to be examined carefully in Committee. Another difficulty will arise in connection with licensed premises which have both off-sales and on-sales departments. Very little structural alterations may be required to provide two licences in certain shops.
The Bill aims at eradicating some of the worst features of Sunday drinking in Scotland. As such, we welcome it. We cannot say that we are enthusiastic about it, but anything that goes some way along the road to providing better conditions in Scotland on Sundays will receive a welcome from us, limited as it may be.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
Like the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy), I, too, welcome the Bill. I congratulate Lord Guest and his Committee on the way in which they have produced their interim Report, and I shall welcome their further report dealing with licensing courts and who should be the people to grant licences. If there is a change, I hope that the same people will be responsible for licensing offices.
This was a subject on which there was a good deal of argument in Committee on the Betting and Gaming Bill and I supported, or he supported me—I forget which way round it was—the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes)—on this issue. I hope that in future the licensing people will deal not only with the licensing of drink, but with the licensing of betting.
I support the Bill in general and I hope that in Committee I shall be as free to speak as hon. Members opposite.
§ Sir J. Duncan
Wait for it. It is not usual for Government supporters to vote against the Government and one naturally has a loyalty to the Government's point of view.
But, as the hon. Member for Leith said, this is not a party Bill and I hope that in Committee we shall be able to improve it in certain respects and to act as a sort of Scottish Council of State. I hope that the Government will bend enough to accept the Committee's views and that we shall not have the Whips telling us that if we vote against the Government, something may happen to us—although we all know that nothing ever can.
My plea today is for a constructive approach without party or religious or other bias, so that when the Bill comes back to the House on Report it will have been improved in certain respects. My approach to the Bill is like that of the Guest Committee, which said:We have endeavoured throughout our deliberations to bear in mind the need to ensure that the law of those aspects of licensing which we are charged to consider is in keeping with the requirements of the time.I hope that the requirements of the time will be the guiding spirit for the Committee.
There are several Committee points and I do not want to mention many of them, but there are other matters which are slightly more than Committee points. First, I entirely accept the principle of standard hours throughout Scotland. Everyone with whom I have discussed the Bill has accepted that and I think that that is a principle to which we should stick whatever hours are finally decided. However, like all hon. Members, I have received representations from my own area. This is an important matter in my part of Scotland and all along the North-East Coast people appear to want weekday hours to be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. instead of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the evening hours 5 p.m. to 10 pm.
The argument is that with the extra 10 minutes for drinking up, plus 20 minutes or half an hour to clear up the bar after the public has left, there is not sufficient time for the publican or barman to have a rest, go to a football match, or whatever it may be, before he 53 has to return to be ready for the evening opening. On the other hand, there are reasons why it would be in the interests of the public and of tourists to be able to drink until 3 p.m. Perhaps the answer to the problem is the provision permitting the publican to close at 2 p.m. when he likes, under Clause 3 (4) of the Bill.
I am delighted to know that at long last we are to get rid of the "bona fide traveller" problem in Sunday drinking. But the evening hours on a Sunday make for some argument in Committee. The present hours are 6.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and it seems to me that many people will often find the hour of 6.30 to be too late. I would not mind extending those hours slightly. We would not be extending them over what they now are, because the bona fide traveller can now drink for 24 hours on a Sunday.
My right hon. Friend referred to sports clubs. I will not say much about those other than commenting that the hon. Member for Leith misinterpreted what my right hon. Friend said about differentiating between one set of clubs and another. What my right hon. Friend said was in connection with Sunday hours for sports clubs. Members of golf clubs, tennis clubs, rugger clubs, and so on, cannot play their game much after four o'clock on a winter Sunday because it then gets dark, and what they want to be able to do is to have a drink before going home for their tea. This is the sort of matter which will be raised in Committee and I hope that we shall have a solution to this problem. Indeed, I hope that the Government themselves will suggest a solution, even though it would be a break in the principle of standard hours to which I wish to adhere.
I support the principle in the Bill that there should be inspection of clubs. I was prepared to support the original proposal in the Bill as introduced in another place—that any policeman should have the right of inspection during certain hours. However, I think that their Lordships went too far in confining the right to inspectors, because in some areas there are not enough inspectors to go round. On that ground of practicality alone it would be advisable to amend the word "inspector" to "sergeant". I do not think that any- 54 body would object to that, and I hope that the Government will agree.
After all, there is a good deal to be said for the inspection of clubs. The number of clubs in Scotland has increased enormously. It was 884 in 1949 and 4,177 in 1959 and is still increasing. The average well-run club will probably never see a policeman inside its premises. The police do not act by going in and finding out. They know from the outside what sort of club it is. The ordinary well-run club will never see a policeman, but in the interests of order and decency and the prevention of crime, especially juvenile crime, there is a case for the inspection of certain clubs. I hope that this suggested alteration will meet the requirements of both sides of the House.
Representations have been made to us, and I expect to hon. Members opposite, that there should be a limitation on the number of special permissions. I do not agree. I have discussed this with two chief constables and I believe that they have the right answer. Clubs will now have the right to sell drink on special occasions and will not have to obtain it from an outside caterer. The club itself will be able to apply to the magistrate and, of course, the chief constable concerned will be in the picture.
If there are too many applications the occasion will cease to be "special". That is the view of the chief constables with whom I discussed this matter. They would rather have no limitation and operate the real meaning of "special permission" as they have done in the past. That would be much more satisfactory than telling the club proprietor that he may have 12 such permissions, or whatever the number may be. I hope that the view taken in the Bill will be followed, because I think that it could be worked by the magistrates, particularly with the help of the chief constables.
I must confess that when I first read the Bill I thought that the off-sales hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seemed rather long. I am still not convinced that it is necessary to have those long hours for off-sales. We shall have to argue that matter in Committee. I can very well see that the right hours should be the shop hours. It can be a perfect 55 nuisance if one lives in the country and has to go into the town to get a case of beer or a case of whisky which can be delivered legally only during licenssing hours.
As the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) knows, I have to go 15 or 20 miles into a town. If I happen to land in the town at my wine merchants out of hours I cannot get delivery of the drink I order until licensed hours. I welcome the idea of having the right to take delivery of off-sales drink during shop hours.
There may be a case for keeping off-sales going a little later than six o'clock. I know that licensees with an on-sales and an off-sales department would like to be able to keep both departments open until the normal closing time. Nevertheless, I cannot believe that there would be a lot of off-sales after eight o'clock at night unless in the most exceptional circumstances. It may well be a subject for discussion whether those are the right hours. I do not want to commit myself at the moment, but I think that we ought to consider whether it is necessary at the end of the day to keep the off-sales department open for so long.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is very much better for a man to drink in his own home by his own fireside? If he cannot buy a drink from an off-licence during licensing hours, he is likely to go into a "pub", and probably stay there until closing time.
§ Sir J. Duncan
There are all sorts of arguments about this, but I should have thought that if the off-sales department were open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. such a man would have long enough in which to buy a drink.
I welcome the new provisions about certificates for restaurants and restricted hotel licences. This will do a great deal to help the tourist trade in Scotland, but there is one more sort of licence which may be necessary. The question of dance-halls was not mentioned by the Guest Committee. The dance-hall proprietors' association submitted a written memorandum to the Guest Committee and asked to be heard, but the association was not heard. Therefore, 56 there is nothing in the Report one way or the other on this matter.
Many public houses, particularly the new ones, have dance-halls attached to them. Under the Bill they will be able to get licences so that one can drink and dance in a "pub". The dance-hall people say that, although in a "pub" one can drink and dance, in a dance-hall one should be able to dance and drink. Surely, in fairness, some sort of case could be made for that form of licence. I am told that dance-hall proprietors can apply for public house licences, but they do not want public house licences because they do not want to open in the middle of the day.
I admit that under the Bill's provisions they need not do so, but I do not think that magistrates would be likely to give dance-hall proprietors such licences because they have to have regard, among other things, to the number of licences already existing in a district. In that case, the proprietors would be told that there were already enough licences in the district and they could not have any more. I believe that that has happened in Glasgow, although I do not think that it has happened anywhere else.
It is suggested that there might be a third form of extra licence which would be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. only, ten o'clock being the closing hour in the district, and the licence holder would be entirely responsible for keeping law and order. He would not be allowed a bar, but only a table licence. In that way proprietors might be able to control those who come to a dance and encourage greater sobriety in the dance-hall. The complaint by the proprietors is that at about ten o'clock at night the "pubs" empty and some of the people who have had too much to drink come from the "pubs" and create rows in the dance-halls, if they can get in.
It would be much better to put the full responsibility on the dance-hall proprietor for seeing that there was sobriety in his place and to make him responsible for keeping law and order, to prevent people getting unruly, than having to accept those who come out of the pubs and having a row at the "pub" closing time.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that 57 parents would be happy in the knowledge that their teen-age daughters could go to a dance-hall where they could be plied with drink during the course of an evening's dancing?
§ Sir J. Duncan
These are matters for discussion in Committee. I am putting the point of view that dance-hall proprietors have a case in justice for this to be done. Where do teen-agers get to if they do not go to dance-halls now?
§ Sir J. Duncan
I wish to put this point of view. It is not necessarily acceptable, but I think it worth mentioning that representations have been made. On the ground of fairness there seems to be something in what these proprietors say.
The main difference between the Guest Committee and the Government has been on the question of Sunday closing of "pubs". My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State went into that in great detail, and so did the hon. Member for Leith. I shall not go over that ground again. So far as I know, from this side of the House there would be no suggestion for opening "pubs" on Sunday, although that is not logical nor, indeed, free from class bias, because at present the position in Scotland is that there has not been Sunday drinking ever except as bona fide travellers.
The tradition in Scotland is to have a quiet Sabbath. I think that to open the "pubs" there would be too great a change to make. We have to do this gradually. In five or ten years public opinion might have changed completely, but for the time being the Government are right not to accept the Guest Committee's recommendations on this point. I hope that the Committee dealing with the Bill will not alter that decision.
I welcome the Bill and hope that in Committee we shall go into it in a statesmanlike, co-operative spirit. I hope that 58 the Bill will come back from Committee to the House as a sensible, modern, workmanlike Measure.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
We have had an interesting discussion, and I should like to congratulate the Minister on his very clear and lucid explanation of the Bill. Indeed, I should like to congratulate him on the balanced way in which he has tackled this problem. He himself, during his childhood, probably heard many arguments over the question of drink. In the days when he was young, his father was concerned about the dreadful result of the abuse of drinking. The right hon. Gentleman's mind must go back to the change in conditions that have come about since those days. I think that his father eventually realised that it was quite impossible to impose temperance by legislation, and that has been discovered, at far greater cost, in the United States of America.
People think of having a drink to cool themselves, but nothing had created more heat in this House than debates on temperance and drink. But even that has become much more balanced a discussion since the days when I first came into Parliament. We all of us have our own strong feelings about the abuse of drinking and some of the terrible things that have happened from that cause. In approaching this matter I think that we have to restrain ourselves by not trying to use this legislation for something that cannot be accomplished; in other words, that we do not try to impose temperance.
What are we trying to do? We are trying to introduce legislation, accepting the fact that some people will drink whatever we think about it and are entitled to drink if they are not interfering with other people's liberties and rights. We are trying to introduce a code of public behaviour for people in this matter, particularly where there is a temptation to abuse. Viewed from that aspect, I think the Secretary of State has approached the matter in a reasonable way. I hope that when we come to decisions on details there may be contributions from hon. Members who think that the Bill can be improved in certain ways. I think, however, that we can accept in general the principle of the Bill.
59 I am sure that nobody, not even the publicans today, would support the idea of drunkenness. I was told that during a football match a fortnight ago all the publicans in the vicinity closed their "pubs" at the time of the match. That indicates that they are not anxious to sell drink under any conditions. They realise that it brings disrepute on the trade if they contribute to some of the things that have been happening by the sale of drink at the time of football matches.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
The reason that they closed the "pubs" was that they did not want spectators to come in and wreck their premises.
§ Mr. Woodburn
It is a question of this behaviour not only bringing discredit on the trade, but perhaps damage to public houses. Whatever the reason, it does not suit the trade today to encourage abuse of drinking. That is only sensible. This illustrates that the publicans themselves are imposing a ban, and, therefore, there is not even disagreement with the publicans that there should be some restraint on unlimited drinking.
§ The question is: how much restraint, and where should the restraint be? The proposed permitted hours seem to be rather strange hours. Why should people drink until ten o'clock on Sunday night and then perhaps have to travel by bus to Edinburgh or Glasgow—
§ Mr. Woodburn
—when it is much more dangerous on the roads after ten o'clock at night? That seems very strange behaviour indeed. I think that people, by drinking at that time on Sunday nights, are offending the sense of decency in Scotland, and that the hours should be earlier both for the sake of the barmen and other people who live in these places. If there has to be a choice, I would prefer that there should be earlier hours of opening and earlier hours of closing.
There is great difficulty in some parts of Scotland because decent people who are visiting their relatives in the villages 60 cannot get on to the buses owing to the misbehaviour of those who have been drinking for long hours. I think that something should be done to encourage those who have been drinking to go home earlier. They will have a better chance of being at work next morning if they do not arrive home the night before having drunk too much.
The permitted hours which we are now trying to alter have been compulsory in Scotland for years. I remember, as a youngster, men going home with their wages going into "pubs" on their way, and that was the last that was seen of them or of their wages until the "pubs" closed. It was really to protect wives and homes that politicians of earlier days introduced these very strict regulations. Some people, unfortunately, would still be tempted to do that, but I am glad to pay tribute to the wonderful change that has taken place, in the main, in the behaviour of people. They have more self-control and do not need parental control to the extent that used to be the case.
I have, however, always felt that there has been a kind of class distinction as a result of these restrictions. People who go into a hotel or a place of that kind are treated as gentlemen. If they go into a standing bar they are treated as if they must be guarded, protected and nursed, and as if they were a different class of people. With the growing incomes of today nearly everybody can go into hotels. Therefore, a large part of this class distinction is disappearing.
I have had experience of trying to improve this. It is, of course, always easy for a spectator to play the game better than the people on the field. I have no personal interest in the matter except from the point of view of the amenities of the public and of good public behaviour. It has always seemed to me that there would be less drinking if the accommodation was more civilised.
If a man who liked a glass of beer went into a restaurant with his wife, he could have his beer and his wife could have a drink of water, or whatever it was she wanted. Wives have a great civilising influence on men. When men get together in a bar without the civilising influence of their womenfolk they behave in a way which they would not otherwise do.
§ Mr. Hannan
Does not my right hon. Friend realise that many men claim that they are in the "pubs" simply because of their wives?
§ Mr. Woodburn
That is an additional reason for seeing that their wives are with them. It has been proved that both in animal life and in human life the female has a great civilising influence on the more violent activities of the male.
The first thing that we have to do is to try to provide civilised accommodation for people who want to eat or drink. I still have a horror of the sawdust bar, the spittoons and the other things which still distinguish some "pubs". When we discussed this matter before, the publicans said that they could not get permission to rebuild or improve their premises. I hope, therefore, that as a result of the Bill they will be given a further incentive to make improvements in the accommodation which they provide for their clients. Their clients spend a great deal of money with them and the State gets a good deal of revenue from the sale of drink.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
My right hon. Friend is talking about the civilising influence of wives. Would he also agree that the architecture of a public house has a good deal to do with the conduct of the people who resort to it?
§ Mr. Woodburn
Of course, architects come into the question of building, and no doubt if these premises are improved architects will be consulted as well.
If we can reduce drunkenness then we shall get rid not only of the bad behaviour which results from it, but shall also reduce the number of deaths on the roads caused by people driving cars after drinking too much.
§ The question of Sunday drinking has been discussed. I agree that the Secretary of State for Scotland has interpreted correctly the minds of the people of Scotland on this matter. They do not want drinking on Sunday. They want the cities, the towns and the villages to have an air of quiet on Sunday. If people want to drink on Sunday they should drink out of sight of others and not flaunt the fact in the eyes of the public, because that is a public offence. The opening of "pubs" on Sunday would be 62 a flaunting of this offence and would create a public disturbance, which would be quite unjustified.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Bill provides for the opening of public houses on Sunday if they have a restaurant?
§ Mr. Woodburn
I have been trying to make clear that the restaurant makes all the difference. Where there is a restaurant there is less over-drinking.
This is evident to anyone who visits a place in which people are sitting with their friends having a drink and who compares it with a place which is open for no other purpose than that of drinking. In such a place a person has to have a time and motion study rate of getting down as much drink as possible before closing time. The atmosphere is quite different in England from what it is on the Continent, and if we change the atmosphere of—
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
My right hon. Friend says that the atmosphere is quite different on the Continent. I was looking up the statistics. I understand that the number of deaths from alcoholic poisoning in France is one every half hour of the day and night, week, month and year. Does not my right hon. Friend consider that the provision of restaurants and hotels might produce the same result in Scotland?
§ Mr. Woodburn
The people to whom my hon. Friend is referring are the same type of people as the methylated spirit drinkers in Scotland. They drink absinthe in France and vodka in Russia. We must not exaggerate the matter, but we must be clear that there is no method by which the law can prevent people from committing suicide whether by contracting lung cancer through smoking, or by drinking themselves to death. They will still do these things no matter what we in Parliament decide. We ought to provide proper accommodation and civilised conditions which I think would contribute towards temperance in which I am very interested. I think that earlier Sunday closing than that proposed in the Bill would make a contribution to this end.
I believe that the public would be opposed to drinking in dance-halls, 63 although I agree that a restaurant can have a dance floor and that there can be drinking there. People go to dance-halls for a mixed purpose. Where people go to dance in great crowds—it is probably the crowds which cause the trouble—a mob psychology develops. The police have to deal with crowds in a different way from which they deal with only a few people. This is, again a question of atmosphere. Those who sell drink should have the responsibility placed upon them to see that their premises are properly stewarded and that people are put out when they misbehave themselves. I believe that the trade could ensure that people are not allowed to over-drink on licensed premises. That would contribute to reducing the number of accidents on the roads.
There is the problem of the tourists. People going to Scotland from other countries find it strange to have to conform to closely restricted hours. I think that the requirements of tourists are fairly well catered for in hotels. If they are residents they can drink when they like, and, indeed, can entertain their friends. That facility is not being interfered with. Tourists come to Scotland to see the differences that exist as compared with their own country. If we were the same as the Continent there would be no point in their coming here.
I agree, of course, that laws are interpreted in a curious way. As the Minister said, during the war people were only allowed to drink with their meals. Hector McNeil, who was a former Secretary of State for Scotland, went with his wife to a hotel in my hon. Friend's constituency and ordered a meal. He was asked what he would drink with the meal. He replied that neither he nor his wife required a drink, whereupon he was told that they could not have a meal unless they had a drink. These matters can be interpreted in different ways, but I hope that in future there will be no misunderstanding among hotel keepers.
I do not see how grocers' off-sales fit in with the Shops Act.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Why should grocers' shops be allowed to sell liquor all night when people are not allowed to buy 64 bread? Why are they allowed to be kept open for this purpose when they are not allowed to keep open for the sale of necessities?
I cannot see the point about the desperate need to be able to obtain drink at all hours of the night. I cannot see that shops which sell drink on the premises and are selling as licensed grocers should have to shut during non-licensed hours merely because they have drink on the premises. A part of the beautiful co-operative shop in Edinburgh is shut like a prison for so many hours a day.
Judging from my experience in dealing with this problem, I think that the Secretary of State has steered a cautious and careful line between all the extremes. Considering all the circumstances in which he has had to work, the right hon. Gentleman has, on the whole, done a good job.
I do not see why inspection of clubs should be carried out by a high-ranking officer in uniform. This almost prevents inspection. I also see an objection to having a uniformed policeman marching in as if someone had committed a crime. Is there any reason why inspection should not be carried out by two plain clothes men?
§ Mr. Woodburn
There is no reason why we should not have women inspectors. There is no need to make the occasion appear as if someone was about to be arrested by men in uniform entering a club. I see no reason why the premises should not be inspected just as a bank is inspected by men in ordinary clothes.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
Some of us wish the same rules to apply to the inspection of clubs as apply already to hotels. There is no objection whatever to that.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Anyone can walk into a hotel. He does not need permission. He can walk in as an ordinary member of the public and report anything he sees. If the proprietors are not doing anything against the law, why should they be afraid? If they are breaking the law, why should they be given notice by having a uniformed officer ringing the doorbell? It would be like the case of bookies' runners. There would be someone on the watch for the police.
I hope that in Committee my colleagues will put matters back where they were before this Lords Amendment was made to the Bill. I hope that the Bill will make a contribution towards temperance, though I do not think that we can legislate for that and make people temperate. I hope that people will learn self-discipline and I agree that the provision of facilities for youth is one of the best ways of ensuring temperance. I hope, therefore, that the Government will take the positive as well as the negative steps which are implied in the Bill.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) say that conditions in Scotland are much better than they were in the days of my youth, when there was excessive dirinking. I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in Glasgow. During that time the excessive drinking was dreadful. Prices of liquor were then low. I think that one of the greatest factors in bringing about the better conditions which the right hon. Gentleman described has been the high price of drink. It has had a fine effect in curtailing drinking and changing the conditions which I saw as a young man in Glasgow.
The outstanding feature of the Bill is the extra hours that are being permitted to be kept. I wonder why there should be a bonus of 12½ per cent., for every public house, of more time to sell drinks and more time for people to get drunk. A bonus of 47 per cent. more time is to be allowed for the off-licence premises. Good gracious, this is an amazing contribution towards increasing the profits of distillers, brewers, publicans and hotel keepers.
66 I heard the tribute paid by the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire to the very distinguished father of the Secretary of State who did so much in his day to try to bring about a more temperate society, which was much needed. I wonder why the Bill is to provide thousands of pounds a week in increased profits. It is in the extra hour that the gross profit becomes the net profit. That always happens. Once the overheads and operational costs have been covered, gross profits become net profits, and no industry in my time has had a greater bonus than the drink trade is obtaining by this Bill. I shall oppose it throughout in the Scottish Grand Committee.
§ Mr. Brewis rose—
§ Sir D. Robertson
No, I do not wish to give way. I shall make only a brief speech now, but I shall speak at length in Committee. I understand that the Bill is to come before the Scottish Grand Committee, so the Whips cannot keep me off that one.
§ Mr. Brewis
I have been following what the hon. Member has said and I agree with a great deal of it. But would he say that increased hours of drinking necessarily increase the amount of drunkenness? I understand that in certain countries, such as Australia, where the public houses close at 6 p.m. there is a great deal more drinking in the shorter time.
§ Sir D. Robertson
On the face of it, more time to drink will allow more drink to be taken, and I think that the motive in the Bill is deliberately to allow that to happen. The licensed grocer's shop is, of course, a shop. It cannot be anything else, and to allow it to keep open to sell spirit from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. is wholly wrong. I believe that people in Scotland will regard it so.
Mr. Ian Mat-Arthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that not only the Government, but Lord Guest, Miss Andrew, Mr. Borland and other distinguished ladies and gentlemen who sat on the Committee on Scottish Licensing Law were got at in some way by the distillers and brewers?
§ Sir D. Robertson
I made no suggestion whatsoever about the Guest Committee. The responsibility is not that 67 of the Guest Committee. I know that Governments like to take refuge behind committees, but I do not accept that for a moment. I am perfectly certain that the Guest Committee did its job as its members believed it should be done, but I am surprised that the Committee did not invite the fine doctors at the Creighton Memorial Hospital, in Dumfries, to give evidence. They would have been able to tell the Committee more than anyone else about the effects of excessive drinking.
Scotland has paid a high price for excessive drinking. Let no one delude himself that that is not the case. We have lost many fine sons and daughters who have become alcoholics. Alcoholism is an insidious thing. It is not normal food and drink. Those who drink excessively find that their faculties are affected, with the result that they drink more and more and spend more and more, and bring great unhappiness to their homes. It is the women and children who suffer.
That is why I feel very strongly about the Bill. I hope that it will emerge from the Committee a batter Bill, because it is not a good Bill now. Drinking on Sunday nights up to ten o'clock is quite wrong.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I do not think that we would be in order in discussing the composition of a Committee while we are discussing the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As long as we do not turn "from the subject matter of the debate, that comment is quite in order.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I will not pursue that problem further, although it is an acute one.
The Deer Bill was discussed in the House. Although there were more deer running wild in my constituency than in anybody else's I was not called to speak in the Second Reading debate, and I sat here from the beginning to the end of the debate. I was not put on the Committee which considered that Bill. Therefore, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you will understand that I am grateful to the hon. Member for informing me that I am wrong, but I do not think that he is right. I do not think that the Press and the public, quite apart from hon. Members, would stand for any further victimisation of honest minorities.
I repeat that the fact that drink is expensive may be a very good thing. The various other points I wanted to make can all be dealt with in Committee. I look forward to the Committee. I hope that hon. Members on both sides will make this a better Bill, because it is badly in need of that treatment. The outstanding feature of it is the additional profits which the Secretary of State is attempting to hand to the drink industry.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
Although I agree with some of the comments made by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), I want to remind him that many of us on this side are giving support to the Bill although we have been life-long advocates of temperance. I do not think that we should oppose the Bill on Second Reading, because there are some features of it of which we approve. There are some parts of it which we hope to amend.
The drink trade is and always has been out to make the maximum profit it can, but I do not think that it has all that it would like in this Bill. If the drink trade in Scotland or in Europe could do just as it liked and have legislation exactly as it liked, something much worse than this would be produced. That is why I say that the drink trade has not got all that it would like. The Bill goes some way towards granting the laxity and freedom the trade would like, but it also contains features 69 which those of us who have been advocates of temperance for many years hope to be able to amend in Committee.
I greatly regret that the Bill was introduced at this stage, because it is based on an interim Report. There is another report to come from the Guest Committee, dealing with the whole system of the licensing of licensed premises. It would have been much better to have waited for that report and then taken the two together. The whole system of licensing has much to do with the number of licences granted. I do not see why it should be treated as a separate Measure. I understand that there will be another report later dealing with the system of licensing in Scotland. This is the wrong way to go about the job.
I am not a native of Scotland. I have made many observations about drink during the eleven years I have been there. I find the habits of drinking in Scotland rather unpleasant. I dislike them intensely. To a certain extent I take the view that, if licensed houses were better, not so much drinking would be done. However, I cannot carry that argument too far, because the evidence is that if lovely institutions of the highest architectural qualities were built it would not have much effect in decreasing the consumption of liquor. Indeed, if the premises were made too attractive the consumption of liquor might rise.
Public houses, especially architectually beautiful ones, both in Scotland and on the Continent, often become the centres of all kinds of derogatory behaviour as well as drinking when they are all mixed up together. That is one reason why I would oppose the licensing of dance-halls, which the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) wants.
§ Mr. McInnes
No. The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) referred to the situation in Edinburgh where public houses have dance-halls. In 70 Glasgow, no public house has a dance-hall.
§ Mr. Bence
As I understood, the hon. Member said that people took drink in public houses and when the public houses closed they went to dance-halls and caused trouble. His argument was that if people took their drink inside dance-halls there would not be such trouble. I cannot see the logic of that argument. A dance-hall proprietor would only have to instruct his barman, "That fellow has had enough. Do not sell him any more" to start a fight. The hon. Member's assumptions were quite wrong.
The Bill contains a Clause providing that a licensing court can refuse to grant a licence for premises on special roads. There is an extraordinary licensing situation in my constituency. In the area where I live Glasgow Corporation refuses to grant any licences. I refer to the Drumchapel and Scotstoun housing estates. Because no licence is granted in Drumchapel a man has a licence to build a public house just over the border in Westerton, which is in my constituency, where nobody wants it. Local residents in Westerton have protested. The Churches have protested. However, the licensing court has licensed this public house. The only people who will use this public house will be people from Drumchapel, because Glasgow will not grant any licences in that area. I understand that there is to be a trunk road near where this public house is to operate. The licence will be in operation when the road is built.
This is shocking. If people go on building public houses just over the borders from Glasgow to serve housing estates where Glasgow will not grant licences, I hope that when the electors have an opportunity they will vote to have them all "turfed out". If that happens, it will teach a lesson to those who are spending money on building these places in a residential area like Westerton to serve Drumchapel.
That brings me to the subject of clubs, licensed and general. I understand that, at present, the power to grant a licence to a registered club rests with the sheriff, and not with the licensing courts. It is the sheriff who has to decide whether the premises are suitable, and he has 71 to be so informed. The sheriff has to decide whether he is justified in granting a licence. I am not an advocate of licensed clubs, but I like to see that everyone gets a square deal.
In Kirkintilloch, there is a legitimate private club, but because Kirkintilloch is a "dry" area—and I have played some part in keeping it "dry"—the local magistrates refused to sign a document saying that it was a legitimate private club. To my mind, the magistrates were there usurping the functions of the sheriff. That is quite wrong, and I hope that we shall later get a change in the Scottish law that will stop the nonsense of local magistrates usurping the functions of the sheriff.
The Bill also deals with the carrying of liquor on certain vehicles. Some years ago at least once in a debate and at least once by Parliamentary Question, I raised in the House the matter of the sale of cocktail cabinets for use in motor cars.
§ Mr. Bence
Portable cocktail cabinets.
At that time, I mentioned the particular showroom where those articles were displayed. Within a week they were gone, but they are still being sold. It is disgraceful to permit the sale of cocktail cabinets for use in private cars.
The Bill says that liquor cannot be carried in bulk on vehicles, but is it not possible for coaches to have two or three of these cocktail cabinets fitted? The decanter and the glasses would then be available and the passenger would merely need to bring his own bottle of whisky. The private motorist can do the same. I would stop the manufacture and sale of these cocktail cabinets for cars.
It is very seldom that I express the wish to be a member of a Standing Committee. Over the eleven years I have been in this House I have never expressed that wish. If, unfortunately, I am selected to serve, I attend, but I hope to be placed on the Committee that will deal with this Measure, because I am concerned not only about these cocktail cabinets but about something else.
I heard last week that a licence was granted to a company to build an hotel 72 as long as it also provided a car park. We have the Minister of Transport telling motorists, each Christmas and at other times, "Do not take that drink." Then we find a licensing court telling a company that it can have a licence for an hotel on the condition that it provides a car park. That seems crazy—
§ Mr. McInnes
My hon. Friend must surely recognise that to give permission to build a large hotel without indicating the desirability of providing a car park would be utter nonsense.
§ Mr. Manuel
This is a very interesting point, but would not my hon. Friend admit that if there were no parking place at a big hotel like that there would be an added danger of vehicles being parked on the road? We have to get the vehicles off the road, or more people will be killed than might be killed if my hon. Friend had his way.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Does my hon. Friend realise that, as a result of the Bill, hotels will "mushroom"? Four bedrooms will become an hotel, and the hotel residents will be able to invite their private friends into the hotel. As a result, the hotel resident will have so many private friends coming to see him that it will be only reasonable to take them off the road into a private car park.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I have a great deal of sympathy with ray hon. Friend's views, but people stopping at an hotel very frequently stop for a meal, and they may not drink anything at all with the meal—
§ Mr. Bence
But the hotel I mention is not a country hotel, or even an hotel where visitors stay the night. The hotels where I have stayed the might have generally had enclosed garage space for the hotel residents. This is a case of an hotel or public house in an urban area. There are no bedrooms, and there are no residents. It could be called a "pub" or it could be called an hotel. The licence has been granted as for an hotel but, once built, it becomes a "pub". This is an urban area. What is to be built is not a country hotel, but a "pub", and there is to be attached to it a large car park. It is a piece of sheer nonsense to do that in an urban area like Glasgow—
§ Sir M. Galpern
It is not the planning authority that is insisting on the car park, but the licensing authority that grants the licence.
§ Mr. Bence
That is what I said.
In my constituency we have the Boulevard Hotel. It does not provide for residents, but it has a huge car park that is often packed with cars. I have had two "near squeaks" while coming down that road. Motorists come out of that park at half-past nine or ten o'clock at night. People know that it is a very dangerous place. The licence should not have been granted, but the cars are crowded round the hotel, and the situation is very objectionable for other motorists.
The Bill deals also with the inspection of clubs. I see no reason why two policemen cannot walk straight into a club. I am not in favour of the police going in in plain clothes, but the owners of clubs should know that any time of the day or night two police officers can walk in and see exactly what is going on. Young people should not be 74 employed in clubs in any capacity. It is often a temptation for youngsters to do these jobs, because in the drink trade there is a good deal of easy money and this trade will often pay more for part-time labour than other institutions. After all, the profits are easier and quicker and there is a big temptation for young people to seek jobs in clubs and public houses where they will earn the most money.
Those with children will have experience of this and I hope, therefore, that the inspection of these places will be strict and regular to ensure that no young people are employed in them. The same argument could be applied to off-licences and I strongly object to this idea of selling liquor from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. when, according to the Acts governing shops, milk, for instance, cannot be sold except between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. That seems a travesty of social desirability.
In my view, licensed premises should remain open from, say, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For those who cannot manage to get their drink within those hours, or who cannot do without it, I feel very sorry, but to say that premises may remain open from early morning until late at night for the purpose of selling liquor is totally wrong. After all, most shops cannot even sell tobacco after 8 p.m.
Is there anything worse than seeing broken bottles—smashed wine bottles, or small whisky bottles—lying in the roads and on the pavements? We know that people have bought bottles of liquor, have drunk from them while walking along the streets, and have then thrown the empty bottles against a wall or straight on to the ground. Many motorists have had their car tyres punctured by broken glass.
I do not necessarily believe that a man or woman should buy drink and take it home for social drinking purposes. If they are drinking socially, in the right atmosphere, then that is better than private drinking. I have never supported the view that drinking is all right if it is done privately in one's home, or with friends. If a man and woman wish to take alcoholic drink, openly and socially in the right sort of institution and surroundings, they are entitled to do so.
Advocates of temperance, like myself, hope that drinking will decline and that 75 the manufacture of alcohol will become such an unprofitable business that it will no longer be manufactured for its unfortunate victims.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. P. Lilley (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
When the public usually think of legislation in Parliament they consider it to be a dry subject. That certainly cannot be said about today's debate.
It is important to remember that this Measure is designed to recognise that the public's approach to the whole question of drinking has improved considerably since earlier licensing enactments were conceived. With the exception of one or two matters, I consider that the Bill succeeds in doing exactly what it is intended should be done. It was as a result of the Committee set up by my right hon. Friend, under the able chairmanship of Lord Guest, that the feelings of the country were discovered and pronounced upon.
From that Committee's recommendations the Government could have taken certain action. They could have presented a dressed-up version of the status quo or they could have listened to the importunings of those who thought that licensing was an anachronism. In fact, they have done neither. By their acceptance of certain recommendations and their rejection of others they have acted with maturity and integrity in such a way that their proposals have met with widespread agreement.
Licensing was conceived for the protection of the public and not for the benefit of the licensing trade or any specialised section of the community—unless it was for the benefit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is, therefore, right that the facilities made available to the public for buying liquor for consumption in their own homes from licensed grocers should be extended, as the Bill proposes. It is also right, and in accordance with public temper, that there should be no Sunday opening of public houses. It is equally right that the evil of the "bona fide traveller" should be removed, and the provisions of the Bill put in its place. The Sunday permitted hours for hotels is a sensible course and will offer better opportunity for control.
76 This brings me to the question of buses. I understand that an Amendment moved in another place contains something about 6 pints of alcohol being allowed to be taken on a bus and that no racks shall be provided for holding bottles. I wonder if hon. Members recall being given a badge and a bottle when joining a football club? My point is that the rights of the individual will defeat the objectives of that Amendment. I suggest, however, that the animal-like behaviour of some bus users, particularly on Sundays, has accelerated the need for the Bill. No one objects to there being drinking in buses, but it is not what happens inside a bus that worries us but what goes on outside it. It is, after all, a shocking thing that decent citizens should find themselves embarrassed by the misbehaviour of others.
I suppose that the present position is rather stupid when one considers that at between 10,000 and 60,000 feet in the air certain facilities are provided. The same applies to train travel, and certain facilities are even provided in long-distance buses. I wonder if my right hon. Friend has considered this question of Sunday bus travel from that angle, for might not much of the trouble be removed by these facilities being provided in buses? I am sure that the bus owners and operators would enjoy this privilege because they would benefit by old people taking advantage of travelling on their buses on bright summer evenings. Such a step would also remove the difficulty of bus operators attempting to keep control over their passengers, over whom they really have no control.
Regarding clubs, I cannot understand why we in Scotland have to accept something in our legislation which the English, in their wisdom, have rejected. I refer, of course, to club visitation by the police. I am afraid that it is becoming nearer a police State than ever before. I do not see the necessity. Why should decent. respectable clubs with responsible members suffer for the sake of a few? Surely the facilities which are already available to the police are sufficient to enable them to deal with those clubs which do not behave properly. I have never heard of any difficulty experienced by the excellent gentleman who is the Chief Constable for the City 77 of Glasgow. To my knowledge he has never had any trouble in dealing with these places. Therefore, why introduce a police State?
I should now like to deal with the question of club opening hours. At the moment clubs can decide at what hours they shall be open. After all, people who use a club for lunch seldom use it in the evening, and there are other clubs which are seldom used until the evening. Therefore, why should it not be left to the members to decide their own opening times? I do not think clubs compete with hotels or with public houses.
In that connection, I should like to refer to licensed grocers. The English Measure provides that only those over 18 years of age shall be entitled to purchase licensed commodities from off-licence establishments. I wonder whether people fully understand the essential difference between an off-licence in England and a licensed grocer in Scotland. I think not. The off-licence in England sells nothing but alcohol, whereas the licensed grocer in Scotland originally sold good food and good wine, and he has become identified with the supply of those commodities.
A woman will often get her supplies from the nearest shop which—let us face it—may be a licensed grocer. She can buy alcohol if she wishes, but she need not do so. We should not lose sight of the distinction between the Scottish licensed grocer and the English off-licence. The licensed grocer may sell to any child 14 years of age or over. Indeed, he can sell alcohol to such a child in a receptacle of not less than one reputed pint. I would not advocate the sale of such commodities to children under 14, but I do not think that the facility should be entirely abandoned. Subject to these few observations—I hope to speak later in the Committee stage if I am called—I wish to express my admiration of the Bill. I am impressed by it, and I believe the Government have taken a good line.
I have been looking through some earlier legislation, and I came across the preamble to a licensing enactment of a less democratic age. These are the words of that preamble, which I find rather entertaining:Whereas the drinking of spirituous liquor or strong waters is becoming very common 78 especially among the people of lower and inferior rank, the constant and excessive use thereof tends greatly to the destruction of their health, rendering them unfit for useful labour and business, debauching their morals and inciting them to perpetrate all manner of vices. The ill consequences of the excessive use of liquors are not confined to the present generation but extend to the future and tend to the Devastation and ruin of this Kingdom.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I make no apology for expressing the view that this Bill engenders no warm support from myself. I do not know that there has been any great demand from any section of the community in Scotland requesting an extension of drinking hours.
As the Secretary of State has said, the purpose of the Bill, among other things, is to provide for slightly longer permitted hours on weekdays than at present. This raises a very important question. If by extending the drinking hours we are going to reduce the amount of drinking among the community, the obvious and logical course is to open the public houses for the same hours as are proposed for the licensed grocers, from eight o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock at night. We have already had experience of these hours. I can remember as a child when public houses were open for such period. I can remember the tremendous amount of drunkenness that took place in the City of Glasgow and elsewhere.
I should like to share wholeheartedly the views expressed by some hon. Members that there has been a noticeable difference in the drinking habits of our people, but I regret that I am unable to do so. When I have occasion to be in the Central Station in Glasgow at 10 o'clock on a Saturday night in order to catch the London train I have seen the most disgusting behaviour, the most disgusting signs of drunkenness, with people propped up in every dark corner of the railway station and bottles strewn all over the place. On one occasion when I was there with my wife I decided that it was better to turn back in case we got into trouble. The same signs of drunkenness can be seen in other parts of the City of Glasgow, and in other areas of Scotland.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Lilley) referred to an earlier enactment. He did not mention 79 its year; it may have been about 1720. When we consider the effects of unlimited drinking in those days, in the light of the additional knowledge that we have today of the effects upon the human mind and behaviour we should not be in the least worried at the prospect of public houses being restricted to the present opening hours.
§ Mr. Lilley
The hon. Member has been referring to the City of Glasgow, and I get rather worried when I hear how much drinking is done in Glasgow. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Glasgow is probably one of the most sober cities in Britain, as stated by the chief constable recently?
§ Sir M. Galpern
Glasgow has too high a proportion of public houses to the population, in the first instance. I believe that out of 4,000 public houses in Scotland ther are 1,088 in Glasgow, and the number is rapidly growing.
More people are turning to drink today. I am not a teetotaller. I think I should declare my interest here. I sometimes have a sherry at Christmas and the New Year. But I maintain that more and more people are turning to drink as a result of all the advertisements which appear and the efforts which are being made on all sides, and in this Bill, to increase facilities for drinking.
I pay a tribute to the licensed trade in Glasgow and elsewhere. Licensed traders are giving attention to the accommodation they provide and are making substantial improvements in the amenities on their premises. They are making a grand job of it, but what they are doing is tending to increase the number of young people taking alcoholic drink. Often on a Saturday night, in some parts of the city I have witnessed what I regard as a most disgusting scene, a young fellow dragging his girl, a teenage girl, into a lounge bar, as it is called. I dare say that the lounge bar is quite a nice place, but more and more young people, as a result of the advertisements which they see, are turning to drink. Young fellows feel that the lounge bar is a place where they can take their girl friends. In their innocence, they think that it is the right thing to do. They go into the lounge bar and they buy drinks. I do not know 80 what the drinks may be, but they are certainly something which young people should not be introduced to at such a tender age.
There is now the suggestion that dance halls should be allowed to sell liquor, even though there may be cups of tea and sandwiches on sale at the same time. I hope that the House will flatly reject this proposal out of hand, regardless of the views of certain sections of the community and of the Scottish Ballroom Dancing Association which thinks that it should have the privilege of selling drinks. These people seem to have no concern for the effect that the extension of drinking to ballrooms would have upon the younger generation. All they are concerned about is meeting competition from the lounge bars and restaurants which provide drinks with meals. They fear that people may not turn to the dance halls so much as to the restaurants and lounge bars, and they seem to imagine that the attraction should be alcoholic drink. This is becoming the focal point of the argument. The thing that will clinch the matter for people and induce them to go to the dance hall rather than to the restaurant will be the possibility of getting drinks in the dance hall. That is the stage we have reached. Some of the speeches I have heard have given me the impression that there are those who consider that we cannot insist on this not being done. There seems to be a belief that a person cannot be happy and enjoy life to the full unless there is an extension of drinking facilities.
I agree on grounds of administration with the idea of a separate restaurant licence. As chairman of a licensing court, I know how often a licensing court has been hoodwinked by an applicant stating that he has had many requests from this customers who wanted a drink with their meals which he could not supply because the licensing court had refused him the only licence which he could apply for, namely, a public house licence. Sometimes the members of the licensing court have succumbed to these persuasions and have agreed to grant a full public house licence, and, in a few short months of that full public house licence being granted, the restaurant has disappeared and in its place a full-blown public house without the restaurant has been established. 81 Therefore, from the point of view of administration, I welcome the suggestion that licensing courts should be able to take note of a story put forward in that way and be able to compel the successful applicant to stick to his restaurant licence and not convert it into a full blown public house licence.
I join one hundred per cent. with my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) in saying that this was not the time to introduce the Bill. We still await the remaining portion of the report of the Guest Committee, which is bound to contain very important opinions and recommendations with regard to alterations in our present licensing system. In my view, we are putting the cart before the horse. We ought to have seen the whole picture and seen whether licensing control was to be in the hands of the sheriff or what alternative method was to be adopted before proceeding with any consideration of the extension of drinking hours.
I do not know—perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will tell us—from what source or from whose brain emanated the idea that the people of Scotland were raring to have an extension of their licensed hours. Who asked for it? There is no mandate for it. The Government could quite well have waited until the completed Guest report was before them. Instead, they have chosen to go ahead now. However, as I say, on administrative grounds I support the proposal for a restricted certificate.
A restaurant is defined as a place used for the purpose of habitually providing meals either at mid-day or in the evening, or both. What is to prevent a tearoom owner deciding to provide only mid-day meals and thus enabling him to apply for a drink licence? Luncheon vouchers are used nowadays by very many business concerns, and their use may soon spread so that everyone in employment will have luncheon vouchers. All the places which provide mid-day meals in exchange for such vouchers will, under the Bill, be entitled to apply for a liquor licence. Is that right? Ought we to introduce young men and girls to the idea that they can buy a drink with their midday meal if they want it? Is this extension of drinking facilities, which no one has asked for, really necessary? There 82 will come a stage when young people will not be able to go into a restaurant where they do not see drinks served at the table. The luncheon tables are fairly crowded now, and, whether they like it or not, they will find themselves sitting with people who have drinks. They may disapprove, but there will always be the temptation.
I want to know more about the interpretation of the words "habitually providing" meals. Glasgow is famous for its restaurants, and other towns in Scotland have many restaurants habitually providing mid-day meals. Is there to be any indication of whether they must have four tables or 40 tables for diners? The public house owners need not worry in the least. They will be able to get permission to open on Sundays. They will provide habitually, that is to say, every day in the week, a mid-day meal for customers, even though the customers may never turn up. The publicans are not worried about that. They will put on the meals even though there is no specified number that they must provide. Even if a number is ultimately laid down—four tables, ten tables or whatever it may be—they can apply for a certificate and it will pay them to put on the meals even though the diners do not come and the food is turfed out the next day. They will habitually provide the meals even though nobody habitually comes to eat them, except on Sunday. I am reminded of the title of a recent film, "Never on a Sunday". This will be "Always on a Sunday".
The public house people will be quite prepared to install the necessary catering arrangements to conform to the requirement that they habitually serve meals. Every public house in Glasgow will be able to do it. I know that they have to set aside a portion of the premises for providing meals, but that is no insuperable bar against a publican making whatever statutory provision is necessary. There is a great danger in this idea of allowing public houses which have a place set aside for meals to open at these extended hours.
What about the business of travelling out of the city? In Glasgow we are not very well provided with hotels, but, as I said in an intervention, they are springing up overnight. Private houses in 83 exclusive residential areas are being bought for the purpose of turning them into public houses. We have had a number of instances of that. Out of 2,000 licensed hotels in Scotland, we in Glasgow have only 26. Surely that is a wholly inadequate number for members of Glasgow's population who may wish to drink on Sundays. The brewers and others in the industry see great prospects here. They are beginning to provide premises with the minimum of residential accommodation because they do not expect that many people will spend the night, but nevertheless they want to conform to the legal definition of a hotel. Premises like this are springing up all over the place.
Until the needs of people in Glasgow to drink on a Sunday, as estimated by the Secretary of State or by the Government, are met, they will have to travel outside the city. How will they do that? We know that more and more people are buying cars.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Bus parties are coming from Glasgow to Lanarkshire in order that people may drink, especially at weekends. I was hoping that my hon. Friend would direct his attention to that aspect of the matter.
§ Sir M. Galpern
People will continue to do that because Glasgow has not enough hotels. People will continue to go outside the city, not only in buses but in private cars.
No one can scientifically say that by taking alcohol with a meal one is in any way minimising or offsetting the effects of alcohol on the brain. Therefore, we shall have the spectacle of publicans closing their premises at ten o'clock on Sunday nights, people will begin to drive homewards, whether it be to Coatbridge and Airdrie, to Edinburgh or to Aberdeen, and no one will be able to say whether those people, who had been drinking in public houses from three o'clock, or whatever the time is, until ten o'clock will be in a 84 fit state to be competent to drive on the road even though they have had a meal.
This House took immediate notice of the report of the Medical Research Council on cigarette smoking. In that case a person decides for himself whether he should stop smoking or continue smoking, perhaps thereby doing himself harm. He is the captain of his own soul. He decides whether he dies at an early age or stops smoking. The question of whether public houses should be open on Sunday is a more iniquitous business. By driving after drinking, people are taking not only their own lives in their hands but the lives of other people whom they may maim, injure or kill. If we are prepared to say that it is wrong for people to smoke, surely we should take positive steps to minimise and not extend the facilities for drinking.
I come to the question of licensed grocers. I am sorry that the Bill does not define a licensed grocer. His prime purpose was to sell groceries and his drink counter was a sideline. Nowadays, they have cut out the groceries. They call themselves licensed grocers, but in fact they sell nothing but drink. There should be a Clause in the Bill to the effect that only people who also sell groceries can legally call themselves licensed grocers. Only those who give a full grocery service to the public should be entitled to sell drink; and they should be restricted to the present hours, because I think that they are ample. There are people who have no interest in providing a grocery service but whose shops are purely off-sales departments.
I now turn to the question of police supervision of registered clubs. I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State will be able to help us on this. As has been pointed out, we have not a sufficient number of people with the rank of inspector to carry out the work. That should be patent to everybody. Perhaps two constables who may equal one sergeant or one sergeant alone should be empowered to inspect premises. They require a lot of inspection today and will require even more in future.
It is wrong that drink should be available on Sundays on vessels plying on the Clyde. We had this at one time. Why did we stop it? It is not as though we propose to start something which 85 we have not had before and of which we have not had experience. We all know what happened on these Sunday outings to Dunoon and Rothesay. What was supposed to be a Sunday outing with the family degenerated into something quite different from the father's point of view. He was supposed to be below watching the engines, whereas in fact he was getting into a helpless state, and making it, not a pleasant Sunday outing for the family, but an event which would not be eradicated easily from the memory of his wife or children.
It is no good saying that we are better educated now in our drinking habits. We are still drinking. People who thought they knew all about the amount of liquor which they could carry, on going into the fresh air, went out for the count. We shall probably be told that if we are to have drinking on Sundays it is only logical that it should be allowed on steamers. But in that case drinking is done in a very confined space. If a person gets drunk on a steamer, he becomes objectionable not only to his family but to all the other passengers on the ship. It is unpleasant for anyone who wishes to spend a Sunday afternoon on an excursion on the Clyde to have to suffer from this sort of thing. I hope that this provision will be withdrawn. Surely people can wait until the evening and have a meal in a licensed public house.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
Would my hon. Friend agree that it is illogical to restrict the consumption of alcohol on the roads and at the same time to make it more easily obtainable at sea?
§ Sir M. Galpern
I shall not follow that argument now.
There is no doubt that this Bill will have to be watched very carefully and, I hope, attenuated in Committee. I condemn it because there has been no request by the Scottish people for the extensions which it proposes. I feel that it will lead to an increase in the consumption of alcoholic liquor, whether it be in the form of beer, wines or spirits. In my opinion, the consumption of alcohol has been rising steadily during the past few years. The Bill makes no effort to restrict the amount of advertising of liquor through the various media. On the contrary, its purpose is 86 to extend drinking habits. I hope that the Government will reconsider it and will try to respect Scottish feelings and not proceed with a number of the Clauses in the Bill.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
There has been a noticeable falling away in the temperature of the welcome given to the Bill in the last couple of hours and I hope that I can do something to raise it a little. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), who I know holds his views strongly and sincerely, painted a dismal picture of the Central Station, Glasgow, on a Saturday night and I have some sympathy with him in what he says. I find it difficult, however, to accept that a marginal extension or reduction in permitted hours would affect the incidence of drunkenness, for the reason that I believe that the sort of uncontrolled or uncontrollable minority whom the hon. Member described will get drink whether the facilities are extended or reduced.
Surely, the outstanding feature in all this in Scotland over the last decades has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of people in their drinking habits and the way in which moderation has increasingly replaced immoderation in these matters. I hope that the hon. Member is mistaken in his forecast of boozing cruising down the Clyde. I find it extremely difficult to think that habits of the kind that the hon. Member described would return today. I hope that he is wrong.
The Bill sets out to make sense of nonsense and to reform some existing laws and customs which are out of keeping with life today. For example, the bona fide traveller ruling is to be abolished. This will remove an anomaly which has brought the law into disrepute. If one narrow section of the law is regarded as an ass, wider aspects of the law can easily fall into disrepute also.
Many years ago, there was, perhaps, sense in providing that a traveller should be enabled to buy refreshment at the end of a journey of more than three miles. The whole method of travelling has, however, changed and the continuance of the old horseback ruling has led to the mass movement of people on 87 Sunday from one place to another to qualify as bona fide travellers by making a journey of just over three miles.
In the constituency of an hon. Friend whom I dare not name, there is an hotel just three miles and one furlong out of a town. Every Sunday, one sees the bus parties going in and out. They sign the book. I have looked through the list of names and seen that the same party makes this deliberate journey week after week. Hon. Members will know that to keep within the law and custom, the Scot has to make a journey of three miles and one furlong—
§ Mr. MacArthur
—that is the custom—before he can buy a drink. Having made the journey, he is then enabled, by observance of the law and custom, to drink for the full twenty-four hours of the day.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Is not the hon. Member aware that if, under the existing law, a Scot travels three miles and one furlong, or five miles and one furlong, and goes to a place where there is an hotel, and goes in and takes a drink and then returns to his home, he is thereby breaking the law, and that Scots are regularly prosecuted for doing this?
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Member is quite right. I said that to be within the law, it is necessary to travel three miles and one furlong to have a drink at the end of the journey. The custom, however, is this regular breaking of the law—which, I agree, is not observed—by the journey of three miles and one furlong, and then the journey back, because the law is not capable of checking on the return journey. That is one of the reasons why the law is in a state of disrepute.
The Bill also tackles the problem of the drinking and often drunken bus outing. After its journey through another place, Clause 20 of the Bill emerged as it now appears. The heart of the Clause is in subsection (5), which attempts to place a limitation on the bulk carriage of excisable liquor in a contract vehicle. I doubt very much whether this subsection will achieve the objective of stopping the drunken bus 88 outing. I share the view of other hon. Members who have made the point. It is, however, difficult to think of any better limitation that would achieve the object without interfering intolerably with individual liberty.
It has been implied that that difficulty might be overcome by banning the carriage of the bottle in the pocket, for example. There are, however, circumstances in which the carriage of a bottle, a half-bottle or a "nip", in the pocket would be justified and socially acceptable. I think, for example, of a man coming off the ski slope at Glenshee, to go back in a bus to Dundee or wherever he started from, with a flask in his pocket from which he takes a "nip". Nobody would object to that. That is the sort of difficulty in the way of fulfilment of what, I am sure, all hon. Members want to achieve. The Bill makes a gesture. I hope that it will not replace the inoperable by something which is equally inoperable.
The main departure of the Bill from the recommendations of the Guest Committee is in the matter of the Sunday opening of public houses. The Bill does not carry out the recommendation that public houses, hotels and restaurants should have the same standard hours on Sundays throughout the three groups. I appreciate that there are many and sincerely-held objections to this recommendation of the Committee. Among the objectors are the Church of Scotland, to which I belong, the publicans and many other bodies.
I have received a number of requests from constituents, as, I imagine, all hon. Members have done, that public houses should not have permitted hours on Sundays and I have put all these before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. It is, however, only right that I should state my personal view that if hotels and restaurants are to be permitted to open on Sundays, there must be a strong case, if only in equity, that public houses should have the same facilities. As I have said, I appreciate the deep and sincere opinion of those who take a different view from mine, and I believe that this is a matter in which the wider public opinion must be observed.
It seems clear that public opinion, so far as it has been judged, is opposed to the Sunday opening of public houses. 89 If that is so, my right hon. Friend must be right in his reluctance to take action that would run contrary to the majority of public opinion in Scotland as it has been expressed.
In these matters, one must take careful note of the social and religious viewpoint of so many people. I hope, however, that this matter will be looked at again in the future in the light of changing habits and changing public opinion and in the light, too, of the standard of amenity and atmosphere which public houses will offer to the public at the time.
I agree that many public houses in Scotland are not social places in the accepted sense. They are not places to which one could contemplate taking one's wife or girl friend. I hope that the steady improvement in the amenities of public houses in Scotland will extend and, perhaps, lead in time to a state of opinion in which the Sunday opening of the public houses will be possible.
There is one other point I should like to make, and this concerns clubs and, in particular, the sporting clubs, the clubs which provide facilities for golf, rugby, curling, and so on. In this sort of establishment the club element is incidental to the provision of the sport, and, indeed, the profits from the bar tend to keep down the cost of the provision of the sport for the members of the club. At present the permitted hours of clubs are laid down in Section 124 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1959. The effect of this, broadly, is to allow clubs to fix their own hours within certain limits. There is a large measure of elasticity in this. Under the new Bill clubs will have to adopt the hours laid down for all licensed premises, that is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) said earlier that he was a staunch adherent of the principle that hours should be standard throughout all establishments which are enabled to be open, although later in his speech he did, I think, make some concession towards the club which exists for sporting facilities. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give very urgent thought to this matter. I am sure that he will. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was good enough to write to me recently to say that it was 90 his hope that something could be done which would help the clubs in this respect. It does seem hard that there should not be a facility for different hours in summer and winter, when one considers the effect of the early fall of night—on the golf club, for example.
There is another case which has not yet been mentioned, that of the ice rinks. There is a large ice rink in Perth—one, I think, of eight similar establishments in Scotland—which has a particularly strong case to put forward. It provides seven curling sections which accommodate altogether 56 players at one time. One of the change-over periods is four o'clock, so that at four o'clock there are 56 people coming on and 56 people coming off, in theory, and it seems a little unreasonable that those coming off, at least, should not be able to have a drink before going back to their homes, especially so as many of those who come make a very long journey indeed.
I would hope that some elasticity could be introduced for these clubs. There are many of this kind, which are well conducted, and they should not, I think, have a privilege which is already theirs removed abruptly by this Bill.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Does not the hon. Member think that ice hockey may be improved if the two sides have half a dozen glasses of whisky before they start?
§ Mr. MacArthur
I thought that the hon. Member would make a point of that kind. It seems quite reasonable that men coming off the golf course at four o'clock on a winter's afternoon or coming off the ice rink at four o'clock should not have to hang around till five o'clock to get a drink.
Subject to these considerations, which, I know, will be gone into in Committee, I welcome this Bill, which, in its general principle, I believe, puts sense back into a series of laws which are widely held to be in disrepute.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) indicated that this Bill makes sense of nonsense. One can only do that if one abolishes nonsense, and we have not done that either here or anywhere 91 else. Therefore, I cannot find myself in agreement with the hon. Member on many of the aspects which he raised. Candidly, I felt that some of the points he referred to showed this sort of attitude of mind, that one can legislate for everybody so long as the legislation does not affect oneself or one's friends. That was the impression he gave, and, indeed, it was typical of all the speeches from the benches opposite.
I think I must agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), who, like myself, is unable to appreciate the haste with which this Bill has been introduced. The Guest Committee has still two major issues upon which to report. It has still to report on the composition or constitution of licensing courts, and its second problem is the question of the granting of licences on housing estates. Both of those issues are extremely important indeed. The second issue, of reporting on the question of public houses on housing estates, is vital to the City of Glasgow, because no fewer than 300,000 people live on Glasgow's housing estates and there is not a single "pub" on one of them. And I am proud of those housing estates. I really am. I do not pretend to be a teetotaller, but I am nevertheless proud of those housing estates. I think we should have got a better overall picture of the licensing situation in Scotland had we deferred this Bill till we received the report on the two issues which the Guest Committee is still considering.
I recognise that our licensing laws are laws to which people bring the most strong opinions, based sometimes on religious considerations and, on the other hand, sometimes on wider considerations. These opinions are very deeply held. It is inevitable, therefore, that many of the provisions in this Bill have provoked hostility from so many people. On the other hand, it has met with—shall I say?—a fair measure of acceptance.
I hold the view that in our social legislation the aim must be to strike the right balance between the restraints which are still necessary to prevent abuses or social mischief and legitimate demands for individual freedom of choice and behaviour in an adult and responsible society. I believe that this 92 Bill attempts—I go no further than that—to achieve that objective in so far as it contains a measure of social reform designed to bring an aspect of our social legislation up to date and in keeping with modern demands. I agree with many of the provisions in the Bill, but I violently disagree with many other provisions. I think most hon. Members feel the same. I have never before heard so many hon. Members claiming to serve on the Committee to consider a Bill. Almost every hon. Member wants to be on it.
I welcome the prohibition of the carrying of liquor in crates or containers by organised bus parties, but we would be fools indeed if we imagined for one moment that this prohibition would solve the problem of organised bus parties, particularly on Sundays. Organised bus parties on Sundays are a menace and a positive disgrace.
I welcome the introduction of more severe penalties for a person who knowingly sells drink to young persons under 18, either on or off the premises. I regret that drunkenness among young people has increased in recent years. I realise that this problem cannot be solved by legislation, but the existing penalties of £1 for the first offence and £2 for a second offence are far too low and ineffective. I therefore welcome the proposed penalties of £25 for the first offence and £50 for subsequent offences.
I am opposed to these suggested permitted hours in respect of off-sale licences. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take note that almost every hon. Member who has so far participated in the debate has expressed dissatisfaction with the permitted hours in respect of off-sale licences. It seems incredible that we should tolerate such premises opening from eight o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock in the evening, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the position. I do not think that anyone can justify the proposed hours.
I particularly welcome the ending of the notorious bona fide traveller privilege and its replacement by a system of permitted hours for hotels. I am not, however, attracted to the provisions of this part of the Bill by which the holder of a public house licence, if his premises are structurally adapted and bona fide 93 used for the purpose of habitually providing meals at midday or in the evening, will be authorised to supply liquor on the premises to persons taking a meal, remembering, of course, that this applies also to Sundays. There may be a case for this, but I sincerely hope that we are not opening the door too wide, so wide in fact that we may eventually find ourselves in the position of witnessing the mushroom growth of public houses with restaurants attached to them all over the country, because if that happened all we would do would be to provide vastly increased opportunities for Sunday drinking.
§ Mr. Brewis
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the public house has to be held to be bona fide used or intended to be so used?
§ Mr. McInnes
I specifically said that it had to be so used. If there is a tremendous increase in premises of this type, it will be extremely difficult for our policemen to exercise the necessary supervision.
§ Mr. McInnes
That is one reason why I wanted the Bill deferred until we had an opportunity to discuss what the Guest Committee had in mind about the constitution of the licensing court.
It will be necessary to have a meal to get a drink, and now we come back to the question of what constitutes a meal. Is a sandwich on its own a meal? Does a cocktail sausage constitute a meal? There are restaurants in Glasgow—and I am sure that my hon. Friends the Member for Shettleston, the Member for Glasgow, Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen) and the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Forman) will agree with this—where a sixpenny plate of chips constitutes a meal. Will it be possible to get a drink in such places?
I now deal with registered clubs. There are many genuine registered clubs in Scotland in which people enjoy themselves. There are, however, many clubs where people are merely made members at the door of the club. These clubs are little more than drinking dens. I appreciate that Clause 16 makes provision 94 for the police to supervise registered clubs, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman has rather restricted the opportunities of the police to carry out proper supervision because he has laid down that the inspection must be carried out by a police officer of the rank of inspector. The right hon. Gentleman knows that there are many areas in which there are a number of licensed premises, but in which there is no inspector of police. This provision will operate only in the four large cities, and even then it will be difficult to carry it out. I share the opinion of other hon. Members and prefer the original idea that two police constables should be permitted to carry out such inspections and should be given the power an entry.
I deal next with permitted hours. I gather that there is a considerable body of opposition to the first period of permitted hours, namely, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From the inquiries that I have made, it seems that most people would prefer the hours to be 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. I think that the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) raised this point. Incidentally, the period from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. is the suggested period for Sunday opening. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there is a great volume of opinion in favour of those hours. I hope that the Secretary of State will pay due regard to that weight of opinion.
The Bill makes no reference to public houses which have dance-halls. Other hon. Members have raised this matter. As far as I understand, there is no provision for the granting of licences to dance halls, as such. I believe that some Edinburgh public houses have attached to them accommodation where dancing is permitted, and I further understand that no admission charge is made to those dance-halls provided that the would-be dancers have bought drinks. If that is the case, I would favour the introduction of legislation to deal with that situation. Dance-hall proprietors in Glasgow and elsewhere are anxious to obtain liquor licences for their premises. Glasgow has a local by-law which prohibits music in public houses, which prevents dancing taking place there.
I give a general welcome to the Bill, in that it is a much-needed improvement 95 upon the existing licensing laws. The Secretary of State can be assured that on many issues he will receive my strong support.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Henderson (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I want to express on my behalf, and on behalf of many other hon. Members and the people of Scotland, satisfaction at the fact that we are not following England's example in allowing public houses to open on Sundays. Like other hon. Members, I have received many postcards from constituents expressing disapproval of the suggestion that drinking hours should be extended. It has been said that drinking is on the increase in Scotland. That may be so, but I do not think that drunkenness is anything like what it was forty or fifty years ago.
One aspect of the problem that causes many people a great deal of anxiety is the amount of drinking that is shown on television. It gives the impression that the liquor trade has some sort of influence in the matter. The extensive advertising of drinking in the Press, on the hoardings, on television and elsewhere seems partly responsible for the increase in drinking, especially among young people. It is impossible to go to any social function or into the lounge of any hotel where drinking is allowed without being aware of the many young people who seem to be drinking alcohol. If the extension of permitted hours is going to increase their numbers it will be bad for Scotland.
I believe that in Committee an Amendment will be moved to provide for drinking in dance-halls. I represent a Glasgow constituency, and Glasgow has some big dance-halls. The possibility that drinking may be allowed in those places causes me a great deal of concern. I fear that disturbances may break out. Not long ago I saw a television programme in which two or three teen-agers were asked how they obtained their partners at dance-halls. They all said that they went to the dance-halls with friends and then sat or stood round about. In due course a male would advance and would ask for a dance. One girl was asked, "Do you ever refuse?" She said, "Very seldom. I generally dance if I am asked." Let us consider what might happen in such a 96 dance-hall if a young man were permitted to drink. After three or four drinks he might lose all sense of proportion. He might go up to a young maiden and ask her to be his partner. She might smell the alcohol on his breath and refuse, which would probably make him feel hurt. I can visualise an enormous amount of trouble being created in dance halls if alcoholic liquor is allowed to be sold on the premises.
Not long ago a dance-hall proprietor in Glasgow telephoned me and asked me to support the proposal that liquor licences should be issued to dance-halls. He said that the number of people who attended dance-halls in these days was much smaller than it was five or ten years ago. He blamed that on the fact that many hotels had dinner-dances on Saturday nights, and attracted his clients away, because they were able to sell liquor. I do not believe that that is the cause. Many former supporters of football clubs have given up going, because of other attractions. A dance-hall may have lost some of its patrons because they now have motor cars and can go into the country or to the seaside on Saturdays and enjoy God's fresh air. I do not believe that attendances at dance-halls would further diminish if liquor licences were refused. I appeal to Members who represent rural areas to picture the difficulties that would arise if liquor licences were given to dance-halls in the large towns and cities.
My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) mentioned ice rinks and golf clubs. He might have mentioned football clubs. People who watch football matches often have to stand for one and a half hours on a cold winter's day, with the rain coming down. They cannot go into a pavilion for a drink. Let us suppose that we granted extended licensing hours to golf clubs. We should then be inundated with applications from all kinds of other sporting organisations to be allowed to sell alcohol with meals on their premises.
§ Sir J. Duncan
There is no question of additional hours. The suggestion is that there should be alternative hours.
§ Mr. Henderson
As far as I am aware, the application for dance-hall licences in the City of Glasgow is quite new.
§ Mr. Henderson
The subject of police inspection of clubs has been mentioned. I do not see how exception could be taken to police inspection of clubs. If everything is in order and above-board, there can be no objection, but if there is something wrong and contrary to regulations, then the police have their duty. In this respect the Bill is on sound ground.
Several hon. Members have referred to the extension of hours. My home is about 50 or 75 yards from a golf club and at ten o'clock at night it is almost impossible to cross the road because of the enormous amount of traffic from the golf course. Most of the players have motor cars. I suppose that about 90 per cent. of the people who play golf go to the course by car, many of them travelling considerable distances from their homes. With the enormous and increasing amount of traffic now on the roads, an extension of hours to places like that golf club will mean greater danger to the motorists themselves and to the community.
The Secretary of State is trying to tidy the dissatisfactory state of the law at the moment. I have no doubt that improvements will be made in Committee, but I welcome the Bill as a whole.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
In welcoming some aspects of the Bill, it is only fair that I should say that it does not go far enough towards an effective control of the sale of liquor throughout Scotland. It is fair to infer that the Bill has been hastily prepared, because it deals with two of the most important institutions governing the sale of liquor in Scotland and yet we have not had the opportunity of hearing the views of the impartial Guest Committee on the operation of those institutions—the licensing courts and the courts of appeal.
The control of the sale of drink goes much further than is covered by the Bill. Hon. Members have referred to the encouragement to young people and others to indulge in drink which is presented by certain commercial activities almost as a sort of unique culture. We must remember that other legislation 98 would require to be strengthened to ensure the success of what can be welcomed in the Bill.
Last week, I received a complaint from very important public people allegng that there was scarcely a television programme in which several bottles, and therefore several glasses with the bottles, were not available. I heard a well-known lady say that even the ladies' favourite programme, "Emergency Ward 10" usually had a fiesta of drink associated with it. Some people are at a loss to understand how the "doctor" can perform some of his operations after so much drink. These episodes are complementary to the more serious parts of the programme. The Secretary of State might well have held his horses a little longer, waiting for a comprehensive expression of opinion on the problem of the sale of drink in Scotland.
One or two hon. Members have declared their interest and perhaps I should declare mine. I am a teetotaller, an orange and soda fan.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I shall be paying 15 per cent. tax. I recently had the pleasure of attending a very important function in London as a Member of Parliament. When the attendants came round in their white jackets and with their trays holding rows of all sorts of drinks and concoctions, I asked for an orange and soda. They looked astounded and assured me that in that part of London they did not cater for that sort of drink, nor my type of drinker.
I want to make it quite clear, however, that I believe that there is a demand for drink, but such demand should be in moderation, and thus the aim of the Bill should be to eliminate abuses and excesses. I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) say that there was a byelaw in Glasgow which prohibited entertainment and music in Glasgow public houses on Saturday nights. I can assure him that there were music and jolly good entertainment in Glasgow's public houses last Saturday night to celebrate the spectacular victory of Scotland over England.
99 At any rate, the Bill attempts to deal with some of the anomalies of present legislation. Those of us connected with the administration of the present law have always been concerned about the so-called bona fide traveller. Nobody has ever been able to define this unknown warrior and I am glad that he has disappeared from our legislation.
The Explanatory Memorandum says that a first object of the Bill is:In particular, the grant or refusal of an application for a certificate will be at the discretion of the licensing court.I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the way in which the licensing courts are now operating. Has he examined their performances and their attitude towards the application of the present law concerning the sale of intoxicating liquor? I am sure that if he does make such an examination, he will have second thoughts about continuing with licensing courts. I am always at a loss to understand why in Scotland it is the sheriff who deals with the clubs and the licensing court which deals with the pubs. My experience over many years is that it would be better for the sheriff to deal with the "pubs" as well as the clubs.
It is known for a fact that in some instances certain pressure groups have been able to anticipate in advance some of the decisions of some of the courts which, in their quasi-judicial capacity, have had to hear the evidence for and against and then decide to refuse or grant a licence. That is most regrettable.
The Secretary of State should not have rushed this Bill to the House of Commons until the Government had obtained the views of the all-important, competent people who have yet to report on this aspect of licensing. The appeal courts which operate at present are an institution which could be eliminated in my opinion. I should welcome the Secretary of State considering the proposition that his Department should determine appeals because appeal courts are subject to similar pressure groups. In some cases there are even riggings of some regrettable decisions. Just as the Secretary of State's Department deals with planning appeals, it would deal with this kind of appeal.
100 The Secretary of State's Department consists of impartial officers who would give fair and objective decisions in matters of this nature. That type of approach to licensing as an alternative to the existing licensing court and appeal court could be quite compatible with the assimilation of local opinion on questions of granting or refusal of licences and it is worth exploring. At present the sheriff has to have some local knowledge before he grants or refuses club licences. It is surely reasonable that the same sheriff, from the same sources, could obtain the local point of view about public house licences. I suggest that these alternatives to the existing establishment for determining this aspect of licensing should be considered.
I wish to make it abundantly clear that I am very much concerned with the permitted hours for off sales. Many such premises are detached from public houses. They have a separate entry and indeed are a separate entity. Premises of that kind should be brought within the jurisdiction of the Shop Hours Act. Why should any human being be expected to stand from eight o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock at night, with hours off in the morning and afternoon, in order to supply the general public?
If it is desired to provide these facilities they should be provided in the same way as those in shops. Shops are open until seven o'clock at night in Scotland. Once a week, on the late night, they remain open until eight o'clock. I speak as a former shop assistant. I know that when a shop is open until six o'clock at night many people come in at five minutes to six and when they remained open until eight o'clock on the eve of national holidays, the same people came in at five minutes to eight. Late shopping is a bad habit, nothing less. It would be fairer to the sweated labour, which we are encouraging by these provisions, if the hours were related to those which apply under the Shop Hours Act.
As one who has had experience of the administration of the police, I am glad that the police are to have some legal authority and some statutory powers to supervise the operation of clubs. This is a welcome provision in 101 the Bill. It has always seemed to me ridiculous that the police force in any police authority area had no power whatever to ensure the supervision of club premises which have licences to sell excisable liquor.
I regret, however, that the Secretary of State insists on a restriction which will make this part of the Bill most difficult to operate. That restriction is that the police officer concerned must not be below the rank of an inspector. I am unable to understand the argument in relation to this ranking supervision. It must be obvious to the Government Front Bench that in Scotland some police forces are very small. One force, I believe, has only 26 or 28 men. It would in all probability have only one inspector.
§ Mr. Lilley
What sort of clubs is the hon. Member talking about? As a Scotsman he must know about golf. Surely he has heard of the man who has holed in one? It would be sacrilege not to allow that man to have a drink at the club.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I have made it clear that I do not object to the sale of liquor in moderation, but there are several types of club. There is the poor miner, coming up from the bowels of the earth. According to the argument of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Lilley), that miner should be able to weigh in at any time and have a drink on the way home.
§ Mr. Dempsey
The point is that if we argue for indiscriminate drinking in Scotland we shall leave ourselves wide open to the abuses which I have been condemning. Many people do not usually take refreshments; they wallow in drink. They have not adopted the habit of "cultural drinking", if it can be so described.
Scotland has several counties in which ther are very small police forces. Surely two officers who are administering part of an area should be capable of supervising the clubs in it. It would not be practicable to have to wait for an inspector who is in charge of a subdivision of a police force. Two constables can supervise the local hotel and the local "pub". They can see that the 102 licensee is abiding by the law. In my view, there is nothing to hinder those same two officers in the course of their duty supervising the local club.
Before he finally determines this issue, I ask the Secretary of State to study the problem of the actual police forces some of which have fewer than a hundred men, and also to take into consideration the geography of the areas they cover. I take it that hydro-electric workers are as much entitled to their clubs as are golfers. This appears to be an unnecessary police restriction incorporated in the Bill, this insistence on a police officer of the rank of inspector and upwards before effective supervision can be ensured.
I want also to mention the question of the supply of drink to young persons. The Bill makes it clear that if a licensee knowingly supplies a young person, or someone at the bar knowingly orders up for a young person, or if a young person wilfully purchases a drink and takes it outside the premises, he is committing an offence. I wonder if the Under-Secretary of State has considered how he intends to apply this Clause. How is a licensee expected to know whether a person is 18, 19 or 20, or 18, 17 or 16? How does he ascertain this information? What steps must be taken, for example, by the person who is spending a night at the local to satisfy himself that a certain person is not more than 18 years of age. It is extremely difficult. Frankly, I do not know how it can be applied.
Those of us who happen to attend some sporting event on Saturdays see these young people. Some of us think that they are very young. Today young people seem to retain their youth much longer and look only 18 when they are much older than 18. It is rather difficult for a person who has merely called in to "have one" before he goes home to be able to detect the age of young people.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend's contention. That makes it all the more difficult to apply this Clause. How is anyone in good 103 faith, whether he is the licensee or one of the locals calling in for "one" before he goes home, to determine the age of a young person? It is utterly impossible; yet he can be charged with an offence. I should like the Under-Secretary to explain how this Clause is to be implemented. Is he to insist on birth certificates if there is any doubt about the age of young boys or young girls? I am certainly all in favour of taking the strongest possible action to try to prevent the sale of liquor to young people.
§ Mr. Dempsey
That renders the provision completely inoperative. Anyone can say that he did not know. That is the very thing that I am complaining about. It is not emphatic enough or effective enough to control the sale of drink to young people in Scotland. I am not a spoil-sport, but I believe it never does young people very much good to indulge at such an early age in the consumption of alcoholic liquor with its harmful consequences.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I agree. I can let my hair down on orange and soda water. Does not the Under-Secretary realise that the campaign to control the supply of drink to young people really starts earlier than 16, 17 or 18? Should it not start from the schools? In their last years of the scholastic life should we not be pointing out to pupils the horrors of drinking?
§ Mr. Dempsey
Or are the vested interests in the drink trade so great that they control this machine in Scotland at present? Not a week elapses without our reading of some school banning former pupils' dances because of the excess drinking that takes place at these functions. There are very few exceptions to this rule. There is something radically wrong, in my view, that the pupils at these dances—when one knows that the bulk of them are under eighteen—should be sold drink. It would appear to me that the effort to control this 104 iniquitous pleasure has to be much more comprehensive than detailed in the Bill. I ask the Under-Secretary to consider these implications and how this aspect of the Bill affects the scholastic life of young people attending our secondary schools in Scotland.
There is another factor which disturbs me. Clause 14 refers to the sale of certain types of liqueur chocolates without a licence. This is a bone of contention in certain parts of Scotland. I am very gratified to know that many associations—there is one in my own constituency—exercise considerable vigilance over the sale of what are known as intoxicating sweets. In my part of Lanarkshire we find that this practice is growing. I think that it is to be regretted. I would certainly have felt more strongly in favour of the Bill had it included a provision that liqueur chocolate would not be sold without licence in shops. Indeed, I do not think it should be sold in ordinary shops at all. In my view, if there is any sweet or other palatable item which contains intoxicants, it should be sold only in places where there are licences for the sale of intoxicants in general. I would, therefore, urge the Under-Secretary to have another look at this Clause and to consider very thoroughly the whole question of the sale of this type of sweet. I believe that these sweets should not be sold in places that are not registered for the sale of intoxicating liquor.
Licensing a dance-hall can really become a menace. Anyone can promote a dance in a dance-hall and, under certain circumstances, apply for and receive a special licence to sell intoxicating liquor, thus meeting this demand. Licensing, on the other hand, can lead to many glaring abuses and to the incorporation of a "pub" in a dance-hall. Goodness knows, at present we are degraded enough from incident after incident as a result of drunkenness in ballrooms in Scotland. I hope that the Secretary of State will be strong and courageous, that he will not wilt to the pressure of the licensing trade in Scotland, that he will insist that the dance-hall is for the purpose of dancing, entertainment and enjoyment, and that in no circumstances will he agree to it becoming a glorified public house.
105 The Bill reveals that there are many weaknesses in the present law. I welcome some of the provisions and criticise others. The Bill is in great danger of becoming like a fisherman's net, a lot of holes tied up with string. We must avoid that danger. It was to be hoped that the Bill would eliminate the archaic practices in Scotland generally in the sale of intoxicating liquor. That should be the purpose of the Bill and it should be deliberately couched in such a way as to avoid all excesses and abuses in drinking.
The Bill should have as its kernel an effort to allow people to enjoy themselves in moderation whilst on the other hand exercising strong statutory authority to prevent harmful effects on young people and in general to ensure that Scotland can be trained in the art, if it can be so called, of ordinary drinking in moderation.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), as usual, has made a reasonable speech. He has admitted himself to be an abstainer but at the same time he has not pushed his teetotal principles too far and he is prepared to countenance the principles held by others.
Although I am a lawyer I do not think that a sheriff is the right man to hand out licences. It is better left to the licensing court on the spot whose members know the local conditions, the number of existing licences, and the needs of tourism. The hon. Member was right in many of the things he said about young people, but I thought that he was a trifle niggling about liqueur chocolates which in any event could not be served to young people under 16. If a young person over 16 wants to get drunk he will choose a much easier way than buying a lot of chocolates which will cost him pretty well a king's ransom before he gets drunk on them.
We are discussing a difficult subject. In many oases the consumption of alcohol can he a social pleasure, it can be a sovereign remedy for many ills, but it can also be a diabolical disgrace which leads to alcoholism, that appalling disease, deaths on the road and to ultimate human degradation if it is carried to extremes. We therefore all have 106 to compromise with our principles. We have to strike a compromise between the two extremes I have mentioned and we have also to deal with different types of people and with human nature. We have to take into account the needs of tourists who represent about the third biggest industry in Scotland and we also have to look after the local residents who should be consulted. Human nature cannot be altered by legislation, as the Americans found in prohibition days. Horace Walpole speaks somewhere about the sovereign people lying about the place dead drunk.
I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has things about right in the Bill, though I do not agree with everything in it. The present provisions governing the sale of drink to bona fide travellers are completely out-of-date. The motor car has killed the argument about the traveller needing a drink. Indeed, the argument is the other way round now—that we should not be encouraging drivers to drink and thus cause accidents on the road. I agree about the need to standardise permitted hours. At present people drink as quickly as possible in one pub and then hurry off to another area to get more drink before the "pubs" close there. It is better not only for local drinkers but for tourists that the hours should be standardised.
It strikes me that the claims of certain sporting clubs are rather strong. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow. Cathcart (Mr. J. Henderson) mentioned a golf club where people drink up to ten o'clock at night, but one cannot play golf in the dark. It is desirable that someone who is coming in from a round of golf at 3.30 p.m. should be able to obtain a drink, but I cannot see a case for a golf club keeping open until 10 p.m. I should welcome a change in the law which would enable clubs to make certain rules of their own, provided that they still kept within the permitted hours. I should be prepared to allow a bona fide outdoor sporting club to serve drinks outside permitted hours. I would not extend that to supporters' clubs because they take no part in the game. I have in mind skiing clubs, golf clubs, tennis clubs and other clubs of that kind.
§ Mr. Brewis
One can play billiards and snooker after dark.
It is notable that in Scotland there has been the same sort of increase in the number of registered clubs as there has been throughout Britain. In 1949 there were 884 clubs. In 1959 there were over 4,000. There is no doubt that not all these clubs are genuine social clubs, and I think that inspection by the police is a good thing. I agree with the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie that two officers would be perfectly satisfactory as an inspectorate. It seems to me, however, that inspection should not be restricted to within half an hour each way of permitted hours, because after 10.30 the club could reopen and members could go on drinking. After that hour a policeman would have to obtain a warrant. I do not like either of the Lords Amendments to the rules governing clubs.
We should have to consider carefully the rules governing drinking in ballrooms. If a ballroom is allowed a licence it does not mean that everybody who goes to a ball must drink, but what happens at present is that people drink more than they need very quickly outside and then go into a so-called dry ballroom and make a disturbance It could well be argued that a ballroom could be licensed to enable people to obtain refreshment though, of course, those in charge would not be forced to obtain a licence.
Dance halls are now being attached to public houses. I do not think that we want to quarrel with that. Anything we can do to improve accommodation in pubs is good, but it should be borne in mind that these dance rooms compete with ballrooms. In recent years the number of ballrooms in Edinburgh has been reduced from 30 to 8 with the result that many people who want to dance must go to a pub to do so.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Will the hon. Member bear in mind that one cannot keep adults out of a ballroom but one can prevent their carrying liquor in? It would be extremely difficult if they were allowed to gorge themselves in one part of the ballroom which was licensed for the sale of liquor.
§ Mr. Brewis
I agree, but it is not quite so easy to keep drunks out of a 108 ballroom or decide who is drunk and who is not.
I come to the question of Sunday opening hours and the closing of public houses. I agree with this, but it is anomalous and even empirical to allow hotels to stay open but not public houses. In Scotland we must try to brighten up public houses, close many which are not fit to be open, and try to make the others places where a man can take his wife, or a tourist can go and sit in congenial surroundings and have a drink, but not drink to excess, a practice which is encouraged by the sort of drinking den described by the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn).
One provision which I welcome is that certain hotels which cater for holiday makers can now obtain a seasonal certificate enabling them to close during the winter. In places like Oban and Port Patrick all the hotels are needed for the tourists during the summer, but in winter one hotel is sufficient to cater for the local residents. My right hon. Friend has taken a step in the right direction here.
Some hon. Members opposite have condemned off-licence certificates and said that off licences are open too long. If a lady wants to buy a bottle of sherry from her grocer when she is out shopping it is reasonable that she should put her money down and take her bottle there and then and not have to return later in the day just because public houses are then open, which do not concern her, and that is the only time she can buy her bottle of sherry from the grocers.
§ Mr. Brewis
The hon. Gentleman must realise that it will not be worth a grocer's while to stay open all that time on the offchance of selling the odd bottle of drink after normal shopping hours. Coming to off-licence departments of public houses, it is much better that a man who wants a drink should be able to buy a bottle of beer there, take it home and drink it by his own fireside. If we provide that no drink shall be sold after six o'clock at night, we are merely encouraging a man not to stop outside and buy his bottle of beer and take it home but to enter the "pub".
109 It is undoubtedly a very laudable thing that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is taking action against the boozing bus parties, as they have been called. They have been an absolute pest in Portpatrick and parts of my constituency and this action will be very popular locally. However, a coach and four could be driven through this provision. I hope that when the Bill becomes Jaw the Secretary of State will ensure that the police are out when it first becomes law. I hope that they take as effective action as they can and show that we mean business and mean, if we can, to stop this abuse by boozing bus parties.
I want to refer to one great omission from the Bill. That is the question of State management districts in Gretna and Cromarty, which include Annan and Invergordon. These were originally established in 1916 under the old Defence of the Realm Act, 1915, because there were so many munition workers in the area. It was always understood that at the end of the war these State management districts would be abolished. The population of Annan has increased to about 6,000. In the town there are one off-licence and three public houses for these 6,000 people, plus any tourists who may choose to come to that very lovely district. Many traders in Annan, including the local co-operative grocery store, have applied for an off-licence certificate. It has been granted by the licensing committee but turned down by the Secretary of State. This has happened for well over forty years.
The Guest Committee did not consider State management. This is the first licensing Bill for a great many years. A previous Royal Commission set up in 1931 came to this conclusion:We have come without difficulty to the conclusion that the weight of evidence is strongly against retaining these two exceptional districts. The evidence before us was almost unanimous in condemning State management.The position at Annan at the moment is that people outside the district with off-licence certificates can deliver drink to residents and therefore get much of the trade which should belong to grocers and co-operative wholesale stores trading in the town. This is unfair.
I understand that one of the points about State management is that we 110 should be the same as in England where there is the Carlisle State management district. I have often heard it said that it is popular in the Carlisle district because the beer is 1d. cheaper. However, the magistrates in Carlisle have appealed to the Magistrates' Association to bring pressure to bear to have the State management district there abolished. In Scotland the Dumfries County Council and the Convention of Royal Burghs have made representations against State management.
On the English Licensing Bill my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson) came out very strongly against State management. He said:It can be fairly said, in summary, that the scheme"—that is, the State management scheme—is a relic of the teetotal enthusiasm that swept the country in the early years of this century."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1960; Vol. 631, c. 279.]Earlier my hon. Friend had said that we should advance to the second half of the twentieth century and not stay in the conditions of 1916, as we have done for forty years.
I adopt my hon. Friend's words with regard to State management districts in Scotland. I do not see why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should be inhibited from changing the law in Scotland merely because of the position in England. I therefore hope that he will accept an Amendment to the Bill to enable off-licence certificates to be granted in State management districts. In the main, I greatly welcome the Bill.
§ 7.47 p.m.
Mr. William Hanuan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
When following the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) it is always difficult to quarrel or find arguments containing any heat, because he is such a reasonable man that he makes even the most difficult subjects seem alluring. When he spoke of the courts and said how reasonable we should be in reaching a compromise on the question of drink, I could not help thinking that the compromise always seems to favour the trade. It is like the story of two men discussing their respective experiences at home. One said, "We always get on very well. We always compromise. Perhaps my wife wants to go to her 111 mother's and I want to go to the pictures. We compromise and go to her mother's." The same sort of thing exists with regard to the drink trade.
I hope that the Under-Secretary will not pay any attention to what the hon. Member for Galloway said about State management districts. I ask the Under-Secretary to remember that the spirit behind that innovation was to create a better atmosphere and get away from the excessive effects of alcohol drinking which obtained at one period.
§ Mr. Brewis
The hon. Member is surely not implying that the people of Annan and Invergordon are particularly prone to alcohol?
§ Mr. Hannan
No, I say the very opposite—because the facilities are not there. My theme throughout will be that the greater the facilities the greater the opportunities for the consumption of alcoholic liquor, and the greater the drunkenness. It is because of that theme that I ask the Secretary of State not to pay any regard to what the hon. Gentleman said.
Much of what the hon. Gentleman said earlier was special pleading. He was special pleading for golf and other clubs but, as has already been asked: why not extend it further? Why not extend it to the miners coming up from the pit, or to the steel workers? Why not have a canteen on the premises? If the argument that the more facilities there are the less will be the drunkenness is right, is it argued that the answer is to keep public houses open all day and all night? If so, I do not accept that argument.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said, and I agreed with him, "We cannot and do not want to impose temperance by legislation." Later, however, he said, "What we are trying to do is to impose good behaviour by legislation." If by "temperance" we mean good behaviour and a reasonable attitude to things, why at one stage say that we should not attempt to impose temperance by legislation and later say that we should attempt to impose good behaviour by legislation? Surely, the one arises from the other.
I have had grave personal trouble in making up my mind about this Bill. 112 From what I read, I concluded that it seeks to make Sunday drinking respectable. It is an effort to afford greater facilities than are at present afforded—just short of opening the public houses, but in a respectable fashion. I thought that the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) betrayed what is really in the minds of some hon. Members, which is that this is just a step towards finally getting the "pubs" open on Sundays. These were not the hon. Gentleman's exact words, but I understood him to say that perhaps in six months we could think it over again.
I wondered at one time whether or not to call a Division on this Second Reading—it would not have been the first time that I would have been in a minority—but decided that that was perhaps not the right thing to do on this occasion, because this is a limited Bill. Had it been based on the principle of the supply of liquor as a whole, and of the reform of the licensing laws, there is no doubt about what my attitude would have been. I would have been opposed to it.
We are here dealing with two issues—permitted hours and Sunday drinking. Even were the Bill to be defeated on Second Reading, the status quo would prevail and the supply of liquor would continue. Having to recognise that unpalatable fact, and deal with things as they are, we have to consider the times, the places and the manner in which drink will be made available. In as far as this Bill attempts to deal with some abuses—particularly the Sunday bus boozing parties—and as far as it effects some minor improvements, I must reluctantly accept it. I ought to say that I have reluctantly to acquiesce in it.
My dilemma is further accentuated by the fact that, in common with some other hon. Members, I believe that this part of the Guest Report should have been dealt with after we had considered the machinery and mechanics by which we were to give effect to it in the Bill. It is passing strange that we should not know what those vested with the powers—whether it be the sheriff or those in the local courts—are to do, the constitution of such courts, or who such individuals will be before we say what they shall be able to do. Those matters come much later.
113 Unlike the Royal Commission of 1931, which dealt with the whole state of legislation relating to the supply of liquor, this Bill deals only with Sunday drinking. In paragraph 123 of the Guest Report we find that the Committee thought:… it right to concentrate on the practical aspects of the problems … rather than to attempt to evolve any philosophy … for a … reshaping of the licensing law …The Committee went on to say that it did not think that it… appropriate to offer any general comments of a sociological nature …I am sorry that the Committee missed that opportunity.
This House of Commons, and we as hon. Members, cannot escape responsibility for stating the social aspects and our attitude to the social problems to which the excessive consumption of liquor gives rise, particularly amongst young people. Opportunities for the consumption of alcohol are increasing apace. Our young people, and those of us who are not so keen on this commodity, are increasingly confronted with opportunities to participate in it, and I am apprehensive about what will happen to some of our young people as the days and months go on.
This afternoon we have heard of the opportunities that are being taken by ballroom owners to press their claims for licences, and we know what is happening. Instead of the public houses being restrained from providing dancing facilities in some little place behind their premises, the ballroom owner is being encouraged to apply for a licence in order to provide facilities for drinking. This is no compromise; it is the continual pressure of the drink trade to get further facilities to increase its sales. Every opportunity to increase drink sales is seized; in restaurants, night clubs, "pubs", hotels—even the nineteenth hole, even the curling event, even the bowling club. Every opportunity is being seized as an occasion for a drink.
It is precisely in discussing the difference of view of hon. Members—not necessarily party differences—that we get into the rather dangerous area of personal statements that seem to reflect on the integrity or the wisdom of other hon. Members. I hope that the House will acquit me of having any design of 114 that character in mind. I shall not mind it being said that I am one of the "do-gooders" who tries to do things by legislation. I will plead guilty to that, and I hope that other hon. Members will try to do precisely that, not in the personal sense of making people individually good but in the sense that we should try to provide the conditions by which they will seek the desirable rather than the less desirable. That should be our object. Therefore, I want to see facilities of a different character provided, in equal quantity, so that young people will have real freedom to choose. If they are given that freedom I believe that they will choose the desirable before the undesirable.
It is sometimes said that certain hon. Members give the impression that they are lecturing other hon. Members. I cannot be charged with that, for my arguments on this subject do not arise from a religious attitude. They arise because of an old-time notion that existed in the Socialist movement, a notion that led one to believe that one was a better Socialist if one did not participate. It is for that reason that I wish to see drinking facilities at a minimum, because the consumption of alcohol is a social menace which in a few years will provide a first-class problem for any Government. It is socially unnecessary and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), I do not accept the view that one must imbibe a certain amount of liquor to enjoy oneself. The greatest enjoyment comes to those who make their own enjoyment naturally, by contributing to social events, and so on, and I am appalled at the increasing number of young people who are now appearing in the courts and who have become the victims of the insidious, all-pervading propaganda and slick sales techniques of the beer trade—by placard and on television.
If I call the beer trade a social menace, I do so realising that the phrase "social menace" is not too strong a term. Hon. Members will recall the happenings at a football match in Glasgow two or three weeks ago. If that was not a social menace, I do not know what it was. Here were thousands of decent, good, honest citizens wanting nothing but to see two teams play football. Then came 115 the minority who were able to drink until half an hour before the match started. From these sources they were able to gain the dangerous weapons of broken bottles and tumblers with which to menace and assault others.
Whose fault was that? It is reported that one or two magistrates are approaching publicans in Glasgow, not with a view to urging them to sell alcohol for more hours, but inviting them to close their public houses earlier. Thus the Bill we are discussing is already out of date. It is not only a question of "pubs" being closed on Sundays but that they should be closed on Saturdays, particularly until the football matches have ended. Publicans in Dundee, Aberdeen and elsewhere are voluntarily closing because of this menace.
Since we realise the menace which exists in the excess consumption of alcohol, it is our responsibility to do something about it. The courts rather than providing more facilities should look more closely into whether the facilities already available should be restricted. It would be interesting to know in how many cases of police proceedings the lawyers pleaded that drink was the cause of the crime. It amuses me sometimes to hear in some the most foul crimes the solicitor pleading "He had a drink too much." This proves that there is a responsibility on someone to see that individuals do not get into that state and far from relaxing the law I am inclined to impose further restrictions.
In 1954 there were proceedings taken in 123,000 cases. By 1960 the figure had risen to 177,000. These figures are contained in an official document giving the Scottish criminal statistics. Drunkenness itself is not a police offence but other offences, including being drunk in charge of a child or a vehicle, are. These cases have increased over the last ten years and in 1954 there were 12,511 such cases and by 1960 the figure had increased to 17,000. One of the most vicious crimes, as all hon. Members are aware, is that of the drunken driver. In 1941 there were 700 of these cases, by 1960 there were 3,600. Would anyone attempt to excuse these drivers on the grounds of mere drunkenness?
§ Mr. Hannan
Indeed, but this is not merely a question of imprisonment. It is a licensing matter. I would take away the licences of these drivers and I would not stop there. Others have licences and the holders of those are providing the drink. Should not their licences be looked at?
Regarding youth, the reason why 80 per cent. of young people leaving school at the age of 15 are ill equipped to assess for themselves that which is desirable and that which is less desirable is that they are constantly being confronted with advertisements and blandishments to start drinking. I have with me a book of advertisements. Advertisements which appeal to women and men, respectively, are classified. One states that a man is stronger and better if he consumes beer. Another states that to be a better young person, one should mix in the right circles and acquire a taste for drink. To suggest that liquor and alcohol can help young people to reach the heights is nonsense. Such a claim would certainly not be substantiated by medical evidence. Despite this, the impression is given that to consume such-and-such a beer is the height of social attainment. Unfortunately, in all these advertisements the finished article is never shown. One does not see the drunken sot going home.
It is for these reasons that I have grave misgivings about the Bill, especially the provisions which will enable restaurants to be licensed and public houses to provide drinking facilities not only through the week but on Sundays. Incidentally, what will constitute a restaurant? Could a public house build a small premises adjoining it and install three or four or a dozen tables and so call itself a restaurant? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) that this matter must be looked at extremely carefully.
Clause 2 enables a publican to apply for a restaurant certificate. This is bound to lead to abuses because we have been told today that some public houses are already building premises adjoining their existing buildings. Do the Government not realise that this sort of thing will encourage young people to indulge in drinking? Are they not bound to have a dance, have a drink, return for a dance and repeat the process throughout the evening? It 117 is obvious that the dance-hall owners will want to get in on this market and will also ask for licences so that they can offer similar facilities. Deep concern is being shown about Clause 2 because it seems to suggest that it would be possible, merely on the request of an applicant for a licence, to have a condition inserted that part of the premises could be used for off sales business. This would seem to suggest that an application could be made for two businesses on the one licence. I should like the Under-Secretary to say whether I am right or wrong. In any case, the matter will be raised in Committee and he can expect some opposition on that point.
Why should not the intimation in the Press indicate that an application is being made for an off-sales licence for the same premises, so that people may know what is going on? So long as the premises are structurally adapted to such a purpose and so long as there is no communicating passage between the two parts, I understand that the premises are eligible for an off-sales licence in addition to the ordinary on-sales licence. I can promise the Under-Secretary that a row is in store on this question.
By Clause 18 it would appear that the off sales permitted hours could be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Surely it cannot be intended by this Bill that premises shall be open for 14 hours. This would take us back fifty years. I should have thought that premises of that character would be either a public house or a grocery. What some people want is the best of both worlds.
Clauses 1, 2 and 6 between them are the alternative to the opening of the public houses on Sundays. The more I consider this, the more I wonder whether the logic of the situation is not as some of my hon. Friends have said, that the pubs should be opened on Sundays. I think that this is merely a subterfuge. This is the pleasant way of doing things, the respectable way of providing drink. What is the difference between providing drink in a restaurant without a bar and providing it in another place with a bar? Is it the standing up that makes it not respectable? I believe that this is only a step towards the final aim of having the public houses open on Sundays. If that were to happen, it would give the greatest affront to the people of Scotland 118 because they would believe themselves to be cheated in view of their attitude to this Bill.
I do not want public houses to be open on Sundays. Of course, I do not really want them to be open on any day, but I am prejudiced. However, I do say to hon. Members who do not agree with me that I would be prepared to compromise and to afford reasonable facilities although I do not think this Measure will do that.
On the question of making drinking more civilised—I think that is the term that is used—I have seen people very much the worse for drink and it seems to me that it is the very antithesis of the better society which we all, no matter on what side of the House we sit, want to see established. I am certain that when this Bill becomes law there will be no shortage of applications by publicans who suddenly find that the ground behind their structures could serve a purpose. I favour uniform hours. That is why I think that the blandishments for special licences for special cases should be resisted. We are all "hail fellow, well met" at the bar and it is a great democratic world. What is good enough for the fellows in the public houses is good enough for those in the clubs, even the special clubs, and I hope there will be no special favour shown.
I was going to raise one or two other matters, but I think that I have spoken too long already. I would merely say that I welcome Clause 17 by which no persons under 18 shall be served with alcoholic drink. I should also like to know whether no young person under 18 shall serve the drink, for this is just as important.
As for the bus party, we know what happens. The buses are loaded up on Saturday nights. The hon. Member for Galloway in one breath said that he welcomed the Bill, and in the next breath said that a coach and horses could be driven through it, with which view I agree. Clause 19 will not deal with the problem. What is needed is a campaign in the schools and shops to spread the truth about alcohol and the effects of excessive use. The Minister is in a difficulty about the bus parties. We are all in a difficulty, because we want to try to obviate the serious blot on the good name and good behaviour of Scotland.
119 None of us can justify the bad behaviour, the bad manners, the indecent exposure and the use of garden walls for performing natural functions which takes place. Do not let us mince words about this. These things happen and they are a shocking disgrace to the good name of Scotland. Of course, only a small minority are concerned. I hope that this Measure will do what so many people want, although I very much doubt it because when men and women consume more than the normal quantity of alcohol it is not they who act according to their natural likes and dislikes: it is the stuff that they consume.
I hope that the Minister will consider the great effect which insurance could have in acting as a deterrent not only against driving while under the influence of drink but among people as individuals. The Ansvar Insurance Company provides special terms for people who can guarantee that they are abstainers, and I think that that ought to be encouraged. If it were done, it would demonstrate the importance of people being abstemious—perhaps not going as far as I would go in the rebuttal of drink but at least being abstemious and temperate in their habits—and would help to counter the ill effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West)
I am sure every hon. Member respects the sincerity of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan). He made a most moving speech. One must, however, regret that he looks at this whole question from rather a narrow and restricted point of view, for which I do not blame him because certain things do happen in the City of Glasgow which we must all regret.
§ Mr. Hendry
There are other parts of Scotland, not the urban parts, where drink is regarded in an entirely different light. It is put in its proper place, as an ancillary to civilised living, not as an end in itself.
It seems to many of us who know these rural parts that the way to deal with the abuses to which the hon. Gentle- 120 man referred is not to do away with alcoholic drink and licensed premises but to educate people—a process which the hon. Gentleman knows very well—and deal effectively with offenders. If disgusting scenes, such as those at a recent football match in Glasgow, occur, there is an obvious way of dealing with them, through the ordinary courts, not the licensing courts. If a crime like that is committed, we should deal with the crime, not do away with drink altogether. There are throughout the country many armed robberies during each year, but no one suggests that, on that account, we should do away with money.
§ Mr. Hendry
We do not allow people revolvers, but we do all we can to prevent robberies, and if robberies without revolvers are committed we deal with them as severely as we can. We do not do away with money. There are occasional cases of rape, but not even the most hardened bachelor, to the best of my knowledge, would suggest doing away with women. Alcohol can be a menace, as the hon. Gentleman said, but there is a way of dealing with the results of drinking alcoholic liquor, and there is a way of dealing with alcohol, putting it in its proper place as an ancillary to civilised living. This is what the Bill is designed to do.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend not only on introducing the Bill but on having the sagacity to appoint Lord Guest with such a good Committee to make an extremely careful study of the law on the subject and to produce such carefully considered opinions and recommendations.
§ Mr. Hendry
I remember very well the sort of thing about which the hon. Member for Maryhill spoke. Such things used to happen in other places besides Glasgow, and they probably still do in other cities with which I am not so well acquainted. I remember the days when, after New Year's Day, the local police court was full of people charged with drunkenness. The police spent most of Hogmanay picking up the drunks and the courts had to deal with them the 121 following morning. Today, throughout Scotland, there are very few local police courts which have to deal with drunks after New Year's Day. It is the same now after every Saturday night. The local police cells used to be full of drunks, but, mercifully, throughout most of Scotland now most of that has gone. The improvement has come about very largely as a result of people being educated in the proper use of alcohol.
The old idea was that man drank a glass and a pint and a glass and a pint until he was drunk. Mercifully, this has gone from most of Scotland and, through education, should soon be gone from the rest of the country. People should be educated in how to drink and when to drink, and they should understand the benefits to be obtained from a little alcohol at the right time and at the right place. If the hon. Member for Maryhill has never had the pleasure of drinking a glass of wine with his dinner, he has missed one of the most civilised pleasures or luxuries of this life, and I recommend that he try it, if only once.
I welcome very much the proposal in the Bill for a new type of licence for hotels and restaurants. So far as I know, this is the first break-away in Scotland from the old idea that a public house is a place where drink is sold as an end in itself. In a "pub" in Glasgow—at least, in certain parts—there is nothing to do but stand at the bar and get down the drink as fast as one can. In a country "pub", on the other hand, the situation is completely different.
In a great many parts of Scotland, as in England, the "pub" is the local social centre of the parish, serving as a kind of counterpart to the church. The church is the centre on Sunday—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but on Sunday the day of religious exercise, people go to church, but exactly the same people, including the parish minister and the Catholic priest if there is one—and there is one in many parts of Scotland—may often be seen during the week in the "pub". They will not be seen standing up against the bar, with their elbows on the counter, pouring down glasses and pints as fast as they can. They will take their drink sensibly, having a chat with their friends, and a great deal of very sensible civilised conversation goes on. This is 122 what I should very much like to see in Scotland. I do not like the idea of the "pub" being just a place to drink and only to drink. Alcoholic drink should be understood for what it is, and the "pub" should be a part of civilised life.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) will know that the magistrates of Edinburgh have taken a very enlightened view about this matter and they have laid down rules for new public houses in new areas, the idea being that these public houses should be designed for the social purpose I have outlined rather than for the purpose of solid drinking, which has been the idea until now.
The new type of licence for the restaurant is a first-class idea. A person should be able to have a drink with his meal. There will be no bar in the restaurant. A man does not go there to drink. He goes to have a meal and has a drink with it as an ancillary, which is what it ought to be. I should like to see this carried a good deal further, for instance, in the dance-halls. There are a great many dance-halls in our towns and cities which are extremely well-conducted places. I can see no reason why people who go to dance-halls should not, if they want it, be able to have an alcoholic drink as well as tea, coffee and all the other things served there. It would do no one any harm. The people who run the dance-halls are perfectly respectable. They are proud of the reputation of their dance-halls and they know perfectly well that if unseemly things take place in the dance-halls they will lose their licence at the next licensing court.
This might be carried further into the theatres and all sorts of places. The licence would be granted by the ordinary licensing court at its session in the usual way, and the places would be under the supervision of the police. The people running the theatres and so on would run them not to make a living out of drink but to make their living in another way, and they could with perfect propriety serve alcoholic drink as an ancillary to the other activities of the place, which is what they ought to do.
§ Mr. Manuel
I am very interested in what the hon. Gentleman says about dance-halls and dance-hall proprietors 123 who now want to enter the drink trade. He will appreciate that there are very many young people in Scotland who go dancing regularly every week but who are under age to be served with alcoholic drink. Would not his suggestion raise an insuperable problem? Would not many young people be led to obtain alcoholic drink illegally, under age? They would not take their birth certificates, would they?
§ Mr. Hendry
The hon. Gentleman has raised a valid point, but I do not think it stands up to close examination. As he may know, in various places, in Edinburgh, for instance, there are many public houses now which have dancehalls as part of the premises. I understand that the magistrates of Edinburgh are insisting on dance-halls being provided in the new public houses. No doubt, young people under 18 years of age go to these places. It is left to the good sense of the person running the place to decide whether a young person is of age or not. In any case, the person in charge has his reputation to look to and his licence to look after. If he causes offence or allows an offence to take place, he knows very well that he will lose his licence.
§ Mr. Manuel
I appreciate the point the hon. Gentleman is trying to make. Is it his contention that in the dance-hall, as in the public house, there would be a completely separate bar?
§ Mr. Manuel
It is illegal for a person under age to go into the bar of the public house which has a dance hall attached. According to the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, as I understand it, there will be a bar in the dance-hall, which is quite different.
§ Mr. Hendry
I suggest that this point could be much better discussed in Committee. I have not come here to discuss dance-halls, dance-hall licences, or anything of that sort. It is late now and I do not wish to speak for a long time. I was only instancing dance-halls, theatres, and restaurants as places where alcoholic drink could be served as an ancillary to the main purpose, as I think it ought to be, as an adjunct to civilised behaviour, instead of as in the dismal and 124 undesirable public house which is still customary in Glasgow and, I am sorry to say, throughout central Scotland.
I now wish to comment on the new approach in the Bill to the hotel law. Hitherto, it has been completely illogical. We have had seven-day hotels and six-day hotels. What else a six-day hotel is but a glorified public house, I have not been able to discover. The law concerning ordinary public houses is anomalous. It was understandable that a person away from home might have a drink in the hotel in which he was staying and that a person on a journey might well do the same. But things have changed. We have become more civilised now, for better or for worse. Nowadays, hotels have largely become drinking dens for 24 hours on a Sunday. That is indefensible, and I think that for that reason and that reason alone the Bill is to be welcomed.
It is to be welcomed also because it introduces another type of hotel licence which will be available only in suitable circumstances for the smaller type of hotel which does not want a bar trade. That concerns my original point about the selling of drink as an ancillary to some other and proper purpose and as an adjunct to civilisation.
I have spoken for long enough. I had intended to speak at greater length, but I think that I have said sufficient to make my point clear, which is that the genuine fears of the hon. Member for Maryhill can be cured by education and by the punishment of offenders. We must have a new outlook on the sale of alcohol, and the Bill goes a long way towards that end.
§ Mr. Hannan
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the Bill would be all right if the resources which are available in the advertising of drink were afforded to education?
§ Mr. Hendry
That is rather a red herring. As the hon. Member knows, both sides of the House are most anxious that every facility should be given to education. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and all other hon. Members who have an influence in educational matters will use it in educating people properly. We should get away from this old-fashioned idea and should treat drink as 125 it ought to be treated—as an ancillary to some other and proper purpose.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on introducing the Bill and have great confidence in commending it to the House.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The debate has covered a great variety of points, most of them, in my submission, Committee points. The pièce de résistance was the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry), which was mainly about dance-halls. I wish to bring the House back to the main question, which is: should the Bill be given a Second Reading? In order to comply with an undertaking to be brief which I have given, I must omit many of the things that I wished to say. I am, therefore, tied for time.
I submit that the Bill should be given a Second Reading because the question is not whether we can abolish drinking but whether we can control it and whether the Bill will tend in that direction. I think that the Bill does tend in that direction, and for that reason it should be given a Second Reading.
Is the Report of the Guest Committee to be ignored or implemented? I believe that it should be implemented, as also should the Bill with amendments, first, on its merits, and, secondly, because it is supported by responsible individuals and responsible organisations in Scotland. Most of them suggest amendments, and I agree that it requires amendment. As I have said the Report and the Bill are supported by a number of distinguished and representative organisations in Scotland, such as the Church of Scotland Committee on Temperance and Morals, the Lord's Day Observance Society, the Scottish Temperance Alliance, the Scottish Golf Union and the Aberdeen Excise Licence-holders Association.
I should like briefly to refer to some of the observation made by these bodies. The Church of Scotland Committee on Temperance and Morals says:We have written to the Secretary of State for Scotland expressing general approval of the Bill and are particularly grateful that many of our General Assembly's recommendations are embodied in the Bill".126 The Scottish Temperance Alliance:While recognising that the Licensing (Scotland) Bill introduced by the Government to the House of Lords improves the licensing law of Scotland in a few respects considers that some of the amendments proposed are objectionable.The Scottish Golf Union uses these words:I ask for your support during the Second Reading of the Bill for certain amendments which the Scottish Golf Union are seeking to have incorporated in the Bill.The Aberdeen Excise Licence-holders Association says:When the Licensing Bill was introduced in the House of Lords a few months ago its terms were generally acceptable to the trade, including hotel keepers, publicans and grocers whom we represent.It will be observed that none of those organisations wholeheartedly supports the Bill, but they all support it subject to amendments adumbrated in the documents which they have sent to me.
§ The question before the House is not whether we can abolish drinking as an evil. Undoubtedly, the abuse of drinking is an evil, and we should all like to abolish that. The question is: does the Bill tend towards mitigating that evil? In my submission, it does and for that reason it should be implemented with amendments.
The Bill deals with an ancient way in which poor old humanity, being gregarious, has attempted to be convivial and to enjoy itself. As an ancient, old-fashioned poet said:
Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
§ A hearty welcome, at an inn.
§ Drinking undoubtedly is an evil. It should be controlled. Legislators down the ages have tried to control and mitigate it as an evil. The Bill tends in that direction. The Guest Report tends in that direction. For that reason, the Bill should have a Second Reading and I support it in the hope that it will be radically amended in Committee.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
We are dealing with an important subject, and you will do me a considerable service, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if after five minutes you shout "Time, gentlemen, please", because I want to give an 127 opportunity for other hon. Friends of mine to participate in the debate.
We are dealing imperfectly with an important subject. It would have been far better had we waited until the Guest Committee had finished its deliberations and we had the whole picture of the changes which it proposes or suggests concerning licensing courts and licensed premises in new housing schemes. The one aspect impinges upon the other.
We are grateful for the concern and attention which, obviously, have been given to the subject by the Secretary of State, but the right hon. Gentleman neglected one thing. What does he think will be the result of these changes that he contemplates? What picture does he see of licensed premises and facilities for drinking and their likely effect upon those who will drink in, say, five or ten years' time? We are entitled to know. Everybody says that everything is all right, that we do not need to worry and that there will be no great controversy because the "pubs" will not be open in Scotland. They did not want to open in Scotland. The hotels, however, are to be open, and licensed restaurants will be open on Sundays as well.
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) is right. Relatively, the same people own all these premises in Scotland. Every "pub" that becomes available in any town or country district is bought up by the brewers. Who buys up the hotels? The Scottish brewers.
There may be two reasons for this limited change in relation to the "pubs" being kept open and hotels being regularised in relation to bona fide travellers. Either—[Interruption.] I have limited time and am making one speech instead of three speeches. It may be visualised by some people that the day of the ordinary Scottish "pub" is over; there have been so many changes that we are graduating towards a new type of premises. Alternatively, this may be only a first step and, after the people of Scotland have accepted it, in five or ten years' time we will get the other change and the opening of "pubs" on Sundays.
This is what I am concerned about, and my attitude is more the Forbes-Mackenzie than the Forbes-Hendry 128 attitude. We had to face a difficult situation 100 years ago, when industrialisation brought into our crowded and festering cities hosts of people who had been used to fresh country air and were deprived of relative freedom. With poverty came drink and all the evils therefrom. Something had to be done. Today, we have better conditions for our people. We have a far better outlook on life and on education, and we have a measure of prosperity. That same problem is no longer with us, but the evil power of drink still is. I am not worried about the same type of problem affecting the same kind of people.
We should be proud of our young families and young married couples in Scotland who value temperance and who can keep drink in its place without losing control. The new problem today is the problem of our young people. They are the people with relatively little responsibility and much more money. They are the people who are the subject of attack and of the direction of television propaganda, of newspaper advertisements with literary gentlemen proclaiming the merits of this and that whisky. These young people are immature.
I got a letter today from the Scottish Ballroom Proprietors' Association. It informs me that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry)—his must be the quickest speech made in this House by anyone who had been in the Chamber such a short time—will move an Amendment to extend licences to ballrooms. Does he appreciate the effect that this might have on young people?
In a considerably misspent youth, I enjoyed practically every minute I spent at ballrooms on Saturday nights. I went dancing and I danced. The effect of alcohol brought into that atmosphere would be utterly destructive. Dancing at hotels caters for an entirely different clientele. It is young people who are out to enjoy themselves by dancing, and to gat drink mixed up in this is entirely wrong.
Let us beware of what we are doing I am not entirely satisfied that we have adopted the right attitude about getting rid of the bona fide traveller ruling. I think that if we cut out bar drinking 129 altogether on a Sunday and limit it to drinking with meals that would be satisfactory, for things are difficult, there is no doubt about it.
I live in a seaside resort where we get the bus parties, and they are an absolute disgrace to Scotland. We do not need to wait for them because we can see the same thing amongst people going to or coming back from football matches—the main roads littered with empty battles, and that not the worst of the offences. We have to place responsibility fairly and squarely on the person who runs the bus. If a person is running a bus for his livelihood and it is used in such a way as to be a disgrace to Scotland we have to fasten responsibility for that on the operator, and I am sure that if we did do so the disgrace would soon pass.
As for clubs, I think they should have the same permitted hours as everybody else, and there should be no discrimination between the golf club and the railway social club. We have to look on the clubs as one part of the changing pattern and values of life. It may well be that the growth of the clubs is a reflection on the kind of "pubs" we had in the past.
As for off-licence sales, I think the hours from eight o'clock to ten o'clock at night absolutely ridiculous. Our tradition of hours for off-licence sales comes from the licensing of grocers. Let us keep it that way; let us keep them as grocers. If we are to make a change I think the change should be towards shorter hours. I certainly do not want the public houses to have off-licences as well.
I think we have a very reasonable outlook about these things in Scotland at the present time. I warn the Secretary of State not to take advantage of that. I think he may do some good with this Bill, coming even so badly timed as it is, and I think that if the Secretary of State will listen reasonably to suggestions for amending it in Committee he can make it a better Bill.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). This is a very important Bill. As he has just said, we are dealing with a pattern of social behaviour. That pattern, of 130 course, may not win the approval of everyone. It earns our censure in many respects, but I think we shall all agree that by legislation we can change the pattern.
We have been doing that during my own time. I can remember quite distinctly the effect of the local veto legislation in the area where I now live. That legislation gave local areas the right to reduce or to ban altogether licensed premises within the area in which the voters lived. I saw with my own eyes the effect in the area where I now live. The electorate decided on reduction, not veto, and there was a diminution in the number of persons whom I myself saw, on a Saturday night, particularly, reeling about almost incapable of movement unaided, or lying on the side of the street, which was so common a sight, at least a not uncommon one, before legislation was brought in that modified it. Today on a Saturday one can move through that area and scarcely see a person under the influence of liquor. Legislation has its effect, and its effect is generally—indeed, I think it is always—good if the legislation itself is good. I could expatiate a little longer on that aspect.
Of course, the pattern of social behaviour is not decided merely by how much is drunk. It is decided by the type of house people live in, by the education they get, by the social facilities which are generally available. We are entitled to say to the Government tonight Chat we hope that they will try to bring all these factors into operation as quickly as possible in changing the social behaviour of the community for the better.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said, we have only a short time in which to make our speeches, and I shall therefore confine myself to one or two more observations. It is not helpful or wise for licensing courts to do as they are sometimes doing at the moment; which is to provide drinking facilities almost adjacent to football grounds. This has happened in Glasgow. It does not help to improve the situation.
The position will be made worse by this Bill, because it will be possible now to provide drinking facilities up to the time the game starts, and then again immediately the match ends. The only 131 time when drinking facilities will not be provided will be while the match is on. As a result we may experience scenes such as have recently occurred in Glasgow, and we shall then deplore the conduct of the people who make use of the facilities provided for them by those who ought to know better.
There is a fundamental contradiction in the Bill. The Government are taking pride in the fact that Sunday boozing parties will now be so restricted that they will disappear. The Government say that the boozing buses will no longer be seen on the roads, but at the same time they propose to introduce boozing steamers. I do not see the logic of this. I hope that whoever replies to the debate will be able to reconcile these two proposals. I doubt whether in fact boozing buses will disappear from the roads.
The Clause dealing with this proposal is most interesting, because it says that it will be an offence for a person with a public service vehicle licence to carry or allow to be carried in his bus liquor in excess of six pints. This is absurd. On one page of the Bill it says that he cannot carry liquor, and on the next page it says that the amount to be carried must not exceed 6 pints. It is obvious, therefore, liquor can be carried. It may be that the driver is forbidden to carry it, but those travelling in the bus can. Suppose the bus holds 24 persons, as many buses do. If it is travelling, say, to Ayr, or Troon, or some other place, it may have on board around 24 people each carrying 6 pints of beer. This is supposed to stop the boozing buses. Obviously this provision is nonsense, because there will be 148 pints of beer on board the bus.
§ Mr. Rankin
I wondered how many hon. Members were asleep. I am glad to know that they are all awake.
§ Mr. Rankin
I am dealing only with beer at the moment. There will be 144 pints of beer on board the bus, and the right hon. Gentleman tells us that it is proposed to stop boozing buses. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) asks how many whiskies there will be on board. To discover 132 whether there is any whisky on board, it will be necessary to frisk the passengers, and it would be wrong to do this in a free society. The driver who started to search them in order to see if they had any half bottles in their hip or inside pockets would probably finish in the ditch, and someone else would drive the bus. I have exceeded the time allotted to me—
§ Mr. Rankin
My hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) spoke for about twenty-three minutes. He should not grudge me seven minutes. That is not Socialism.
§ Mr. Rankin
If that is teetotallism, some of us would like to have a little drink now and again. I shall stop if I am allowed to.
A great deal could be said about the illogicalities of the Bill, but to the extent that it will improve social behaviour hon. Members on this side of the House will welcome it—although we have our doubts about some parts of it.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
We are all in the same difficulties as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin). There are good spots in the Bill, and therefore we are put into the now characteristic dilemma, which is true of almost all Government legislation, of not being able to vote against a Bill as a whole in case we damage and sacrifice what is good in it.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) talked about the importance of education and other outlets for the energies of young people, and of providing facilities for the enjoyment of leisure. He might at least have criticised the Government for not prohibiting the very things of which he was talking. He talked about better education, yet he has constantly supported the Government's action in preventing the building of schools in which to provide that better education. How on earth can we provide alternative outlets for the energies of youth and provide better education if we do not provide the finance, and if we limit local authorities in themselves providing the necessary 133 facilities? The hon. Member must examine his own mind, and see whether he has developed the faculty for thinking things out.
He talked of the Bill's civilising mission. What form will that civilising mission take? It will take the form of sticking a lot of tables into the back rooms of public houses on Sundays in order to justify people going in on the pretence of wanting a meal which they would not normally have wanted or which they could have had in the far better and more civilised environment of their own homes and families, where they should be on Sundays anyway. Is the hon. Member proud of that kind of civilisation? Is he proud of the Government's action in cutting down the educational provisions? Those are two matters in respect of which I should not have thought any hon. Member would be proud.
His defence of the Measure was poor. We want to see the provision of alternative outlets to the energies of youth, but the Government are starving its education from the very primary schools upwards and are not providing facilities for its physical education, or outlets for its physical energy.
§ Mr. MacMillan
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) has campaigned for a long time on this subject and he has just mentioned swimming. I have also argued for the provision of these facilities, but with only a little success. The people in my constituency—in the middle of the Atlantic—still cannot get a halfpenny worth of Government assistance to provide them with public swimming baths. Yet they are in the centre of the best recruiting area for the Merchant Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve. There is surely something wrong with that. What happens when there are no swimming pols, or any organised facilities for the better enjoyment of leisure, by way of sporting activities and the rest? The young people go to the public houses on six days a week. Then along comes the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West, with his "civilising mission" and his little tables in the "pub" back rooms. He wants these young people to be driven into the public houses on Sundays as well.
134 If we do not want these young people to go into the public houses we must help local authorities and voluntary bodies who are trying to provide alternative facilities. We must provide the finance to help them. On the question of finance, however, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West obeys the crack of the Secretary of State's whip, which in turn is only a proxy whip, at best, for the Treasury. The hon. Member knows that that is true. We are starving these young people both of the means for better education and for the enjoyment of their leisure, which would keep them out of public houses and teach them to enjoy life in a better way and at higher standards than that of public houses.
Perhaps the Secretary of State will argue that Whitehall knows best in these matters. I remember very well a message which went from my constituency to Edinburgh many years ago. I have told this story to the Secretary of State before and he will probably remember it. A number of my thirstier constituents on one occasion many years ago—the people concerned are all dead by now so I am not libelling the living; they may have died from thirst or from some other frustration—wrote to the Secretary of State or, rather, to one of his predecessors and were answered in the usual way by a civil servant who knew better. "Whitehall knows best", and so does St. Andrew's House, it seems.
My constituents described their difficulties in this way. They said that to go to their "pub" they had to walk a distance of three miles, which took them quite a long time. They said that the walk back was a little over four and a quarter miles and they said that they wanted a "pub" rather nearer to them, so that they would not have to walk the long four and a quarter miles back or, even the three miles to the "pub". Knowing best, the civil servant wrote back and pointed out their error. He said that if they had to walk three miles there, they had to walk only the same three miles back. He even suggested, somewhat unfairly, that they might merely have felt that the distance back was longer, because in their latter state they had to take shorter steps.
But he was not as clever as all that. He had forgotten that in the Hebrides the tide comes in and the tide goes out; 135 and, whereas it is possible to take a short cut across a beach when the tide is out, when the tide comes in around the headlands and into the bays one has to walk around it. That accounted for the discrepancy. The point is that Whitehall does not necessarily know best, and on the occasion of the present Bill it does not know best about what public opinion is.
I am sorry that there has been so much public misreading and misunderstanding of the Bill. We have all been receiving postcards from well-intentioned people all over Scotland, hundreds and probably many thousands of them, assuming that public houses are not to have permitted hours on Sunday. Of course that is wrong. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West, with his civilising mission of little tables and cups and spoons stuck in the little back rooms of the "pubs", knows that there will be permitted hours on Sunday and that as part of their higher education under Toryism young people will flock on Sundays into the "pubs". The Scottish people have been grossly misled by the so-called information services and in the various so-called explanations of the Bill.
The second reason which is given by some people for supporting the Bill is that—they believe—buses will be prevented from carrying what they call "quantities" of liquor on Sundays. That is wrong. They are prohibited from carrying more than so much in any particular container; but the bus can be loaded up to the roof and the luggage racks on top can be stacked with still more bottles and canisters of the right size, till there is no room, at last, for the passengers. The Secretary of State may reach the very opposite result from what, no doubt, his intention is. He may well empty many a bus completely of passengers and fill it with little canisters of beer and whisky. Perhaps, like the fish in Rupert Brooke's poem, he finds "a purpose in liquidity" which is a higher purpose than that of merely carrying passengers. But we absolve him from any direct intention of loading the buses in such a way that there is no room for the passengers or from any intention to achieve something other than he has said. But this, I am afraid, is not the way he will 136 achieve what he has in mind. Tackling the problem in this way may well lead to the opposite extreme; because when one has restrictions and definitions of this kind, it is often the case that people become even more ingenious about circumventing the Act of Parliament.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West was lyrical and almost idyllic about the almost pathetic kindliness and warmth and hospitality of the local "pub". My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) again did us a service by pointing out that, like the buses with all the little containers, the "pubs" in toto amounted to a very large container. The little "pubs" have more and more been comprehended within the context of the ownership and control and monopoly of the very large owners who are ravenously acquiring everything like a "pub" which comes on to the market. The little "pub" with its warmth and personal hospitality is rapidly becoming a myth. Big business is all around the little "pubs" which it has eaten up, or perhaps I should say drunken up.
There are many things in the Bill which are not nearly as good as the Secretary of State and others who have dished up this half measure, this mild puddle of compromise, would have us believe. However, we have all laid upon ourselves a self-denying ordinance and I believe my time is up; although I am rather short-sighted in studying the clock in my own interests. Ten seconds more, only. In fairness to the Secretary of State, I should say that the representations I have received and the correspondence which most of us have received, are rather in favour of the Bill.
I am afraid that this enthusiasm—or at least attitude of compromise—is founded largely on a misunderstanding of the Bill; and that misunderstanding was sedulously disseminated through the country. I rather wonder whether all these postcards we have received were distributed through the Lord's Day Observance Society or whether the Scottish brewers and distillers were not subtly at work also in backing the Bill. The misunderstanding alarms me. When we reach the Committee stage I hope that it will be 137 possible to improve the Bill, even if we cannot ourselves bring in the vastly better one which we ought to have.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
It is evident from the debate we have had today that the majority of people support this Bill in parts and criticise it very fiercely at times in other parts. I think everyone on this side of the House has felt that there was no real urgency about this Bill and no need for the Government to bring it in. By 10 o'clock tonight we shall have discussed the Bill for six and a half hours. I am sure all of us on this side of the House would have chosen a different subject on which to spend six and a half precious hours. I can think of one outstanding subject: six and a half hours discussing ways and means of finding jobs for the 80,000 unemployed in Scotland.
§ Miss Herbison
I am sorry. I cannot give way as the time is so short.
The Guest Committee was given a remit to make recommendations on four important matters. It has made recommendations on two matters. It seems that we would have been able to have weighed the provisions of this Bill and what they will do in a much better way had we the results of the recommendations which the Guest Committee may make on licensing courts and other matters. We cannot understand why the Government should have chosen this time to introduce this Bill when there are so many other matters of great urgency concerning Scotland.
Like many of my hon. Friends, I realise that by legislation alone we cannot make people temperate about drink. Far less can we make anyone a total abstainer. It is from that realisation that the majority of our people have tried to examine the contents of this Bill as fairly as possible. I congratulate the Secretary of State, as others have done, on his exposition of the contents of the Bill, but today he missed a great educational opportunity. When he was presenting the Bill he said not a single word about the dangers and, indeed, the evil consequences of indulging to excess in strong drink.
138 The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) said that there were other ways of dealing with this problem and other ways of dealing with offences which happen as a result of taking strong drink. He suggested that if we had dance halls licensed young people could learn how to drink wisely. I take a very different view. The Government have rightly acted quickly about the dangers of cigarette smoking. All of us congratulate the Government on the steps they have taken on that problem. Today there was also an opportunity for the Secretary of State to drive home, particularly to our young people, the dangers of alcohol.
There has been much talk about the drinking habits of the people in Scotland forty and fifty years ago as compared with today. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West, said that drink was ancillary to civilised living. There are many homes in this country that would not agree with him for a minute. The general attitude of many hon. Members today has been that drinking habits have improved. In my mail at the weekend I received a draft copy of the next publication of the Christian Economic and Social Research Foundation. There we were given figures for England and Wales, and I should not be surprised if the figures for Scotland are not very much the same.
The number of people taken to court and found guilty of drunken driving in 1960 was 6,806. The forecast for 1961 was 7,800. That is roughly 1,000 more found guilty of drunken driving in English and Welsh courts. One can realise not only the tragedy that many of those people brought to themselves and to their families, but the tragedy that they brought into many other homes. The number of male pedestrians under 21 who were convicted in 1960 was 7,879 and in 1961 9,000, an increase of over 1,000 young men taken to court and fined for being incapable as a result of having drunk too much.
It seems to me that when we see this increase, particularly among young people of 21, the Secretary of State ought when he was explaining his Bill at least to have used a little part of his time to stress on young people in particular what could happen from beginning to drink at all, and certainly from drinking to excess.
139 The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) said that one ought to talk about this subject to the medical staff at the Creighton Hospital, one of the best known of our mental hospitals, but if one spoke to the doctors and superintendents of any of the mental hospitals in Scotland, or, particularly, if one visited the number of voluntary patients there who are patients because they were alcoholics, one would realise the need for a great deal of education on the evils of beginning to drink at all. We are told, and most of us accept, that cigarette smoking is a contributory cause of lung cancer, but it has been known for a long time that alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver which can also be deadly. Why is it that these facts are not being continually stressed by the Government in every possible way?
I want to make three suggestions to the Secretary of State. Firstly, there should be a nation-wide campaign against the detrimental effects of strong drink. The second point has been raised in debate a number of times today. Huge sums of money are spent on advertising strong drink on hoardings and on commercial television. The Government should be greatly concerned about what flows from that type of advertising. It makes young people think that the correct thing to do is to have a glass of sherry or gin, but in far too many cases it does not end there. The Government ought to be examining carefully what steps can be taken by government to curtail such advertising if not to abolish it altogether.
Incidentally, this does not concern only the advertisements on television. In many of the programmes on both B.B.C. and commercial television it is represented to young people that it is very fashionable and correct to drink—the civilised way of drinking we have heard so much about today.
§ Miss Herbison
I have already said how important I think that subject is, and I have praised the Government for what they have done. I ask them to do the same about strong drink.
I would also ask that the Government should provide far more money than 140 they have done hitherto to ensure that there are worthwhile alternative attractions for young people. On Sunday nights in particular, but also on many other nights of the week, young people have few of the alternative attractions that any civilised State ought to be providing for them.
Since the end of the war there has been an almost mushroom growth of clubs in almost every village and town. When I tried to find out why this had come about I found that just as the brewers had taken over the "pubs" in in Scotland so they were providing the money in the first instance to build clubs. I was also told that it is not long before the clubs clear their debts as a result of the money made out of selling drink.
On Clause 3 of the Bill, I would point out that strong objection has been taken on this side of the House to the fact that on-sales and off-sales should be regarded as one. We think that this is wrong. They should be regarded as completely separate. Some of us go so far as to say that public houses should not have off-sale departments at all. If they are allowed to have off-sale departments, there should be two distinct certificates—one for the on-sale and one for the off-sale. I am sure that an Amendment to secure this will be moved m Committee, and I hope that the Government accept it. A number of bodies in Scotland have said that when an advertisement is inserted in the Press saying that a licence is to be applied for it should be made clear also that it is not a licence only for on-sales but for off-sales as well.
I come to permitted hours for off sales. Most people think that to allow off-sale premises to be able to sell drink from eight in the morning to ten at night is ridiculous and shocking. The Secretary of State said that mothers-in-law arrive at the strangest times or the most unexpected times and that if it is desired to give them a glass of sherry the young people want to find the off-sale premises open. There is a Shops Act. A young wife whose mother has just arrived may find that she has no milk or bread in the house. She can go to the off-sales department and buy a bottle of sherry, but because of the Shops Act she cannot buy a bottle of milk or a loaf of 141 bread for her mother. I think that most mothers-in-law prefer to have a square meal without the sherry. The Secretary of State took a silly example. The permitted hours should either be the same for off-sale premises as they are for public houses or they should conform to shop hours. I should prefer them to remain the same as for public houses because I think that abuses would occur if they conform to shop hours. I hope that in Committee an Amendment to meet this point will be tabled.
Many people are worried about the extension of the permitted hours to ten o'clock. There is not any doubt that road safety will be further endangered. There is another Bill which will deal with people found drunk in charge, but many people are seriously perturbed about the number of accidents that occur because of drunken driving. The fear has been expressed in many quarters that raising the permitted hours to ten o'clock will lead to far less road safety than we have even at present.
In Scotland the vast majority of people like Sunday to be a quiet day in their lives. If the permitted hours are until ten at night, I have not any doubt that many people will be disturbed on Sunday night. I hope that this matter will be further examined in Committee.
Clause 15 deals with special permission for clubs. There will have to be restrictions of this special permission. For what kind of function will the club be given special permission? How often in one year will that special permission be given? It seems to me that if there is not a limitation on the number of times special permission is granted in one year, the Clause, as it stands, will leave the door wide open for the supply of drink in clubs, almost regularly, long after the permitted hours.
Like others of my hon. Friends, I must make it clear that we on this side speak for ourselves, and many of us feel that the powers of police inspection of clubs in Clause 16 should be similar to those governing licensed premises. Not only de we feel that, but the Guest Committee, in paragraphs 60 and 61 of its Report made abundantly clear its view that the same provisions that apply to other licensed premises should apply to clubs.
The Committee weighed up all the evidence. It was told that no one under 142 the rank of an inspector should be able to inspect, but the Report states:We have carefully examined the possibility that police inspection of clubs might be carried out by senior officers only, perhaps of the rank of inspector or above. It is of the essence of any worthwhile system of supervision, however, that inspection should be practicable at short notice on receipt by the police of any serious complaint…Most of my hon. Friends and, perhaps, some hon. Members opposite, feel that this power should not be restricted only to police inspectors. In some areas, police inspectors will not be available. I think that two constables on the beat can do the same for clubs as they can for other licensed premises. Respectable clubs would have nothing at all to fear from that. The Secretary of State spoke of privacy, but if one has nothing to hide one will not be afraid of a constable coming into one's club.
Some hon. Members have asked for different hours for golf clubs, for ice hockey clubs and the like. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Lilley) said that it would be almost sacrilegious if the man who holed out in one could not get a drink afterwards. I have another word for it. I should be strongly opposed to any change at all. What, in effect, would this mean? We are told that it is dark at four o'clock, and the man comes in from his round of golf. He goes into the clubhouse and, because of the special hours there, he gets a drink. He may then go home and have a meal, and may then go on to another club. In other words, the hours are being very greatly extended, and I am quite opposed to it.
There are some things in the Bill that I welcome, such as prohibiting the sale of drink to young people under 18 years of age. I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State decided that public houses should not be open on Sundays. Nevertheless, sufficient has been said from both sides of the House today to show that this Bill can be really strengthened in Committee. I finish as I began, by making the strongest plea to the Secretary of State, in particular, to take some time—perhaps during the Committee stage—to use what good will and what power he has to stress, particularly on our young people, the dangers of strong drink.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. R. Brooman-White)
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has just joined the number of hon. Members who, during the course of the debate, have wondered why we should have introduced the Bill at the present time and have queried the wisdom of our introducing it now. I can only say that such questions give yet another illustration of how difficult it is to be Secretary of State for Scotland.
In his opening remarks the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) reminded us that in 1959 my right hon. Friend was vigorously criticised for being too slow in legislating on this subject. This evening a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have criticised him for being over-hasty in legislating in 1962. It just goes to show! Regarding the serious questions which have been put about facilities for discussing the extremely important matter of employment in Scotland—about which we are all deeply concerned—I understand that the business statement today indicated that we should have an opportunity in our Scottish Committee for a full discussion of that topic at a fairly early date.
I shall now make one or two generalisations which may have some bearing on our attitude to the Bill both this evening and in Committee.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
On the question of the Secretary of State having been too hasty, why are we not waiting until the Guest Committee reports? Are we to take it that it will be a long time reporting and that the next Bill will be a long time in the queue before it comes up?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I will return to that point later. I was saying that I do not think that my remarks will be out of tune with the general tenor of the views that have been expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Most people will accept that in matters of this kind, which affect the habits, wishes and pleasures of the ordinary run of individuals, the Government should impose restrictions only when those restrictions are either accepted as reasonable and necessary by almost everyone or when, in the Government's 144 view, they are required as a safeguard against some special circumstances which might lead people into doing something which would be either dangerous to themselves or an offence to the community.
Of course, we have noted the extremely cogent views expressed by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North about excessive drinking by youths. We have tried in the Bill to make changes in the licensing laws which will bring them more into line with the contemporary patterns of life, which will not try to stop reasonable people behaving in what, in their opinion, is a perfectly reasonable way, but which will maintain with only minor alteration the substantial body of the licensing laws, which is generally accepted as necessary to guard against abuse or excess.
I now turn to the provisions of the Bill which have attracted the greatest attention, both inside and outside the House. A number of people are from deep conviction opposed to any drinking of any alcohol at any time. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) made a sincere and reasoned speech on this point. Others, and this has been a long and strong tradition in Scotland—as was instanced by the Forbes Mackenzie Act, of 1853—are opposed to any drinking in public on Sundays.
To those who hold such views one can only say that it is quite clear that a number of people want facilities to buy a drink on Sundays and that the existing law has become subject to widespread and, in some cases, scandalous evasion and abuse. That has been recognised in a considerable number of speeches, and that is an answer to the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) who in his intervention asked why we thought it a good thing to legislate as soon as an opportunity arose.
These circumstances of abuse are the the circumstances which led Lord Guest to recommend Sunday opening. Since that recommendation was made, a considerable amount of opposition has been expressed by many sections of opinion against the idea of the Sunday opening of public houses. That opposition has been expressed in the House today, and I do not think that any hon. Member has advocated that we should go that far. But there has been a remarkable 145 consensus of view that some change in the existing law on Sunday drinking should be made.
Lord Guest thought that the logical thing to do was to bring Sunday drinking arrangements pretty much into line with those relating to any other day and to open the public houses. We have differed from Lord Guest on that point and proposed the more limited measure of having permitted hours for clubs, restaurants and hotels on Sundays, for two reasons. The first is that we thought this would be more in line with what Scottish opinion wanted at present. I think subsequent reactions have shown that that was right. My hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan), the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) and others have supported us in that view, that people wanted some change in the law but that they still wanted Sunday to be different.
The second reason for the decision which we took stems from the other consideration that the Government ought to have in mind in framing this sort of law—the social risk. Not only do the people want Sunday to be different; Sunday is different, particularly in Scotland where, from the point of view of facilities for alternative entertainment. there is not much going. We have taken the view that, in those circumstances, to have the public houses open and most other things shut would be too great a social risk. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) and others have pointed out that there are urban areas such as the East End of Glasgow where there are many public houses and few hotels. Of course, in these areas this Bill will make very little change in the existing position on Sundays. It can be cogently argued that it makes too little change. My reply is simply that, in our view, the alternative would be too much, and we feel that in this field too little is right.
One can envisage the areas. One can think of those which one knows best, such as the Rutherglen road and the Paisley road, with the "pubs" open and everything else shut—circumstances where a young chap looking for diversion would find nowhere to go but the "pub". We feel that this is not a situation which it would be wise to create, 146 and that is the reason for the limited departure that we have made from Lord Guest's recommendations.
The second main field of change in the Bill is in the group of Clauses dealing with the standardisation of hours. The principle of standardisation, I think, has been generally welcomed. It was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus, and I do not think I need take up time by discussing the merits of standardisation as such. Everyone agrees that the variations which have grown up between one area and another are undesirable and are a nonsense. Any change from a pattern which has been taking shape in this way may mean some small transitional inconvenience to some people. That is inevitable and is not likely to amount to very much. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus said, the fact that permitted hours are permitted hours gives some flexibility.
Lord Guest based his recommendations for the new standard weekday hours broadly on what has come to be the practice in the majority of local authority areas. That seemed the fairest way of doing it. The hours seemed to us reasonable and we have accepted the recommendation as regards weekdays. I know that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central and others have suggested certain minor variations. These can be discussed at a later stage. Broadly, we think that the recommendation is right.
Sunday, of course, presented a different problem. There were no precedents for permitted hours in Scotland. Lord Guest recommended for licensed premises 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This, of course, was suggested in the context of the "pubs" being open. The question was considered in another place in relation to the modified proposals for Sunday opening made in the Bill. It was decided that a later closing time and slightly longer hours would be justified. So the Bill has been amended to make the hours 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. to 10 p.m., that is to say, five and a half hours, which is the same as in England at present. There is a school of thought—we have received representations about this—which would prefer twelve noon as the opening hour. There is, however, an argument that this would bring the opening hour too close to the hours of 147 church services, and we feel that it would be much better to leave it at 12.30 p.m. The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire urged earlier hours for closing on Sunday. This is a question for further consideration. It is a matter of judgment. It is worth remembering that there is a danger in closing at an hour which people may consider too early and which might lead to hurried drinking, which also is a thing to be avoided.
§ Mr. Hoy
The hon. Gentleman says that these were the hours introduced as a result of Lord Guest's Report. They were nothing of the kind. They were the hours proposed in the Bill in another place, the hours proposed by the Government in bringing in their legislation, and nothing to do with Lord Guest at all.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
That is what I said. It was a departure from Lord Guest's recommendation on Sunday hours. I think I made that clear. I will check my speech. If I gave the hon. Gentleman that impression, it was a confusion. We have departed from Lord Guest's recommendation on Sunday hours.
§ Mr. Woodburn
What would be the harm in having nine o'clock as the closing hour? It is a slightly different hour, but there would surely be no hurried drinking.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
It is a matter of judgment as to what would be the best way of striking a reasonable mean. The matter can be discussed later.
Since the Bill was published, it has become clear that substantial difficulties would arise from another point about hours. I refer to the effect on sporting clubs, golf clubs, rugby clubs, and curling clubs, for instance. My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) and other hon. Members referred to this. Especially during winter, the permitted hours would not be the normal hours for playing outdoor games and enabling people to have a drink when the games were finished.
We want to depart as little as possible from standard hours. There is general agreement about that, I think. Equally, we do not want the law to be unreasonably restrictive. To overcome this dilemma, we should be prepared to con- 148 sider an Amendment in Committee limited to such sporting clubs, because it is only these clubs which have special reasons for not fitting into the general pattern. We might consider whether there could be an alternative set of permitted hours which they could adopt in the winter months which might fit their requirements better.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that any club would have this alternative?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
No. I have referred to sporting clubs the activities of which would be limited by the extent of daylight hours in the winter months governing their ordinary hours of play. We want to make any variation as limited as we can and justified by the circumstances of the game.
Another question about hours relates to off-sale premises. Should the number of hours be changed from the present arrangement so as to permit off-sale premises to operate between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.? This was fully considered by the Guest Committee, and the arguments are set out in paragraphs 99 to 105 of its Report. We have accepted the Committee's recommendations.
In brief, the reason for the Committee's recommendation was that circumstances have changed very much from the days when there was a danger that people would buy a bottle of drink and start swigging it in the street straight away on taking it out of the premises. It is now a nuisance and, we feel, an unjustifiable inconvenience—I will not enter into the mother-in-law controversy—for people not to be able to buy a bottle of drink when they are doing their other shopping simply because that time happens to be outside the permitted hours
I should make one point clear about licensed grocers because, judging from some of the speeches this afternoon, there seems to be some misunderstanding on this matter. At present, a licensed grocer can stay open for the sale of drink until the end of the permitted hours in the area. The Bill makes no change in that respect. It does not extend the evening hours for off-sales. Nor, in our view, can one reasonably limit sales to normal shopping hours without 149 seriously damaging or destroying the business of those off-sale premises which deal mainly or almost exclusively in the sale of liquor and which stay open after the normal shopping hours. The activities of such premises have not hitherto led to any obvious abuse and they have not up to now been the subject of any serious representations. There seems no good reason on the evidence that we have had hitherto for restricting this business.
We have listened to all that has been said in the debate about that matter, but it seems to us that the important point is that off-licence premises should not be open after other licensed premises have been shut. That is provided for. They both close at ten o'clock in the evening. Hitherto, this has not created difficulties.
I come to the various problems of control and the machinery for control. The most difficult, admittedly, is that of the Sunday bus parties. Everyone is agreed that something ought to be done to prevent the abuses which have become all too common. Lord Guest's Committee made certain proposals on this point. The Government entirely agreed with the objective. But when an attempt was made to work out the wording of a Clause in the Bill which would achieve the Guest Committee's intentions, the difficulties were found to be all but insuperable. Innumerable variations on the theme were explored, but they all ran up against one of two objections. Either they would be too easy to evade, or they would be impossible to enforce, or impossible to enforce without taking powers such as personal search, which seemed to us out of the question, as the hon. Member for Govan agreed.
As we were unable to find a satisfactory way round these difficulties, the Bill was originally drafted without any additional provisions about bus parties. But after the debate in another place and continued representations showed how strong was the demand that at least an attempt should be made to do something about it, Clause 20 was inserted in the Bill.
It is easy, I admit, to point out its imperfections. If we had been able to think of anything without obvious imperfections, we should have put it in the original draft of the Bill. This is 150 simply and admittedly the best that we and all those to whom we turn for advice have been able to devise to do something which we all want to do. We shall be very pleased if anyone can think of anything better before the Committee stage.
Another problem of control which has given rise to some discussion and misgivings is the question of police entry to clubs. Lord Guest, in paragraph 60 of his Report, advocated the same rights of police inspection as there are for public houses on the basis of similar permitted hours. The original draft of the Bill followed that recommendation. However, the debate in another place and other expressions of opinion that we have received show that there is a widespread feeling that this goes too far. We have heard both points of view expressed this evening. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Lilley) wanted more restriction on police entry. Other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), said that the Guest Report was right.
Even though the permitted hours may be the same, there is an essential difference between licensed premises and clubs. Licensed premises are public places and clubs are private places. It can be argued strongly that even though permitted hours may be identical for both, it is not reasonable to subject private places to the same degree of control by police inspection as public places. This is another of our dilemmas, in which we consider that the right thing to do is to try to find an answer which the people concerned will not consider unreasonable or unduly restrictive—a barging in by the State on what they consider to be part of their private lives—but which, at the same time, gives the reasonable safeguards which everybody wants against infringement.
An Amendment was proposed in another place, and was accepted by the Government, limiting the right of entry to clubs in two ways, first, restricting it to a police officer of the rank of inspector or above, and secondly, specifying that this right should be exercised only within the permitted hours or within half an hour each side of the permitted hours. It has been suggested today from both sides that that restriction is too 151 narrow and would not be practicable in some areas. This echoes the views expressed in the Guest Report. We are advised that, on reflection, the police consider that, although this is not an easy matter, a provision on these lines would not be unworkable. We will listen with interest to anything further that may be said in Committee about changes in this provision. We are concerned to find the right balance in this difficult matter.
As regards the other groups of provisions dealing with new licences, the proposals for the restricted hotel and restaurant licences have been fairly generally welcomed, although misgivings have been expressed. The main problem which has been raised on the licensing front has concerned dance halls. It has been suggested that we should frame a special form of licence to cover them. One of the arguments against this is that there does not seem to be any substantial reason why dance halls should be treated differently from other places of evening entertainment such as theatres. If they want to get certificates, they may apply for a public house certificate. It will be open to dance halls to do the same.
Hitherto, I understand, some at least of them have been reluctant to make such an approach, because they felt that it would put them under obligation to be open for all the permitted hours, which as evening businesses they would not wish to do. The analogy of the theatres shows that this was a misapprehension, but to dispel any possible doubt on this score we have stated explicitly in Clause 3 (4) that permitted hours are permitted hours and not obligatory ones. We feel, therefore, that the right thing to do is to leave the matter to the discretion of the licensing court, to whom dance halls should apply, in the same way as theatres or public houses, for a certificate. If the relevant Clauses in the Bill go through unamended, it should also be open to them to apply for a restaurant certificate if they so wish.
Views have been expressed about the difficulty of control and to the effect that it is better for drink to be served within the precincts of a dance hall, where supervision would be easier, than 152 if people went out for a drink and reentered the dance hall. Views of that nature are not in line with advice which we have received from the Chief Constables Association in this respect. Nor is it accurate to present the picture, as has been done in some instances, that in "pubs" and hotels, the dance floor can be little more than an ancillary to the bar. I am advised that is not the case. The normal use of such dance floors is for dinner dances, and this involves payment for a meal and cover charge which would considerably exceed the cost of entrance to a dance hall. So it is not just a contrast of drinking and dancing in "pubs" or hotels as against dancing without drinking in dance halls, but of dancing and eating and drinking in "pubs" or hotels. And, as I have said, it will be open to dance halls to apply for a restaurant licence.
My right hon. Friend has said, and I have repeated several times, that this Bill is not a comprehensive review of the licensing laws, but it does make what we consider to be a number of useful alterations and reforms. My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) made one point about State management districts. I can point out that the new restricted hotel and restaurant certificates will be available in these districts without the need for any special reference to the Secretary of State. On the more general question of State management, I can only say that I have noted what my hon. Friend has said.
What we have done in this Bill is to try to come into line with what we should regard as responsible present-day practice, and to hold a fair balance in avoiding undue restriction or interference with the individual on one side and maintaining the necessary safeguards against abuse or excess on the other. The course of the debate has shown that it is often an extremely delicate balance, and hon. Members in their speeches have put their finger on a number of points which are admittedly nice matters of judgment. At the same time we are fortunate in having a set of proposals which have already been the subject of a great deal of work and deliberation both by Lord Guest's Committee and in another place. All concerned will 153 appreciate that that preliminary work which has already been done should considerably ease the burden on us when we deal with the Bill in detail. Our feeling is that in the present Bill we have arrived, in the main, at the right conclusions and that they should stand. But certainly in Committee we will consider most carefully any further arguments, and, as I have indicated, there are a number of points where there is room for fuller reflection and perhaps adjustment. At this stage I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committal of Bills).