HL Deb 19 February 1957 vol 201 cc995-1025

2.55 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Some of your Lordships may have asked the same question that I have asked myself—namely, why I am moving this Bill to-day? Before I answer that question, may I say that I do not think that I have any interest to declare, except that possibly, as a shareholder, I have some remote interest in licensed premises. Otherwise, I have no interest in the retail liquor trade at all. On the other hand, I am not a teetotaller and I have no interest in, or membership of, any temperance organisation.


What a pity!


The noble Viscount says. "What a pity!" So I think I can claim to take part in this debate from a completely impartial standpoint. Why, then, am I moving the Second Reading of the Bill? The answer, shortly, is that, as I see it, there is a serious defect in the law, which results in a grave injustice and which is growing daily worse, and that if this moderate, mild and small Bill were passed, it would go a small way towards reducing this injustice.

This Bill deals with clubs, although the word "clubs" does not appear in the Title, and with nothing else. May I quote two or three figures to indicate the growth of the number of clubs in recent years? Roughly speaking, in the last fifty years clubs have grown in number from 8,000 to 23,000. On the other hand, the number of licensed premises has gone down from 89,000 to 72,000. During the years 1953 and 1954, there was a net annual increase of between 400 and 450 clubs—that is, since the well-known Defence Regulation 55C was allowed to lapse in 1952. The only comments I would make on the fact that the Regulation was allowed to lapse is that, in my view, experience since then has shown that it was a mistake. I want to say a little about Regulation 55C. Why was it made at all? It was made because this country was at war and a great effort was needed. One may say, quite properly, that this country is not now at war; but would one say that a great effort is not now needed? In my view, that would be going too far. Without further comment on Regulation 55C, I would say that the Bill partly restores that Regulation.

I need say only a few words in explaining the Bill, because if your Lordships have been good enough to read the Memorandum which is attached to it, I think you will have found all the explanation that is required. Clause 1 (2) enacts that the police shall be told when there is an application for the registration of a new club, and under Clause 2 the police may object to that registration. If there is no objection on the part of the police—and under the Bill no one else may object—then the registration of a club is automatic, as it is at present. If there is objection by the police, then Clause 4 operates, and a club may then, and no doubt would, apply to the justices for an order authorising the registration of the club. Clause 3 sets out in detail the grounds upon which the police may object to the club. As I have already said. Clause 3 is partly taken from Regulation 55C, but is partly new ground. It will by my contention that I have taken the best provisions of Regulation 55C and added to them the best ideas that have been thought of since.

I should like to draw particular attention to Clause 3 (f) (ii) and (iii) which make provision for those under eighteen years of age. I think it will be agreed that in recent years there has not been an alarming increase of drunkenness in this country, but I think it will be agreed, also, that such increase as there has been has been among young people. I think it would be true to say that those who consider these things are disturbed, and rightly so, about the increase of drunkenness among young people. To me it is rather striking, because, as I see it, there is no overall increase in drunkenness. But it is causing concern, and here may be the reason for it: the increase of clubs in which, as I shall show in a moment or two, those under eighteen years of age have privileges and rights which they do not enjoy in licensed premises.

On Clause 4, I should like to emphasise that the burden of proof will be on the police. It will not be for the applicant on behalf of the club to prove his case, but for the police to satisfy the court affirmatively that the club should not be registered. Clause 6 gives a right of entry to the police. That may be one of the most contentious points, because they have no right of entry now, although they had it under Regulation 55C. I want to emphasise, however, that it gives the police a right of entry only before the first registration of the club, and not afterwards. I should have thought that there could be little opposition to that. After the club is first registered, the police will have no more rights than they have now, would ask your Lordships this question: would you object to that right being given in respect of any club of which you are a member, or of which, perhaps, you are president? I have asked myself that question and I cannot see that I should have the slightest objection. Would any member of any respectable, reputable club have any objection to that? I cannot think so.

Next, I should like to give some examples of what I call the unfairness of the present law, first of all in regard, to the opening of new premises. To open new licensed premises the applicant must go before the licensing committee of the justices at a public hearing, and at that hearing anyone, the police or other people, can attend and oppose his application on any ground. He must establish that he has an unblemished character, reaching back over at least seven years, and must produce references accordingly. He must prove that his premises are suitable, no doubt after careful scrutiny by the police. He must prove the need in the neighbourhood for the opening of the new premises. If he succeeds before the licensing committee, he must then go to the compensation and confirming committee and prove his case all over again. On the other hand, to open a club, what has he to do? He has to fill in a form, supply a copy of any sort of rules, and, pay 5s. He can then open the club. There is no inquiry as to his character or his antecedents; no-one can object, not even the police; there is no inspection of the premises, and there is no inquiry as to the need, no matter how many clubs or licensed premises there are in the neighbourhood. Is that a satisfactory state of affairs? Is it fair?

I can give your Lordships an actual example that happened only twelve days ago. An applicant appeared before a bench of magistrates, as I know well, applying for the taking over of an existing public-house, and, therefore, applying for a new licence for himself, since he wanted to buy the house and run it. In making his application, he was opposed by the police, and the result was that before the court, the public and the Press some embarrassing details about his private life were brought forth, including his morality, a conviction for a crime and so forth. As a result, the justices, no doubt quite rightly, came to the conclusion that, in law, there was no alternative but for them to say that this man was not a fit and proper person to run a public-house. The moral of that story is this. There was nothing in the world to prevent that man, on his way out of the court, from paying 5s. to the justices' clerk, filling up a form, supplying a copy of the rules and opening a club in the same town. One wonders if that state of affairs is right.

I pass now to supervision. In the case of licensed premises, the justices and the police have a great deal to say about cleanliness, sanitation and structural alterations that are needed, whether there is hot water in the bar and many other details. The police may enter the licensed premises at any time of the day or night, any day of the year, so long as they are in uniform, without a warrant. They may prowl about the place, spy through chinks in curtains and listen for the clink of glasses. Those of your Lordships who are magistrates will be only too familiar with the story, as I am. But what about clubs? In the case of clubs, there is no supervision by the police or by the justices; there is no right of entry, except with a warrant obtained from a justice of the peace on sworn evidence that there is something wrong with the club. How is it to be found out what is wrong with the club if there is no right of entry in order to find out? How is the evidence to be obtained?

I come now to hours of opening. In the case of licensed premises the hours are fixed by the justices, not for each premises but for the whole division, and all premises must comply. There is a rigid enforcement of the hours, and a publican, as we all know, entertains even his friends at his peril. In the case of clubs, what have we? First, the hours of opening are fixed by the members. So long as they are restricted to eight hours a day, they can be any hours that the members like. There is no reference to the court, and if there are a large number of clubs in a town each club can have different hours from the next, so that it is quite possible, if one is a member of a large number of clubs, as is perfectly possible, to obtain a drink almost all day. I tested this by selecting an English town—I know of nothing which leads me to suppose that it is in any way different from any other town. It is a perfectly average English town, with a population of about 95,000 people. In that town there are fifty-six registered clubs. I have here, and I have studied carefully, the exact hours of opening of every one of those clubs, and I find that from 10.30 in the morning until 10 at night—that is, eleven and a half hours—you can get a drink in one club or another at any time within that period in that town. So you can drink almost all day if you pick and choose sufficiently carefully.

I come now to the serious part. It is now being noticed that when the public-houses open, people who are drunk appear at opening time, instead of, as used to be the case, at closing time. On this question of hours of opening, I cannot refrain from mentioning the rather special subject of Wales. Section 111 of the Licensing Act, 1953, is so short, and so much to the point, that I am going to read the whole of the section. It reads as follows: There shall he no permitted hours on any Sunday in licensed premises in Wales and Monmouthshire. I shall not express to-day any opinion, one way or the other, on this troublesome question of whether it is right or wrong to drink on Sundays: I expressly refrain from informing your Lordships what I think about that matter. But I will say most definitely that, in my view, it is not both right to drink in England on Sundays and wrong to drink in Wales on Sundays. Your Lordships may say that that is immaterial to this Bill, but what is material is that, in my view, it is not both wrong to drink in licensed premises in Wales on Sundays, and right to drink in clubs in Wales on Sundays; and I ask your Lordships to agree with that statement.

Parliament created this state of affairs—that is, your Lordships created this state of affairs—and I ask your Lordships to correct it to-day. It is, of course. becoming notorious in Wales that, because licensed premises are compulsorily closed on Sundays, not only do bus-loads of people go across the Border into England to drink, but it is possible to obtain a drink at almost any hour of the day in a club without crossing the Border. That is, to my mind, an unsatisfactory state of affairs. It is small wonder that the percentage of clubs to public-houses is higher in Wales than in the country as a whole. Only last week, long after the First Reading of this Bill, I was told that in the next village to mine a new club had been opened. I asked, "For what purpose?", and they said, "Well, of course, to drink on Sunday." That is typical of what is going on. Meanwhile, the publicans, for whom I have no brief but who are entitled to justice as much as anyone else, must stand idly by and see their customers going into clubs and drinking on Sundays when they cannot do it in the public-houses.

I pass to the question of young persons. A few weeks ago your Lordships gave an unopposed Second Reading to a small Bill which I ventured to introduce to extend the licensing law to occasional licences. There was no opposition, not even from the Liberal Benches, though the noble Lord, Lord Rea (I am sorry not to see him here to-day, but I understand that he is ill), made some remarks about tiny tots being able to obtain rather more than tiny tots in public-houses on occasional licences. The present position is this. In licensed premises, no one may be employed, without creating a criminal offence, under the age of eighteen years. No one under the age of fourteen may be in the bar. No one under the age of eighteen may be served with an alcoholic drink. That is on licensed premises. Yet in clubs, a person of thirteen can be employed doing the same work as he would do in a public-house. There is no age limit to those who may be in the bar. That is where the noble Lord's "tiny tots" come in. Anybody, of any age, even children in perambulators, can be served with any sized tot. I hope that nobody to-day, least of all from the Liberal Benches—I understand that there will be a speech from a noble Lord from that quarter—will say that I am interfering with the liberty of the subject, because was it not a Liberal Government which did more than any other Government has ever done to complicate the licensing laws of this country?

I pass to taxation. The position, as I understand it, is this. All publicans have to pay a heavy tax for what is called a monopoly value—that is, they pay a tax to a general fund which is paid out in compensation to those who close public-houses. That is said to be, and I have no doubt it was at one time, of value to the holders of licences. But having regard to the opening of clubs, where is the monopoly value to-day? The monopoly value is riddled through and through by the opening of clubs; and clubs pay nothing at all. Furthermore, if a club is struck off under the Licensing Act, as it can be, there is nothing in the world to prevent the same people from opening another club immediately; and there is a great deal to prevent a publican from doing so.

I have spoken of England, I have spoken of Wales, and I now pass to Scotland. This Bill does not apply to Scotland. Why? Because there is no need for this Bill in Scotland. For what I want is already, broadly speaking, the law in Scotland. Most of the Bill is already the law in that country, including police scrutiny of new applications for clubs. I should like to ask: has any complaint arisen from over the Border against this law, and, if so what? And why should there be this difference between the two countries? I, for one, am never tired of trying to take the best points in the law of both countries and having them as the law of Britain.

I must occupy a few more minutes in dealing with what I suppose may be some of the objections to my Bill. I am told that the police will not want this extra duty thrust upon them. The answer is very simple. The Bill gives no extra duties to the police; it merely gives them powers. It only enables them to do something if they want to; it compels them to do nothing whatever. I have already touched on the thorny question of the liberty of the subject. The liberty of the subject is a rusty, double-edged sword which can be used, abused and misused. Of course, if one went only by the liberty of the subject, a great many of the Bills which came before your Lordships' House would have no chance whatever. To go no further back than yesterday, what about the Shops Bill and the liberty of the subject there? Then I am told that it is wrong that small people who run clubs should have to go before magistrates and have to go to court, with all the trouble and costs that would ensue. Quite so. But what about the publicans? They have to do it. Some of them at least are as small as those who run clubs. Seriously, I ask your Lordships: why the difference? I venture to say that this is a question which must in the end be answered even if it is not answered to-day.

I have received, of course, one or two communications about this matter. One letter says: This unhappy country suffers from too much liquidation."— At least that is what the word looks like; it may be meant for "legislation", but it looks uncommonly like "liquidation". If a disorderly people want to run disorderly clubs, why not? I hope to try to answer that question this afternoon. Here is a point seriously arising. This, I apprehend, may be the most serious objection to this Bill, but it is not one, in my submission, which ought to invalidate it. It may be said—I rather think it will be—that clubs are private premises and so people can do what they like there. Technically, that is a perfectly sound legal point, as I understand the law. I admit it. But it will not do if one goes outside the law and into the wider issues. Clubs are so easy to open these days, so easy to join, so easy to enter as a guest—anybody can enter a club as a guest, no matter what his age. There is so little supervision that no responsible social worker, knowing these facts and having the welfare of the country at heart, could possibly agree with this argument. I have observed in a paper for which I have a high regard, the Economist, a very reputable paper, an argument against the Bill. They say: It will end up in stopping bottle parties and private parties. We all know the old debating trick. If you cannot find a good argument against a Bill, first read something into it which is not there and then say that it goes a great deal too far. That is just what that comment is doing. There is not a word in the Bill, of course, to justify that criticism. I hope the House will not be deceived by such an argument.

It may be objected that the real remedy is not to pass this Bill but to alter the law with regard to licensed premises. I concede that there is more than something to be said for that argument, but I must respectfully ask your Lordships, if you are of that opinion: what are you going to do about it? I believe that, on the whole, taken by and large, the licensing laws of this country are reasonable and in the interests of the community. I do not think we could get on without licensing laws, though I should be the first to admit that the present laws are amenable to reasonable amendment; but they must be fair to all classes of the community. Can your Lordships justify the present distinction between the law relating to clubs and the law relating to public-houses? If you can, may I respectfully invite you to say how you do it?

One more criticism that is made against this Bill by the Economist, is this. It is said: Magistrates are seeking immense new powers. Again there is nothing at all to justify that statement. Magistrates do not seek new powers. This would only mean more work for them. They do not seek to restrict liberty, but they are disturbed at the present situation, at the gross inequality that exists in the law to-day and at the results that ensue from that inequality. Sitting in their courts, they see it daily—and it may be appropriate that I should be moving this Bill in February, which is the month of the Brewster Sessions all over the country. Every magistrate sees this almost every day. They are obliged to sit there and administer the law. It means simply that they are putting shackles on to one competitor in business and allowing the other competitor to go entirely free, and they can do nothing about it.

In conclusion, may I again say that, in my view, this Bill, in relation to the whole problem, is a very mild one indeed. It will not touch the respectable club. It will only touch in any way at all an existing club in so far as it very slightly increases the chances of its being struck off the register as undesirable. With that exception, no existing club will be affected by this Bill. As regards future clubs, they will not be dependent on the whim of the police, because the Bill contains ample sanctions to prevent any irresponsible objection. Justices will have the power of stopping every sort of frivolous objection and will have the power, under Clause 4 (3), of awarding costs against the police if they come across anything in the nature of a frivolous objection to a club. That is the sanction against that sort of thing. If Her Majesty's Government will not move in this matter of their own accord, then I venture, with great respect and humility, to suggest that private Members of your Lordships' House must get up and try to do something to put right what I believe an increasing number of people think is a wrong.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Merthyr.)

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, I am not quite sure whether any noble Lord opposite wanted to get up and support this Bill. I do not want to interfere if that is so, but I should like, if I may be permitted, as I have another engagement to go to, to say a few words about the Bill. We all have a great respect for the noble Lord who has moved its Second Reading. We know him so well in the day's work of the House that we appreciate what meticulous care he gives to all the details of any measure he may be likely himself to lay before your Lordships. I look at this Bill very much in the light of our knowledge of the personality of the mover. At the same time, I must say that I feel he has a great deal of courage in bringing forward this particular Bill.

When he spoke a little with regard to our Liberal friends in the House, and the pre-First World War legislation, I felt "Well, it may lead to all kinds of emotions and activities". I remember so well sitting in a Nonconformist church in Weston-super-Mare in 1907 and the pastor preached a magnificent sermon, all devoted to the text, "Where the carcase is, there the eagles are gathered together." He drew long lessons from the line about development of empires and states and their ultimate destruction through corruption; and then, at the end, he said simply, "And the place which only last week threw out the Licensing Reform Bill is likely to follow the same fate." Well, we are still here on this occasion. I quote that remark only to show what great feelings may be excited upon this class of legislation.

In spite of what I have said about the noble Lord and his courage in the matter, I should like to support the Bill. Undoubtedly the anomalies he has mentioned exist to-day. In the latter part of his speech he said that no existing club would be affected by the Bill. We shall have to see what happens in Committee, but it seems to me that any clubs may he affected on application for renewal of registration. I am not quite sure about that, but we will see from the details when we come to the Committee stage. One knows of cases that have gone through the London courts in the last few years, resulting in quite undesirable clubs being completely wiped out; so far as one can tell, the people concerned "pop up" in some other place and, by a quite simple method, are able to start a new organisation of the same kind. That is a great pity.

When we come to deal with the class of club which the noble Lord referred to in the Principality, which I am sure he knows much better than I do, I see a possible danger, to which I am sure he will be willing to give attention in the later stages of the Bill: that we ought not to do anything that would in any way undermine the great part which is played throughout the whole of the United Kingdom by respectable clubs which are well run by labour groups of people and, for their own defence, registered through such established organisations as the Club and Institute Union. Very often they are non-political, though sometimes they are political on one side or the other; but as a rule: hey are extremely well run. I should be very sorry indeed if we did anything which would give powers which could be used against them unreasonably.

On the other hand, there is no doubt at all among those of us who have any idea at all as to progress in the matters which might be covered by such a measure as this, that it is most important to have some control, equal to that which is already exercised in licensed premises, over the age at which the ill-effects of alcoholism may be developed or prevented. I should like to see that point submitted to the attention of your Lordships at a later stage of the Bill. I do not propose to say anything more. I could say a good deal about each of the clauses—I have read them carefully—but I think we might leave that to the Committee stage. I content myself with saying that, on the whole, I think we may welcome the Bill and that we should be glad to support it on Second Reading.

3.33 p.m.


My Lords, it is with some difficulty that I rise to speak on this Bill because, in general, when the noble Lord. Lord Merthyr, brings forward a measure in this House I find myself to a great extent in agreement with what he says. But I am bound to say that on the present occasion I have not the feeling which I normally have. I think he has produced a Bill which, although it his some quite good points, has certain objectionable qualities which seem to me to outweigh the good points. One of the things I do not suite understand is this. It has been said, quite rightly, that the number of clubs in this country has risen greatly in the course of the last fifty years. Surely that must mean that the clubs are filling a demand of the people, and that they are giving to the public something that the normal public-house does not give them. It may be that it is the time at which they open; it may be that they give rather more amenities than the ordinary public-house. But it seems to me that we should not say, that, because more clubs are opening, therefore, we have to control them, so that, in effect, the public-house and the brewer may be protected. I think that is a very poor argument.

The second point I do not like in this Bill is the fact that the person applying to open a club has, in the first place, to do so through the police. He must ask for what one might call permission to open a club. At present, applicants go before the magistrates. That seems to me quite sufficient, because bringing in the police will only make the matter more complicated. Broadly speaking, I do not think that the police know very much more about the demand for a club than the person applying for permission to open the club. Furthermore, if we have more people involved in an application for permission for a club to be opened, it gives an opportunity—I do not want to suggest anything against the police or the magistrates—for some vested interest to "put in a spoke." I cannot be more definite than that. I am sure that as a matter of general principle that is quite a sound point. That seems to me once more to be playing on the side of the brewers and the public-houses rather than keeping the matter free to the public.

Coming next to the objections which the police can make (provided that the Bill is, in fact, passed) there are two that are important. I entirely agree that the people who open a club should have reputable antecedents. We have seen too much of the opposite in the past, when, time after time, rather unpleasant people have opened clubs. I should also like to see something done to control the hours of people who drink in clubs. If the police have no right of access—and they have not much—this is a difficult thing to control; but I cannot believe that something cannot be devised by somebody with a better legal mind than my own.

I have another objection to the Bill: it says that one ground of objection may be that remises are to be used purely for drinking or for the consumption of intoxicating liquor. If I and twenty-four of my friends—it may be twenty-four Members of your Lordships' House—wish to open a club solely for the purpose of consuming intoxicating liquor, I cannot see why we should not do so. There is already plenty of control in this country. We are told that the figures of convictions for drunkenness are not as great as before the war. As far as I remember, they have been steady for the last four or five years. If, as the noble Lord says, the number of convictions for drunkenness among young people is increasing, it means that the convictions for drunkenness among people of my age and over must be falling; and there is no reason to suppose that that state of affairs will not continue in the future. That appears to be the present tendency. Therefore, my Lords, I can see no reason at all why there should be any change in the law at the present time. I must say that I regard this Bill as a rather restrictive and tiresome measure to which I trust your Lordships will not accord a Second Reading.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to apologise to my noble friend Lord Amulree for rising as he was about to speak: I had not seen that there was a list of speakers on this Bill. But I repudiate the suggestion that one must put one's name on a list in order that one should address your Lordships upon any subject—I am thinking of the old days when we in this House used to rise and then give way to each other. I promised to support my noble friend Lord Merthyr on this Bill. A number of people are concerned at an evil which is increasing and which they believe is likely further to increase, and they feel that either Lord Merthyr's Bill should be given a welcome by your Lordships' House or the Government themselves should take some steps. It is for that reason that I am supporting Lord Merthyr.

I do not know whether I have an interest to declare. I believe that, legally, a club has to number at least twenty-five people. I belong to a club which is 196 years old and which consists of twenty-four people and has no premises. I do not know what would be our position in law to-day; and even if a club must consist of twenty-five people, I do not know whether, if it could be formed and licensed without premises, it can, after it has been licensed for a year or two, begin to acquire premises. What would be the position in that case? Those are just questions which can be dealt with at the Committee stage. I beg to support my noble friend Lord Merthyr in asking for a Second Reading for this Bill.

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, I am very interested in this Bill and propose to support my noble friend Lord Merthyr. I am sorry that on this occasion I cannot agree with my noble friends in the Liberal Party, but as I am a National Liberal perhaps that is understandable. I will tell your Lordships a story of something that happened to me—incidentally, in the Principality. I was addressing a packed audience in a school on a very cold night. All of a sudden the door opened, and in came a man with a very red nose. He pushed his way most rudely to the front of the meeting, sat down on the knees of two or three people and said: "Now I want to know from you, as the speaker, are you in favour of local option?" I said, "Yes, I am." He said, "Well you don't get my vote," and he walked out. Until that moment I had had a very cold meeting, but after that it was perfectly delightful and we all got very friendly. I believe that if, on the Committee stage, we were to go into the question of local option, as I think we could do, it might help to solve some of the difficulties which the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, has in mind—that there is not much local control and that there is an increase in the number of clubs, which appears undesirable in that, to a great extent, young people are enabled to drink more than is good for them. I believe that the spirit of local option may help that condition. I think it is right that people living in small towns and villages should have freedom to express their opinion and to bring about legislation on these matters.

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, I think it most desirable that some Tory should rise to express his disagreement with everybody who has so far spoken, with the exception of my noble friend Lord Amulree. I do not profess to have studied, before taking part in this debate, either the relevant provisions of the present licensing laws or all the provisions of the Bill so ably moved by my noble friend Lord Merthyr: but let me start with a point he mentioned, namely, the Defence Regulation which was withdrawn. Let me say most emphatically, as a believer in liberty, that whatever the merits of the substantive proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, I am perfectly certain that it was right to withdraw the Defence Regulation. The reasons were given most convincingly at the time by my noble and learned friend the present Lord Chancellor when he occupied the great position of Home Secretary. I need not trouble your Lordships with the arguments, but, clearly, if it is desirable to have permanent provisions laid down by law, it should not be done under what was intended to be a temporary Emergency Act and by a Regulation imposed for a temporary war purpose; therefore, whatever the provisions of the permanent law should be, it was right to withdraw the Defence Regulation.

Now the substance of the case made by my noble friend Lord Merthyr, as I understood it, was that there was a contrast between the liberty enjoyed by clubs and the restrictions imposed on public houses. Suppose that proposition were to be granted, it still leaves open the question: which should be remedied? Should we lighten the restrictions on public houses or impose restrictions on clubs? I say that, prima facie, as a believer in liberty, I would lighten restrictions on public houses and would not impose additional restrictions on clubs. Perhaps that is because I am so old-fashioned that I believe liberty to be a valuable thing in itself and something that should be interfered with only when conclusive reasons are given for such interference.

Great harm to the concept of liberty is done by the characteristic attitude of many people in this country who object to the general conception of liberty and feel that someone who is doing what he likes is "taking a liberty," as though that were a wrong thing to do. It is suggested that in enjoying himself he is taking a liberty. A similar injury to the whole concept of liberty was done by a celebrated American President who thought that liberty was a thing to be classified and given numbers, and talked about "the Four Freedoms." It is generally impossible to remember what they are. But the whole idea of numbering freedoms would occur only to somebody ignorant of the general nature of freedom. I personally have the greatest sympathy with the American child who named, as cue of the Four Freedoms, "Freedom from thought."

If my noble friend Lord Merthyr wants a concrete example of where I feel that this Bill is an unreasoning attack on liberty, I would ask him to look at the very first ground on which an objection can he made. It is set out in Clause 3 (a). The noble Lord said he had selected the best reasons, so let us see which he puts first: that having regard to existing facilities for social amenities, recreation and refreshment or for cultural or political activities and to the objects of the club, the club is not required to meet a genuine and substantial need; Why on earth should the police and the magistrates be the judges of that? If people wish to meet and form a group, why is there prima facie anything wrong about that? Why should there have to be a substantial reason why people should want to do it, when there is no reason why they should not? Why should it be an objection that they cannot prove that the demand is substantial? The words can be based only on the idea that liberty is in itself a harmful and most dangerous thing which cannot be allowed to intrude its ugly head. I object to that whole conception of liberty. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, that the figures quoted by the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, of the great increase in the number of clubs, are conclusive evidence that they are serving a purpose and meeting a demand. If, in the view of the police and of Her Majesty's Government, that increase has led to great evils, then no doubt the noble Viscount who is to reply for Her Majesty's Government will say so. But unless there are very substantial evils and unless there is some demand by the police (in which case we should like further details), I say that prima facie such an attack on liberty is completely wrong.

My noble friend who introduced this Bill said—I think I have got his exact words—that liberty of the subject was a rusty, double-edged weapon. I have never heard it called that before. But if it is a rusty, double-edged weapon, I think we must remove the rust and make it an effective weapon. I think the need in this country is not for less liberty but for more. I think we are much too much inclined to restrict liberty on the mere plea that, in somebody's opinion, the liberty may be abused. Since I do not wish to produce any Border incident I will not comment on the condition of the laws of Wales. As regards the contrast of our laws with the laws of Scotland, I would say to my noble friend that I gather that there are many more people moving from Scotland to England than in the reverse direction. My noble friend can make what deductions he likes from that. My substantial point is that liberty is a good thing and that restrictions on liberty should never be made unless the case for them can be proved. On these grounds I oppose this Bill.


My Lords, I should like to say just a word in support of my noble friend Lord Conesford. So far as I can see, this Bill is designed to do away with any evils that may arise in private drinking. I do not believe that the Bill will do it. If there are people who abuse private drinking—if there is such a thing—they will go on doing so. I agree with Lord Conesford that what we want is something to make it easier to drink in public.

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, there are some objections to this Bill, but I am not going to raise any objection to what the Bill seeks to do in the way of limiting and controlling clubs. I think that that is very necessary, because of the evil that clubs cause in this country. I believe that the point made by Lord Merthyr, as I understood him, that, along with the growth in the numbers of clubs, there has been a great increase in the numbers of convictions among young people for drunkenness, is a very strong one. The point I wish to make is simple. I do not want to indulge in a philosophical speech like that of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. I rise to say that I am quite mystified by Clause 6 of the Bill. I am surprised that greater care should not have been taken in the drafting of the Bill in order to make a better clause than this one. It deals with the "right of police to enter premises". That seems quite a good rubric to read at the side of the clause. But when I read the clause itself, I find that it runs: Any person authorised in that behalf by the chief officer of police may enter and inspect the premises of a club at any time after the application for registration of that club has been made and before the club has actually been registered. That means that there is a period of fourteen days in which the police can have a look at the premises, perhaps look at the people who are going to run the premises, but not make investigations as to how the premises are going to be used.

I think this clause should be strengthened by giving the police the right of access to the premises at any time in order that they may see how the premises are being, run, and to make sure that the membership of the club does not involve anything objectionable from a police or a licensing point of view. That is the only point I desire to make. Perhaps the mover of the Second Reading of the Bill can give me some explanation, if he has the right to reply to this discussion. Perhaps he can explain why the police should have the right to enter these premises only before the premises have actually been brought into use as a club.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say a word in support of the noble Lord who has introduced this Bill and to congratulate him on the courage which he has shown in doing so. I think that to everyone who has a real interest in social problems, the festering sore, one might almost call it, which is caused in some parts of the country by the existence of these quite unfettered clubs is known and deplored. The difficulty in the way of the noble Lord is that there is a vested interest which has grown up over the years during which there has been no real sort of control. The result is that it requires not only courage on the noble Lord's part to introduce a Bill, but great courage on the part of either of the two great political Parties to accede to it. I should be very much surprised indeed if the noble Viscount who is going to reply for the Government were to say that he accepted this Bill. But surely the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, has brought to your Lordships' attention so many injustices and so many areas in which real public mischief is being operated by the law as it stands at the present time that the Government ought, at any rate, to be prepared to make a careful inquiry into the situation.

This is one of the great areas of social mischief—if one, may so describe it—into which no real investigation has been made by a Royal Commission, by an inter-departmental committee or by anyone else, so far as I know. I suggest to your Lordships that it is time that a really careful and searching inquiry was made into the law relating to clubs, which has no doubt been sufficiently and adequately described by Lord Merthyr, into all the social problems in regard to the serving of children, and in regard to hours and all these other matters and their impingement on life and work in the industrial towns, particularly, where so many of these clubs exist. I suggest that the time has come when there should be some control.

Lord Conesford and I remember the time when we used to discuss in the philosophy classes at Oxford the question of the point where liberty ceases and licence begins. I suggest that his very touchy sensitiveness with regard to what he describes as liberty has, from some points of view at any rate, led to his falling over backwards on the side of licence. Who would maintain that there should be liberty for small children to be taken into clubs of this kind and provided with drink, which is a thing that everyone knows to be done up and down the country from time to time? And there are many other happenings which are not really a question of liberty at all, but obviously a question of licence. This sort of thing, I maintain, ought to be inquired into, and after having an inquiry we may perhaps get a basis upon which reasonable action could be taken. This is a matte: upon which both Parties ought to combine forces, otherwise it will be exceedingly difficult to overcome the real amount of opposition which there will be to legislation. Legislation of this kind can be effectively put through only if people of good will of both Parties are united to support it.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, I do not suppose that anyone will deny my noble friend who proposed the Second Reading of this Bill a generous weed of acknowledgment for the care that he has devoted to tie subject or congratulations, both upon the moderation with which he put his case and upon the interesting and lively debate to which it has given rise. It now falls to my lot to indicate the views of the Government on the proposal, and as Governments are on such matters notoriously glow to express an opinion at all, to temper these generous measures of rather restrained criticism with one or two dashes of my own opinion, which I hope your Lordships will forgive me for expressing even from this Box.

It seems to me that the really important question of principle is whether one gives a Second Reading to a curate's egg. I do not suggest that it is intrinsically impossible to conceive a respectable measure which would improve the law relating to clubs, and I suppose, by a great effort of ingenuity, it would be possible so to emasculate this Bill that it would even achieve this object, but my own conviction is that the effort would hardly be worth while. Experience of the subject tends to show, and I think has shown abundantly in the past, ever since the Royal Commission reported in 1931—if I may refer to it, having regard to what the nobly Lord, Lord Chorley, said—that legislation which is designed to interfere unduly with the rights and liberties of bona fide clubs and their members is on the whole not acceptable to Parliament.

I would concede, of course, that it is possible to bring evidence of the existence of bogus and undesirable clubs, particularly in the metropolis, and I should not like to say on behalf of the Government that a rather more modest measure which provides that the persons who desire to form a club should submit to some kind of scrutiny of their antecedents and the bona fides of their wish to form a club may not be desirable; but I approach this matter in a somewhat pragmatic spirit, looking at the measure which is proposed, considering the degree to which it is likely to infringe present liberty and then comparing it with the evidence which has been adduced in support of the proposals. I cannot help finding on balance that the infringements of liberty are quite serious and that the evidence sought to be produced in its favour is disproportionately exiguous.

It is true that there exists a contrast between the law of licensing as it has come to be imposed upon the public and the relative freedom with which people are still permitted to register a club; but, as my noble friend Lord Conesford said, from these premises it is as legitimate to infer that it is desirable to render less onerous the law of licensing as it is to infer that it is desirable to control more strictly the law of clubs. I confess that my withers would be unwrung even by the bold charge of inconsistency with which my noble friend Lord Merthyr threatened me if I did not adopt either of these extreme conclusions. I feel like Walt Whitman who, when charged with inconsistency, said, "Well, if I am inconsistent, I am consistent." I believe that both propositions are true, and I see nothing necessarily wrong in thinking that the law of licensing is no more disreputable than the law of licensing necessarily must be to achieve its object, and that the law of clubs is as reasonably free as it is necessary to achieve the purposes of the people who want to form a social connection with one another.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, talked about vested interests. I confess that I did not have a wide licensing practice at the Bar, but I have some knowledge of this subject, both at the Brewster Sessions and in relation to this proposal relating to clubs. My experience has been that there is always objection to drinking facilities, which is always fostered partly by a highly organised lobby and partly by an unholy alliance between that lobby and a highly-organised vested interest. The existing publicans are always against a club and they ally themselves with the temperance reformers. In this case, they have concealed their unholy alliance behind the impeccable front of the President of the Magistrates' Association.

What is the evidence that the law of clubs is being abused? We learn that the number of clubs in the last fifty years, during which, I may say, the population has not remained stable, has increased from 8,000 to 23,000. But what evidence is there that the increase has resulted in an increase in disreputable clubs? I have heard no noble Lord, even among those who have supported the Bill, suggest that that increase is largely made up of disreputable clubs. I should have thought that it was a good thing if clubs increase. It shows an increase of sociability amongst the population. Then it is said that there has been an increase of drunkenness amongst young people. But what evidence is there that this is associated with clubs? I should have thought that membership of clubs was more often associated with middle age. At any rate, I know of no specific evidence on this point, and if there is any, it has certainly not been adduced in the speeches made in support of this Bill. So I am bound to say that on the evidence I find that there is no case to answer. I believe that if one is going to introduce legislation for the express purpose of limiting the liberty of the subject, one ought to furnish oneself with considerable evidence before doing so, because, at least in my judgment, the burden of proof is on those who want to destroy that liberty and not on those who want to support it.

I come now to the actual terminology of the Bill, which I find to be a crucial matter. We were told, and told rightly, that much that is in the Bill owes its origin to the terminology of Regulation 55C, but Regulation 55C was introduced during the war, and was justified as a temporary measure only because, owing to the threat to our sea communications, it was necessary to husband supplies to an extreme extent. Among the supplies which had to be husbanded so carefully was the raw material out of which alcoholic liquor, amongst other things, is made. I cannot conceive of any analogy between the situation which justified a Defence Regulation of that kind and the present situation, however serious our economic condition may be. I know of no evidence which justifies the view that this country is so nearly on the verge of bankruptcy that people cannot be allowed, without sometimes almost grotesque restrictions, to join together for social intercourse and a glass of beer in a club.

I am bound to say that the evidence which the Home Office has is that this Bill would be highly unpopular in some quarters. It is opposed by the Workmen's Clubs an, Institutes Union, by the Association of Conservative Clubs, an association for which I have a very warm feeling in my heart, and by the National Golf Clubs' Protection Association, with which I have no connection whatsoever. The crux of the Bill is, of course, in Clause 3. That clause sets out the grounds upon which the police may object to registration of a club; and I must say, in modest correction of my noble friend who introduced the Bill, that they can also object to the renewal of its registration. My noble friend was under the impression that his proposals did not infringe the liberties of existing clubs. I must say that that is not the view of the Bill which I have formed, or which I am advised is the true view, on the construction of Clause 5, because the renewal of registration may be opposed on any ground upon which the original registration can be opposed. I propose during the course of my remarks to point out that each one of these objections to an original registration can be made every year by the police upon any club, no matter how old, how distinguished, or how respectable. I consider that no case whatever has been made out for so serious an infringement of liberty.

Let me read the first ground upon which the police can object. It is: that having regard to existing facilities for social amenities, recreation and refreshment or for cultural or political activities and to the objects of the club, the club is not required to meet a genuine and substantial need. I can conceive that during a war that may have been a necessary measure of control to conserve supplies. Even before the abolition of Regulation 55C, however, these words were considered so onerous in times of peace that the words "cultural or political activities" were removed by order of a Labour Home Secretary. Who are the police to say whether or not political activities are sufficiently provided with facilities in a particular locality? Who are the police, and who are the magistrates, to say that cultural activities are sufficiently met by facilities of this kind? Where are we getting when people are prepared to propose legislation in a free country to say that police and magistrates may tell us whether we have enough political clubs, and this can be done without a strong protest from all three political Parties?

Suppose that somebody wants to start a Liberal club in some part of the country. Who are the magistrates to say that he shall not?—even though most of us may be fully satisfied that one would meet the political needs without the additional facility. Suppose somebody wants to start a new Party. It would mean, if he wanted to drink a glass of beer while deciding what its principles and policy should be, that the magistrates of the locality, who are not always immune from political connections of their own, would be able to say: "You cannot do that. The political needs are fully met by the Labour Club, on one side of the toad, and the Conservative Club, on the other." They must not then drink beer while discussing politics. These needs are met; the police say so, the magistrates say so and the Licensing Bill, or Act, as it would then be, says so. Although, frankly, the Government's attitude is one of rather malevolent neutrality on this Bill, I confess that I personally am slightly shocked by this proposal. It seems to me to be wholly contrary to the whole spirit of political and cultural freedom that these suggestions should be made.

Then we find the second possible ground of objection: that the premises of the club are, or their situation is unsuitable for the purposes thereof. That is all very well. But who are the police to judge whether the club is suitable "for the purposes thereof"; and who are the magistrates to say? If two or three people, not having much means at their disposal, want to start a club with makeshift premises, why should they not do so? These words, too, were considered so tyrannical that they were removed from the Defence Regulation by a Labour Home Secretary long before the Defence Regulation was abolished by my noble and learned friend now on the Woolsack, when he sat in another place. I agree that one could make a Bill out of paragraphs (c) and (d), if one altered the words rather considerably. I concede that paragraph (e), if the period of five years were considerably restricted, might not be unduly onerous. But then we come to paragraph (f). If I took my son to the Carlton Club and gave him a glass of cider, I should be endangering the registration, according to this, although I could well take him to the Savoy Hotel and do exactly the same without infringing any law at all. It seems to me that this kind of legislation is restriction run riot. I must say that if Clause 3 goes from the Bill to the extent that I have indicated, I very much doubt whether anything is left which is worth passing at all.

The position is made abundantly worse by the provision in Clause 5, that the renewal of a registration can be objected to on the same grounds as an existing registration, no matter how old or respectable the club. The police can object to the renewal of the registration of the Reform Club, the Carlton Club or the Athenæum Club, to mention only three respectable clubs; and they can say: "We think the cultural facilities have so improved that the Reform Club is no longer necessary. After all, you can all join the National Liberal Club." They can say that the premises have become unsuitable for the purposes. They may be too big. Premises can be just as unsuitable through being too big as through being too small. The police can do all these things, if my noble friend's Bill is passed.

Then the police are given the power of entry. It is true that the power of entry is limited to the period before the club has been registered. That, I think, is a mark of grace. But why should entry, without warrant, be granted to the police at all in connection with this matter? I suppose the reason is that it is absolutely necessary in order to enable them to judge whether the cultural facilities are adequately met by the proposed premises, and whether the premises are structurally suitable. I cannot imagine that it is necessary for any other reason. But if, in fact, the grounds of objection which I have mentioned are in themselves unreasonable, how can a right of entry which is granted only in order to give ground for those objections be supported at all?

The end of the story seems to me to be as I began. It would, I think, be possible, by the exercise of great ingenuity, to make something of this Bill. My deep conviction is that it is not worth while, and that if, in fact, a modest measure to tighten the law of clubs by insisting on the bona fides of the application, and the respectability, so far as is known, of the applicant, is necessary, the best course would be to bring in another Bill. For that reason, I confess that, speaking on behalf of the Government I cannot advise your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading, and my personal advice would go even further than the official Government advice, restricted to that negative.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, the noble and learned Viscount said that his attitude was one of malevolent neutrality; and my interpretation of that is that he is against the Bill. As one would expect the noble and learned Viscount to do, and as he has done on many previous occasions—principally, I confess, from the Back Benches—he has amused us immensely. But has he helped us at all? I think our attitude on this side of the House may be one of neutrality without malevolence. I was rather impressed by the words of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, who I thought made a wise observation. Whether or not the pubs should be free, or whether the clubs should be restricted, is a debatable point. But at least he said he thought there should be some kind of equity in the law to guard against those things against which I think the majority of your Lordships would wish to guard.

If the noble Viscount opposite will forgive me for saying so, great play is made on the point that the police have no right to dictate cultural habits, or to say whether a political club should be started or not; and that makes for good humour. But does it make for sense? If your Lordships decide to give this Bill a Second Reading all these things can be altered at your Lordships' wishes. Your Lordships are not being asked to pass this Bill into law. Your Lordships are being asked to give this Bill a Second Reading so that your Lordships' House may have the opportunity of seeing whether the Bill can be so amended as to make it fit what, I think, is in the minds of the majority of your Lordships—that is, that there are sonic things we would rather see eradicated from the way in which these places are run at the present time. If your Lordships decide that the Bill cannot be amended, you need not give it a Third Reading.

Our attitude on this side of the House will be to attempt to amend it, because we believe that we have a responsibility at least to try, and not to be led away by the heap of red herrings which the noble Viscount, to our amusement but not to our education, has drawn across the trail. What we shall do is to support the noble Lord who proposed the Second Reading, if he so desires to test the feeling of your Lordships' House in the Division Lobby; to give this Bill a Second Reading, and allow your Lordships at least the opportunity of seeing whether it can be shaped to meet your general wishes.

4.23 p.m.


My Lords, in replying to the debate. I can raise only a few points. First of all, I should like to correct a mistake which I think the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, made when he said that under this Bill the club would have to apply to the police for permission to open. That, of course, is not so. In the vast majority of cases the police simply would not come into the ken of the club proprietor at all. This Bill merely gives the police the power to object to the registration. There is no application to the police whatsoever.

The noble Lord then dealt with Clause 3 (g), and spoke about the objection on the ground that a club provided only facilities for drinking. On that I should like to make this comment. The justices may not agree with the police in that objection. It is entirely a matter for the justices to decide whether is it reasonable to open the club, or whether the club, if opened, would not give reasonable facilities for members and their guests, other than facilities for drinking. There is no question here of a law which lays down that every club is banned if it does not give those facilities.

The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, dwelt at some length, as I rather expected would be the case, with the whole question of the liberty of the subject. If you find grave inequality between the liberty of the public-house and the liberty of the club, as I think everybody must admit is the case, what is the remedy? That, I admit frankly, is the question before the House this afternoon. You can do it in two ways. If you have two men and keep one in prison and one out, there is an inequality of liberty of the subject. You can remedy it by letting them both out or putting them both in. The question is: which are we to do, or shall some compromise be effected, as I have suggested in this Bill?

The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, objected again to Clause 3 (a), the first ground under which the police can object. I quite expected that opposition. The question I ask is: What about the public-houses? If it is right that the police should be able, as of course they can, to object to the licensing of public-houses in this matter, why should they not be able to object in the case of the clubs? The noble Lord, Lord Dement, said, "Make it easier to drink in public." But, as I pointed out, technically and legally, clubs are not public; and if this Bill does make it a little more difficult to drink in private, I would submit to him that his anxiety to make it easier to drink in public is irrelevant this afternoon.

The only criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Mathers, was that this Bill, and in particular Clause 6, does not go far enough. I did say in opening that this was a very modest Bill, and I can only repeat that. The noble Viscount who spoke for Her Majesty's Government talked about the serious infringement of liberty involved in this Bill. He asked me for evidence of the figures of disreputable clubs, but I have already pointed out how difficult it is to obtain evidence of anything that goes on in a club, because of the fact that the police are not allowed to enter except on a warrant. The noble Viscount said that Defence Regulation 55C was justified because it cut down during the war the supplies of alcohol that had to be brought from overseas.


The raw material.


Yes, the raw material. The noble Viscount then went on to criticise the wording. "Facilities … for cultural or political activities"—he was not a little scathing about that. I would draw his attention to the fact that this paragraph is copied word for word from Defence Regulation 55C (4) (a). What in the world is the connection between the supply of raw materials from overseas in war time, and the cultural or political activities in clubs?


if my noble friend wants the answer, it is this. The object of Defence Regulation 55C was to limit the amount of drink which was consumed, owing to the undesirability of importing grain and other substances; and it was thought that if the number of clubs was limited, for whatever reason, including the one which my noble friend has given, the quantity of alcohol consumed would be decreased.


I cannot hold the noble Viscount responsible for Defence Regulation 55C. I am quite certain that he was away fighting for the country when it was made. But if that Regulation had said that there shall be a diminution in the amount of alcohol consumed in clubs, I could have understood it. It went on to refer to "existing facilities for social amenities, recreation and refreshment, or for cultural and political activities," and so forth. I am only copying in this Bill a Regulation made by Her Majesty's Government. Need I apologise for that?

I must make one admission, and that is that in what he said about Clause 3, the noble Viscount was right and I was wrong. I did make a mistake, and I apologise to the House. The police can

object to the renewal of the registration of a club but they cannot enter the club once it has first been registered: at least, they can enter only in uniform, with a warrant obtained on evidence. The noble Viscount said, "Who are the police to judge?" With respect, he knows perfectly well that under this Bill the police do not judge, and they never will under this Bill. The judges are the court. The police are advocates and not judges.

The noble Viscount asked, "Who are the magistrates to say whether a club shall be opened or closed?" Who are the magistrates to say whether a public house shall be opened or closed? That raises the whole issue, and it all comes down to this: will your Lordships do something to remedy this inequality? If your Lordships will not restrict the clubs, will you make it easier for the licensed premises? I have come here this afternoon with, in my respectful submission, a constructive proposal. Your Lordships may not agree with it; your Lordships may think it is a bad one; but at least I hope you will admit that it is constructive. The noble Viscount who replied for Her Majesty's Government, I must submit, was not exactly constructive. He did not say that he had any alternative to put before the House. He did say that, if the Bill was whittled down until it assumed almost minute proportions, it might possibly be acceptable, but of course he could not do better than that. In those circumstances, I must ask your Lordships to support the Second Reading of this Bill.

On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read 2a?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 23; Not-Contents, 45.

Attlee, E. Chorley, L. Merrivale, L.
Listowel, E. Dowding, L. Merthyr, L. [Teller.]
Lonsdale, E. Haden-Guest, L. Pethick-Lawrence, L.
Lucan, E. Kershaw, L. Saltoun, L. [Teller.]
Latham, L. Som[...]ers, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Lawson, L. Strabolgi, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Teviot, L.
Ailwyn, L. Mathers, L. Winster, L.
Archibald, L.
Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) Albemarle, E. Onslow, E. [Teller.]
Bathurst, E. Perth, E.
Salisbury, M. (Lord President.) Dundee, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Fortescue, E. [Teller.]
Cholmondeley, M. Gosford, E. Goschen, V.
Willingdon, M. Munster, E. Hailsham, V.
Monsell, V. Denham, L. Leconfield, L.
Soulbury, V. Derwent, L. Mancroft, L.
Thurso, V. Digby, L. Milverton, L.
Dinevor, L. Moyne, L.
Aberdare, L. Fairfax of Cameron, L. Newall, L.
Amulree, L. Freyberg, L. Rathcavan, L.
Ashbourne, L. Gifford, L. Rochdale, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Hawke, L. Rockley, L.
Chesham, L. Jeffreys, L. Salter, L.
Conesford, L. Killearn, L. Waleran, L.

Moved accordingly, and on Question, Amendments agreed to.