§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ New provisions as to licences for restaurants, guest houses, etc.
§ (8) Where licensing justices grant a new residential licence or residential and restaurant licence, they shall, unless it appears to them that in the particular circumstances of the case there is good reason not to do so, attach to the licence a condition that there shall be afforded in the premises, for persons provided with board and lodging for reward, adequate sitting accommodation in a room not used or to be used for sleeping accommodation, for the service of substantial refreshment or for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor; and where such a licence is granted without the condition required by this subsection, licensing justices shall, on the renewal of the licence, attach the condition if by reason of any change of circumstances it appears to them that the requirement ought no longer to be dispensed with.
LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR moved, in subsection (8), to leave out "unless it appears to them that in the particular circumstances of the case there is good reason not to do so". The noble Lord said: I hope that if we go to a Division, we shall get figures similar to the last and that this time we shall be victorious. In this Amendment, I am asking the Government to do what they did in the original Bill, in which they had certain words which I think I ought to read in case the purpose of my Amendment might be understood. My Amendment asks for the effect of these words to be restored:
that there shall be afforded in the premises, for persons provided with board and lodging for reward, adequate sitting accommodation in a room not used or to be used for sleeping accommodation, for the service of substantial refreshment or for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor".
That was the view of the Government, when they brought in the Bill, but they
changed it and there is a little uncertainty about why they did so.
I looked to see what the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place had to say. This is what the Minister of State, Home Department, said in Committee:
I will explain the history of this provision to the honourable Member for Colne Valley. The history is that when the Government proposed to introduce the idea of residential licences, we looked for means of strengthening that provision and making it not open to the sort of abuse to which the honourable Member for Shipley referred to earlier. This provision for one sitting room was introduced to prevent abuse. I should have thought it was on the Minister but in that sense it is a better provision than the sort of Amendment requiring a minimum number of bedrooms which we discussed earlier. The honourable Member for Colne Valley found the words difficult, but in simple terms the requirement is that there should be one dry room in residential premises and that that dry room shall not be a dining room or a bedroom.
Then the Minister of State went on:
It was the intention, and that is the effect, that there should be one sitting room which was not a dining room or a bedroom, The reason for this safeguard is that, generally speaking, the Government feel that in most residential premises there should be one sitting room for the use of residents, particularly children, where alcohol must not be served.
These are the words of the Minister and no one could make a stronger case for this Amendment than he made then.
§ I agree that we have to examine the Bill as we get it. On that issue let me say this. During his remarks in Committee stage, the Minister promised that he would have consultations with certain organisations, but I notice that the organisations he named were organisations who are friendly to the Bill as it is and not the Bill as it was. It is the smaller houses who are affected by this legislation, the houses which cannot provide a separate room. That is the best reason I know for not granting a licence to such houses, and not for granting a licence and then saying that we will authorise some body to make excuses in certain cases. I do not think that a house which cannot provide one room, one dry room, as the Minister called it, out of the whole house for visitors, particularly in the interests of children, should receive a licence. That, quite simply, is the case for this Amendment, and it is no use my prolonging my remarks. We feel that the original 349 Bill had a better provision than this one, and we ask that it should be reinserted. I beg to move.
Page 3, line 16, leave out ("unless it appears to them that in the particular circumstances of the case there is good reason not to do so").—(Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor.)
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
The noble Lord is quite right in saying that originally the Bill as introduced in another place provided that a boarding house must have a third room which was dry. The noble Lord quoted my right honourable friend at some length. Since that time representations have reached my right honourable friend and the Government suggesting that if the provision as originally in the Bill were carried out it would work to the detriment of the smaller houses to which the noble Lord has referred. The noble Lord was very much against permitting smaller houses which were not able to provide another room as a dry room to serve drinks. I cannot accept that plea, because so many of those small houses will be perfectly respectable boarding houses with restaurants. They may or they may not especially cater for family interests. Just because they are small is no reason why this Bill should put them at a disadvantage to the bigger houses that are able to provide a dry room. That is the reason for the Bill as it now stands, and I am going to ask your Lordships to reject the noble Lord's Amendment.
We feel that if the landlord or landlady of a small type of boarding house or hotel thinks that his or her trade would be jeopardised by having drink sold in the boarding house or hotel, then the landlord or landlady will not apply to the justices for a licence. We take the view that it should be left to the discretion of the justices to dispense with this requirement—that is, the requirement of having a third room—if they are satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, there are good reasons for doing so. That gives the justices discretion. They must take into full consideration the circumstances of each individual application for a licence, and normally the applicant must have a third room. If, however, in their opinion the 350 applicant is a suitable person and the house is a suitable place, in spite of its not having the third room, the dry room, then the justices may grant this licence under Part I of the Bill.
I ask your Lordships to reject the noble Lord's Amendment, because we feel that it will bear hardly upon the owners of small boarding houses who would not be able to comply with the requirements he would like to see. I cannot advise your Lordships to accept the Amendment.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
Naturally one is disappointed to hear the reasoning—that, though these places are inadequate for the purpose, they should still get a licence. I cannot believe that any Member of the Committee would approve the idea of granting a licence to a house unable to provide a dry room. No reason has been given to-day except sympathy for those in small houses. I have sympathy with them; but I have sympathy also with those, men, women and children, who go into the small houses, who do not find a dry room and have to spend their time in drinking rooms. I have much more sympathy with them than I have with those who venture to try to provide boarding accommodation without a dry room.
As regards consultations, who was consulted? I noticed that the noble Earl supported his argument by saying that the British Hotels and Restaurants Association thought that there were premises which for good reasons could not comply with this test and, therefore, that there should be discretion in the matter. Were any other bodies consulted? If so, who? It may be that the wrong people were consulted and the right people were not. Could the noble Earl say who was consulted, apart from this organisation referred to?
I am afraid that I cannot tell the noble Lord who else was consulted, but I expect that other organisations were. I ask the noble Lord to think of the people who really need to be consulted—namely, the patrons of such places. They will soon show their choice. If they do not like to go to such places which have a licence and have not a dry room, then I am sure they will show their hand by not supporting such establishments. I do not think the noble Lord need worry in that respect. I am 351 quite certain, too, that the owners of such small establishments will watch carefully as to what is the opinion of their customers, who may think as the noble Lord thinks, but who may, on the other hand, think otherwise.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Grant and renewal of licences for restaurants, guest houses, etc.
(3) Licensing justices may also refuse an application for the grant or renewal of a restaurant licence, residential licence or residential and restaurant licence on the ground that the sale or supply of intoxicating liquor on the premises is undesirable—
§ 6.37 p.m.
LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR moved, in subsection (3), after paragraph (b) to insert:
() in the case either of a restaurant licence or a residential and restaurant licence, because the contemplated provision of intoxicants would be by 'self-service' methods".
The noble Lord said: Here is an Amendment for which I feel I can crave the sympathy of the Committee. Personally, I am strongly opposed to licences being granted to such establishments as are referred to, but that has been decided and it is in the Bill that restaurants should have licences, if they so wish. These are places which I do frequent from time to time, although I do not often frequent a public house. There are all kinds of restaurants which make every kind of provision, and one is self-help. I do not mind a self-help restaurant for most goods; I think we can trust our people, both young and old, to exercise their intelligence in such restaurants. But I am concerned as to whether it is wise that strong drink, alcoholic intoxicants, should be available in this way. I do not think that this is a good thing. It is an encouragement to drink, and I am not one who is going to encourage drinking. I feel that there is a real danger in having self-service for intoxicants in any establishment, and it is for that reason that I move this Amendment. I beg to move.
Page 5, line 35, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor.)
§ LORD OGMORE
Your Lordships may remember that on Second Reading I raised a point about the liability of a licensee in a case where a person was found on premises the worse for drink by the police, with the result that the licensee was charged with an offence under the Licensing Act. At that time the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, was not sure of the legal position, but with his usual courtesy and care in these matters (and I am grateful to him for it) he has written to, me a long letter setting out the position, which is, in fact, as I gave it.
That position is that under the Licensing Act, 1953, which in this case replaced the Licensing Act, 1911—that is the original Act, so far as I know, in which this provision applied—a licensee is responsible in these circumstances, even though neither he nor any of his staff has actually supplied liquor. It is for the licensee to prove that neither he nor any of his staff has supplied liquor to the person who is found in a state of intoxication on the premises. That is a very difficult thing to prove. I asked whether that would also apply to Part I —and the noble Earl said that it would —so that, in other words, restaurants, lodging-houses and boarding houses which have a licence would also be subject to this provision of the law. That puts them in the same position as normal public-houses. I should like to know what the position is with regard to a self-service establishment. There, of course, nobody has served the customer with drinks. He has served himself. In those circumstances, to what extent would the licensee be held responsible, and how could he discharge the onus if he was responsible? That again would be a very difficult thing to prove. I think the House would be interested—I certainly should—if the noble Earl could clear up that point.
May I say, first of all, that I am most grateful to the noble Lord opposite for the manner in which he accepted what I said with regard to his first two Amendments? I fully appreciate his point of view, and the point of view of his friends. It is a great pleasure to be able to tell him and his friends that I accept this Amendment in toto. One of the reasons why I accept it is for the reason which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has just put forward, that 353 in a self-service restaurant if drinks were being sold by self-service methods or by slot machine this word "knowingly" would be impossible to operate. "Knowingly" is the operative word. So I accept the noble Lord's Amendment, although at another stage of the Bill we may have slightly to alter his wording to make "self-service" more clear.
§ LORD MACDONALD of GWAENYSGOR
May I express my real gratitude to the noble Earl for having accepted this Amendment so early? There is no telling what we shall do before the end.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
This Amendment has the effect of empowering the licensing justices to refuse an application for the grant or renewal of a Part 1 licence—that is, a restaurant, residential, or combined residential and restaurant licence—on the ground that the police, the local authority or the fire authority wished to inspect the premises and after taking reasonable steps in that behalf were unable to do so. I think it is a perfectly reasonable safeguard, and your Lordships will see that it adds the police and the ordinary local authority—if I may so describe them without disrespect—to the fire authority. I could give your Lordships a background, but I think it is such a common-sense and reasonable matter that I do not think I need detain your Lordships further. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 5, line 38, at end insert—
("(4) If on an application for the grant or renewal for any premises of a restaurant licence, residential licence or residential and restaurant licence it is made to appear to the licensing justices on behalf of any such authority as is mentioned below in this sub-section—
§ The authorities above referred to are—
- (i) (according to the situation of the premises) the Common Council of the City
354 of London, or the council of the county borough, metropolitan borough or county district; and
- (ii) the authority (if not included in paragraph (i) above) discharging in the area where the premises are situated the functions of fire authority under the Fire Services Act, 1947; and
- (iii) the chief officer of police for the police area where the premises are situated.") —(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5:
§ Permitted hours for licensed premises and clubs generally
§ 5.—(1) Subject to the following subsections, in any licensing district in England and Wales the permitted hours in licensed premises shall be—
- (a) on week days (not being Christmas Day or Good Friday), the hours from eleven in the morning to half past ten in the evening, with a break of two and a half hours beginning at three in the afternoon; and
- (b) on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday, the hours from twelve noon to half-past ten in the evening, with a break of five hours beginning at two in the afternoon:
§ (2) In relation to the metropolis, and to any licensing district outside the metropolis for which this subsection is adopted, subsection (1) above shall have effect with the substitution of a reference to eleven in the evening for the reference in paragraph (a) to half-past ten in the evening.
(7) The permitted hours in club premises in respect of which the club is registered shall be fixed by or under the rules of the club, in accordance with the following conditions:—
(c) on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday the break shall include the hours from three to five, and there shall not be more than three hours after five.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR moved, in subsection (1) (b), to leave out "half-past". The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment, I appreciate the desire to keep to the hours in the ordinary way. At the same time, I do not think that shortening them by an hour during the day and lengthening them at night, especially beyond midnight, is at all wise but I will deal with the midnight position on another Amendment. I am dealing now with adding half an 355 hour at ten o'clock. Again I would make a complaint that this was done without consulting organisations who were known to be suspicious about, if not antagonistic towards, the Bill. There is that type of person and organisation in this country. But that is no reason for not consulting them, or for consulting them in a superficial manner in order to pretend that they have been consulted. I have an old friend who was chairman of an industrial organisation to which I belonged. He thought it wise from time to time to consult men on his executive in whom he had great confidence. But he also consulted men in whom I knew he had no confidence, and I asked him why. I said, "Is it sheer hypocrisy? You have no intention of taking any notice of what they say." He said: "You have to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove in order to get it your own way."
§ I have heard that there has been a great deal of consultation of a kind, but the consultations that matter have been with those who are supporting this Bill. It is for that reason that I am a little suspicious as to this half-ran-hour. There is a danger of the country looking to London. London, I agree, differs from most cities in this country, and what applies to London could not apply to the country outside. Our concern is that, though an hour is taken off at the beginning—it was intended to be from twelve to three, but it was reduced, owing to the clamour in the country, from twelve to two—we are now told that half-an-hour is being put back, at the other end. On Sunday nights in particular, an extra half-an-hour can mean a great deal. I referred to my past experiences with the chairman of an organisation of which I was a member. I well remember that when I worked underground the great absentee day was Monday. Those who turned up, as some did, I have heard many times moaning and groaning a thousand feet below the surface as a result of the effects of the weekend's drinking. They were not ready for work half the day. The later the drinking the night before work, one of two things will happen: either the men will not turn up next day, or they will turn up unfit for the job for hours.
§ We do not think it is necessary at all to extend the time. We are satisfied 356 that those who frequent,public houses can get all they need and, I would suggest, all they want, and certainly all that is good for them, by ten o'clock. There is not the slightest excuse that they want to go to a show and that when they come out it is too late. That is an excuse sometimes put forward. There is a very small minority in that category—too small to influence a Bill of this kind. I hope that 'perhaps the noble Earl will say the same on this Amendment as with the previous Amendment, and accept it. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 2, leave out ("half-past").—(Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor.)
The latest permitted hour on Sundays under the present law is ten o'clock in the evening. This was the closing hour that was laid down in the Bill when it was introduced in another place. The noble Lord will also remember that the Bill originally provided for three hours' opening at midday, as under the present law, instead of two. In another place, due to pressure there and, I think, pressure in the Press and in the country as a whole, the Bill was amended to allow only two hours—that is, from twelve noon until 2 p.m.—opening on Sunday.
No final decision was reached in the Standing Committee in another place on whether the closing hour should be at 10.0 or 10.30. But at Report stage in another place an Amendment to make the closing hour 10.30 was accepted by Her Majesty's Government. It is a compromise it is true, but I think it is a compromise for the ordinary man, the ordinary person who goes to licensed premises to drink on a Sunday evening. I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald 'of Gwaenysgor, has said with regard to the Monday morning, especially the Monday morning feeling, but if people are going to behave in that manner I do not see why that should have the effect of putting all the ordinary men and women to whom I have referred into a disadvantageous position.
We believe that the 10.30 closing hour —and it is a universal closing hour; the noble Lord mentioned London, but 10.30 in the evening 'will be the closing hour for licensed premises in London and in the country districts—will receive the approval of many people. So 357 I ask your Lordships not to accept the noble Lord's Amendment in view of the compromise that has been reached by the Bill as it now stands on behalf of the ordinary person up and down the country.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I must apologise for having been absent for a few minutes. I am much obliged for the careful way in which the noble Earl is replying, but the Amendment that my noble friend and myself have down on this matter, as I expect he has probably explained, is on behalf of the Temperance Council of all the Christian Churches—all the Christian Churches were concerned. We regard with considerable apprehension the fact that, taking the country as a whole, this is going to mean a considerable extension of hours. The noble Earl has said that the country is going to have a uniform closing hour, on ordinary Sundays at any rate, of 10.30. But in great cities like Bristol, for example, the closing time now is 10 o'clock. You are definitely extending it. I think that in Liverpool at the moment the closing time is 10 o'clock now, and in many country districts the closing hour is 10 o'clock.
We regard the extension as a great mistake from two points of view. First of all, of course, it is a question of extending hours at a period of the day when you are much more likely to get an increase of accidents on the roads because of the condition of some drivers, the unwise drivers, than at any other time. It is a very great pity to extend the hours from that point of view. Secondly, have you really considered this extension purely from the point of view of the public or from the point of view of the brewers? You certainly have not considered it from that of the licensee. I have a letter here, which I received two days ago and which says:Dear Sir,As one very hard-worked and understaffed licensee I am absolutely against the idea of longer hours for us. We already work 8½ hours daily, making 56 hours per week, without counting all the work entailed before we open and after time, clearing up. Why can't the public be content with this, especially when the rest of the community are demanding 40 hours per week? Another big problem is the difficulty of getting suitable staff and finding the money to pay them for the extra hours. It is a very unfair Bill if passed, 358 and the people concerned, especially the publican, should be consulted first, as he is the one chiefly concerned. I, for one, and many others would welcome shorter hours "—This licensee does not want extended hours—especially during the long winters when we have fires and electricity to pay for and possibly no customers.In some districts that position is intensifying with the added attraction at home of television and that kind of thing. Yet public houses have to keep open for the odd customer, apparently; and it is proposed that they should keep open for longer hours, instead of, as the licensee wants in many cases, shorter hours. I very much hope the noble Earl will certainly reconsider this matter.
I appreciate what the noble Viscount has said with regard to the Temperance Council. That is a group to which the noble Viscount and the noble Lord belong. They have one particular thought on this matter, but there are many other people, who I believe are just as good Christians, who have other thoughts. With regard to the 10 o'clock closing time which the noble Viscount mentioned may be in operation in other places, that point is of course quite true and I make no bones about it in saying that we propose an extension of the drinking time on Sunday. But it is a very modest extension, just half an hour.
The noble Viscount also asked whether this extension is for the benefit of the public or for the benefit of the brewers or the licensee. There is nothing to compel the licensee to stay open during the permitted hours, and I would draw the noble Viscount's attention and the attention of all those concerned to subsection (7) of Clause 7, where it is made quite clear that a licensee need not be open during permitted hours unless he is the one required to be so open under the conditions attached to the justices' licence; and I have no doubt that if a licensee did not wish to be open for this extended time he could apply to the justices and ask for that provision to be included in his licence. This half hour, is a very modest extension, and believe that it will be popular with the public and that it will be an advantage to the ordinary person on a Sunday to have this extra half hour of drinking time.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
If a licensee is to be allowed to decide for himself to close earlier, and make the necessary arrangements in order to be allowed to do so, it must be appreciated that if one stays open later others in the area are almost compelled to do it. So I do not see much in the suggestion that, because an individual can, by making certain arrangements, close earlier, the Bill is satisfactory. Surely, if one opens in an area it will encourage others, in order to keep their trade, to open too.
§ LORD OGMORE
May I ask the noble Earl, before he replies, whether there has been any demand for this facility? Why have the Government suggested this extension of half an hour on Sunday, Christmas Day and Good Friday? I imagine that it cannot be Christians who are drinking on Christmas Day and Good Friday. At any rate, I should have thought that on those two days Christians would have better things to do than be in a public house. Surely those are the two days of the Christian year which Christians would not wish to spend in a public house. They may do. But the thought occurs to me that if it is not Christians who want extended hours on Christmas Day and Good Friday have the Government had a demand from Mohammedans, from agnostics or from atheists? Who exactly has suggested that there should be an increase of half an hour's drinking time on Christmas Day and Good Friday? On the point of Sundays I think there is a good deal in what the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, has said.
If I read the papers aright—we have heard nothing from the Government of course—we are in a very serious economic situation. I gather that the situation which now confronts us is a more serious one than at any time since 1931, and that very shortly we are to have a statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and another from the Prime Minister, drawing the attention of the country to the very serious economic position we are in. It seems to me an odd time to extend the licensing hours on Sunday. It cannot put the public in the frame of mind to attend at all seriously to what is apparently going to be an exhortation by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to 360 save and to work harder. What the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, has said, is quite true; men are often not in a fit state if they have been drinking during the week-end. An extra half-hour of drinking time on Sunday might be called for by a large proportion of the population, but we ought to have some evidence from the Government that it is called for, and also some evidence that it does not fly counter to what in a few days' time we shall be hearing from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the duty of the people —to work harder and to save.
I note what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said in regard to the economic situation, and no doubt we shall hear a great deal more about that in the near future. I cannot believe that an extra half-hour on Sunday is really going to affect the ordinary person's savings to such a great extent or the ordinary person's capacity to work on Monday morning. No doubt there are bad cases of "hangovers", as we say, on Monday mornings, but I do not think it is the case for the majority of the citizens of the country. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked who demanded this extra half-hour. I hoped I had made it plain in my speech that it is the result of a compromise. The Bill originally suggested that the opening times should be from 12 until 3, and that for many reasons was considered unpopular. The hour of 10.30 was inserted in another place and met with approval in the other place. So far as I know, it has met with the approval of the ordinary general public.
With regard to Christmas Day or Good Friday, I cannot go all the way with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in suggesting that Christians should not go into a public house on Christmas evening. It may be that in many places that is the one place where there is good fellowship and good cheer, where it is possible for people to go, especially those who are away from home and who have not got families and so forth. I cannot believe that one is going to be a worse Christian for being in a public house an extra half-hour on a Sunday, which is the main import, of course, of the Bill at present, or an extra half-hour Good Friday or Christmas Day.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Has the noble Earl really examined the statistics—I wish I had brought them—of the increased casualties on the roads on Sundays at that hour of the night? You are going to extend to a great many areas the opening of public houses at that time on Sunday night when there are very considerable road casualties.
The noble Viscount brought that up on the Second Reading and these points have been mentioned at both stages in your Lordships' House and in another place. But people with a great knowledge of the statistics believe that a lot of the drunkenness after closing hour is caused by the quick drinking up. By having the extra half hour it is not necessarily the case that more drink will be taken by each individual, but he will have longer in which to drink his drink. I do not think there can be any proof that an extra half-hour on Sunday evening will in fact lead to greater road casualties, and I should be very sorry to ask your
This Amendment, which relates to permitted hours in registered clubs on Sundays, is consequential on an Amendment accepted on Report stage in another place which, by making the Sunday closing hour 10.30 instead of 10 p.m., gave licensed premises three and a half hours in the evening. I think I need say no more about this Amendment, except that it brings clubs
§ Lordships to reject this Amendment if I thought such a half-hour extension would lead to this tragedy on the roads.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
May I read one sentence regarding accidents on Sunday nights from a police report for the County Borough of Barnsley in Yorkshire?
The 1960 total of 101 accidents which have occurred during the period 10 p.m. to 12 midnight is the highest figure for ten years and an increase of 12 above the comparison with 1959.That is the very time we are talking about. To extend the period to 10.30, in my opinion, is running a great risk. Time alone will tell. It is no use indulging in gloomy prognostications; that will not get us anywhere. But time will tell whether this extension does not mean greater loss of life and more road accidents.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 12; Not-Contents, 38.361
|Airedale, L.||Harris, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Iddesleigh, E.||Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, L.|
|Boyd-Orr, L.||Latham, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Longford, E.||Ogmore, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Buckinghamshire, E.||Molson, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Chesham, L.||Monson, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Clitheroe, L.||Newall, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Davidson, V.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Amwell, L.||Denham, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Digby, L.||Robins, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Dynevor, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Bathurst, E.||Glentanar. L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Gosford, E.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Boston, L.||Hastings, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Braye, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Brecon, L.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Waldegrave, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Merrivale, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ into exactly the same position under the Bill as licensed premises. I beg to move.
Page 11, line 11, after ("three") insert ("and a half").—(Earl Bathurst.)
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
I cannot resist commenting on this readiness to give a little now and a little again in various places, otherwise I have nothing to add. I am rather surprised at this inclination to give 363 further time for the sale of drink in almost every part of the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 6:
§ Sunday closing in Wales and Monmouthshire
§ 6.—(1) Section one hundred and eleven of the Licensing Act, 1953 (which directs that there shall be no permitted hours on any Sunday in licensed premises in Wales and Monmouthshire), shall not apply in any administrative county or county borough if the local government electors for the county or county borough so determine by a majority on a poll held in accordance with this section; but where they do so determine, section one hundred and eleven shall again apply if the local government electors for the county or county borough afterwards determine by a majority on a poll so held that it shall apply.
(2) There shall be no poll under this section for a county or county borough unless it is requisitioned by not less than five hundred local government electors for the county or county borough, and a requisition shall not be effective unless—
(a) it is contained in one or more requisition papers in the form in the appendix to the Second Schedule to this Act, signed by the requisitioning electors and giving the particulars of them required by that form; and
§ 7.16 p.m.
LORD OGMORE moved in subsection (1), to leave out all words from and including "any administrative county" down to "afterwards" and to insert instead:
Wales and Monmouthshire if the electors so determine by a majority on a poll held in accordance with this section: but where they do so determine, section one hundred and eleven shall again apply if the electors".
The noble Lord said: As I said on Second Reading, I should much prefer that Parliament decided this matter. It was Parliament which decided that no part of Wales should have licensed premises open for the sale of intoxicants on Sunday. It decided that in 1881. It was decided after very strong support in both Houses of Parliament, and I do not see why Parliament should not decide if it now wishes to reverse it. I think that Parliament is the proper authority to decide. May I also say now that I owe an apology to the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, because on Second Reading I said that it was his father who in 1881 moved the Second Reading of the previous Bill in another place. Of course, that would
make Lord Clwyd far older than he is, and he has pointed out to me that it was not his father, but his grandfather. I apologise to the noble Lord for my mistake. However, that is the situation.
§ I also think that it is wrong for licensed premises in Wales to be open on Sundays unless they give meals. The great difficulty in Wales, as I have said many times before, is that the present system does not worry the Welshman—he is able to get plenty of accommodation elsewhere. The great difficulty about the closing of licensed houses on Sunday is in regard to visitors. They find great difficulty in getting any accommodation on Sundays. I think that the Government would have been well advised to make the licence on Sunday ancillary, as it were, to the provision of food of some kind for travellers, for guests and for visitors from other countries. Hundreds of thousands of people from overseas visit Wales in the summer time. That would be a great facility for them. But the Government have not chosen to do so.
§ I may say here that one of the great enemies of the public house in Wales, curiously enough, is the brewer. I have no comment to make on brewers in England; but on the whole, in Wales, in my opinion, they have not been good, simply because they have been able to supply the clubs with liquor and they have not 'worried about bringing the public houses up to the sort of position they ought 'to be in. I have had many complaints from licensed victuallers that they have not had 'any support at all from the brewers in their attempts to bring their licensed houses up to a really good state, because the brewers are not interested. That is one point about this Bill, and I hope that the proposal that public houses will be open on Sunday will mean that the brewers will take far more interest in them, and will bring them up to the standard to which they should be brought—a standard which will enable them to give accommodation to visitors: not merely hot beer in the summer and cold beer in the winter, but a meal as well. I would appeal to the brewers in Wales and to those who own the public houses who are mainly the brewers, to do something to provide meals and accommodation for visitors in their public houses although they are not bound to do so by the Bill.365
§ So far as the situation under Clause 6 is concerned, I feel that the main drawback lies in the poll. The Government not having seen fit to allow Parliament to determine whether licensed premises shall be open on Sunday, have not allowed the people of Wales as a whole to decide that. They have made provision for polls to take place on the same day in all the county and county borough areas of Wales, seventeen in all. I am afraid that if this clause goes through unamended we shall have the most chaotic conditions. Nobody knows —the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, does not know, nor does anyone else—what is going to happen, whether Swansea will remain shut on Sundays or will open, whether if Swansea remains shut Glamorgan will open; and, if so, there may be streams of people going out from Swansea to Morriston, Aberavon or other neighbouring places to get drinks on a Sunday. That is the very thing we do not want to happen.
§ I myself am a great believer in as much Sunday observance as possible, though nowadays that is not very much; and it is the worst possible thing Ito have streams of people going by motor car to some adjoining place for the sake of getting drinks. It will completely disturb the town to which they go and those people may perhaps return in an intoxicated state or, at any rate, not really fit to drive; whereas if all decide in the same way a man who wants a drink need not drive to another town: he can go to the public house round the corner where he goes during the week. The result of this provision may be that the Government may drive people to go by motor car or motor coach a journey of 50 miles on a Sunday, whereas if Wales as a whole decided a man might be able to have a drink round the corner. It seems to me absolute nonsense; I see no sense at all in it.
§ Again if, as may happen, different parts of the country take a different view on this question, Wales will be split up again. Many of us spend a good deal of time trying to unify Wales and I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Brecon. He does his best in that way and has worked hard in the last few years trying to bring the people of Wales together and make Wales realise it is one country, one nation and one race. But this is another way in which 366 the country may be split into areas in which on a Sunday the licensed places will be open in some areas and in others will be shut. People will have various ideas on why certain areas have voted one way and other areas have voted differently. Some people will say it is an Anglo-Saxon habit to have Sunday drinking but others will say it is a Celtic habit not to drink. All kinds of arguments will arise if Wales is split on this question.
§ It was said by the noble Lord on Second Reading that this was similar to Sunday cinema opening, but I do not see any comparison at all. I am not particularly keen on local authorities deciding on Sunday cinema opening; I believe Parliament should decide. But the consequences of having cinemas open on a Sunday in one town and not in another are not at all like the consequences of having public houses open in one town and closed in adjoining towns. I have never heard of people having a charabanc to go to the cinema on a Sunday night in an adjoining town. The social consequences in both cases are quite unalike.
§ Finally, the proposal in my Amendment is for one policy for the whole of Wales; that is to say, if my Amendment is carried the people of Wales will decide one way or other. The whole country, including Monmouthshire, will decide whether or not there will be licensed Sunday opening. It is a question for the country as a whole and it is better that the country as a whole should decide.
§ The other Amendments, which are really consequential, are concerned with the electorate. With the permission of the noble Lord, the Lord Chairman of Committees, I might mention, to save time, that the proposal of the Government is that the electorate in this case should be the local government electorate. That involves certain difficulties, because the Service voter is not on that electorate, so anyone who is away in the Services will not have a vote on this question. If my Amendment is carried, as I hope it will be, the Parliamentary electorate will decide. Incidentally, that will knock out the noble Lord, Lord Dynevor, and a few others, but I am sure he will not mind.367
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am sorry to hear that, but I am sure that otherwise I should have the noble Lord's support. It was not done for that purpose but it happens that we have not a Parliamentary vote. I ask your Lordships to give my Amendment your support because I feel that it is a far sounder way of handling this situation than the proposals of the Government. I beg to move.
Page 12, line 31, leave out from "in" to "afterwards" in line 36 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Ogmore.)
§ LORD BRECON
I appreciate very much the reasons why the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has put down these Amendments, but there are very good reasons why they cannot be accepted. It is perfectly true that many would like to see Parliament decide this issue, but those of us who live in Wales realise that there are considerable differences of opinion and how hardly they are held by either side; and I believe all would agree that it is better that this matter be referred to the people of Wales to decide. I would also agree with and support what the noble Lord said about licensees not only supplying drinks but also providing meals; and if the brewers will undertake to improve the present public houses—and I believe they are doing so, for I see a number improving and providing meals at the moment—I think it will be all for the better.
The Amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, would mean that there would be a referendum for the whole of Wales and not local option or polls, as provided in the Bill. A referendum would be a constitutional innovation for us in this country and would raise far-reaching issues and not merely in Wales, and I am afraid Her Majesty's Government are therefore unable to accept the proposal for a referendum for the whole of Wales. On the other hand, there are a number of precedents in our legislation for local polls. But, more important in my view, is the particular point mentioned by my right honourable friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs in another place when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol.631, col. 154]: 368There is another and specific Welsh difficulty about seeking to settle the disputed problem of Sunday closing by a national referendum. Anyone who has ever looked at the figures will have seen that Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, certainly if the four county boroughs they contain are included, constitute no less than 63 per cent. of the total population which is now affected by Sunday closing. Glamorgan and Monmouthshire are the most industrialised of all the counties in Wales and they are the areas where the movement for Sunday opening is generally believed to be strongest.That is what my right honourable friend said, and I am sure it would be wrong to allow highly industrialised and populous areas to decide this issue for the whole of Wales. In fact, from my own information I believe the people of Wales would prefer a local poll to a national referendum. It would be fairer, and it would allow those parts of Wales where very different opinions are held to decide for themselves this issue of Sunday opening or closing, perhaps, in seven years' time.
The noble Lord said that we cannot forecast the results of these polls, and that it might mean people travelling from one area to the other. Of course, at the present moment we have a boundary between England and Wales (some people like to refer to it as a frontier, but I prefer to call it a boundary) of over 200 miles, and every Sunday it is perfectly obvious how many buses and people go out of Wales to get a drink. In fact, there are certain owners and proprietors of buses from whom it is impossible to hire a bus on any Sunday, because they have a permanent booking for 52 Sundays in a year to take parties across to England to have a drink. I would agree that it would be much better if these people did not have the trouble. If the County of Cardigan decide to remain as they are, I cannot imagine a great rush of people out of the County of Cardigan, perhaps going into Glamorgan, to get a drink on a Sunday, with their small population.
With regard to the local polls, I should like to point out that there are postal votes in this, and I should therefore think that the Servicemen would be able to vote. I hope that all noble Lords in Wales who are on local government electors' lists will in fact vote, for this is based on local government electors' lists and not Parliamentary electors' lists. We are debarred from taking part in 369 polls based on the Parliamentary lists. But, quite apart from the serious constitutional objections to a referendum, it may well be doubted whether a referendum on this particular issue would, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested, promote unity in Wales. If the result of the referendum were to leave certain parts of Wales with a strong sense of grievance, on the ground that they had been outvoted by other areas with a radically different outlook in the matter, I do not think it would help us in any way. I beg this House not to accept these Amendments.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
The noble Lord, Lord Brecon, told us that he had some good reasons why he was opposing the Amendment, but he has failed to give us those good reasons. He has given us some excuses for the policy not being pursued, but no reasons. There are differences of opinion in Wales, of course, but that is no reason for not accepting this Amendment. He said that South Wales is more thickly populated than North Wales. Of course it is. But that is no reason for not accepting the Amendment. Then he told us that a national referendum would produce some constitutional difficulties. It may do, but Wales is a nation, and Lord Brecon should realise that. I should prefer Wales to go "wet" rather than divide Wales up in this way. It is not going to be a good thing for Welsh unity: it may even endanger Welsh unity. I do not see anything convincing about the fact that we may get the whole of Wales "wet".
What do we get if we get this Bill? Possibly six or seven counties go "wet", six or seven stay "dry". That may happen; and what happens then? In seven years' time we vote again. We vote then to say whether those who are "wet" want to remain "wet" and whether those who are "dry" want to become "wet". I do not see any argument at all there against a referendum because of the constitutional difficulty we have talked about. Ireland may ask for it and Scotland may ask for it if it is once given to Wales. If it is the right thing, they ought to ask for it and they ought to have it. Sooner or later, this House must realise that the Welsh people demand to be treated as a nation, and 370 not as some folks who live on the border of England.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Ogmore that this Bill as it stands is not fair to Wales, and I should like the Lord Chancellor to break what I feel is almost his silence on this issue—because if anybody knows Wales well, he does. Way back in 1953, when he was the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he thought it wise to include Wales in the Consolidation Bill. I do not know what has happened since 1953 to cause a change, except a change of Government or a change of Home Secretary. That is all that has happened, and it may he that is what is behind this change. I do not expect the Lord Chancellor to agree with me: he is far too loyal a man to his colleagues for that, I know. But I am very anxious to hear him on this issue, because I cannot believe that he himself is wholeheartedly convinced that this is the best thing for Wales. I support the case put forward—and for my part it is a very convincing case—by my noble friend Lord Ogmore.
With regard to a referendum, Wales has not been given a real opportunity to understand the position. Wales does not know that she is going to vote for refreshment rooms and cafés as licensed places. Wales is voting on that now. Wales is saying, "We want them"; England is not. It is not we who say this; it is Wales. A national referendum would give far greater satisfaction, whichever way it goes, and nobody could indulge in procrastinations on this issue. It would be far better for Wales in the long run.
During the war, the National Government had a big constitutional problem in Newfoundland. Before the war ended, the Churchill Government decided (I think my noble friend the Lord Chancellor had something to do with this) that the best thing was a national referendum of those 300,000 people in Newfoundland. Their fate was at stake: what happened mattered a lot to them. They decided that 46 Newfoundlanders should be elected by the people of Newfoundland, and that those 46 should sit down and decide the type of issues which should be put to the electors on which they should vote. That took eighteen months, and during the eighteen months there were full meetings in Parliament House and great publicity in the Press 371 and on the radio. The country was fully informed, and at the end of it all it was a country in a position to vote. They voted on the issues placed before them. Let me say, quite frankly, that all that preliminary work did a great deal to unify Newfoundland. The fact that they were given all this opportunity and did a lot of preparatory work helped the Newfoundlanders to register intelligent votes.
I should like to see something of a similar kind preceding this national referendum in Wales. I should like to see the people of Wales fully informed —because at the moment they are not. I know that there will be people on the rostrums, in the pulpits and on platforms informing them; but they do not know at the moment. What I am asking in support of this Amendment is this. It is far better, if need be, that Wales decides this issue in a national referendum. Never mind the fact that there are big blocks of population in Glamorgan and big blocks in Monmouth. What will happen in North Wales? Rhyl and Prestatyn will almost certainly decide the Flintshire issue: the thousands living in England will not count. That sort of thing will happen in every part of Wales. Colwyn Bay and a few coastal towns will decide Denbigh; and South Wales will be decided in the valleys, because that is where the people live.
It is no argument with me to say, "Do not forget that Monmouth and Glamorgan will decide the vote for Wales". Very well—if the majority live there. What decides in this country? The majority decides in this country. One-fifth of the population in the whole country is in the London area. Why talk about a big population somewhere if you do not have it? That is no argument, but a sheer excuse. I should like very much to beg the Lord Chancellor—and he would satisfy Wales very largely if he would—to find time to make some contribution himself on this issue. I would support the Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will trouble your Lordships for only one moment. I would compliment the proposer of this Amendment, and he has received support from the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor. I think 372 there are three points which one must consider very carefully. The first is the constitutional point as to the use of a referendum at all. I want the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, to understand that I am not saying anything which could possibly be construed as contrary to his statement that Wales is a nation. I think he understands that, although it is now seven years since I ceased to be Minister for Welsh Affairs; and that is something I would never say. I am taking the broad constitutional proposal for a referendum for the country, and it is on this basis, that it is for the country, that I just wanted to say a word.
As your Lordships know, it would be a complete innovation in this island—and when I say "this island", I am again carefully not making reflections as to the different nations which are on it. I think it is a serious step to take. We want to be very careful, because it is used, as your Lordships know, under the Constitution of Australia, and also in various other parts of the Commonwealth. I think I am right, although I am rather speaking "off the cuff" (if I may put it colloquially), and I have not checked up, that it is almost always used when you have a federal Constitution, or a Constitution which is based on different constituents. It is very difficult to work —I am speaking now in a quite detached way—and I think that both noble Lords will agree with me that one of the difficulties about a referendum is to frame the question to be put. Here, of course, it would be quite simple—just whether "wet" or "dry".
You would have first to institute the referendum. Then you would have to face the next question, which is a very considerable one and is one which has caused immense difficulty in many countries, that of framing the question. All I am saying to-day—and I do not say more than this—is that to introduce the referendum as part of our constitutional machinery would be a new step. There are many pundits and many books which claim that the use of the referendum is, ipso facto, an inroad on Parliament. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was taking that attitude in his first position. That is the first difficulty about the referendum.
Then one comes to the second point, that there is not the same difficulty if 373 the vote is a local vote. That has been tried before. I have not the Scottish scheme at my finger tips, but there was a local option scheme in Scotland, introduced, I think, in 1913. I have not checked up on that, because I did not know that I was going to speak on this Amendment, but I think that was about the time. That scheme was introduced by the Liberal Government before the First World War, if my memory is right. Therefore, to introduce local polls is quite a different thing. You are not treading on the same ground and running into the same difficulties as with a national referendum. Secondly, you are following precedents in regard to liquor.
With regard to the third point, I have paid great attention to what noble Lords have said. If I might put an entirely hypothetical argument, suppose that you had the industrial counties voting "wet" If my memory is right, there are about 1½ million people in the Southern industrial counties, and 1 million in Central and North Wales. I should have said that if that were the result—if it were generally believed that the Southern industrial counties had provided a majority for "wet", as against "dry"—there are many places in North Wales where, I should have thought, great bitterness would be caused.
We must all form our own judgments and opinions, and I think my noble friend Lord Brecon will agree with me that it is not so much a matter of supporting the Bill as of the impression it would make on us. I should have thought my noble friend had made a good point; that you might have done more harm to unity than by the other way, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggests. I am sorry to have taken your Lordships' time; but the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, and I —we are not opposing each other across the House—are such old friends that I could not resist his plea.
§ LORD OGMORE
I am very grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for coming in and giving us the Government's point of view, and also regarding what the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, has said. But I still cannot help feeling that the Government are unfair on this. It is not I who want the referendum. I think the noble and 374 learned Lord's speech rather implied that it was. I do not want the referendum; I want Parliament to decide. Then the Government turn round and say: "No, you cannot have Parliament decide this; the people of Wales must decide it". So I say: "All right; if that is what you wish, let the people of Wales decide it". Then I put forward my Amendment to let the people of Wales decide it by means of a poll, and we have instead this question of the seventeen polls.
There is something in what the noble and learned Viscount has said. I do not like referenda, but I do not see that a referendum is made any less mischievous or harmful (or whatever the noble Viscount says it is), by splitting it up into seventeen parts in one day. The Scottish scheme to which he referred (I am open to correction on this, because I did not know it was going to be raised, and I have not checked it) was, I believe, a system by which boroughs could have local options in certain circumstances. But the fact is that they never have applied for them. I do not know what the position is, but it is not in fact in operation in Scotland, where they have this peripatetic, usually rather bogus character, the traveller—the bona fide traveller who, as we all know, is bona fide only in the sense that he is going from public-house to public-house for a minimum distance of three miles. But none of us has suggested that.
If we are going to have a referendum, it is no worse to have one than to have seventeen in one day, which is what the Government are proposing. In other words, if this Bill were to give local authorities power, as in the case of cinemas, to apply for an Order to have a poll in their areas and then appeal to Parliament, that is one thing, although I do not particularly like it; but the Bill does not propose that. To my mind, it has all the disadvantages of a referendum with none of the advantages, because in different ways we may get different answers.
Noble Lords talk about the industrial South dictating policy. Well, it does in every other way. If the industrial South did not dictate policies we should not have 27 Labour Members out of 36 in the House of Commons. Why is this different? As the noble Lord, Lord 375 Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, says, even if the referendum is divided off into counties, the urban populations of the areas will decide for the areas and it makes no difference. I am President of the Home Counties Liberal Federation, which takes in 125 seats, not including the London seats, out of 637, which is a big proportion of the whole number of seats. If we add the London seats, we see in this Parliament what an enormous influence the highly urbanised area of London and the Home Counties has on the policy of the country. So why should Wales be different? Democracy always decides in this way.
I want to make only two further short points and then your Lordships must decide one way or the other. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, made my case when he said that there were regular bus outings laid on every Sunday to get people out of Wales into England. That is just what I am afraid of. I am afraid that if some of these areas were dry, we should get these bus outings, which I think are quite unnecessary. I am not interested in drinking; although I am not exactly teetotal, I am rather abstemious. The reason why I support the Government on 'this clause is because I want the hypocrisy and humbug in Wales on Sunday removed, and a more genuine life in the country and an opportunity for genuine travellers and visitors to have meals and accommodation on Sunday.
I am afraid that if this proposal goes through as it is, areas of the country will remain as they are now, with drinking clubs, and licensed premises will not be open. I prefer licensed premises to clubs. The police can walk into licensed premises and the licensee has to conduct them properly, but a club is behind closed doors and we do not know what is going on. Furthermore, visitors cannot get accommodation in a club, but they can in licensed premises. Therefore, if the Government reject my proposal and the Government's policy is carried, I hope we shall not have a continuation of what I regard as an evil system in the areas which remain dry—that is, drinking clubs open on Sunday simply and solely for the purpose of drinking, to which men go and get "sozzled", and which do not provide the sort of entertainment and services 376 that a hotel or licensed premises is expected to provide. I think your Lordships will agree that my case is a very reasonable one. I am not asking for anything which is untoward, and I hope your Lordships will support me if we go into the Division Lobby.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ LORD AMWELL
Before the discussion closes, I feel that there is a consideration I ought to put, if only in a few words. The purpose of the Amendment is equivalent to the old idea of local option. Personally, I should prefer prohibition to local option, because I think that would be fairer to everyone. But let me particularly take up the point that has been stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, and other speakers—the idea that a majority vote is necessarily and always typical of justice and fair play. Democracy is something I believe in as a practical political virtue, but I am not prepared to allow any majority to decide in certain matters—one of which is what I shall eat and drink—providing I do not injure the rest of the community. I think that the noble Lord will agree with me in principle upon this.
I remember discussing with teetotal friends in another place a few years ago now the question of local option or referendum to decide when public houses should be open and when they should be closed, and I was told, "You believe in democracy and the right of the majority to decide." The remarkable thing is that my honourable friend who said that went into the Chamber in order to vote against the measure proposed by the Government under threat of war to conscript certain members of the popution under a certain age. He voted against that on principle. Yet he said that other people, because they are not teetotal, are to be governed by a majority who happen to be of that particular conviction.
I do not want to argue the question of teetotalism in a general way, but I think that a fundamental principle is involved here. I am ready to accept this idea of majority rule but I also recognise that majorities can be tyrannous. Beyond the question of the right of the majority, which is a matter of convenience and expediency, is the right of any minority and all minorities to their own opinion—for example, to the right 377 of worship and on the way they conduct their lives and what they eat and drink. The only terms upon which any majority can interfere is upon a matter in which individual conduct interferes with the amenities of society in general.
If everyone who drinks a glass of beer was going to murder his mother or his aunt, that would be another question. And some people talk in that way. They talk as if a glass of beer was equivalent to a dose of prussic acid. The ordinary person who drinks does not drink to excess. It is a question, especially these days, of social life, and I am amazed at the attitude of mind with regard to questions of this kind. When we are talking about clubs, nobody talks about the Army and Navy Club or the Athenaeum, but about working men's clubs.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, no one mentioned working men's clubs. I simply said "clubs". I did not specify working men's clubs and, in fact, many of them are not working men's clubs at all.
§ LORD OGMORE
I said that neither the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, nor I mentioned working men's clubs. We said "clubs ".
§ LORD AMWELL
I do not think that has anything to do with the point I was making. In these discussions it is
§ always a question of regulating the working class. They are the people who are to be governed and interfered with. The well-to-do, the people who can belong to clubs and generally do not need to go to the village pub or the town pub in order to get their recreation, can have as much "booze" as they like, and they do. I think it is an unwise thing to take the line in this practical case of advising a referendum, that majorities have all the rights, merely because of their majorities, to interfere with the private lives of people. I do not believe you can make people moral by Act of Parliament. This is the way in which certain sections of people with strong and honest convictions, like the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, seem to think this can be done.
§ I thought it desirable to put the point of view that democracy does not mean the rule of the majority; it means that when you come to the position that you have to make a decision, and there is no general agreement, then it is expected that the majority should rule. But no majority has a right to any exertion of power unless before it exerts that power it gives individuals and minorities the right of free speech and other rights. That is the point of view I wish particularly to put, and I thought it ought to be put in this debate.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 14; Not-Contents, 33.377
|Airedale, L. [Teller.]||Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, L.||Rea, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Merthyr, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Burden, L,||Northesk, E.||Terrington, L. [Teller.]|
|Colwyn. L.||Ogmore, L.||Walston, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Peddie, L.|
|Ailwyn, L,||Chesham, L.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)|
|Albemarle, E.||Colville of Culross, V.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Davidson, V.||Merrivale, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Denham, L.||Molson, L.|
|Amwell, L.||Dynevor, L.||Newall, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Barnby, L.||Gosford, E.||Robins, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Harris, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Boston, L.||Hastings, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Jellicoe, E.||Waldegrave, E.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ House resumed.