HC Deb 28 April 1836 vol 33 cc465-6
Mr. Gillon

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the Act, 9th George 4th, cap. 58, observed, that according to the present law, persons wishing to carry on the trade of retailers of exciseable liquors in Scotland, were obliged to come annually to the Justices to obtain a fresh certificate. This, especially in country places, was found to be unnecessarily vexatious. He proposed to remedy this defect, and to enact that the holder of a licence, as long as he maintained a good character and remained in the same premises, should be entitled to have it renewed by the Excise, without the recurring annually to the Justices for a fresh certificate. Another reason for this change was the gross partiality frequently exhibited by the Justices in administering the law, and he would point especially to a case which occurred last year in the county of Fife, where an individual named Hugh Beveridge, to whose character the Justices bore the most ample testimony, and yet they deprived him of his licence and his means of living, for no reason but that they said, there were too many public houses in the village in which he resided. The Justices had on this occasion acted in defiance of the spirit, if not the letter of Mr. Home Drummond's Act. The man had been compelled to quit his native place and take up his abode in Cupar. He proposed also to distinguish between beer and spirit licences. At present the holder of a beer licence was entitled to demand from the Excise a licence for the sale of spirits also. He proposed to give to the Magistrates a discretionary power of granting certificates for the sale of ale and beer only; and that in case it was their intention to grant a certificate for the sale of spirits also, the fact of this intention should be specially notified.

Sir George Clerk

opposed the motion. He had great doubts whether a change in the present system of licensing public houses in Scotland would either be useful or advantageous to the people of that country.

Mr. Wallace

supported the motion. He said, that the system of licensing in Scotland required not alone revision but alteration, inasmuch as licences were generally granted not for good character but for political partizanship. The hon. Member instanced a case in which an individual was refused a licence by the Magistrates in his (Mr. Wallace's) county, not because he was not a good character, for that point was satisfactorily settled by the certificate of Sir John Maxwell to that effect, but because he was of a liberal way of thinking in political matters.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

suggested, that as the whole system of licensing would shortly come under the consideration of the House, it would be better to defer discussion on the subject until then.

Leave given.