HC Deb 14 December 1837 vol 39 cc1113-4
Mr. Dennistoun

, after calling attention to a petition he had presented on a former day from the spirit dealers of Glasgow, respecting the existing licensing system, moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend a law relating to the granting of spirit licences in Scotland. His object was to do away with the necessity of a spirit retailer seeking a renewal of his licence each year, and to provide that, having once obtained a licence upon the requisite certificate of character, he should be allowed to sell under that licence without question until objection should be made to him. In addition to the trouble and inconvenience inseparable from the system of annual licences, it placed, in his opinion, too much unnecessary power in the hands of unpaid and irresponsible magistrates, who not unfrequently used that power in the promotion of their political views.

Mr. Wallace

seconded the motion.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that the subject matter of the hon. Member's bill was one, not of revenue, but police consideration, and that it was exclusively in that point of view it was to be considered. He had long felt the system of annual licensing must act as a hardship upon the spirit dealers, while, as a matter of police, the licence being in the first instance duly obtained upon the production of certificate of character, it struck him that the annual renewal was wholly unnecessary. He therefore did not object to the motion, and on the proper occasion would be ready to give it every due consideration.

Mr. M. L. Chapman

said, that in Ireland the practice of annual licensing had been altogether discontinued, and now a man having once obtained a licence, unless objected to, was not required to come before the magistrates to seek for a renewal. This plan had been found to work well, and might serve the hon. Mover as a precedent.

Mr. Hume

was happy to hear the statement made by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for he hoped that it opened a prospect of legislating on good principles upon this subject. The system adopted in Ireland was working well there. Why not apply equal justice to the beer and spirit dealers in England?

Mr. Forbes

recommended caution on the subject. He would not oppose the bringing in of a bill, but he reserved to himself the right of stating his objections to it in its progress. He did not know what might be the case at Glasgow; but with reference to any part of Scotland with which he was acquainted, he did not believe that licences were ever refused on political grounds.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.

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