HC Deb 27 April 1876 vol 228 cc1809-15

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 4 (Interpretation of terms).

MR. WHITELAW moved, in page 1, line 24, after "grant," to insert— But shall not apply to the rebuilding of certificated premises which have been destroyed by fire, tempest, or other unforeseen and unavoidable calamity.


said, he would not oppose the Amendment.


thought the limitation proposed by the Amendment was somewhat vexatious in character. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan) had an Amendment on the same clause which he thought in every sense of the term was better calculated to promote the welfare of the trade.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 (Refusal of new certificate by justices or magistrates to be final).


proposed to amend the clause by giving the applicant for a spirit licence whose application might have been refused a right of appeal to the Licensing Committee. It would be considered one-sided justice to allow an appeal to the Committee in a case where a publican obtained his licence and refuse it to the man who failed in his application. The only answer that could be given to this proposal was that such was not the state of the law in England; but he did not regard that as a legitimate argument, for while he wished to import into Scotland all the excellences of the English law, he did not wish that what was bad in that law should be likewise adopted in Scotland.


regretted that the hon. and gallant Member had not put his Amendment on the Paper. If adopted it would not only do away with the great principle of this Bill—which was the assimilation of the Scotch law to that of England—but it would substitute an entirely new principle. He could not see where there was any injustice. The only case of absolute refusal would be in the case of licences applied for for the first time, where the persons had no vested interest whatever, and where they appeared as disturbers of the status quo.


thought under the present law very often injustice was done to the magistrates, their decisions being upset on appeal by the quarter sessions. He thought it was absolutely necessary to have a change, and the hon. Member by the Bill constituted a new Court of Appeal. It would be a very great hardship in the magistrates of the borough or city having the power of deciding whether there should be any licence or not, for opinion in Scotland ran very high at present. There were places where the magistrates were all teetotallers, and very great injustice was done. They might depend on it that if people in a district wanted drink, no limitation of houses would prevent them obtaining it. It was necessary, in the interests of justice, that every man should have a Court of Appeal. In the present case they should not be guided by what was the law in England, and many Bills drawn on English lines had been applied to Scotland, which they very much regretted. He might, for instance, quote the Education Bill. He hoped the Amendment would be agreed to, in the interests of the people and the publicans of Scotland.


thought if the Amendment were carried, one of the main principles of the Bill would be lost.


was not going into the question at the present moment; but he desired simply to state that he regretted very much that his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Alexander) had not put the Amendment on the Paper in order that the Government might have an opportunity of considering it. In order that that might be done, he moved to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Assheton Cross.)


in reply to what had been said by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, wished to explain that his Amendment was on the Paper originally, but that when the Bill was re-committed, he forgot to place it on the Paper again.


thought that if the Secretary of State for the Home Department understood the scope of the Amendment, he would not consider it necessary to report Progress. The hon. and gallant Member proposed to remove the appeal from the quarter sessions to the Licensing Committee, a system which at present did not exist in England. The objection to the present system in Scotland was that it gave rise to overriding of the decisions of quarter ses- sions, and to a very undesirable system of canvassing. Even if one agreed with the arguments of the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Orr Ewing), it would not be within the scope of the Bill to provide what was asked by the Amendment. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not consider it necessary to persist in his Motion.


said, he was not at all objecting to the Bill. On the contrary, he should like to see it pass. At the same time, he should like to see the Amendment on the Paper, and to have the opportunity of consulting other Members about it.


taking into consideration the few chances private Members had of pushing forward their Bills, thought that, when the Committee was willing to go on with the Bill, Government ought not to interfere as the right hon. Gentleman had done.


said, that as the Government were giving a qualified support to this Bill, it was only right that they should have an opportunity of considering the Amendment.


remarked that if the Government took upon themselves to move to report Progress, they ought to undertake to give facilities for the resumption of the discussion at another time, otherwise they would be defeating the Bill by a side-wind. He thought the suggestion a good one, that the Amendment should be withdrawn for the present, and brought up for consideration on Report.


said, he was just going to make the same suggestion. If his hon. and gallant Friend would withdraw his Amendment for the present, he (Lord Elcho) thought that would be the best course.


said, it was a very rare circumstance that a Scotch measure came up for discussion, and still rarer that a measure relating to the liquor traffic, about which there was extraordinary unanimity in Scotland, got a fair chance of being discussed. The evil system of an appeal lying to a foreign power, as it were, in many cases unconnected with the original licensing body, was well known and understood. The agreement about this Bill in Scotland was remarkable, as were also the number of Petitions in its favour, and he was heartily sorry that the Go- vernment should have interposed any delay in the passage through Committee. He would therefore join in the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary should withdraw his Motion for adjournment, and that his hon. and gallant Friend should, if he thought proper, bring up his Amendments on the Report.


said, that if it met the views of the Government, he was quite willing to accept the suggestion that his Amendment should be brought up on Report. The county he represented (Ayrshire) felt a strong interest in the point he had raised, and as he had presented a Petition on the subject from the Commissioners of Supply, he had felt bound to move his Amendment.


said, his objection was entirely removed by the suggestion that had been made.

Motion to report Progress, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (Colonel Alexander), by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 6 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 10 (As to proceedings for confirming new certificates.)

On Motion of Dr. CAMERON sub-section 3 was omitted.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 11 (Provisions for the case of justice or magistrate being disqualified to act as such.)

MR. YEAMAN moved an Amendment to remove the disqualification of brewers and distillers to adjudicate as magistrates in licensing cases.


said, he could not accept the Amendment, which would alter the present law, and would be entirely without the scope of the Bill.


said, sworn teetotal men were allowed to sit in Licensing Courts, while brewers, distillers, &c., were not.


thought the Amendment a reasonable one. What would be said to him if he proposed to prohibit declared teetotalers from acting as magistrates in licensing cases?


said, the hon. Member did not comprehend the scope of the Bill, which simply affirmed the present state of the law. It did not make any change:—the Amendment would make a change in the law, and therefore would be beyond the scope of the Bill.


said, surely they were not going to take a division on the point. If there was one thing settled in our law and practice, it was that persons pecuniarily interested in any matter should not adjudicate or vote upon it. The case of teetotalers was different; they had merely a sentimental interest, whereas the brewers and distillers had a pecuniary interest.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 (Grant and confirmation of provisional certificates for new premises.)

DR. CAMERON moved, in page 6, lines 3 and 4, to leave out "two justices of the peace for the county or two magistrates," and insert "a justice of the peace for the county or a magistrate." He explained that his object was simply to restore the provision as to the justice's certificate of character to the same position as it stood under the existing law.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.

MR. WHITELAW moved, in page 7, after Clause 15, to insert the following clause:— (Certificate holders need not attend licensing meeting unless required to do so.) 16. Where a person holding a certificate applies for the renewal of his certificate, he need not attend in person at the meeting for granting and renewing certificates, unless he is required by the justice of the peace of the county or magistrates of the burgh, as the case may be, so to attend.


said, he did not see that any great harm would arise from agreeing to this clause. It was virtually an embodiment of what was the law in England at present, and in any case where it might be found to work injuriously, it would be within the power of the magistrates to order publicans to attend who applied for a renewal of their licences. He understood that the Lord Advocate desired that the clause should be inserted in the Bill, and he had therefore no objection to it.

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.