HC Deb 16 June 1890 vol 345 cc1050-115

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.


With reference to the question which just now was asked by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, I have to say that if it should meet with the assent of the House, and not otherwise, the Government think there would be an advantage, after we have finished Clause 1, in postponing Clauses 2, 3, and 4. Clause 2 deals with Scotland; Clause 3 with Ireland; and Clause 4 with superannuation. Then Clause 5 deals with the extinction of licences in England. It seems to me, therefore, that it will be an advantage if we proceed to further consider the matter as it has been set out in Clause 5. I understand it is desired that the Bill for the superannuation of the police in Scotland should be in the hands of Members before Clause 2 is discussed. As I have already said, the proposed arrangement will only be made with the concurrence of the House generally.

(5.57.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

If the right hon. Gentleman got up to propose the postponement of all the clauses it would be a very reasonable proposal, especially after the announcement we have heard about the Committee, be cause, whatever the First Lord of the Treasury may say, we know, and everybody knows, that no Gentleman on those Benches ever argued this Bill except upon the principle of compensation. To say, therefore, that compensation has nothing to do with the Bill is absurd. Therefore, if the whole subject of compensation is one which demands a Committee, the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman ought to have been to postpone this clause and Clause 5. If, instead of that, the Government intend to force on this Bill, they ought to take it in its regular course.

(5.58.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

Under these circumstances, we shall adopt the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman and take the Bill in its regular course.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

If I understand the recommendation of my right hon. Friend near me, it is not that we should proceed with the Bill as it stands, but that, in consequence of the intimation given by Her Majesty's Government as to inquiring into compensation at a future date, we should postpone the legislation as to compensation until we have inquired. That is the recommendation we should be inclined to make.

(5.59.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends as to whether there is not a marked difference between a general inquiry into the licensing question, including the question of compensation, and the proposals in this Bill. If nothing is to be done in the way of diminishing the temptation to intemperance until we have inquired into this great licensing question and the House has come to an agreement upon it, then I think the right hon. Gentleman and his friends will assume a great responsibility in postponing for so long a period a reform in which we desire to make some advance.

(6.0.) MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)

I move to report Progress. The whole of the circumstances surrounding this Bill appear to be entirely changed. We now have information that the Government intend to bring forward proposals——

(6.0.) MR. W. H. SMITH

What I stated was in answer to a question. Intimation had come from various quarters of the House that it was desirable that an inquiry should take place, and I said that the Government would be willing if the House wished it. We do not want it.

(6.1.) MR. CAINE

I am aware of the words of the right hon. Gentleman, but there is absolutely no difference between a Motion brought forward by the Front Bench in favour of a Select Committee to inquire into any particular question and such a Motion brought forward by one of their supporters to whom the Government gives facilities. We have a right to know a good deal more than the right hon. Gentleman has told us so far. The First Lord of the Treasury states that he is willing to give facilities for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the whole question, and yet with that before us, and the probability of such a Committee being appointed next Session, the Government propose to go on with the Bill dealing with what a large number of hon. Members and a large number of the general public believe to lie at the basis of any reform of the Licensing Laws. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) has said, it is ridiculous to tell us that compensation is not discussed under this Bill. We are not only now told that this Select Committee is to be appointed, but we are also told that the Government wish to suspend certain clauses of the Bill. Do they think that we are going to tamely submit to Clause 1 being passed by the Committee while the other clauses are hung up in the mean time?


We are not going to do that. It is merely with a view to facilitate business.


I hope some detailed information will be given to us as to what the intentions of the Government really are. Who is to bring forward, this Motion for a Select Committee? When are the Government to give facilities for its discussion— today, tomorrow, or when? because if this House appoints this Committee——


I said next Session, and I do not know who may bring it forward seven months hence.


I do not wish to prolong the Debate. I shall certainly divide the House on my Motion unless some satisfactory explanation is given.

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

(6.3.) SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

I rise to support the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine.) It must be evident to the Committee that we stand in a totally different position to-day from what we were in before. A most remarkable statement has been made. The first intimation given of this new policy was made at a meeting' of Dissentient Liberals, presided over by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossen-dale (The Marquess of Hartington). The noble Marquess stated that he "understood from the Government that they were willing next year to appoint a Select Committee to consider the whole of the compensation question." I hope that the noble Marquess will get up and state to the Committee how he got this information from the Government. Why have not the Government been straight forward and come to the House with this information? The position is a most astounding one for the Government to be placed in. Here is a matter that is exciting more interest in the political world than has any matter in the past three years at least, and all we are told is that the Government themselves want more information. Why do they grant a Committee? No one has asked for one. We have our opinion: we do not want a Committee. Apparently this Bill is to proceed, although the Government say that more information is desired by somebody. There never was such a case of pronouncing sentence first and having the trial afterwards. It appears to me to be positively indecent. In my Parliamentary experience I have never known such an outrage, and I hope that the Committee will show its regard for honour and good sense by carrying the Motion.

(6.6.) THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, N. E., Rossendale)

I rise to say at once that I do not admit the accuracy of the report of the observations I made at the meeting the other day.


I took the words verbatim from the Times.


My hon. Friend will see that no report has appeared in any paper which purported to be a verbatim report. I do not think it likely that I made use of the words that I was informed by the Government that it was intended to appoint a Select Committee. When my hon. Friend asks what is the source of my information, I cannot at this moment undertake to tell him with any accuracy. The fact is that I have heard for a long time discussion on the subject of the appointment of such a Committee—in fact, ever since the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) introduced his Bill— I have heard in all quarters of the House that it was a question of referring the proposals of the noble Lord to a Committee for consideration. Of course, it is quite possible that I might have had discussion with members of the Government, and I certainly never understood that they were adverse to the proposal of a Committee. But I had no authority from the Government at had time to state that they had decided to appoint such a Committee. I do not think, therefore, that the expression was one that I am likely to have used.

(6.8.) MR. RITCHIE

There is no doubt whatever that the proposition with reference to a Committee emanated from the noble Lord the Member for Padding ton. It has been on more than one occasion mentioned as being desirable. The position of the Government in the matter is this—that if there is a desire to investigate the question of compensation, and how it ought to be applied, they do not see that it would be their duty to negative such a proposal. With reference to what the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth said as to the effect that such an announcement has on the position of the Government with regard to this Bill, I would admit that he had some ground for his remark if the Government had alleged that in any real sense their proposals were a settlement of the licensing question. As a matter of fact, the Government have again and again said that they regard the ultimate settlement of this question as only possible upon the lines of handing over the Licensing Authority to County Councils. It will be obvious that if such a proposal were made the whole question involved by compensation would have to be considered. But, so far as this Bill is concerned, the Government have always said that, pending the settlement of the question, they desire that some steps should be taken with the view of meeting the wishes of the Temperance Party by diminishing the opportunities for obtaining drink. We have denied that compensation, as it is understood, is within the four corners of this Bill, or that anything in this Bill will fetter the action of Parliament, or of a Committee, when the whole question comes to be considered.


The right hon. Gentleman has only repeated what he has said over and over again in the course of the discussion on this Bill, but that is not the question. We want to know how we stand with reference to this Committee. The First Lord of the Treasury and the noble Marquess have assumed an air of complete innocence with regard to the Committee, but that is not the way it was presented to mankind two days ago. The fact is that the Government were in a great difficulty. They wanted a majority. The Liberal Unionists were in a difficulty as to how they were going to vote, and the noble Marquess went down to the meeting to induce a number of Members of Parliament and the country to be satisfied with this Bill by assuring them that the Government were going to appoint a Committee. All the Government news papers said:—"Let us pass this Bill, because we are going to have a Committee on compensation, which will settle the whole thing." It was felt that as the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale had pledged the Government to a Committee, all the Liberal Unionists might safely vote with the Government on the Bill. The First Lord of the Treasury now gets up, and, with an air of supreme innocence, says that it is possible that seven months hence somebody may propose a Committee, and that is a substitute for the assurance of the noble Marquess. You cannot separate the noble Marquess and the Leader of the House, for they are carrying on together this business of purchasing public houses. The signature of the one is the signature of the other, and when the name of one is seen at the back of a Bill you know perfectly well that the other will be obliged to take it up. This Committee on compensation has been used as an argument for supporting the Bill. Either the Government, by themselves or their agents, are going to propose this Committee on compensation, or they are not. If they are going to do so it is a valid argument to report Progress; if they are not, then all the pretences that have been held forth to Members of the House on the matter are a mere delusion. We wish to know whether this Committee is a real thing or a sham.

(6.14.) MR. W. H. SMITH

The right hon. Gentle man seems to know more about this Committee than the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, or than I do myself. He says that it is a device by which votes are to be got for this Bill. I entirely deny anything of the kind, and surely the word of the noble Lord is sufficient when he says that he was not speaking for the Government. The noble Lord was aware of the fact—and stated how he became aware of the fact—that many hon. Gentlemen in this House, especially the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, were desirous, that a Committee should be appointed to consider the whole question of licensing. Now, that matter is one which is entirely independent of the Bill which is now before the House. No recommendation has been, or will be, made to hon. Gentlemen to vote for this Bill in consequence of that Committee. We are not responsible, nor at any time have we indicated an intention to make a proposal for such a Committee. All that we have said is that, so far as we are concerned, we believe that the examination of the question would be advantageous; we do not bind ourselves to a Committee, or to any reference to a Committee. We do not ask the House to vote for this Bill with reference to any recommendation in any way for a possible Committee, but we ask the House to dispose of the business of this Session before it enters, into the consideration of what the business of next Session will be.

(6.17.) MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)

The matter gets more perplexing the further we proceed. The Committee have a right to ask whether the announcement made at the meeting the other night was not made with some view of influencing votes.


I said distinctly not. [Hon. MEMBERS: How do you know.]


I think the inter position of the right hon. Gentleman is very interesting: but what I ask is whether, at a meeting which took place on Friday, this statement was not made with a view of influencing votes one way I or the other, in view of the Division which was to take place the same night. Secondly, I have to ask whether the report which was published, and which has been quoted, was not an official report issued by the Whips of the Party. But, quite apart from these questions, I wish to express the belief that it will be generally thought that temperance reformers in the country will be put in a very unfair position by the proceedings which have taken place if these clauses which they strongly object to are now going to be forced into law. It has been very properly stated by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that the proposals of the Government are no settlement of the temperance question. Yes, but there is something far more important than that. These proposals are, and have been, stated definitely by Ministers of the Crown to be a settlement of the principle of compensation. [Cries of "No, no."] Principal sup porters of Her Majesty's Ministry have asserted that over and over again. The Times has asserted it, and Ministers have asserted it. What did the President of the Board of Trade say at Bristol? The right hon. Gentleman said— Brewers and publicans may surely not feel dissatisfied with die important recognition of the principle of compensation for licences taken away without any default of the holder. And that was said just on the eve of a bye election, just as the statement was made by the noble Lord the Member for Rossondale on the eve of an important Division. Furthermore, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ire land has spoken of this Bill as involving the question of compensation, and then in the speeches the President of the Local Government Board has made in the House he has twice quoted in sup port of the Bill Gentlemen who specially stated that they supported the measure because it involves the question of compensation. I maintain that the temperance reformers will be put in a most un fair position if the Government now attempt to assume that the Bill does not involve the question of compensation; indeed, such an announcement will only increase the heat and feeling of indignation with which the Bill is regarded in the country.

(6.21.) THE CHANCELLOR, OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

The hon. Gentle man shifted his language as he went along. In the first place, he said the Government stated that the Bill settled the question of compensation, and after wards he said they held that the question of compensation was involved in the proposals. I will tell the Committee precisely how I regard the matter. We have not considered our proposal as settling the question of compensation, but right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and a large party out of doors, have read into this Bill that which is not there, and they have argued the whole time upon a principle which we have not admitted to be in our Bill at all. I have endeavoured to show, in replying to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition the other day, that they themselves are committed to the principle of vested rights and a legislative title. But I quoted the opinions of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to compensation. We replied to their various arguments, but the particular proposal which we make is entirely apart from the principle of compensation. We are; simply dealing with the extinction of licences as carried out in the same manner as that in which Municipal Corporations deal with the extinction of licences where they have purchased licensed honses for street improvements or other purposes. I am sorry to have got involved in any arguments of this nature, but this is the main point of misrepresentation. It is said that we recognise a vested interest for the first time by this Bill. But if it exists, we see that it has received recognition from Municipal Corporations, who, in the making of street improvements, have not waited until the end of the year, when the licence expired, and then told the Magistrates they were not going to require a licence in future, but have spent public money in acquiring the licence. They have spent the rates in buying these rights, because they knew that the community and the law would not have allowed them to do otherwise. Hon. Members must have forgot that this power granted to Municipal Corporations to buy up public houses must have received legislative sanction, because the provi- sions under which they bought must have been included in the improvement schemes. We, therefore, say that this Bill does not settle the question of com pensation; it acts upon the principle of the purchase of public houses, but lies outside the general question of licensing. There is a vast multitude of questions connected with licensing which lie out side this Bill, and we thought that in the various parts of the House there was a desire that so difficult a question should be submitted to inquiry. We do not want any further information for the purposes of this Bill, and, therefore, there is no necessity to postpone the consideration of this Bill to another Session. But if it is the desire generally of the House we feel that much light might be thrown on the various phases of a subject which is so extremely complicated. I repeat, however, that this Bill may and ought to proceed, and, if I may say so without offence to any hon. Members, will proceed quite apart from any question of this Committee.

(6.28.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been disposed to deny that this Bill embodies the principle of compensation, and to complain of us on this side of the House, who have contended that it does. Now, I have contended and argue still that in saying that it adopts the principle of compensation Ave are adopting the mildest term by which it is possible to describe this payment of public money. Possibly the right hon. Gentlemen the First Lord of the Treasury, who disclaims compensation, agrees with me that "the Public House Endowment Bill" is the true name that ought to be attached to the Bill, constitutes its true title, and alone describes its effects. When we are compelled to use the word compensation for Parliamentary and public purposes we mean payment out of taxation to be given to the owners of houses which have received annual licences as a condition of the non-renewal of those licences. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to-night argued that, setting aside the case of criminal misconduct, it would be monstrous to take away any licence without a guarantee for payment in return for it. That is what we mean by compensation. This is a Bill for compensation in that sense. We are not alone in this opinion, for a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman thinks with us. Sir M. Hicks Beach has stated, in addressing his constituents, "The brewer and the publican may surely not feel dissatisfied." By-the-by, on another point that right hon. Gentleman entirely differs as to the object of this Bill from the other occupants of the Government Bench. They said that the object of this Bill was not at all to satisfy the brewer and the publican, but that the object was to satisfy the Temperance Party. Of course we are bound to believe it. But then it is a very awkward circumstance for us, credulous and unsophisticated as we are, that a Cabinet Minister goes to his constituents and blows this out of the water, and says— The brewer and the publican may surely not feel dissatisfied at the important recognition of the principle of compensation for licences taken away without any default on the part of the holder. After that the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman, fortunately for them in his momentary absence, get up and deny there is any compensation in this Bill. I will not enter into that question, as I wish to keep as strictly as I can to the Motion of my hon. Friend. He moves that we should report Progress, because we are not in condition to proceed with the discussion of enactments bearing on the question of withdrawal of licences, not for compensation, but only for payment of public money. That is his contention, and that is the contention I wish to support. The principal ground on which my hon. Friend bases his contention is that we have been told that a Committee is going to be appointed. I must frankly own the view which I, for one, cannot help taking, and which I believe is taken by not far short of 300 Members of this House, that the proposal of a Committee we look upon as an expedient simply and solely for relieving the Government from a difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury sees no connection what ever between the Committee and relieving the Government from a difficulty. Well, Sir, I place the most implicit belief on everything said by the right hon. Gentleman, even when that belief compels me to raise questions which I would rather not raise as to the acuteness of the intelligence and perception of the right hon. Gentleman. I wonder whether the noble Lord the Member for Rossen-dale shares what I will venture to call the blindness of the First Lord of the Treasury, and sees no connection between the suggestion of a Committee so benevolently made and the relief of the Government from a difficulty. However, that is not the main question, what the Government see or do not see, or what we see or do not see. We are at present strongly persuaded of the truth of this idea I have mentioned, and if we are wrong, then I hope you will remove it from our minds, that we may forget it. We are strongly persuaded of the truth of the view I have expressed, but, apart from that, the ground of the Motion now made is clear and strong. A question is raised about a Committee. At one time it appears to be a solid form before us, a real substantial thing; at other times it assumes a cloudy shape, and is in danger of vanishing into the thinnest air. But whatever it be, we have a right to know. Is there to be a committee or is there not? The right hon. Gentleman has said three things. He has disclaimed the intention of the Government to have a Committee, but he sailed very near the wind. He said that in important quarters of the House there was a great desire for a Committee. As I am acquainted with the sentiments of hon. Members in some degree from representations made to me, I can only say that those with whom I have the honour to act, and those who follow the lead of the hon. Member for Cork, do not entertain the desire stated by the right hon. Gentleman; but that, I suppose, is because they are not at all important quarters of the House. It is from my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale, backed by the apparently single voice of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. My noble Friend is most anxious for a Committee, and the Government say that they pay deference to those important quarters of the House, and that if it is pressed for, they will support or will not oppose a Committee.


If it is the general desire of the House.


I do not know what means of ascertaining the desire of the House the right hon. Gentleman has in contemplation. The First Lord of the Treasury added two other things. He said they would give facilities for discussing it—that is a pretty clear indication of the intentions of the Government—and he said, "We think the inquiry would be advantageous." That is going uncommonly near the point, and leaves very little standing' ground indeed for those who say the Government do not ask for the appointment of this Committee. No one, I think, can say that this Bill will not completely alter the position of the Committee if it is to be appointed. Is there any man who will rise on the other side of the House, and say that the Committee sitting after this Bill has passed would be in exactly the same position as if it sat before this Bill passed? If there is to be a Committee, that Committee ought to come to the question with a free hand. Appoint your Committee at once if you like. Why not; if the question is of this vital consequence, it is much better that we should appoint a Committee than waste the time of the Government in this most unnecessary, most unhappy, most gratuitous contention sprung upon us, after we had passed the middle of the Session, without notice in the Queen's Speech, and totally contrary to our expectations. It is one thing for a Committee to approach this question now, when no one can quote precedent or authority for saying that Parliament has given countenance to the doctrine denying the principle that licences can be taken away without compensation. You are now calling upon us to reverse that principle, and provide that no licences shall fail to be renewed apart from the default of the holder, except by payment out of the public money provided under the authority of Parliament. The two questions are vitally, absolutely, and entirely different. If you pass this Bill and then bring the Committee to consider it, they approach it with tied hands. In point of fact the principle will have been laid down which, in our opinion, decides the whole matter. But at any rate, whether that he right or wrong, can you deny that the position and the conditions under which the Committee will approach the question, must, even according to your point of view, be very materially affected by the passing of this Bill? If there is going to be an inquiry, we have a right to ask that the conditions of that inquiry shall be maintained identically as they now are, and that the freedom of the Committee shall be preserved to it, and pre served intact. On that ground we say it is contrary to sense, to prudence, to public interest, and to every principle involved in the case that we should proceed with those portions of the Bill which relate to licences while the question of the Committee is hanging over our heads undecided.

(6.40.) SIR W. LAWSON

I think we ought to have some explanation from the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who made this statement, as to why it was made and with what object. The proceedings of the Committee, we are told, can have no effect upon anything; but I must agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that our hands will be tied if this clause is passed. We shall become, in fact, a "tied" House. It is, I think, rather humiliating to confess surprise at anything in this House; but I was a little surprised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer getting up and trying to persuade us there is no compensation in the Bill. Now I will read a short sentence from a speech of his own, and the Committee will then understand whether this Bill embodies the principle of compensation or not. In his Budget speech, when the policy was first introduced to the House upon which this Bill is founded, the right hon. Gentleman used these words— If the brewers contend that it is out of their pockets and not out of the pockets of consumers this extra 6d. 1s paid, I respect fully point out to them that in our proposals we include the suggestion of a sum equal, indeed, to their contribution for diminishing the number of existing licences, a process in which I think they, as brewers, will find much compensation and consolation. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I read that in a pamphlet which purported to be a a report of the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the Budget, and the pamphlet was sent me, I presume, by his direction; he said he was going to provide a process by which he would give brewers much compensation and consolation. It is, then, I submit too late to tell the Committee there is no compensation in the Bill. No, Sir; the Committee knows how these things are managed, all this talk about purchasing houses for the public improvement. When a Tory is addressing a respectable meeting in which the Temperance Party is represented, he says this is merely giving to Local Authorities the power to improve their locality by purchasing unnecessary licences; but when he attends a really good Tory meeting of publicans and Primrose dames then he says it is "compensation" But the man who tries to ride two horses frequently comes to grief, and the right hon. Gentleman, in trying to ride the temperance horse and the publican horse, will find he cannot make smooth progress and retain his seat for long.

(6.45.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

As a Scotch Member, I enter my protest against the statement made to us. It is idle to say we are prepared to discuss this question now in the same condition in which we were before the important announcement was made to us in reference to the appointment of this Committee. We in Scotland have given evidence as to our feeling in respect to the compensation clauses of this Bill, we stand in a different position to others. The clauses referring to Scot land have still to come before the Committee, and we ought to be informed before we enter upon them what our position is. I desire also to enter my protest against the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in regard to the action of Licensing Authorities in Scotland, on the question of compensation. The right hon. Gentleman said that Corporations gave compensation when they took public houses for public improvements, but he knows perfectly well that Licensing Authorities have no power whatever in regard to city improvements. Houses are taken under the Lands Clauses Act, and there is no reference to the Magistrates, who have no right to interfere, and the Licensing Authorities consequently have nothing whatever to do with compensation in in such cases when public houses are taken. The right hon. Gentleman can not deny that the number of "on" licenses in Scotland have been largely reduced at the discretion of the Magistrates without any compensation whatever, and times without number the Magistrates have declared that they cannot recognise any private transactions with regard to licences, and have claimed the right to refuse the renewal of any licence accord ing to their discretion and their view of the altered circumstances in connection with the application. Licences may thus be refused in sufficient numbers without any compensation whatever, and, there fore, we have a right, if there is to be a Committee appointed, to submit the evidence from Scotland, and this, I am convinced, will clearly demonstrate there is no cause for compensation and for these clauses, so objectionable to the whole of the Liberal Scotch Members.

(6.47.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Long ford, N.)

The right hon. Gentleman, before any question was put from the Chair, made his statement as to a Committee and the postponement of Clauses 2, 3, and 4. Let me remind the Committee of what was done upon the Budget Bill. When we came to consider it the Government made a similar proposal, and we assented to it. When the Second Reading of this Bill came on we asked that the taxation clauses of the Budget Bill should be postponed, but the Government refused, on the ground that they were necessary and essential. Yet, now they declare their willingness to postpone these Clauses 2, 3, and 4 in definitely. This is an additional reason why we should know exactly what the Government mean, and where they stand. The First Lord says really it does not matter whether this Committee is appointed or not, and the noble Lord, in his innocent way, said he did not speak at Devonshire House on any sufficient information, he simply threw out the suggestion. Now, let me point out that whenever the Government are in a difficulty they appoint a Committee. When the difficulty arose as to the financial relations between Eng land and Ireland, they said, "We will give you a Committee." Again, when the point arose as to the bonding of spirits, and the favour shown to Gorman spirits, then a Committee was promised. Then, for the third time, when the Liberal Unionists are in a difficulty the noble Lord is instructed to go down to Devonshire House and make a statement on behalf of the other "tied" house, the Carlton Club. It is well understood that Devonshire House is a "tied" house in this matter.


I do not see the relevancy of these observations to the Motion before the Committee.


Doubtless, Sir, I was misled by speakers who have pre ceded me, and I thought I was only bettering their instruction. When the hon. Baronet was allowed to ask a question of the noble Lord I did humbly predicate in my mind that a little more probing would not be more disorderly than the catechism which was allowed. The noble Lord says he had no authority for his suggestion beyond his knowledge that a general feeling prevailed in favour of the appointment of such a Committee. Now, I take leave to say it is absolutely essential, from the point of view of Irish Members, to know exactly where the Government stand. The first thing we noticed when the question of postponement arose was that the Irish Secretary departed from the House when I was about to ask him, if I could have found the opportunity, what was the object of the postponement of the Irish clauses. We have not yet spoken in Committee upon this Bill at all.


That is not relevant to the question before the Committee now. There is a Motion to report Progress, on the ground that steps are going to be taken hereafter which will greatly affect further discussion.


Yes, Sir; and I am endeavouring humbly to add a further argument to reinforce the strength of the position in favour of reporting Progress. My anxiety is to know upon what ground the Government wish to postpone the Irish clauses. Here I am glad to see the apparition of the Chief Secretary. My anxiety is germane to the question before us. The Government have expressed their willingness to postpone Clauses 2, 3, and 4. Irish Members have not taken part in the discussions on this Bill, and I now intervene, for the first time on the part of Irish Members, to ask why it is the Government desire to, or are willing to, postpone the Irish clauses. The President of the Local Government Board made a distinct offer to postpone Clauses 2, 3, and 4, which offer, after the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, the First Lord withdrew. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby spoke for one important section of Members on this side; but we want to know what is the possible connection between Irish Customs and Excise and the business of police superannuation? We have police superannuation, and we are puzzled, and suspicious that the Government have something in their minds as to the distribution of the Irish Excise Duty. It may be there is a valid solid reason for postponing the Irish clauses, but let us know that reason. We have what the Chief Secretary calls "reason able suspicion," but we have no proof, no knowledge of the Government position; and so I think we are justified in supporting the Motion to report Progress.

(6.59.) MR. LABOITCHERE (Northampton)

We ought to have some more clear understanding with respect to the appointment of this Committee. I do not see the slightest use of discus sing with the Government whether compensation is in the Bill or not, we might as well discuss with reasonable human beings whether the sun shines in the heavens or not. With regard to this Committee, which is the basis of this demand to report progress, we have no clear understanding. The First Lord of the Treasury gets up and waives the matter away, saying there was some vague idea that somebody wanted a Committee, that he really did not know quite who, and that he had had no sort of communication with the noble Lord. But what did the noble Lord (Lord Hartingtou) say? He said it was quite possible he had discussed the matter with the First Lord of the Treasury, and we are asked to believe in a vague way that the proposal emanates from the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). It is unfortunate that the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, because he happens to be absent from this House, should have all the responsibility thrown upon him. I take leave to believe that the noble Lord the Member for Paddington is not responsible for this. It is absurd to suppose that the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale when he called together his Party at their official meeting place, to consult with them as to a matter on which the immediate supporters of the Government were deserting them, and to bring the pressure of the Liberal Uniouists to bear upon the unfortunate Tories who were for a moment getting up their courage and trying to rebel—it is a little too strong for us to be told that the noble Lord, a cautious man, as we are always told, should actually make this proposal because he had heard a vague remark that possibly the noble Lord the Member for Paddington wanted a Committee. I see the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale is not here. I see the First Lord of the Treasury is not here. Where are they now? What monstrosity are they confederating together? What proposal is being made by the noble Lord to the First Lord of the Treasury? Is it something else that the noble Lord the Member for Paddington wants, and the First Lord of the Treasury is to be induced to agree to? We are told by the First Lord of the Treasury that the Government would consent to the Committee, and give a date for it if the House desired it. Now, "the House" is a very vague term. What does it mean? Is it to be a universal assent? Is it to be the assent of 300 Members on this side, or of the Liberal Unionists and Conservatives themselves? My impression is that the Conservatives may assent to it, but they will not desire it. They would have been delighted if this question had not been raised. They have to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for it, and, from all we understand, they are not thanking him very ardently for what he has done. Is it the Liberal Unionists who are desirous of having the Committee appointed? Are we to understand that the proposal is to be forced upon the House, with, very possibly, the Closure enforced, after which we will have to vote yea or nay? The reason why my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow moved this was that he, like many of us, is anxious to save the time of the House. ["Oh!"] Yes; what the Government have been doing is this: they have been digging a pit for themselves; they are at the bottom of that pit, and we have been throwing a rope to them, and trying to get them out of it. They turn and sneer upon us, but I will give the Government a piece of advice. Withdraw this Bill, and appoint a Committee. Do not force any general scheme at this time of the Session. Possibly, when you move the Committee, I may oppose it altogether. I do not pledge myself to support any- thing brought in by Her Majesty's present advisers. Now you have got a Committee proposed, put aside this Bill, and bring it forward again after the Committee has sat, next Session. What you are doing at present is really putting the cart before the horse. You want to pass a Bill first, and then ask a Committee to discuss its principles. If you do not want to waste the time of the country, appoint your Committee, let it Report, and then bring in your Bill next year.

(7.7.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

Before we go to a Division, I wish to make one observation. I hope that, whether or not it is the intention to withdraw all three clauses, we shall not adhere to Clause 2. We are not in a position to discuss Clause 2 in the absence of the clauses relating to compensation.

(7.8.) MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S.W.)

The Committee is in an extraordinary position. So far as I under stand, the great majority of this Committee are in favour of inquiry first and legislation afterwards. I say the great majority, because I understand the followers of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale are in favour of a Committee. But the Government is in a distinct minority on this question, and if the House voted according to the opinions which have been expressed, it is quite clear that we should relieve the Government of a great difficulty.

(7.10.) MR. T. M. HEALY

If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to avoid a second Motion to report Progress, he will answer the question which I put, as to why the Irish Clause of this Bill is postponed.

(7.9.) MR. RITCHIE

There may be some discussion in connection with the Scotch Clause, and also in connection with the English Superannuation Clause, and it was felt better, in the interests of business, that we should complete the discussion on the application of the money to the acquisition of licences, by going on to Clause 5, which provides the machinery for England. In that way we would complete the discussion. There is no other reason for postponing the Irish Clause.


Are we to under stand that if the Irish Members desire to postpone Clause 3, that course will be agreed to?


I say at once, if that were generally wished by the hon. Members for whom the hon. and learned Gentleman speaks, the Government would be prepared to accept that course.

(7.11.) MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

As there is hardly a Member of the House who will not feel his position altered by the statement that is to be made to-morrow by the Leader of the House, I desire to support the Motion to report Progress. We want an opportunity to resent the insinuation made by the right hon. Gentleman, that we are less desirous to diminish the temptations to drunkenness than are the hon. Gentlemen who follow him. If the Government will suspend this Bill, and re-consider their position, and then put before us proposals really directed to the diminution of the temptations to drunkenness, I have no hesitation, in saying they will be amply supported on this side of the House. If the Government insist on defeating this Motion of the hon. Member for Barrow, I trust, at any rate, they will consent to post pone not only Clauses 2, 3, and 4, but 5, 6, and 7; and then we shall come to the clause which provides for the renewal of licences. That clause, to my mind, is the only clause in the Bill which tends, to diminish the temptations to drunken ness, and that clause I promise the Government, will have, on this side of the House, thorough and fair consideration.

(7.14.) MR. BOLITHO (Cornwall, St. Ives)

I desire to say one word, and one word only. I am not ashamed to say that, hitherto, I have not given a vote as regards this measure; nor am I ashamed to say, also, that I could not find it in my conscience to support the principles of this Bill. Without at all going into the question of the Amendment put on the Paper by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, I may say that I have an Amendment on the Paper in very similar terms. Feeling, as I do, not only that a very large number of Members on this side of the House, but also on the other, desire to see this question settled on what I call a proper fair and legitimate basis, I have no alternative but to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Barrow.

(7.16.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)

Before the Committee proceeds to a Division, I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that nobody, either on the Front Bench or any of the Benches opposite, has answered the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that the Committee would not be in the same position, in entering upon this question, if the Bill is passed. That is the distinct challenge that has been thrown down, and nobody has had the pluck or manliness to take it up, because nobody can take it up. Nobody can assort that the Committee would be in the same position if the Bill is passed. I hope hon. Gentlemen who are going to vote will bear in mind that the challenge has been fairly thrown down, and that no one has had the courage to take it up.

(7.17.) MR. H. S.WRIGHT (Nottingham, S.)

I rise to reply to the challenge of the hon. Member (Captain Verney), who has just said that no one on this side of the House has disputed the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that the position of the compensation question will be changed by the passing of this Bill. I venture to deny that it will be practically altered, for the following reason: namely, that the Bill does not create any new vested interest, but simply affirms an unalterable principle of justice in regard to this matter. That principle has been acted on in the past, and was very forcibly laid down by the right hon. Gentleman himself 10 years ago; and I venture to hope that the right hon. Gentleman will adhere to that principle whenever the question of compensation, in some form or other, comes before the House and the country in some future comprehensive licensing measure, or in case it should now be referred to a Select Committee.

MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

I think we ought not to go on with this measure until there has been an inquiry. There is certainly something sufficiently interesting to justify inquiry by the Committee. I, for one, being of an inquiring turn of mind, am very anxious to have some sort of inquiry before we go on with the Compensation Clauses of the Bill. Therefore, on behalf of a very large number of Members of this House who wish to have all the facts put before them, I suggest that there should first be a Committee to obtain information upon which we might act afterwards. It would seem that one of the objects of our existence is to maintain in office Her Majesty's Government, and they are now in such a difficulty through what happened the other night that I suggest that this is really a providential occurrence, inasmuch as it affords them an opportunity of withdrawing from the mess into which some mischievous power has thrown them. If the Government would only accept this suggestion and agree to the appointment of a Committee they might begin to sit to morrow if they liked, and after their investigation this matter might be taken up again, but in the meantime there are other matters of great importance which ought to occupy our attention. As I understand that we are to have a statement from the Government to-morrow night I think we are justified in making this suggestion.

(7.19.) MR. MUNTZ (Warwickshire, Tarnworth)

It appears to me that hon. Gentlemen opposite have been under an entire misapprehension, and have evolved from their own inner consciousness the idea that it was the intention of the Government to appoint a Committee. If we are to accept the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury the Government had no intention of appointing such a Committee; at any rate, we on this side had no knowledge whatever of any such intention. Having evolved this idea from their own minds hon. Gentlemen opposite have employed very elaborate arguments as to the sinfulness that would be exhibited by the Government in attempting to pass this measure previous to the appointment of a Committee. I hope the Government will proceed with the passage of the Bill and leave for the future consideration of the House the question of the appointment of a Committee, which has only been taken into consideration to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

(7.20.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I think the hon. Member opposite, who has said he and his friends had no knowledge of the intention of the Government to appoint a Committee, has some what misunderstood the remarks that were first made by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there was no compensation in the Bill, and that among other subjects referred to the Committee would be that of compensation; but we all know that the Bill is a Compensation Bill, and that the course suggested would be merely putting the cart before the horse. We have heard the opinion of the President of the Board of Trade cited by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and I should also like to quote the words of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who said that the brewers and publicans would not be dissatisfied at the recognition of the important principle of compensation for licences in England and Wales. Here we have two of the most prominent Members of the Ministry actually contradicting the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the essential question with which we are now dealing.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

(7.25.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 247; Noes 199.—(Div. List, No. 136.)

Question put accordingly, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

(7.35.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 206; Noes 245.—(Div. List, No. 137.)

(7.56.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

In rising to move the omission from Clause 1, page 1, lines 18 and 19, of the words "as hereinafter mentioned," in order to insert the following words:— As may be hereafter provided by any Act providing for the transfer to County Councils of the right of granting licences and for the increase of Licence Duties in respect of those houses whose profits are increased by the extinction of other licences, and until such Act is passed shall be invested and accumulated as provided by this Act, said: The announcement made by the Government to-night, that they intend to assent to the appointment of a Select Committee next Session to inquire and report on the question of compensation, and also upon other questions affecting the licensing laws, fully justifies the Amendment I have to propose, and will greatly strengthen my argument. I ask whether, if this Bill passes into law, and a Committee is appointed to consider the question of compensation, it is conceivable that any County Council would negotiate for the purchase of licences pending the Report of that Committee. I believe the Act will remain a dead letter. If this Bill is to pass into law it is most important, and, indeed, indispensable, if the County Councils are not to be at the mercy of the owners of licensed houses, and if public money is not to be wasted, that the powers of the Licensing Magistrates shall be transferred to the County Councils at the same time, and that power shall also be given to increase the Licence Duties on houses whose value is to be improved by the monopoly secured to them by the Bill. The Government will, I think, admit the importance or even the necessity of these two points, as they were both contained in their Bill of 1888, and it is very strange that they have been omitted from the present Bill, and that the Bill has been drawn on a line which precludes their being added as Amendments. I propose that the same method shall be adopted in respect of England until legislation on the important points I have adverted to shall have been adopted. Under the Bill as it now stands there will be two wholly independent authorities dealing with licences. The Magistrates will have the power of renewing annually or refusing to renew licences, and of issuing new licences. The County Councils will, on their side, be intrusted with power to buy up and extinguish licences out of public funds. The inevitable result of this double jurisdiction will be that the Magistrates will be paralysed in their action in respect of the cancelling of licences. They will refuse in the future to put in force their undoubted power of cancelling licences, even in the case of misconduct, still more in the case of an excessive number of licences. They will remember that Parliament has pointed out the method of purchase, and will consider that in future that new system relieves them of their responsibility. On the other hand, the County Councils, not being invested with the power to cancel licences, will practically be at the mercy of the owners of licences in their negotiations for the purchase of licences. They must submit to any terms that the owners or brewers may ask for. If some of the owners should be willing to sell, the County Council will find themselves in this difficulty—if the houses are bad ones, in the sense in which the President of the Local Government Board uses the term, the County Council will rightly think it a scandal to expend the public money in buying them up. If, on the other hand, the houses are good ones, they will think it almost as bad to buy up good houses, and to allow the bad ones to continue, and to enjoy the benefit of an increased monopoly. When the Bill was first issued I hastened to see what would be its probable effect in my own district in the country. I reside in a parish which affords a typical case of an excessive number of public houses—there are 11 licensed houses to a population of about 1,200. Many of thorn are of that class described by the President of the Local Government Board—the holders can only make a living by doing that which they ought not to do. Everyone admits that the number ought to be reduced. I agree with the hon. Member for Barrow that it would be useless to do away with only one or two of these houses. In order to produce a good effect there should be a much more substantial reduction than that; but what probability is there of the number of public houses in a district like this being reduced by the Bill? There is, first, the difficulty as to the means, for the proportion which will be available to the parish out of the fund which will come to the County Council will be only £22 a year. The whole share of Kent out of the money proposed to be allocated to the Councils would be £11,000 a year, of which this parish would receive £22, and with this it would take 150 years to buy up the public houses. Even assuming that the County Council deals with this district in an exceptional way, and devotes a larger sum to it than to other districts, what is the probability of their being able to carry into effect the operation in view? All the public houses I have referred to belong to the brewers, with one exception, and not to one or two big firms, but to a number of separate brewers; and my confident belief is that none of these brewers would be willing vendors. They have bought these houses for the purpose of distributing their beer, and they would be extremely unwilling to sell them, either to the Local Authorities or to anyone else. Many of the houses are of the character referred to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that is to say, only made to pay by doing that which they ought not to do. Some of the houses, no doubt, are well conducted and do not come within that category; but let me assume that the brewers who own the houses are prepared to sell them on their own terms to the Local County Council, there would then arise the difficulty of selection. How is the County Council to select houses for extinction? They must select the worst half or the best half. If they were to select the worst half, there would be the public scandal of public money being devoted to the purchase of bad houses, which ought to be closed without compensation. Such a purchase could not be for a moment justified. On the other hand, if it were proposed to purchase the better class of houses, the bad class would benefit by deriving all the profit of the monopoly. I venture, therefore, to think that the more the question is looked into the more difficult will it be for the County Council to work this subject of the purchase of licences. It would be a very different thing if the power of the Magistrates were transferred to the County Councils. If the County Councils were invested with the power to refuse to renew such licences their relation to the brewers and owners of those houses in the negotiations for their extinction would be a very different thing. I believe myself they would make short work with many of the houses referred to. They would refuse to renew licences, and no compensation would be found necessary to the brewers who owned them; and, in the cases of other houses of a better character, they would find no difficulty, with a little pressure, in compelling them to surrender licences on very reasonable terms. This leads me to the second part of my subject, namely, that power should be given to the County Council to increase the Licence Duty on those houses which are left in the immediate neighbourhood of those which have been extinguished. I think no one will deny that their value will be immensely increased. It is not necessary to suppose that where two houses exist and one is suppressed the other will sell as much liquor as the two; but it will sell a great deal more for the same expenses of management, and the profits, therefore, will be greatly increased, perhaps doubled; its value, therefore, will be doubled. That is the second part of my proposition, and, as an illustration of what I mean, I would refer to a case also in my own neighbourhood. In a hamlet not far from my house there are two licensed houses on opposite sides of the road, close to each other. They supply the country people immediately around, and no one can doubt that one of these licenses ought to be extinguished. They compete with one another in offering temptations to the people to drink. The two together do mischief, and one of them ought to be done away with, and I presume that if the Bill is to have any effect whatever, this is one of the cases in which it will apply. The houses belong to different brewers, and if one is done away with the value of the other would be largely increased, nearly doubled. I venture to think that the County Council would not be so unwise as to purchase one of these licenses un less it had also the power of raising the Licence Duty on the other. Ought this additional profit due to the expenditure of public money go to the owner of the house that is left? I think anyone will admit that there ought to be an increased Licence Duty levied on houses whose value is increased in this way; and I am surprised there is no clause in the Bill to this effect. The whole question of licenses ought to be re-considered. The great price of public houses is largely due to the monopoly we give them, and this monopoly is the creation of the State, and the licenses are quite insufficient in a vast number of cases. I feel certain that in a case such as I have mentioned a County Council would refuse to effect a purchase, on the ground that they would be adding greatly to the value of the adjoining premises without getting anything for it. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will say he will be prepared to deal with the matter further next Session; but now is the time, when we are bestowing great benefits on the licensed houses, to exact something in return. If you lose this opportunity, you will not find it as easy with your friends, the holders of these licenses, to pass measures adverse to their interests. As a matter of general statesmanship, when you are conferring a great boon on a particular class, then is the time to take the opportunity of exacting from them something in return in the direction you think right and reasonable. You are conferring on the owners of licences three great advantages. You are recognising in them a vested interest—no one who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday night can doubt that that is the effect of the measure. We hold that you are practically establishing these owners of licensed houses in every district in which they now exist, and conferring two other great boons on them. You are securing them from competition by statutory provision against the issue of new licences—exceptions being made in certain special cases. In the past they have had no security of that kind, and the competition in respect of new licences has only been limited by the discretion of the Magistrates. Now, for the first time, you are going to make a statutory prohibition against the issue of new licences. The third boon you are conferring on the publicans is the probability of competing houses being extinguished in their districts, for, wherever that takes place, the value of the licensed houses that are allowed to remain will be immediately increased in value. For these boons you get no equivalent. My belief is that the effect of the Bill as it now stands will be very small when it comes to be worked in the country. It is absolutely certain that in many parts of the country where the temperance agitation is strong the County Councils will object altogether to put the provisions into force, and in other parts of the country the County Councils will be unable to work the Act. The result will be that practically no licenced houses will be extinguished. I think, therefore, the wise course would be to adopt the terms of my Amendment, and postpone the putting in force of purchases of licences under the Act for the purpose of their extinction until the Local Authority has been invested with the powers magistrates now have of renewing or refusing to renew licences within its district, and until provision is made for increasing the Licence Duty of the houses which remain, and whose value will be increased by the increased monopoly conferred by this Bill.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, lines 18 and 19, to leave out the words "as hereinafter mentioned," and insert the words "as may he hereafter provided by any Act providing for the transfer to County Councils of the right of granting licences and for the increase of Licence Duties in respect of those houses whose profits are increased by the extinction of other licences, and until such Act is passed shall he invested and accumulated as provided by this Act."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'as hereinafter mentioned' stand part of the Clause." (8.22.)

(8.55.) MR. RITCHIE

The right hon. Gentleman has repeated arguments which have been used over and over again, but I cannot complain, because it is almost necessary to do so in Amendments which touch the vital principle of of the Bill, and I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to pardon me and not to think me wanting in courtesy if I use arguments in reply that have been used before. The right hon. Gentleman at the outset referred to the Committee, which he said the Government have resolved to appoint. I will content myself by saying in reply that the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken if he supposes that the Government have resolved to appoint a Committee. The First Lord of the Treasury did, indeed, express a willing ness to consent to certain points in the Bill, which some hon. Members thought were obscure and were open to consideration, being submitted to a Committee, but, in particular, I think the idea of a Committee originated with the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, and in connection with his measure. It is only on the understanding that the House itself desires the Committee, in order that the various points urged on both sides with regard to compensation may be considered, that the Government will think of assenting to it. Certainly I may assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is not the intention of the Government to propose any Committee, neither is it their intention, nor do they think it in the interest of the cause they have at heart, that the proposal they make in this Bill should be postponed until a Committee has been appointed. Having said so much about the question of the Committee, about which I do not desire there should be any misunderstanding, I will now proceed to refer to some of the other arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman. He has again said that this Bill recognises and sets up a vested interest in public houses. There is nothing new in this Bill, which recognises a vested interest, apart from the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has, in his speeches, recognised a vested interest. But, how ever that may be, I will again repeat that the Government have no intention of setting up any interest which does not already exist. They have stated over and over again their opinion that nothing in the Bill does this, and I again repeat that the Government have no intention of setting up any interest which does not already exist, and that, if there is any doubt on the subject, we are ready to accept Amendments to safeguard all the present powers of the Licensing Authorities. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the opinion he shares with those near him as to the effect of the Bill in its operation, and has given illustrations to show that the result of buying up the licences of some public houses would increase the value of others. I admit there may be cases in which the buying up of one public house would increase the value of others. That, however, is a result which would equally take place if the Licensing Justices were to exercise the discretion which it is argued they have of refusing to renew licences. But my answer with reference to these matters, and the illustrations the right hon. Gentleman gave, is that the County Councils maybe trusted to exercise their discretion in matters of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that when this money is placed in the hands of County Councils it will at once be apportioned throughout every village in their county; but I do not believe a County Council would act in the manner suggested. In regard, also, to the question of good and bad houses, there is no indication or instruction in the Bill to County Councils of the kind referred to. County Councils are elected on a popular franchise, and represent the wishes of the localities returning them, and the members may be presumed to be selected because of their qualifications for carrying on the work entrusted to them; and I imagine in this, as in other matters, they will exercise a wise discretion. I do not believe that the County Councils will act in the manner suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and although there may be cases in which it would seem useless to buy up one or two houses, because it would add to the value of others, yet there are large numbers of cases in which this power may be very judiciously exercised without creating any difficulty or leading to any of the dangers alluded to. Really, I think the answer to the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's objections has been given by himself. He said the County Councils would not be so unwise as to purchase the houses referred to. That, really, is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman. In the cases where there would be an injustice, or if it is not desirable that houses should be purchased, the County Council will turn their energies to other parts where the evil he dreads will not arise; and if the worst comes to the worst—if a County Council comes to the conclusion that they cannot act, and it is better to wait until they are charged with further powers—then the funds placed to the credit of the Council will accumulate, and no harm will be done. But it is a very different thing for the right hon. Gentleman to ask this Committee to pass a Resolution saying the Bill shall not come into operation until County Councils are charged with the control of licences. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, and as we have again and again said, an ultimate settlement cannot be found until a transfer of this control is made to these popularly-elected bodies. We have always advocated that; and when the right hon. Gentleman expresses surprise at not finding it in the present Bill, my answer is that the circumstances are wholly different to those in which, by the Local Government Bill, we proposed to transfer all the administrative functions of the Magistrates to the elected body. We should have been shutting our eyes to facts if we had not then made the proposal, and having changed the Licensing Authority—having altered it from a Judicial Authority bound by certain rules and considerations to a representative authority specially charged with giving expression to the will of the community as to the number of public houses to be licensed—we felt it was impossible to transfer this great interest to a newly-elected body without a change in the law, which, while recognising the licensing power created, recognised the change in the position of the new authority. We had to face the question whether or not some compensation ought to be provided when licences were taken away, because the people wished it.




We provided that. We did, of course, propose compensation, whether we were right or wrong in doing so. I am bound to say that if the whole question at that time had been considered in a calm, judicial, impartial manner, it is not at all impossible that a settlement might have been arrived at on conditions that might have been generally satisfactory. But, however, that opportunity passed away, and now the right hon. Gentleman is surprised not to find a proposal of the kind here. But this is not a licensing Bill; we are not dealing with the transfer of the Licensing Authority; we are not charging the County Councils with any compulsory power at all; therefore, it is not necessary to consider the question of compensation, or how it shall be calculated. The right hon. Gentleman fears that the action of Magistrates will be paralysed, but is he serious in insisting upon that? It is essential to consider what has been the action of Magistrates in the past. I do not believe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will be prepared to assert that the Licensing Magistrates have exercised their power, if they possess it, of refusing to renew licences to any considerable extent.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)

It is constantly done in Scotland.


I confess I am not familiar with the practice in. Scotland. I am speaking on the English portion of the Bill and the action of Licensing Authorities here.


In Liverpool 199 licences have been refused in 17 years.


I should like to analyse those figures. I am under the impression that in Liverpool at one time they had what is called free trade in licences, and, therefore, further explanation is required in order to elucidate the real significance of the reduction.


And 117 in Sunderland.


In what period?


In the last 20 years.


That is five in a year.


Your Bill enables us to get rid of two.


I should like to know how many refusals there were because of faults in management, breaches of the law, or endorsements on licences? ["None."] However that may be, this is the first time I have heard anyone seriously assert that the powers of the Licensing Justices have been exercised, from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, in a satisfactory manner. The contention of the Government is—and nothing has been urged to show that the contention is invalid—that, looking to the number of licences which exist, the percentage of cases in which Magistrates have refused licences to properly-conducted houses is excessively small. And even if the Bill did paralyse the action of Magistrates in this respect, we might regard it, looking at other provisions of the Bill, with something like equanimity. But I entirely deny that it will have such an effect. The Government, as has been already mentioned, propose to put a pro vision in the Bill which states distinctly that, as far as Parliament is concerned, it is not intended that the operation of the Act should in any way hamper the Magistrates in the exercise of their powers. I do not believe that the insertion of any such words is necessary. I believe that the Bill itself will not have the effect of interfering with the discretion of the Magistrates. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton agrees it will not have that effect.

MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

Not legally, but morally.


Morally, without the words we propose to insert? I venture to assert that whatever can be said of the effect morally—and I dispute it—if these words are inserted expressly reserving the powers and discretion of Magistrates, there is no force in the contention that the action of Magistrates will be paralysed by the action of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the County Council will be completely at the mercy of the owner of a public house, as far as the price is concerned; but surely the right hon. Gentleman can hardly contend, when he is going into a shop to buy some thing which it is not necessary for him to buy, that he is at the mercy of the man who has the article to sell, and that he will have to give whatever price he demands? The right hon. Gentleman admits that there is no necessity for the County Council to buy a single public house, as he has spoken of the contingency of their letting the money lie idle.


I referred to the necessity of giving effect to a requisition from a district that the number of public houses is excessive.


I altogether dispute that. The County Council has the executive control in the matter, and will not exercise their power to buy at what ever price the publican demands.


Then your Bill is useless.


I am using the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not using my own argument at all. I believe the Bill will be useful, and that a considerable number of public houses will be disestablished by the operation of the Bill. It is very inconvenient to carry on a conversational argument across the Table. I am endeavouring to show that, out of his own mouth, the right hon. Gentleman has answered his own argument. The truth of the matter, the main contention between the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, is whether this Bill should come into operation at once, or whether all operations should be postponed until the whole question of licensing is dealt with, together with the proposal that an increased Licence Duty should be put upon the other houses. That, of course, is the principle of betterment. Hardly anyone has ever contended that the principle of betterment is not sound in itself, if it can be applied without injustice; but there are enormous difficulties in the way of doing so in this case. There will be great difficulty in saying exactly what house will be benefited by the closing of another. If a public house is closed at one end of a town it confers no benefit on a house at the other end of the town. The proposal is to postpone the question of the reduction of licences to a time not specified. The Government desire to make some progress at once with respect to this matter, and they are not content to allow it to remain in the position which the right hon. Gentleman desires. They believe that much good may be done by such operations as are shadowed out in this Bill, and that it will be a misfortune if the Committee prevent the Government from enacting in this Bill the proposals they have made for enabling popularly elected bodies to deal with the money placed at their disposal for the extinction of licences in such a manner as they think proper and right.

(9.24) SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

The question has been asked, why should the Government postpone all legislation on this subject? My reply is that, if the Government had brought in a Bill simply suspending the issue of new licences, it would have received general approval, and have been regarded as a common-sense measure on all sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has acknowledged that the proposals of the Government in 1888 were proposals for compensating the publicans. Those proposals dissatisfied the country, and the Government were obliged to drop them, but they have not learned the obvious lesson which that ought to have taught them. On behalf of a Lancashire constituency, I venture to say that the Government could not have made any proposals which would have made them so unpopular with the electors those as now before the House. The right hon. Gentleman complained, and, I think, most unnecessarily, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford had been guilty of repeating arguments previously brought forward.


I do not know whether the right hon. Baronet was in the House at the time. I certainly made no such complaint. In point of fact, I said I did not see how he could well do otherwise.


Well, I am in the recollection of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said my right hon. Friend had been guilty of repeating arguments, and I think that came rather ill from the right hon. Gentleman, seeing that this Amendment raises an entirely new question. The right hon. Gentleman argued that the County Councils might be trusted to exercise their own discretion as to the degree to which they should put in force the provisions of this Bill. He seems to contemplate with remarkable complacency the probability to which my right hon. Friend called attention that the County Council will not exercise the powers entrusted to them by this Bill. I do not think, if I had proposed such a Bill, I should have regarded with complacency the prospect of the County Councils failing to exercise the powers given to them. I share the right hon. Gentleman's views that the County Councils will probably not exercise these powers.


The right hon. Baronet must not put words into my mouth. I never expressed that view. On the contrary, I said I be- lieved that they would exercise it largely for the benefit of the community. What I referred to was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, and I said he had answered himself out of his own mouth; because if the County Councils did not use the money, it would accumulate as he desired it to do under the operation of his Amendment.


I think that the Committee will agree with me that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to regard with great complacency the hypothesis that the County Councils would not, to any large extent, exercise their powers. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that, judging from the information which has come to me, it is extremely improbable that the Lancashire County Council will avail itself of the powers under this Bill so strong is the feeling on the question. Indeed, the sum to be allocated to the county is so small that it would be inadequate for the purpose of dealing even with one or two places in my own neighbourhood. If this part of the Bill is to be absolutely a dead letter, I do not regard with any satisfaction the spending of the time of the House upon it; and if time must be spent on a Bill, I should like to see some result. A strong argument in favour of the Amendment is furnished by the proposal which has leaked out to-night of a Committee to inquire into the whole subject. The result of the inquiry might be that there would be found for the funds a better use than that proposed by the Bill.

(9.30.) MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

I do not follow the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in his objection to the proposals of the Government, nor in his reasons for sup porting the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. If it is a matter of course that the funds will accumulate if they are not used, I cannot help asking why all this fury and rage against the proposals of the Government—proposals which, at the worst, are innocuous. What is expected by the Government is that a certain amount of result will follow from these powers to be given to the County Councils; and if that result does follow, surely it will be a step in the right direction. We all desire, I take it, to see a gradual extinction of the present considerable number of public houses. I suppose that is the unanimous wish of the Members of this Committee; and, if that is so, then it is only a question of degree between hon. Gentlemen opposite and ourselves——


It is a question of method.


Well, it does not appear that very much turns on the question of method. The right hon. Baronet who has just spoken says the funds will accumulate, and if that is so, then no harm will have been done. It appears to me that the desire of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford is to transfer the licensing authority from the Magistrates who now hold it to the County Council; and he thinks he sees in this Bill an endeavour to perpetuate the present system of licensing. I venture to differ from him in toto, Nothing has been advanced as yet to show that the County Councils would be better qualified to deal with licensing matters than are the Magistrates. But, at any rate, if the County Council is a body so admirably fitted to deal with this question as some hon. Members think, then they will be able, under this Bill, to show their capacity to the infinitesimal extent which it permits. I should like to go one step further. I wish that those who are so anxious to remove the licensing authority from the hands of Magistrates into the hands of the County Councils, would, before they embark on so great a fundamental change, say on what ground they think that the County Councils would do better than the Magistrates have done in the past. It has been stated that in Lancashire a large number of licences have been got rid of. If that is so, the Magistrates are doing what you desire, and why should you seek to substitute for them another authority? Is it not quite as likely that Magistrates, if they are worth anything at all—and I suppose there are some hon. Members who think they are not worth anything—is it not as likely that Magistrates who are in the habit of exercising judicial functions would be better able to deal with this question than a body which is subject to all the waves of popular opinion? Is it quite certain that a popularly-elected body would immediately diminish the number of public houses? I venture to assert that there is a good deal of public sympathy on the side of the public houses. I have had a great deal of experience as a Magistrate sitting in Petty Sessions; as Chairman of Quarter Sessions; and as Chairman of the County Licensing Committee; aid I have found myself, as I think, very inadequately supported by public opinion. I have always been on the side of refusing all licences where possible, and have not granted any now licences, and I have found public opinion against me rather than on my side. I am consequently not quite so sure of public opinion. I do not know how it may be in the North. Possibly there are a few unhappy exceptional cases where the Magistrates have acted unwisely, and where public sentiment is on the other side, but I venture to say that in the South of England it must not be assumed that public opinion is on the side of those who desire to reduce the number of licensed houses. As to the Amendment, the result of passing it would be simply to leave things unchanged until there is time for further legislation; and that I do not think would be at all satisfactory, because no steps would be taken in the cause of temperance; no public houses would be suppressed by County Councils, and we should remain precisely as we now are. On reflection I hope that hon. Members will come to the conclusion that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is not one which can be accepted, whatever may be their opinions on the general merits of the Government proposals.


I do not wonder that the hon. Member wishes this question to be kept quite clear of the waves of public opinion, for, politically, he lives in an atmosphere in which County Councils are unknown.


I am a member of one.


I was, of course, alluding to the hon. Gentleman as a member for a University. The speech just made reminded me that, when I was at the Home Office, I received a deputation of Magistrates from the County of Kent, including the hon. Member, who came to me in despair and said, "In Kent we are overwhelmed by the number of public houses; we do not know what to do; and we come to you, as Home Secretary, to take measures to diminish the number." I listened with great respect; but, when they had exhausted their eloquence in denouncing the public houses, I said, "Gentlemen, I am pleased but surprised to see you; but you, the Magistrates, create these public houses; you issue the licences and renew them. Why do not you reduce the number yourselves? You are the authors of the evil; why do not you put an end to it?" One gentleman, less discreet than the rest, said, "We are afraid to do it; we want somebody else to do it." I answered, "And so you want me to accept the unpopularity which you have not the courage to face." And yet the hon. Member argues in favour of keeping the jurisdiction in the hands of the Magistrates in the County of Kent, and against transferring it to the County Council, which would be influenced by waves of public opinion. I told the deputation that I thought the power ought to be given to the County Council, exactly because that wave of popular opinion would give a little muscle, a little spirit, a little courage to the Licensing Body—qualities in which the Magistrates of the County of Kent are apparently deficient. I am not the least hostile to the Magistrates in this matter. In my opinion, the Magistrates possess a strong sense of the existing evil. The President of the Local Government Board says that no one in the House has asserted that the Magistrates have done anything in this matter. I have ventured to assert that they have, and I have referred to a Return which does not come down to the present time by four years, in which it is shown that the Magistrates have shut up off-licences by the hundred, and fully-licensed public houses by the score. I defy contradiction to that statement, and, so far as the title to compensation is concerned, I hold that the off-licences should stand on the same footing as the fully-licensed houses. I have moved for a Return of the last four years, and I shall be greatly surprised if, with the growth of public opinion, with the knowledge of the law, which in spite of the Law Officers of the Crown, is spreading throughout the country, the Magistrates, knowing now that they have the power, do not exercise it far more freely and courageously than otherwise would have been the case. I do not assert that what has been done by the Magistrates is altogether satisfactory. They might have gone a great deal further. If they had allowed the police to know that they wished disorderly houses to be reported, this would have been done, and many houses would have been shut up. Every one living in the country districts is aware that the police know it is no part of their duty to report public houses, and this is the reason why many of them have not been shut up. The President of the Local Government Board has rung the changes on the question as to whether this Bill will or will not be used by the County Councils. I venture to say that there is not one Council in 10 which will dare to use it. The London County Council has already pronounced its verdict; and the Committee know that in this great Metropolis the Bill, if passed, will not be used. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Clitheroe Division of Lancashire speaks with the highest authority on behalf of Lancashire. I speak on behalf of a smaller community, consisting of 100,000 persons, and the notion of proposing to the Town Council of Derby that they should use this Bill is ridiculous. From the moment this Bill passes the entire influence of the Temperance Party will be brought to bear on the County Councils throughout the country. An agitation will begin—it has begun already in the country—and the first object of the Temperance Party will be to make it impossible for any County Council to use the Bill for the purpose intended. The Unionist Party consider themselves to be very strong in the West, but the Committee have heard a voice from Cornwall this evening. Does anyone believe that a County Council in Cornwall will use this Bill? The notion is ridiculous; and, yet, here is the Government proposing taxation which everyone knows will not be employed. But the Government are going to save their honour, as it is called—it is not saving a great deal—on a silly matter of punctilio, knowing, as they do, that they are wasting the time of the Committee, wasting the money of the people, in raising it for purposes for which it is not wanted, and placing it in the hands of bodies which will never use it, because their constituents will not allow them. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Amendment involves the whole licensing question. But we can not deal with this question in a piece meal way. The Government cannot introduce a measure dealing with public houses and their purchase without raising the whole licensing question. What is the pressure which has induced the Government to hang out a flag in the shape of the suggested Committee? Because the Government know that their Bill has raised the whole licensing question. I shall be glad to know what was the decision arrived at when, as has been pointed out, the First Lord of the Treasury and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale retired behind the Speaker's Chair. The Leader of the House and the noble Lord went out together, and they came back together; and I should like to know what decision was come to behind the Chair. It is said, however, that this money is to1 accumulate. What is the use of accumulating money when it is not known what is to be done with it? This is the finance of the great Liberal Unionist financier. This is the modern finance of the Conservative Party. A more ridiculous system it is impossible to conceive. The money, I suppose, will be put in a stocking and buried until some one finds out a better purpose to which to apply it. I think that this is an absurd proposal, and I shall support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.


The right hon. Gentleman has made a speech characterised by humour of a friendly nature-It has been listened to with great interest and with much less dissatifaction than is usually felt when he indulges at the expense of hon. Members on this side; but I confess that, after listening to it with the greatest care, I am at a loss to comprehend on which side the right hon. Gentleman was speaking—whether he advocated the Amendment or whether he was condemning the Bill without advocating the Amendment. The Committee have been told that if the money is not spent under this proposal by the County Council it would accumulate. But this is exactly the proposal of the Amendment—that the money shall not be set apart for a specific purpose, but accumulated until certain other processes had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman, however, denounced this process of accumulation. If the right hon. Gentleman's speech tended in any direction at all, it tended to the direction of proving that the taxation of the people for a purpose of this kind is bad, and ought not to be sanctioned by Parliament. But what I would point out to the Committee is that the principle was affirmed on the SECOND READING. The sum total of the speeches we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman amount to this: that in certain places and cases the County Council will not exercise their power, sometimes because they are not sufficient and sometimes because they dare not; because, as the right hon. Gentleman has reminded us, the question will be removed from the House of Commons to the counties, and the County Councillors will be told that if they use these powers they will lose their places. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman does succeed in causing the County Councils not to use these powers, what disastrous result will ensue? The only disaster will be that the money will be accumulated; and when the time comes for which the right hon. Gentlemen is so anxiously waiting, and when it will be his fortune to sit upon this side of the House, what an enormous advantage he will have conferred upon him. He will then have in his hand these accumulations, and what an opportunity will be afforded him and his friends to make proposals of a better and more satisfactory character. The point of view from which we regard the proposals is, that they will afford facilities for diminishing the number of public houses without any injustice to the owners of those houses. But whether we are right or wrong in that view, and if the County Councils do not exercise their powers, no harm will have been caused. The money will have been set apart, and it will form a very comfortable nestegg for the right hon. Gentleman opposite to deal with. I think we are justified in asking the Committee to resist this Amendment, and to adhere to the proposals of the Government. Nobody has pointed out that any real advantage will accrue from the powers of this Amendment. Some speeches have been made in its support, but only because they were against the principle of the Bill. Very little has-been said on the Amendment, but a great deal has been said against the principle of the measure; and we have had general speeches on the Bill over and over again in Committee. Well, Sir, it is sufficient for us that we do not share the doubts, apprehensions, and fears which are entertained by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We do not see any sufficient reason to believe that there is any necessity to make provision for these powers proposed by the Amendment, and, therefore, we ask the Committee to stand by the proposals as we have submitted them to the House, and to reject the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman has proposed, and which received such equivocal applause on the other side of the House.

(10.5.) MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

The Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend presents a test both of the sincerity and the earnestness of the Government as to their desire to extend temperance and diminish the number of public houses. What we complain of is that the power conferred upon the County Council is of no practical value whatever. No genuine results can flow from it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby made reference to the view which the County Council of London has expressed upon this matter. A few days ago I had a representation from the Town Council of Bradford. By a majority of 24 to five the Town Council of Bradford has passed a resolution praying the Government to abandon these clauses dealing with licences and compensation. We complain that this Bill establishes an enormous legal claim to compensation on the one side; while, on the other hand, the powers conferred on the County Councils to diminish the number of public houses of an improper and mischievous character are of no value whatever. Now, the Amendment of my right hon. Friend would clothe them with genuine and substantial power. While, on the one hand, they would be disposed to deal with some consideration for the publicans, on the other hand they would not be prepared to buy at extravagant prices the interests established in licences. If this Bill is passed, instead of the Magistrates being quickened in the exercise of the powers they now possess, I am convinced that it can not be for a moment pretended that the Magistrates will take upon themselves the unpopular duty of suppressing public houses. Supposing the County Councils want to get rid of some of these houses, the only power left in their hands is to distribute the money placed at their disposal. In the town of Bradford the annual sum would be about £3,000, which would only enable two public houses every three years, or three every two years, to be closed. Who can pretend that, out of 500 houses, such a dealing with the question is a genuine grappling with the evil? I can only say that the Government will be wisely advised if they abandon for the time being these provisions as to licences. We believe that in the country the Government will be held responsible for acting frivolously, so far as concerns their grappling with this licensing system. They are offering a gigantic bribe to the liquor interest, and conferring enormous profits on the brewers of this country. Until the Government have an opportunity of dealing with the licensing question on a larger scale, we should not have thrown at our heads a proposal of this kind, which will involve the country in an enormous burden, for the benefit of the brewers and publicans. I can corroborate what has been said by hon. Members as to the feeling outside. Since I have come into the House of Commons I have never had so many representations and Petitions on any subject as I have received upon this question; nor have I known proposals against which greater indignation has been expressed than those which we are now discussing.

(10.17.) MR. WHARTON (Ripon)

It has been suggested that when I spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill, I said I should be able to persuade the County Council of Durham to express approval of the Bill. If I said anything of the sort I should be guilty of overweening confidence and great impropriety. What I said had reference to the way in which this Bill would work. I said that the County Councils would propose a Licensing Committee, who would put themselves in communication with the owners of public houses—by no means always the brewers, as some seem to sup pose. They would make a selection of the public houses it was desirable to acquire, and they would then deal with the owners if the prices asked were reason able. If I said anything which pledged the Durham County Council, I should be unworthy to be Chairman of that body. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Clitheroe Division spoke for the County Council of Lancashire as if he pledged it. I do not think he meant it, because he had no right to do so. He spoke of the small sum which Lancashire would have to deal with. I do not see him in his place. If he were, I would remind him of a speech made at Birmingham in the year 1883, when a man, whose opinion he will respect, stated that £15,000 a year would suffice for a scheme similar to this. If that sum was sufficient for Birmingham with its teeming population, surely £50,000 is not a sum to be disregarded or refused by Lancashire. Now, Mr. Bright's scheme for Birmingham was entirely on all fours with this scheme. It was a scheme whereby £15,000 a year was to be obtained from the Drink Tax, to be applied partly in aid of local taxation, and partly in reduction of the superfluous public houses. With regard to the method in which this ought to be done, I say it ought to be left to the County Council. It is said that the County Councils would not adopt this scheme, and I do not know on what ground this is stated. At any rate, I do not believe it. I should be wrong to speak on behalf of my own County Council, but I should say that if they did not adopt the scheme they would have to reckon with the men who sent them there. I quite understand the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I do not believe it is the opinion of the country. I believe that when those who send representatives to the County Councils, see that this is a plan by which the superfluity of public houses might be put an end to, and that Gentlemen opposite have nothing to propose to effect that object, they will sustain Her Majesty's Government, and the common-sense of the country will adopt their plan. Of course, no one of sane mind supposes that we are going to do away with all the public houses of the country at one fell swoop, and when we hear of £250,000,000 being spent for this object it is hardly possible to understand how any man in his sober senses could have made such a suggestion as that. Here, at any rate, we have a scheme for doing away with the superfluity of public houses, and I believe that the good sense of the country will be disposed to adopt that scheme.

(10.18.) MR. STOREY

The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has told us he represents a County Council of Durham. I also have the honour to be a member of the County Council of the largest town in Durham, and when the hon. Member says that if we do not adopt this proposal we shall have to reckon with our constituents, I reply that if he and the Comity Council of Durham do deal with the purchase of licences, as proposed by this Bill, they certainly will have to reckon with their constituents. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the necessity of putting down the superfluous public houses, but I would remind the House that he is Chairman of the Quarter Sessions of the County of Durham, and that he and his brother Magistrates already possess the power.


Not in Quarter Sessions.


What I mean is that he and his brother Magistrates, the Licensing Justices of the County, have at present full power to put an end to superfluous public houses, and I will go further, and say they ought to do this if they do their duty, but instead of this the hon. Gentleman suggests to this Committee that money ought to be provided by the people of this country to enable him to pay for the extinction of public houses which he and his friends ought to have extinguished themselves. Speaking of the Amendment before the Committee I cannot deny that if it be carried it will render the Bill inoperative, that is to say, that the money, instead of being used by the County Councils, will be tied up and suffered to accumulate as a fund to be used hereafter, let us hope, more wisely. I make the Government this free admission, but I want them, as fair minded men, to meet me on this ground and to consider what is the precise amount of loss their present proposal would amount to, because by ascertaining that we shall ascertain the measure of what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) pro poses to prevent us from doing, because in all these cases we must argue from the means we possess. In Sunderland there are 254 licensed houses, and the Bill would enable two of these to be extinguished per annum, but there is another important provision in the Bill which will enable us, if we choose, to borrow money, to borrow three times the amount otherwise placed annually at our disposal so as to put an end to a certain additional number. Yes, but under that additional clause we shall be held to have exhausted our power until such time as we can refund the whole amount we have borrowed. That is to say, supposing we in Sunderland borrowed three times the beggarly amount pro posed to be given annually by this Bill, we should have been at the end of the three years able to have extinguished six of the 254 licensed houses, leaving us still with 248. That is the full measure of the power proposed to be conferred upon us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford proposes to limit this power still further by tying it up altogether, the difference between my right hon. Friend and the Government, in the mind of all who care for temperance reform, being the difference between "Tweedledum and tweedledee." But I support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, not because I want nothing to be done, but because I want a great deal more done, and I can see in that Amendment a common sense and reasonable way of arriving at a solution of this question. I cannot help thinking that the President of the Local Government Board, who has shown himself to be a practical, shrewd, and liberal-minded man, must really see in this Amendment the secret of the success of any Minister who will take the proposal up. What does my right hon. Friend suggest? He suggests that the right, reasonable, and fair way of acquiring funds for the buying up of public houses is to tax the remaining public houses, and it is because the Amendment embodies that principle that I shall support it in the Division Lobby. His proposal means that, if we buy one public house, the remaining public houses ought to bear an enhanced Licence Duty sufficient to pay the cost of the purchase. Take a case in my own district. Of 35 public houses, 28 belong to two men. Suppose the Sunderland Town Council put an end to 14 of the 28. Who is to benefit? You may say the public; doubtless that is so, but who else benefits? Clearly the two brewers who own the 28, and who then will own the 14 left of them, first of all, by obtaining a substantial sum from the public purse, and, secondly, because the whole of the business that used to be done by 28 houses can now be done by 14, thereby largely reducing their annual expenditure over the distribution of their drink. Therefore, I shall always hold that neither this Ministry, which I do not think will be a Ministry very long, or any which may hereafter exist can settle this thorny problem unless they provide in some way that will be just to decent people who have invested their property in this business. I freely admit this, the contention being who is to make the necessary provision. The Government say it should be made by those who drink; I say it should be made by those who retain the monopoly of the sale of drink. My right hon. Friend's Amendment indicates this solution of the difficulty. I heartily concur with him, and shall support his Amendment. When I first saw this Amendment on the Paper I did not think it so valuable as I now think it. I thought it rather went beyond what is reasonable, but this afternoon's transactions have given it greater importance. What do those transactions amount to? Why to this, that the Government either have promised, or mean to promise, a Committee to consider this matter. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) shakes his head, but we are all accustomed to the progressive movements of Governments. Since the time I have been in this House, I have frequently seen Ministers promising a little one day in order that they might promise a great deal another day. The right hon. Gentleman knows that after what has passed this afternoon, there can be no settlement of this question until it has been considered by a Commitee. My right hon. Friend's Amendment proposes that the money offered by the Bill shall be tied up and held until such time as Parliament, after due deliberation, and after the Report of the proposed Committee, shall determine. That seems to me an exceedingly cautious and sensible proposal, and I beg, therefore, to give it my support.


I hope the Government will be able to deal with this question without indemnifying every person who has invested his property in the beer traffic. I do not agree with my hon. Friend that every shareholder in a brewery ought to be indemnified. These men have gone into a purely speculative business and taken their chance, and if they are un successful, why should the British taxpayer be called upon to recoup them?


I do not wish my hon. Friend to misunderstand me. There are a number of people who have entered into this business and have been trained to it, and others who have inherited businesses of this kind. Before this question can be settled, the equitable claims of such persons will have to be met, but my point is that such compensation should come, not from the public purse but from the remaining licence-holders.


When my hon. Friend speaks of the inheritors he forgets that the persons who inherit, inherit the chances. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that, perhaps, some small compassionate allowance might be granted to the actual occupier or licensee—that is to say, I would not give it myself, but if I found some Government proposing it I should probably move an Amendment against it, but that would not prevent me voting for the third reading of the Bill. I must certainly support the Amendment on its merits. There are exceedingly few Amendments proposed by a conscientious Liberal and opposed by a Conservative Government which would not have me for a supporter in reference to a Bill of this kind. I not only support this Amendment on these general principles but on its merits. It is most desirable that there should be only one body to deal with the whole matter of licences. If the power of licensing remains in the hands of the Magistrates a man may refuse to sell to the County Council save at an excessive price. But if the County Council be made the Licensing Authority it will be able to point out to the man that if he will not sell at a reasonable price he may not get a renewal at all. A Committee is, it now appears, to be appointed to inquire into this whole question of licensing. The only possible legislation will be to vest the County Councils with the Licensing Authority. They will then have the power to get the public houses at a far less price than they can do now when the publicans can fall back on the Magistracy. These Magistrates are the most objectionable tribunal in the world. They are a Conservative tribunal. In almost every case the Lords Lieutenant are Conservatives and great noblemen. One or two of them are Liberals, and in these counties, perhaps, the Magistracy is better than in other counties. We know that lately the brewers have made an alliance with the peers, and a brewer is now almost the same thing as a peer. They will act, as they have acted, together. The whole reason why this Bill is deemed necessary by the Government is that the Magistrates have granted an excessive number of licences to their friends. We may estimate that they will, without any regard to the requirements of a particular place, renew the licences year after year. The brewer will say to the County Council, "I really do not care whether you refuse my house unless you give me an enormous sum for it; I am perfectly safe with my friends the Lord Lieutenant and the Magistrates." Under these circum stances, I think it would be far wiser, from a Government point of view, to put off this proposal until you have made the renewer of the licence the same authority as the purchaser of the public house. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury tells us that he is actuated by so desperate a desire to render this country temperate that he cannot wait for another year. We all know that that is mere House of Commons talking. Surely he can wait for another year in order to deal thoroughly with the subject. It is true it does sound somewhat absurd to tax the people without allowing the proceeds of the tax to be expended for one or two years. That, however, is not our fault. The clause that enables you to tax and to devote the tax to a certain purpose has been already passed. We really do conscientiously believe that the best thing will be to put off the expenditure of this money until the Committee has held its inquiry and presented its Report.

(10.38.) MR. J. ELLIS (Leicestershire, Bosworth)

I have talked this matter over with Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, as well as Liberals, in my own part of the country, and I have not met with a single man who did not condemn the present mess into which the Government have got themselves. Most of them were in favour of a compromise, something like that proposed in the present Amendment. They said it was quite impossible for the County Council to make use of the powers given them by this Bill, but they saw a wiser and better way in the direction hinted at by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey), namely, that some vary moderate amount of payment should be fixed by Parliament, and should be obtained by raising the Licence Duties. I do not believe that if you close 14 public: houses out of the 28, as much would, be drunk in the remaining 14 as in the 28. But the 14 would be better managed, and would be more valuable, and it would be perfectly fair that they should pay increased taxation in order to pay at a moderate rate for the closing of the rest. In Leicestershire the publican no longer owns his public house. I, for one, will do all I can not only to stop the Bill, but to support this Amendment.

(10.40.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 232; Noes 199.—(Div. List, No 138.)


I have some doubt whether the next Amendment on the Paper, in the name of the hon. Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Lloyd-George), and proposing that the share of the money apportioned to Wales and Monmouth shall be applied for such purposes as a Joint Committee of such counties under the Local Government (England and Wales) Act, 1888, may direct, is in order, especially in view of an Amendment to Clause 3 proposing that the money payable to Scotland shall be put under the control of the Members representing the constituencies of Scotland. That Amendment, however, is clearly out of order. The present Amendment deals with an organisation already created, and, therefore, I think, it is in order.


On the question of order, Sir [Cries of "Order"], it is perfectly true that under the Local Government Act of 1888, Joint Committees are allowed to be set up for matters which are common to the several counties which appoint Joint Committees; but I venture to urge upon you, Sir, that the Local Government Act gives no countenance to the setting up of Joint Committees with special reference to a matter which has reference to the whole of the counties of England and Wales.


IS it to be understood, Sir, that we are to argue your ruling? Because, if so, we may spend the rest of the evening at it. I sup pose this is another method the Government have invented for saving the time of the House. Unless, Sir, you intimate that that is to be the course, I shall assume that your decision rules the Debate.


It is quite in order, and it is the habitual practice, to address the Chair on the subject of its decision. But I do not think that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman affect the decision which I have already given.

(11.2.) MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid)

In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd-George) I beg to propose to insert, in page 1, line 19, after the word "mentioned"— That in the Counties of Wales and the County of Monmouth so much of such sum as shall, under the provisions hereinafter contained, be apportioned to the said several counties shall be applied for such purposes as a Joint Committee of such counties, nominated under the 81st section of the Local Government (England and Wales) Act, 1888, may direct. We have been told by the President of the Local Government Board that the pro visions of the Bill are not compulsory—in other words, that the County Councils need not use the money which is allocated to Wales for the purpose the Government have in view. We have also been told that if the County Councils do not care to use the money as is desired, the money will not be lost to them, but that it will stand to the credit of the counties, and, in fact, be hung up until Parliament determines what application it shall have. There is a good deal of uncertainty as to this unfortunate Bill. It is uncertain whether it is brought forward in the interest of temperance, or of the brewer and the publican. It is uncertain, say the Government, whether the Bill involves compensation or not; and, from what has been said to-night, it is uncertain whether a Committee is to be appointed to consider the whole question of licensing. But one thing is absolutely certain with regard to Wales, and that is, that not a single County Council in the whole of the Principality, including Monmouthshire, will use the money for the purpose of compensation for licences. That being so, is it not better to provide by the Bill that a Joint Committee of the whole of the County Councils in the Principality shall decide in what way the money shall be applied A Joint Committee, consisting of Representatives of all the Welsh County Councils, will be an important body, and the House will do well to leave to their discretion—a wise discretion I am sure it will be—the application of the funds.

Amendment proposed,

In page 1, line 19, after the word "mentioned," to insert the words "and in the counties of Wales and the county of Mon mouth so much of such sum as shall, under the provisions hereinafter contained, be apportioned to the said several counties shall be applied for such purposes as a Joint Committee of such counties, nominated under the eighty-first Section of 'The Local Government (England and Wales) Act, 1888,' may direct."—(Mr. Samuel Evans.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

(11.8) MR.STUART RENDEL (Montgomeryshire)

I hope the Government will not regard this Amendment as in any sense a peg on which to hang a dilatory Debate. It has been introduced with the unanimous consent of the Welsh Liberal Members, and has the approval of the vast majority of the Welsh people, a majority far exceeding in number the constituents who return the 27 Liberal Members, a majority which includes no inconsiderable proportion of the Conservative element in Wales. I shall be very much interested to see whether any Member from Wales who sits opposite will venture to rise to oppose the Amendment. The case of Wales is one which I think deserves some separate consideration on the part of the Government. It is well known that the introduction of this Bill has created a far more profound feeling in Wales, than even in any other part of the Kingdom. The intensity of the feeling must be known to the Government by the vast number of Petitions that have come up from every quarter of Wales on the subject. It cannot be said that the Petitions are in any sense manufactured; upon the face of them they bear every evidence of spontaneity. They represent a sincere and earnest feeling quite apart from politics. They come simultaneously from innumerable small bodies of men scattered throughout all Wales, acting from a common impulse. The Representative Bodies in Wales have never lost an opportunity of solemnly recording their disapprobation of the proposals of the Government. I would point out that the great bulk of the petitioners have treated this Bill as one introducing the principle of compensation, which the President of the Local Government Board nevertheless declares not to be found within the four corners of the Bill. And I would ask how it comes that this House has received and accepted their Petitions if it be the fact that there is no compensation in the Bill? The feeling in Wales against the Bill is, of course, mainly directed against what they believe to be the principle of compensation contained in it, and it is for this reason that it is impossible, as was most truly said by a Welsh Member, that Wales should touch this money if it is to be applied to the extinction of licences; they regard it as unclean. It is not only the Representative Local Bodies of minor importance that have protested against the Bill, but even the County Councils have lost no opportunity of doing so. Such of the County Councils as have met since the introduction of the Bill have recorded their strong disapproval of the measure. I, therefore, appeal to the Government to consider the case of Wales separately, on the ground of the special and unanimous feeling of Wales. In urging this claim, I would point out that the liquor question has already received separate treatment in Wales. The Welsh Sunday Closing Act was a tribute of this House to the feeling of Wales on the question of temperance, and we all know that the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the working of the Act, instead of as some hoped barring the Act, blessed the Act, not so much on the ground of experience as on the ground of the unanimity of the feeling of the Welsh people in favour of the Act. What we ask is, that Parliament, having already given Wales exceptional and special legislation with regard to the liquor traffic in the sense of restricting it, should not now offer to Wales the insult of proposing that she should devote her share of this £350,000 to giving a statutory vested interest, as she considers, to the drink trade. If there is unanimity in Wales, and if there is precedent for the separate treatment of Wales in regard to the liquor traffic, there is equal unanimity with regard to the desirability of spending some such sum as this in the promotion of education, and equal precedent for the separate treatment of Wales in the matter of education. Parliament, by the Act which I had the honour of introducing last Session, has given Wales the separate and distinguished right of levying a rate in aid of intermediate education, and I have no hesitation in asserting that if the County Councils of Wales and Monmouthshire became entitled, under Section 81 of the Local Government Act, to combine for the purpose of determining the form in which this money should be expended, they would decide it should are towards intermediate education. I am sorry I do not see the Vice President of the Council in his place, because he would understand what it would mean if Wales could only have the £30,000 a year which may fall to her out of this sum for the purpose of education.


The question of appropriating the money to the purposes of education was discussed upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rotherham.


I feel, Sir, your ruling is right. I am sorry I lost the opportunity I frequently sought, of stating these views on the Amendment of ray hon. Friend. I ask the President of the Local Government Board to consider how unreasonable it is to say to Wales, Unless you use this money as is suggested it must accumulate. Is it practical or business-like to leave the destination of the money uncertain? Why not at once determine the destination? Why not say that the disposal of the money shall be left to the County Councils? We tell you if you will simply give the money to the County Councils in Wales there can be no doubt they will use it in a manner which is not only in accordance with their most earnest convictions, but is in furtherance of the policy and working of an Act for which you took credit in the Queen's Speech, and which, I believe, you sincerely desire to foster. You will avoid giving deep pain and offence to large numbers of your own friends in the Principality. You will be acting in accordance with adequate precedents, and you will be promoting the success of an important Welsh measure which you seek to claim as your own.

(11.19.) MR. RITCHIE

Mr. Courtney, after the expression of opinion that has just fallen from you, I shall not attempt to answer the hon. Member's arguments as to the propriety of devoting this money towards the advancement of education in Wales. I object to the Amendment on two grounds. In the first place, it proposes to reverse the decision of the Committee that the sum of £350,000 per annum should be applied for the extinction of licences in England. I object to the statement that Wales is not included in England.


I believe we passed an Act last Session, in which it was agreed that Wales should not be included in England unless specifically named.


I beg the hon. Member's pardon. No such Act was ever passed, and if any such proposal had been made I should have resisted it most strenuously. Wales was included in that Act, but it was never intended that where Wales was not specifically included it should be excluded. In that Act we, no doubt, endeavoured to meet the sentimental desire expressed by Members for Wales that "Wales" should be added to "England." It was never contended that Wales would have been excluded if the name had not been added. On the contrary, it was argued at the time that without any mention of Wales, England, by statute, included Wales. My second objection to the Amendment is, that it proposes to set up a sort of National Council in Wales for the administration of this money. I have no doubt that you, Sir, have felt yourself completely justified in allowing this Amendment to be put, by the fact that, under the Local Government Act, arrangements were made by which Joint Committees might be set up, and, although I am not objecting to your ruling, I would point out that the pro- posals in the Local Government Act are very different in connection with the establishment of Joint Committees to those which are proposed in this Amendment. What was proposed in the Local Government Act was, that a Joint Committee might be set up to deal with any administrative question, such as the pollution of rivers, which was common to two or more counties. The same provision applied to England, but it could never be contended that England could set up a Joint Committee of all its counties for the purpose of disposing of money appropriated to England. Nor could it be contended that any such idea was ever in the mind of the framers of the Act of 1888, or in the mind of Parliament when the Act was passed. In fact, if I am not much mistaken, the question arose on some Amendment which was proposed and expressly negatived by the House. The hon. Member said it was an insult to Wales to hand this money over to the Councils for the purpose of dealing with an admitted evil. I admit that the amount is not sufficient for any large purpose, but the hon. Member can hardly contend that the placing of a sum of money in the hands of the County Councils to remedy what we consider to be an existing evil, is an insult to Wales or its County Councils. Nothing of the kind was ever intended, and it is the greatest straining of language to say that it was so intended.

(11.26.) MR. BOWEN ROWLANDS (Cardiganshire)

I do not think any advantage would be gained by discussing now whether, by the proper interpretation of the language of the statutes, England includes Wales or not. The question is whether Wales should not be excluded from that which we regard as a series of most baneful provisions. Hitherto Wales has been exceptionally treated, and especially in regard to the drink traffic. I do not myself attach any importance to the use of the word "sentimental." If it be sentimental on the part of the Welsh people to desire to encourage temperance, or to enrol themselves in the ranks of those who wish to stop the progress of the greatest evil which has for generations cursed this country, then I say that what you call sentimentalism is a thing to be encouraged and fostered. That such a feeling does exist is proved by the resolutions arrived at throughout Wales, and the unanimity with which this destructive proposition is condemned. I myself presented a Petition to this House from the Assembly representing the Calvinistic Church, something like 250,000 or 300,000 persons. Since then I have poured into the somewhat reluctant arms of the right hon. Gentleman Resolutions and Petitions by the score. I give the right hon. Gentleman credit for sincerity when he says this Bill was introduced in the belief that it would meet with the approval of the supporters of temperance in the country. But not only from teetotallers but from all who take an interest in temperance reform there came an unanimous cry of disapprobation of these clauses, and we have had an agreement from the other side of the House in that disapprobation expressed in a startling manner——


The hon. Member must direct his argument to the special Amendment before the Committee.


I bow to your ruling, Sir, of course, and I pass on to the right hon. Gentleman's argument that there is no available body created by statute which could properly be entrusted with the management of these funds. He was obliged to confess, and readily did so, that the Joint Committee, to be nominated under the Local Government Bill, was not for such a purpose, but was intended to deal with such matters as the pollution of rivers. I do not know what led him to think that a general Council or Committee would be more properly exercised in dealing with such a subject; there is no language in the Bill that can be construed into such a limitation.


As an illustration of what I meant, I pointed out that when it was desired to form a Joint Committee of all the Councils of England and Wales they had to come to Parliament to get express statutory powers for the purpose.


Such statutory powers as this Amendment desires we urge the Government to grant. The point I make is this, that the Joint Committee need not be confined to objects such as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. Here is a question more serious than the pollution of rivers, a gigantic moral pollution which we seek to avert and we appeal to the Government to assist us in our effort by allowing County Councils the free expression of their opinions in regard to the application of these funds. The Government are in this dilemma, either the application they propose is popular in Wales and Monmouthshire, or it is not. If it is popular, then there will be no question of the application being in the manner the Government desire. If the feeling is, as we know it is, unanimous against the Government proposal, then it is not too much to ask that regard shall be had to our view, and that one more concession shall be made in the so-called sentimental direction, upon the principle that has already conceded exclusive legislation for Wales. Whatever may have induced the right hon. Gentleman to conceive that this measure was introduced in the interest of temperance, his views in this direction must have been considerably shaken, and however excusable may have been their introduction of this Bill into Parliament, he can no longer, if he has eyes to see and ears to hear, plead any sufficient excuse for continuing to press them on an unwilling country. The principle of separate treatment for Wales has already been conceded, and particularly in regard to the liquor traffic. The assertions that Welsh opinion did not desire a continuance of the Sunday Closing legislation were completely exploded by the evidence laid before the Commissioners. The distinct and separate treatment of Wales in that matter has been completety justified, and there is every reason for carrying the exemption to the point indicated by the Amendment.

(11.35.) MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

The right hon. Gentleman opposes the Amendment on two grounds. The first is the technical objection that the question raised is res judicata, and this is disposed of by the ruling of the Chair. As to the second objection that the Amendment amounts to a setting up of a National Council for Wales, I frankly say that that is a reason upon which I support the Amendment. If ever there was a question upon which I may say the unanimous opinion of the Principality has been expressed it is this: The right hon. Gentleman talks of the pollution of rivers; but this is a question of the moral pollution of the whole country by the drink traffic. Welsh opinion, I say, is practically unanimous. I have looked through the Division List upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rotherham, and I find only two Welsh Members voted against it. We are entitled to distinctive treatment; there is precedent for it in the Sunday Closing Bill. The Government systematically disregard the wishes of a whole nation, insisting upon giving us what we do not want, and withholding what we want. With or without this Amendment, I venture to say there is not a County Council in Wales will touch this money for the purpose the Government propose; it will simply accumulate. The Government are trying to drive this Bill through the House by dwindling majorities; is it wise in the face of the expression of an unanimous opinion of the Welsh people to force this legislation down our throats? I do not think the Division List will show any Welsh Member supporting the Government on this occasion.

(11.37.) MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvon, Eifion)

There is no part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board with which I can agree, but there was one portion of the speech which struck me with surprise and amuse- ment. I had always thought it especially the duty of Members on the Ministerial side and of Members on that Front Bench to support the decision of the Chair.


Order, order!


Well, Sir, I will simply say that no argument is needed to meet the first point of objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman, namely, that this Amendment amounts to a revision of a Division already arrived at, inasmuch as you, Sir, have ruled the Amendment in order. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the setting up of such a council was never contemplated by the statute passed in 1888. But I apprehend what was contemplated must be gathered from the statute itself. I do not find that the objects are specified for which the council is set up. If this is not an administrative question that is common to all the Welsh counties I would like to know what is. It relates to the application of money which has been voted for the benefit of particular localities, and it is as much an administrative question as the pollution of rivers. The right hon. Gentleman has not attempted to meet any of the arguments advanced from this side in favour of the Amendment. He has not questioned, or referred to, the universality of the feeling in Wales. Let the right hon. Gentleman consult his own Welsh supporters. Will any Welsh Conservative Member get up and support the application of this money as proposed by this Government? Let him take the feeling of the Conservative Party in Wales. He may choose to disregard the views of the Radical and Liberal Party, but let him take any section in the Principality—excluding the publicans, who are pecuniarily interested—and he will find them in favour of such an Amendment as this. Indeed, I do not think a single Welsh Conservative Member can be found who will support the Government proposal. Intermediate education, I may remind the Committee, is not the only alternative object to which the money could be devoted. The Amendment does not define the alternative, but simply authorises such purposes as may be agreed upon by the Joint Committee of the County Councils of Wales and Monmouthshire. It is a safe and a truly Conservative proposal. In his own county of Carnarvonshire, and in Angle-sea, there is a strong feeling as to the heavy burden which the abolition of turnpikes threw upon the County Councils, and the money might be applied to lessen the weight of that burden. With respect to the necessities of Wales in the matter of education. Some counties, Denbighshire and Monmouthshire, have very liberal endowment, and would not have much necessity to resort to the powers proposed to be conferred by this Amendment, in order to eke out the funds of the County Committees under the Education Act; such counties would by this Amendment be enabled to apply some of the money not there needed for Intermediate Education towards the relief of the heavy burden of the maintenance of roads. The Government admitted this burden, and the necessity of relief, by introducing the Van and Wheel Tax; but other counties suffer greatly from the insufficiency of funds, and this Amendment would remove the grievance. I would urge on the Government that they will gain considerable credit by accepting this Amendment. There can be little doubt that the chief desire of every Conservative Member on the Benches opposite is to get out of the difficulty created by this Bill without discredit to the Government. The general feeling on both sides of the House is that this Bill has been a mistake; but by adopting the Amendment the Government will derive some credit from it, and at the same time confer a benefit on the people of Wales. No injury will be done to anyone by the adoption of the Amendment. Certainly the publican will not be injured. Not a single County Council in Wales will touch the money for the purpose in tended by the Bill, and the publican will not be injured by its application to other objects.

Mr. RITCHIE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

(11.50.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 251; Noes 205.—(Div. List, No. 139.)

Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."

(12.10.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 204; Noes 249.—(Div. List, No. 140.)

It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to flit again to-morrow.