§ MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the extinction of licences clauses of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Duties Bill?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The Government have had under their consideration the Amendments on the Paper to this Bill, and the nature of the opposition directed against it, and they have arrived at the conclusion that it is practically impossible in the present state of public business to pass the Bill in its entirety without calling on the House to submit to sacrifices the Government do not feel themselves justified in imposing. The licensing proposals in the Bill consists of three parts—(1) The allocation of a certain portion of the new taxation on intoxicating liquor for the purpose of extinguishing licences; (2) the power proposed to be conferred on County Councils to purchase and extinguish licences; (3) the suspension of the issue of new licences. The first of these proposals has received the assent of the House, both on the Second Reading of the Bill and after much discussion in Committee, so far as England is concerned. The Government, therefore, propose to proceed with the clauses dealing with the same point so far as Scotland and Ireland are concerned, thus setting aside the sum originally allocated for this special purpose. So far as the second part is concerned—the conferring of power on the County Councils to purchase licences—the Government do not propose to proceed with these clauses, at which the great bulk of the 1653 Amendments are directed, but they will ask the House to insert words the effect of which will be to allow the fund for the extinction of licences to accumulate until Parliament deals with the whole licensing question. This is very similar to the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford. The third part of the licensing portion of the Bill is one which it is believed commends itself to all Parties in the House, I mean the suspension of the issue of new licences, and the Government propose to proceed with it. It will thus be seen that the practical result of the change proposed by the Government will be that the money will remain earmarked for the purpose of the extinction of licences under any general reform of the Licensing Laws to which Parliament may assent; but that until this takes place the money, instead of being available for the purpose of extinction of licences by the County Councils, will be allowed to accumulate. Accordingly, Sub-section 2 of the clause now under consideration, as amended, will read that—The sum of £50,000 shall be applied to the purpose of such extinction of licences in Scotland as may be hereafter provided by any Act amending the Licensing Acts, and until such Act is passed shall be invested and accumulated as provided by this Act.According to this, Clauses 5, G, and 7 will disappear from the Bill.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I think the hon. Gentleman must be satisfied to postpone any question of that kind until we have arrived at a further stage in the history of the present Parliament.
§ SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
May I be allowed to give notice that there are a number of us who will oppose as steadfastly as we possibly can any proposal to vote any money to the purchase or extinction of licences.