§ SIR J. LENG (Dundee)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate, with regard to the fact that under the Public Houses Acts (Scotland) the power to licence public-houses was vested in the Magistrates of Royal and Parliamentary Burghs only, whether doubts have arisen as to the licensing powers of Magistrates of police burghs under "The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892"; whether he is aware that at a recent Justice of Peace Court held at Stonehaven, Mr. Badenoch Nicholson presiding, it was decided that the Magistrates for the police burgh of Stonehaven were not the Licensing Authority for that burgh, but that the Justices of the Peace remained the Licensing Authority; whether be is aware that in Govan, Partick, and Johnston, which are police burghs, the Burgh Magistrates are taking steps for immediately asserting what they believe to be their powers as the Licensing Authority for their respective burghs, while the Justices of the Peace, in meetings assembled, have instructed their clerks to give public intimation that the Justices are still the proper Licensing Authorities; and whether, as a serious difficulty is likely to arise under "The Publicans' Certificates (Scotland) Act, 1876," by the Justices refusing to confirm new certificates for police burghs if granted by the Magistrates of those burghs, he will take any, and what, course to remove the doubts and difficulties which have arisen respecting the licensing powers of the Burgh Magistrates in Scotland?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR, Clackmannan, &c.)
I am aware of the facts set out in the first three paragraphs of the question. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland has already stated, the only mode in which the doubt as to the legal effect of a statutory provision can be authoritatively settled is by the decision of a Court of Law.