§ COMMITTEE. [Progress, 18th April.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
§ * MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
moved to omit from the clause the words— 1122Upon such terms and conditions, and subject to such restrictions as they by the respective licences determine.The hon. Member said this Bill had two objects, the first being to give to the County Council of Middlesex power to grant licences for public performances in music and dancing for a less period than a year. The other object was to give them increased power over the granting of all licences. To the former he had not the slightest objection, because he thought it reasonable that the County Council should have power to grant temporary licences as well as licences in an ordinary way for a year; but as to the latter object, he thought the powers proposed to be conferred upon the Licensing Authority were unnecessary and undesirable. He did not approve of conferring power on County Councils to impose conditions at their will and pleasure upon the annual licences. It might be quite reasonable that they should have power to impose conditions and restrictions of a special character upon temporary licences granted, say, to premises not generally used as a music-hall or a dancing place, and used only on special occasions and for short periods; but when they came to deal with the ordinary annual licences, it would be most unreasonable that they should possess arbitrary and exceptional powers. He maintained that the permanent licence should be granted in the ordinary way, upon the ordinary conditions, and that a man who held such a licence, as long as ho observed the ordinary conditions, should enjoy the benefit of it, and that when he came up for its renewal he should not have imposed upon him all sorts of exceptional conditions with reference to himself personally, or as to his place of amusement for a whole year. No doubt it would be said that this provision was taken from the Public Health Act, which was applicable to all England, except the Metropolis and 20 miles round it; and that it was desirable to extend the enactment to the Metropolis. He did not agree to that. His own opinion was that this exceptional power with regard to ordinary licences was overlooked at the time the Public Health Act was passed, and he believed that if attention had been called 1123 to this power particularly it would not have been granted. At all events, he did not desire it to be extended to Loudon, and 20 miles round. And there was this to be said: the Public Health Act was only an adoptive Act, and could not be brought compulsorily into operation. If such a power was to be granted to the Middlesex County Council, possibly it would be sought for by the County Council of London, and then they would have a larger question raised, which would be applicable to the great music-halls in London. He contended that this was an arbitrary and unnecessary power, and he proposed that it should be omitted.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the words—
Upon such terms and conditions, and subject to such restrictions as they by the respective licences determine."—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. HOWARD (Middlesex, Tottenham)
said, he hoped the Committee would not agree to this Amendment. The principal object of the Bill was to enable the County Council of Middlesex to grant licences at any time in the year in the same way as was done by Justices outside the 20-mile radius. For that purpose the Bill gave the County Council power to grant these licences upon the very same terms and conditions as Justices exercised outside the radius. The words were taken from the Public Health Act of 1890, and the whole of the Bill was founded exactly upon that measure. The only difference was that the Act of 1890 was adoptive, and otherwise they simply proposed to transfer the power of the Justices to the County Council of Middlesex.
§ * SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he had charge of the Bill of 1890, and he desired to say that the clause now before the Committee had been very carefully considered. As a fact, the provisions of the clause had been extensively adopted, and he thought this was one of those cases where there ought to be a uniform law throughout the whole country. In many respects London was exactly the same as our large towns. What was good for them was good for London, and what was 1124 bad for the large towns was also bad for London. He hoped the whole clause would be adopted.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GEORGE RUSSELL, North Beds.)
said, he supported the Second Reading of the Bill on behalf of the Government, and he saw no reason at this time for withdrawing such support.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
* MR. T. H.BOLTON
said, he wished to move that Sub-section 7 be omitted. This sub-section provided that any house or place licensed under the Act should not be opened for any of the said purposes except on the days and between the hours stated in the licence. He thought this enactment unnecessary, as it was already the law, and he moved its omission.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out Sub-section 7.—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)
§ Question proposed, "That Sub-section' 7 stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. HOWARD
said, his answer to the Amendment was the same as that he had before given. He hoped that the provision would be retained.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; Bill read the third time, and passed.