HC Deb 02 April 1903 vol 120 cc1018-20

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [10th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(The Lord Advocate).

Debate arising.

SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)

said there was a very general desire on the part of the licensing authorities that this Bill should be passed. The only city which had not asked for it was Edinburgh. He knew that the right place for a reform of this kind would be in the Government Licensing Bill, now before the House; and he had great hopes that the Lord Advocate would take this opportunity of stating that he would incorporate it in his measure.


, said that he was well aware that the question was one which excited very considerable interest; and he was quite acquainted with the arguments which were used on the subject. It was a matter which excited very serious discussion; and it could be perfectly well embodied by an Amendment to the Government Bill. There would be no difficulty in raising the question, and if it were raised on Monday, he could promise his hon. friend that it would have his serious consideration. In these circumstances, he felt sure that his hon. friend would not press the Bill now, because in the present state of the House, he could not feel himself bound by any decision that might be come to. The whole matter would be carefully fought out in the Grand Committee, to which he hoped the Licensing Bill would be sent; and he should be sorry to prejudice the question by having to vote against it on the present occasion. Therefore he moved the adjournment of the debate.


said he gladly assented to the Motion of his right hon. friend, who admitted that the question could be raised on the Government Bill, and would not be ruled out of order.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said he thought it was a pity that the Lord Advocate did not agree to the Second Reading; as on a previous occasion the House of Commons passed the Bill, which was defeated in the House of Lords. He did not see how the Lord Advocate could oppose the Bill, the Government having assented to it previously. By giving the Bill a Second Reading the House would again put on record its view; and the Government could prevent it going further if they thought fit. He hoped the Lord Advocate would withdraw his Motion.


said he was extremely surprised at the doctrine just enunciated by the hon. Gentleman, viz., that when a Member of the Government assented to the Bill, the House should immediately agree with the Government. The hon. Gentleman thought the Bill was a good one, but he did not agree. He was very much opposed to it; and it did not follow because the Government agreed to it that everyone else was bound to accept it. Surely the hon. Member must be aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House had of late certainly not agreed with the Government. If the Lord Advocate were to withdraw his Motion, and assent to the Second Reading of the Bill, he should be obliged to adduce reasons why the Bill should not be passed. The question as to whether the House should now adjourn appeared to him to admit of no reasonable objection. Of late years there had been a considerable number of Bills on this subject, and he did not at all agree that their enactment had altogether been advantageous. Some of them had been hurried through the House, as the hon. Gentleman would hurry this Bill. He was at a loss to understand the action of the hon. Gentleman. He had heard the hon. Gentleman state over and over again that the idea of legislating at a few minutes to midnight was wrong. Only a few days ago, the hon. Member pointed out that it was impossible to consider a measure at a few minutes' notice.

And, it being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.