HC Deb 06 April 1903 vol 120 cc1223-6


Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said he thought hon. Members were aware what it was. The Memorandum prefixed to the Bill told everything about it that was necessary to be known. There had been a united demand from everybody interested in the subject for a Bill to consolidate all the various statutes on the subject of licensing. There was absolutely no change made in the law at all. He had no doubt the House would pass the Second Reading of the Bill. It would, of course, be sent to the Standing Committee on Trade with the other Bill, and in the course of time he would move an instruction which would allow the two Bills to be welded into one measure. If that course commended itself to hon. Members the two Bills would come back to the House to be finally passed into law as one Bill.


agreed with the proposal to read the Bill a second time. The Lord Advocate had divulged a fact which they should have liked to know during the previous discussion—namely, that it was intended to send this Bill with the Bill which preceded it to the Standing Committee on Trade, and that an Instruction would be moved to put them into one Bill. It came to this—that the whole of the licensing laws of Scotland were to be considered by a Committee which was open to the objections stated in the discussion of the previous Bill.


said the hon. and learned Member opposite misunderstood him. He only took the House into his confidence when he stated that he would move an Instruction. There was no proposal in the Consolidation Bill for the Committee to consider at all. It would be absolutely impossible for the Committee to deal with it if they were going to open up the whole of the licensing law embraced in the Consolidation Bill. He did not propose that anything in the Consolidation Bill, except pointing out of errors in drafting, should be gone into by the Committee. When the Committee was finished with the Bill he thought it would be convenient, as was done in the case of factory legislation, that the one Bill should be grafted on the other. In that matter he should be entirely in the hands of the Committee.


remarked that he had not a word to say against the proposal to unite the two Bills, but he wished to point out that they were going to send the Consolidated Bill to a Committee which was open to the same objections as were stated in the case of the last proposal. The consideration of the Consolidation Bill required a great deal of technical knowledge and familiarity with the subject of licensing to do the work properly. He thought the Lord Advocate would not dispute the proposition that the consolidation of the Scotch licensing laws was rather a serious, heavy, and difficult operation, and it was quite a mistake to suppose that the passing of the Bill was necessarily a matter of form. He did not charge the Lord Advocate with having withheld information from the House, but he thought it was a great pity that the right hon. Gentleman did not tell them when they were discussing the last Bill that the Consolidation Bill was to be sent to a Committee from which two-thirds of the Scotch Members were excluded.


said the proposal of the Lord Advocate appeared to be open to an objection besides that stated by his hon. and learned friend. It was proposed to send the Bill to the Grand Committee on Trade, and the Lord Advocate had stated that he was going to move an Instruction that this Bill and the previous Bill should be amalgamated. In that case, when the Bill came back to the House to be considered on Report, it would not be a Consolidation Bill pure and simple, and the House would have the right to go into every detail of it. Surely that was an awkward way of proceeding in regard to a Consolidation Bill. He thought it would be better that that action should be delayed in regard to the Consolidation Bill until the other Bill had passed through the Report Stage. If it was desirable to do so the Lord Advocate could then move that the two Bills be amalgamated. It was unusual to send a Consolidation Bill, which was a purely legal Bill, to the Grand Committee on Trade instead of the Grand Committee on Law.

*THE LORD ADVOCATE moved that the Bill be referred to the Grand Committee on Trade. He was not pledging the House to any course of procedure, but the hon. Member was quite wrong in supposing that what was proposed could not be done. If the hon. Members could not see their way to doing it in that manner, the only thing would be to pass the Bills separately.


said he had no desire to interpose any objection to the progress of this Bill, but he would point out to the House the difficulty they were in. The Bill before the House was one to consolidate the existing Acts of Parliament, and what was proposed was to superinduce on it the Bill which they discussed this afternoon. They would then have in the Consolidation Act, a fresh Act which had not yet come into existence. It was quite clear from its composition that the Grand Committee on Trade would not be representative of Scotch opinion, and therefore when the Bill came from the Grand Committee, it would have to run the gauntlet of this House, and probably be to some extent transmuted. If the Lord Advocate, or any member of the Government, would hold out any prospect that the Consolidation Bill would be held back until the earlier Bill had been passed, he could see some light in the situation, but at present he thought the process would be complicated for the Grand Committee, and certainly most embarrassing for all the Members of the House.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said the Committee must take the Consolidation Bill as a matter of course on the authority of the Home Office. That was perhaps the best course that could be adopted.

MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

said that in considering the first Bill it would be convenient for hon. Members to have the Consolidation Bill near their hands. He asked the Lord Advocate whether there would be any guarantee that the Consolidation Bill truly represented the law it amalgamated, or whether they would be obliged to take that on the authority of the Scotch Office and the right hon. Gentleman himself.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said the Lord Advocate had omitted to notice the great distinction between this Bill and the Factory Bill. In the case of the Factory Bill there was a considerable amount of agreement, but in the case of the Consolidation Bill there was considerable prejudice against the Bill going to the Grand Committee. When it came back to the House, hon. Members would be entitled to propose Amendments to any part of it. If the Government were going to fight with the Scotch Members, he did not see what they would gain by sending the Bill to the Grand Committee on Trade. He would be in the House on the Report Stage to move any Amendment he liked. He for one would not put himself about in order to be on the Grand Committee on Trade, but he could promise that when the Bill came back to the House he would give it the ordinary consideration he gave to all Bills.


said that personally he did not see any objection to sending the Bill to the Grand Committee on Trade. The other proposition was to move an Instruction that there should be an amalgamation of the Bills. He suggested that the Lord Advocate should postpone that to a later stage.


I would not propose to move it, in, any case, until the first Bill is through Committee.

Bill committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc.