§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 2:—
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
moved an Amendment to limit the compensation proposed in the Bill to 1225 small houses, under £50 annual value, with the object of moving subsequently, as a consequential Amendment, that "In all other cases the compensation shall be calculated in like manner, except that for the purpose of this calculation the licence shall be assumed to be chargeable with a duty of Excise equal to five times the duty now payable." He explained that his object was to discriminate between the licences of small and large houses. Licensed houses under £50 in annual value were charged with a licence duty of, roughly, 50 per cent, of that annual value. In the case of a house valued at £10 the duty was 60 per cent. At the other end of the scale a house with an annual value of £700 was charged a duty representing 8½ per cent., and a house valued at £2,000 paid less than 3 per cent. If charged at the same rate as the smaller houses, these larger houses would pay £350 and £1,000 respectively in licence duty, and even then they would pay a great deal less than the value of the monopoly which the State had conferred upon them. How did the Home Secretary justify the proposal in the Bill? Did he contend that the licensees had a vested interest in the maintenance of the present scale of licence duties, or did he maintain that a duty of 3 per cent, was sufficiently high? If not, then he should accept the Amendment, which would redress to some extent the injustice of the inequality that now prevailed. For the first time the House, and to some extent the country, had realised that a great monopoly value brought into existence by the State was being handed over to private persons. That had gone on for twenty-five years, but it would not go on for ever. It would be in the power of a new Parliament to say that this monopoly value would be taken by the State by means of an increase in the licence duties. If a future Chancellor of the Exchequer should increase these duties to ten times their present amount then all licences in existence after
§ the passing of such a Budget would have, for the purposes of compensation, one-tenth of the value they possessed before. But the licences that had already been extinguished would have been compensated on the scale provided by the Bill. An anomaly would thus be created which would be held up as a grievance; and this was the time for anticipating such a grievance. He ventured to think that his proposal afforded the most satisfactory method of dealing with it.
In page 1, line 27, at the beginning, to insert the words 'In the case of premises having an annual value, taken as for the purposes of the publican's licence duty, under fifty pounds.'" (Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON,) Dublin University
declined to follow the hon. Member into his argument upon vested interest. The Committee had already passed the first clause providing that compensation was to be paid. In his opinion the Amendment was impossible. It proposed that a licence-holder should be compensated, not for a loss which he had really sustained having regard to the existing law, but upon the assumption that at some future time the amount of his licenc3 duty would be five times as great as it was now. There was an inequality in the amount paid in licence duties. The Government had attempted in some degree to remedy that inequality by charging a higher proportion upon houses valued at over £50 than upon houses under that amount for the compensation fund. That was the proper and, indeed, the only possible way of dealing with the question.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 133; Noes, 254. (Division List No. 217.)1229
|Abraham, William(Cork, N.E.)||Black, Alexander William||Burt, Thomas|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Blake, Edward||Buxton, Sydney Charles|
|Allen, Charles P.||Boland, John||Caldwell, James|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Cameron, Robert|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Bell, Richard||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Holland, Sir William Henry||Priestley, Arthzur|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hutchinson, Dr. ChatlesFredk.||Rea, Russell|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Reddy, M.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Jacoby, James Alfred||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Crombie, John William||Joicey, Sir James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Crooks, William||Jones, Davia Brynmor(Swansea||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cullinan, J.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Runciman, Walter|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Russell, T. W.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Delany, William||Kilbride, Denis||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Devlin, Charles Ramsay(Galw'y||Langley, Batty||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Sheehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Douglas, Charles N. (Lanark)||Leese, Sir JosephF.(Accrington||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Leng, Sir John||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Edwards, Frank||Levy, Maurice||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Ellice, Capt. EC(S. Andrw'sBghs||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Lough, Thomas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Emmott, Alfred||Lundon, W.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Evans, SirFrancisH.(Maidstone||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tomkinson, James|
|Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philip|
|Earquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Wallace, Robert|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Crae, George||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Markham, Arthur Basil||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Grant, Corrie||Morley,Rt. Hon. John (Montrose||Whitley, I. H. (Halifax)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E.(Berwick)||Murphy, John||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Brien, Kendal(TipperaryMid||Wilson, Henry J. (York. W.R.)|
|Hain, Edward||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N||Wood, James|
|Harcourt, Lewis V.(Rossendale||O'Malley, William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Shee, James John|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Paulton, James Mellor||Mr. Edmund Robertson and|
|Higham, John Sharpe||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H.(Bristol, E.)||Price, Robert John|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bull, William James||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Burke, E. Haviland-||Digby, John K.D. Wingfield|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J.A. (Glasgow||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Arrol, Sir William||Campbell, J.H.M.(Dublin Univ.||Dixon-Hartlana, SirFredDixon|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Doogan P. C.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Doughty, George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.A(Worc.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chapman, Edward||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Charrington, Spencer||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J. (Maneh'r||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Fardel], Sir T. George|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Coates, Edward Feetham||Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.|
|Balfour, Rt. HnGerald W(Leeds||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fison, Frederick William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Fitzroy, Hon. EdwardAlgernon|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bignold, Arthur||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Bigwood, James||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Bill, Charles||Crean, Eugene||Forster, Henry William|
|Bingham, Lord||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S.W.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Bond, Edward||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Garfit, William|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H.F(Middlesex)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Davenport, William Bromley||Gordon, Maj. Evans-(T'r Hmlets|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Lucas ReginaldJ.(Portsmouth)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Goschen, Hn. George Joachim||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Rutherford, John (Lamashire)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macdona, John dimming||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Maeonochie, A. W.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Greene, SirE. W.( B'rySt. Edm'ds||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinbur'h, W||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Manners, Lord Cecil||Samuel, Sir Harry S.(Limehouse|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W.E.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Gretton, John||Maxwell, Rt. HnSirH. E. (Wigt'n||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sharpe, William Edward,T.|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Moon, Edward Robert Paey||Spear, John Ward|
|Harris, F. Leverton(Tynem'th)||Morpeth, Viscount||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morrell, George Herbert||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Morrison, James Archibald||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset)|
|Heath, James (Staffords. N.W-||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Mount, William Arthur||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Helder, Augustus||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Stock, James Henry|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham(Bute||Stroyan, John|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G.(Oxf'd Univ.|
|Hobhouse, RtHn, H(Somers't, E||Myers, William Henry||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Thompson, Dr. E C(Monagh'n, N|
|Hope, J. F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Horner, Frederick William||Nicholson, William Graham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Hoult, Joseph||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tuff, Charles|
|Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Howard, J. (Midd.,Tottenham)||O'Dowd, John||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Vincent, Col. Sir C.E H(Sheffield|
|Hunt, Rowland||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Pemberton, John S. G.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.||Percy, Earl||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pierpoint, Robert||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Welby, Lt. Col. A.C.E. (Taunton)|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh)||Plummer, Walter R.||Welby, Sir CharlesG. E. (Notts.)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whiteley, H. (Ashton una. Lyne|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Purvis, Robert||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lawson, John Grant(Yorks. N.R||Pym, C. Guy||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Fareham||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Raseh, Sir Frederic Carne||Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Long, Rt. HmWalter (Bristol, S)||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Young, Samuel|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Younger, William|
|Lowe, Francis William||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Robinson. Brooke||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Sir Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Round, Rt. Hon. James||and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)
moved to insert after "where"—the first word of Clause 2—the words "within fourteen years after the passing of this Act," and he explained that if that Amendment were carried he proposed to move—as a consequential Amendment— to insert at the end of the first subsection of the clause, "And after the fourteen years have expired there shall 1230 be paid as compensation to the persons interested in the licensed premises such a sum as shall be equal to the total payments which shall have been made during the said fourteen years in respect of the charges imposed on such premises under Section 3, Sub-section 1, of this Act." This raised the question of a time limit in a sense different from the time limit raised on Clause 1. The Amendments certainly proposed to limit the time 1231 during which the full value of the licence was to be paid by way of compensation; but, after the period of fourteen years, compensation was still to go on in a limited form. His object was to limit the whole amount of compensation which would be paid under the Bill, rather than to raise the vexed question of a time limit, although he did raise a time limit incidentally. There was a strong opinion, shared by many inside and outside the House, that the compensation proposed to be given under the Bill was excessive and unjustifiable. It was unjustifiable because he thought that the circumstances of the case as they stood at present had not been considered sufficiently by the Government. What he feared from the practical point of view was that if the present scale of compensation was maintained the reduction of licences in the future would be very much curtailed.
As far as he could judge the position of the fund—although it was difficult to I form an opinion on it, and he had hoped the Government would give their calculation as to how many licences would be refused in a given time—as far as he I could judge, if the full amount of compensation was to be paid, the reduction of licensed houses for the next twenty years would be very small indeed. He was a supporter of the Bill, and especially of the compensation clauses, because he believed they would have an effect on the licensing justices which would induce and assist them to reduce the number of licensed houses to a greater degree than they had done hitherto. He thought there was a case for compensation in equity, if not in justice, when there was the disturbance which there would be if a large number of licences were withdrawn within a limited period— there was a case in equity owing to the disturbance of the natural expectation which the trade had formed, rightly or wrongly, that there would be a renewal of licences except for misconduct. In these circumstances he thought if the natural expectation were violently and suddenly disturbed, although it had no foundation in law, it was a case for equitable consideration. But these grounds, it appeared to him, did not at all justify the extreme measure for compensation in perpetuity provided 1232 by the Bill. There was no case of vested interest—no case of perpetuity of tenure. The discretion of the justices was absolute. That, he understood, was admitted by the Government, and, if so, he held that it ought to be the starting point and the basis on which equitable consideration might be founded in providing compensation for those disposessed But the Bill appeared to ignore these considerations altogether. It did not appear to proceed on the considerations he had put before the Committee. If there was an absolute vested interest, if there was undeniable perpetuity of tenure, and if the licensing justices had no discretion at all, he could not conceive that there should be a larger measure of compensation given under the circumstances. As the facts did not coincide with that view it was evident that there might very legitimately be some limitation of the| full value compensation which was offered by the Bill in perpetuity. That scale of compensation, he held, was excessive and uncalled for.
His own opinion, and he thought it was also the opinion of a large number, was that ample time notice and pecuniary compensation for licences withdrawn while the time notice was running would fully meet the case. It had been said that a time notice had already been given—that licence-holders had had a time notice for a great number of years. Therefore it might be that the time notice, and compensation during the period of that time notice, might meet the case. But inasmuch as it was hoped and expected that there would be a much larger reduction in the number of licensed houses than had hitherto taken place on the ground simply that they were not required, he thought there was a case for a time limit beyond that which existed at present under the decision in "Sharpe v. Wakefield." Thus he was quite prepared to support a further time notice in this Bill with full compensation up to the expiry of the time. He himself thought that was generous treatment. It was all that could be expected and he wondered that the Government had not taken some line of that sort in framing the Bill. It must be remembered also that during the period while the time notice was running, and while 1233 redundant licences were being withdrawn, the trade would receive additional compensation in the way of the additional value given to the licences which were left. In the circumstances he thought that fourteen years of full value compensation was ample, but he would not quarrel very much over a longer period. He thought, however, the proposal he made was treating the trade with very great generosity in the circumstances in which they were placed.
Now he came to the main point of his Amendment. He thought there was considerable force in the objection taken in the earlier debates on the time limit question when it was contended that it was not fair for the trade to be compelled by the Bill to contribute to the compensation fund and after a certain period to be excluded from all the benefit of compensation. He thought there was an answer to the objection, but he would not trouble the Committee with it, because he had come to the conclusion that it was an objection that ought to be fairly met. He had endeavoured to do so by the second part of his Amendment which provided for stopping the full value compensation at the end of fourteen years. In addition to that, he thought they ought not to lay hold of the contributions towards the compensation fund which had been given by the trade for houses which after fourteen years might have their licences withdrawn, and, therefore, he thought it was only fair in the case of houses whose licences were withdrawn after the fourteen years period that there should be repayment of the contributions that had been made by them. He did not know whether he had made the point clear. He was trying to meet the objection raised, and also trying to do what he thought was most important, that was, to reduce the amount of compensation to be paid under the Bill, because he was convinced that the amount of compensation provided would not reduce licensed houses to the extent public opinion desired and which almost every man desired to see. There were only two ways of doing it. One was to increase the charges in the schedule. He should be glad to hear whether the Government were prepared to increase these charges. If the compensation to 1234 be paid was to remain the same, and if the compensation was to hold out, then the charges in the schedule must be increased. If the Government did not do that, the other way was by reducing the compensation paid. As the Amendment gave full compensation for fourteen years he thought the repayment of the contributions would meet the case. He was inclined to think that if the alternative were put to them, whether they would have the schedule charges increased or a limit to full compensation after fourteen years, the trade would choose the arrangement he proposed.
He would only say in conclusion that this was an attempted compromise between two contending parties. He was afraid that it might share the fate of nearly all compromises of pleasing nobody. At any rate, anxious as he was to see this Bill passed because he believed there was a good deal of temperance reform in it, they must, if possible, try to erect a golden bridge between the two views which were held with regard to the time limit or no time limit. He would appeal to the Government not to ignore the very strong opinion which was held and expressed outside this House on the subject, and in quarters, where it could not be said there were extreme temperance advocates. He thought he might call them moderate temperance reformers, although he understood that they were not thought much of in the House. He believed there was a large body of people in the country not identified with the temperance movement at all, who, considering that the proposals in the Bill, if passed, would so revolutionise the position of the trade, and so completely change the tenure of licences for all future years, were not favourable to even getting under these conditions the advantages which they saw under the Bill. If the Government could not see their way to accept the solution he ventured to put before them for their consideration, he hoped that they would, at any rate, endeavour, before the Bill passed, to make some proposal which would meet, to some extent, the very strong opinion which was felt inside and outside the House, and which came from quarters entitled to consideration and respect. He felt convinced that if the Government could see their way to make some conciliatory 1235 proposal in this direction, they would not only ensure the passing of the Bill, but, what was quite as important, make it more acceptable to the people of the country. He did not think there was great danger of the Government doing much harm to the trade by accepting the Amendment. He thought he might even appeal to the representatives of the trade in the House, that having made such a good bargain already, they might for their comfort and happiness afterwards very well consider whether they might not, in some way or other, give back a little of what it appeared was going to be given to them. If they did so he thought they would be rewarded afterwards. The Bill would be more heartily accepted by the people of this country if the Government adopted the Amendment, or something in the direction he had indicated, while it would not do a great deal of harm to the trade. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 27, after the word 'Where,' to insert the words 'within fourteen years after the pasting of this Act.' "—(Sir William Houldsicorth.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. SBELY (Lincoln)
said that on a point of order, might he ask whether this Amendment would rule out of order the Amendment standing in his name on p. 24, dividing up and providing for limiting the compensation?
said that the hon. Member had better raise the point at a later stage, and in the meantime he would consider it.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
thought this was the most important Amendment put down since the Bill had been presented to the House. It was rightly described by the right hon. Baronet as an honest compromise honestly proposed. He himself went a good deal further than the right hon. Gentleman, but he believed that the Bill would be far better, or rather less bad, if this proposal were accepted. He recognised that it contained a great deal that was valuable, and he should heartily 1236 support it if the Committee were obliged to divide upon the question— which he hoped would not be the case. They were discussing the clauses of this Bill under conditions which made it a duty to compress as much as possible all that they had to say on this important subject, but he thought it was most desirable in reference to this measure that there should be some time hereafter at which the nation should be at liberty to resume its right to deal with the extremely difficult question of licensing according to its own best judgment and discretion. Now, it was admitted that the trade was an extremely dangerous trade, however carefully conducted. What the Bill, as it stood, proposed to enact was that existing licences should be enjoyed by the licensees in perpetuity, subject to being bought out at their full value. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the terms of purchase were such that they made any great reduction impossible; but, in addition to that, they were such as to fasten finally and for ever the existing system of the licensing laws on this country. To his mind that was a most important consideration They would fasten definitely and inalienably the present system of licensing laws for all time unless they were to pay an enormous sum in order to cover a change. It was said £125,000,000, but he thought it would be a great deal more.
It seemed to him that they ought to ask themselves this question, "Is it desirable, in the public interest, that the existing system of licensing laws should be perpetuated in such a way that it could not be dealt with by succeeding generations?" The system was based on private enterprise—upon an unrestricted right to make private profit by the use of a State monopoly—concentrated in the hands of a comparatively small number of persons and companies. The disadvantages of the system had been fully admitted on all hands. The Prime Minister himself said that it was regrettable that this system had been allowed to grow up in the form of a monopoly without something having been paid to the State for that monopoly. Without looking at it from a moral point of view, it was unfortunate that a licensing 1237 system should have been allowed to grow up which for private profit undoubtedly encouraged excessive drinking; which was socially dangerous; which led to the sale of drink of an injurious character, and to the displacement of non-alcoholic drink; which resulted in unsatisfactory police supervision and to a few cases of corruption in connection with police supervision. There had also grown up an extremely powerful trade organisation which naturally was opposed to any change which might affect their vested interests. There was, he thought, reason to apprehend that these effects would be inflamed instead of being mitigated by the passing of this Bill. But be that so, or be it not, it was at all events fair that they or their children should at some future time be able to alter the whole of the existing licensing system. He would not enter into the various methods by which that could be accomplished. Suffice it to say that it might be thought that this trade was not a proper subject for private profit earning, because it pushed the sale of drink to the detriment of social welfare, and because it was unfair fir the State to bestow a monopoly on private persons or companies. This much was perfectly clear that they, or their posterity, probably in progressive times, would desire to alter a system which had been proved to be disastrous in the public interest.
This Amendment provided one method by which the public could, at a date hereafter, reassert its rights on possible terms. Was it just to those who were at present licensed? He was not going to apply a standard of justice which commended itself to his own mind, but would approach it from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman. He assumed that there was what was called a moral right to compensation on behalf of the trade. But what was the nature and scope of the existing rights of the licensees and also the custom and practice of the magisterial benches in this matter? The position of the licensees at the present moment was that they had a good expectation, not resting on any legal title, but resting upon the general practice of the licensing justices, that if they conducted their houses well their licences would be renewed. Now, he held that they had already had considerable time notice 1238 that that was not the case—certainlysince the decision in "Sharpe v. Wakefield." But there had never been any real doubt, even before that judgment, on the subject at all. Again, it was not the case that the practice to renew licences had been uniform. In the Brewers' Almanac for 1904 there was a statement of the number of licences of which renewals were refused in the nine years preceding 1903 In these nine years 1,337 licences were refused renewal solely on the ground that they were not required in the public interest, and without any compensation. Many others were refused on mixed grounds—that they were not required, that the premises were structurally defective, or that the licensee was neglectful in the conduct of the house. He did not wish to magnify the effect of these figures; but he wanted to point out that it was impossible to say that there had been a uniform and constant custom of renewing licences on good behaviour. There had been a good expectation, and nothing more. There had not been, in practice, certainty of renewal any more than there had been in law a right. That was the real position, fairly stated. Now, if they were going to deal with these licences, if they were going to take them away on a large scale—he doubted if that would be the effect of the Bill—if they were going to bestow compensation on the dispossessed licensees, it was to be remembered that there were other persons to be considered. If they gave more than a fair compensation for a good expectation they would be unjust to the public.
How was that expectation to be appraised? The right hon. Baronet proposed to give in addition to the absolute legal close time fourteen years notice. He agreed that there should be a close time during which it should not be lawful to refuse to renew a licence without compensation. "Close time" was perhaps not a very happy expression; but he meant a period during which a man could not be shot at Fourteen years would be ample for that purpose. They were asked to look at the question from the point of view of equity to the licence-holder; but they should also regard it from the point of view of equity to the community. The community had 1239 bestowed a great gift on the licence-holders, and had refrained from imposing new taxation on them. In America licensees had to pay ten times the amount that was paid in this country; and it was the immunity from taxation that created the monopoly value. Further, there had been four or five Acts during the last thirty years which had immensely enhanced the value of those licences. It was one of the laws of monopoly that the more you restricted it the more valuable it became. Licences had been restricted, they had been reduced in number, and that increased the value of the remaining licences. They, therefore, had a right to regard the question from the point of view of the origin of the licences, and ask fairly whether property of that character should be regarded as if it were freehold property. He thought that if the Amendment were accepted the Bill would be immensely improved and strengthened. Certainly one of his greatest objections to the measure would be removed. Something in the nature of a compromise should be arrived at. If the Bill were passed into law in the face of an extremely strong body of hostile opinion outside the House, by no means confined to members of one particular Party, it could not be regarded as a final settlement. It would be only human nature to endeavour to repeal the Act; and that would produce a condition of chaos which would be extremely unpleasant. The instinct and the inclination of the people of this country were not to unduly disturb legislation which had been passed; but no such feeling could possibly be entertained in connection with this Bill if a compromise were not arrived at. Speaking for himself, a great deal of his hostility to the Bill would be removed if the Amendment were accepted. He did not think it was the best possible Amendment, but it was an honest attempt at a compromise; and for his part he would be gratified if the Government would accept it.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OP THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
said he thought that everybody would agree that the two speeches to which the Committee had listened, whether convincing or not, 1240 were at all events models of temperate statement. Not only had the Amendment been put before the Committee in a most persuasive manner, but he was perfectly ready to admit that there was a great body of public opinion outside that House, not identified with Party, with extreme temperance views, or with the trade, and quite detached from considerations that perhaps weighed with Party politicians, who would gladly see some change made in the Bill in the direction now suggested. It was with profound reluctance, therefore, that he had to say again that he was really quite unable to follow the logic of the proposals now before them. Of the objects he entirely approved; the methods of advocating those objects had his heartiest sympathy; but when he came to the hard reasons which lay at the root of those suggestions he confessed that he was still unpersuaded. There was a certain inconsistency running through many of the speeches he had heard from the opposite side of the House which was not absent from the speech of the last hon. Gentleman who addressed them. In the earlier part of his speech the hon. and learned Gentleman said they were perpetually riveting round the necks of reformers a system which they would desire to alter at some more or less remote date. But the learned Gentleman went on to say in a different part of his speech what really amounted to the whole thing being reversed next year or three years hence. He quite agreed that such reversals had been unfortunate in the past, and probably would be in the future, but that was a very different proposal from telling them that the House had, by that Bill, entered into an obligation of honour to the licence-holders which made it absolutely impossible for it ever to reverse the decision come to.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
What I meant was that this Act, so long as it remains an Act, does not create an obligation of honour, but of law. It is quire consistent with that, that any of us who think we are not fairly treated may do our best to get the Act of Parliament repealed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that was really what he tried to convey to the Committee. It was impossible to talk of a Bill which could be reversed next year 1241 or the year after, whenever hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, as perpetually riveting on the necks of reformers in this country some unreversible order. He did not think the House ought to, or would, repeal this Bill, but it was not under the circumstances an unrepealable law. There were many cases, such as if Parliament were to pass an Act cutting us adrift from all our colonies, where from the nature of the change no repeal would be possible, but this was not one of them. Whether it would be equitable to reverse it depended on the system which was to be substituted for it, and as he did not know what that system was, even in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he would not argue about it.
Let them consider whether, if they came to the root of the matter, there really was anything which ought to induce them to accept the Amendment. He could show very strong temperance ground why the Amendment should not be adopted, but there was nothing in the Bill to prevent some future generation, when it was agreed upon any scheme, from being able to bring that scheme into operation, and it could do that, of course, as it could deal with licences now, either honestly or dishonestly. They could either do it by treating the equitable claim of the licence-holder equitably, or they could do it by treating the equitable claim of the licence-holder inequitably, and there was nothing, in his judgment, in this Bill which made it more difficult to do this. He really did not wish to go back on old debates, but the root principle of the Bill was compulsory insurance out of the pockets of the trade. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might say it was not paid out of the pockets of the trade, but if they did so they would have to admit that it was impossible for the trade to pay anything towards this object. After all, they could only raise this money by some form of taxation of licences; and, if the taxation of licences did not carry with it the fact that the trade paid that taxation, it was impossible, from the nature of the case, that the trade under any circumstances or by any arrangement could pay it out of their own pockets. He thought he was justified in saying that it was compulsory insurance paid out of the pockets of the trade.
1242 The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, and he thought his hon. friend, took the view that, if the trade were obliged to pay this compensation for fourteen years, and for fourteen years were pre vented from being evicted, except with compensation, they had all the compensation that ought to be allowed to them. His hon. friend went further than that in his Amendment, while the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite suggested that at the end of a period which he called, but miscalled, a close time, the community would be in absolutely free possession of all existing licences, not merely legally, but equitably and righteously, and they might be able to adopt any plan they liked for the future. He traversed that statement altogether. If they chose to give a really close time—say, for the sake of argument, fourteen years—and if they chose to say that no licences were to be withdrawn for fourteen years, of course that would be an immense compensation to the trade. That would be a close time in reality as well as in name, because during that time every licence-holder would be protected from having his licence taken away, he would be able to insure himself so that at the end of fourteen years he would not be injured, and he would not be asked in the meanwhile to pay to the insurance fund of which his hon. friend spoke. But until they made the close time a reality he could not admit that it was in any sense a substitute for the plan they had proposed in the Bill. And supposing they did carry it out, did they think the magistrates or those who had got to administer the Act would feel themselves the a in a better position to deal with excessive licences than they felt now? He could not think they would. They would find themselves face to face then, as they did now, with men who under the existing law had been required to spend very large sums of money upon their premises, who had got the expectation of which the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke, and who had been taxed for all these years on their property. They would be face to face with precisely the same class of hardship which, as they knew, in every part of the country hampered the discretion of the ordinary magisterial bench.
In these circumstances it appeared to him that they would be doing away with 1243 one of the great merits of this Bill without substituting anything really good in its place. If they chose to start a sinking fund out of public money, no doubt they would be able to buy up all the licences in the country He did not advise them to do it, but, if they did, a very small sacrifice on the part of the public would enable them completely, at a given time in the future, to reverse, if it were thought worth while to reverse, the present system of giving licences. But he ventured to say that it really was not wise to mar this scheme because they thought that at some date in the future they would have discovered and be agreed upon some quite different scheme which, when they had discovered and were agreed upon, they would be able quite honestly to impose upon the licence-holder if they compensated him and dishonestly if they refused to compensate him. He wanted a great and immediate reduction of licences, and that great and immediate reduction could only be obtained on the one condition that the local authority was able, where it thought fit, to borrow a large sum of money upon the security of this taxation. But the immediate and great benefits which he, at all events, hoped from this Bill would be altogether diminished if they restricted the number of years in which the capital and sinking fund were to be borrowed and repaid.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH
said he did not propose to limit the charges. What he was limiting was the amount of compensation paid out of the compensation fund. He expected the capitalisation would go on, and the levy would continue. Therefore he saved the compensation fund.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said it was perfectly true that his hon. friend would save the compensation fund if he compelled the trade to go on insuring their licences long after the insurance had ceased to be effective. If he compelled the trade, after the fourteen years were up, to pay as much for insurance as they paid before, but to get nothing for it, then his hon. friend would save the compensation fund, but surely at the same time he would be committing something very near to a great injustice upon the licence-holder, and he could not believe that, on 1244 reflection, that was a proposal he would seriously advocate. The Amendment was not required in the interests of new experiments. Those new experiments could be tried when the country was agreed upon them. He saw no beginning at. the present time of any such agreement, and, considering how fierce were the passions which the temperance controversy aroused, he had little hope of seeing men all equally earnestly desirous agreeing upon what they considered a wise and sound plan of temperance reform. If the time should come when such an agreement was arrived at, there was not a comma in this Bill which would put the smallest obstacle in the way of some future Prime Minister, more happily situated than he was, carrying out some great scheme of temperance reform which would conciliate all sides and all opinions, and really bring to an end this long, and, he feared, unending controversy.
§ MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R.,) Spen Valley
assured the Prime Minister that when this subject came to be dealt with in another Parliament it would be the wish of all on that side of the House to deal with it honestly, but what would then be honest depended very largely upon what was done now. If the trade were given rights and position which it did not at present possess, it would be necessary to do much more to be honest than was now necessary. This Bill was more than just to the trade; an excessive amount of compensation was being given for an excessive period, and what was more than justice to the trade was less than justice to the public. The analogy which had been urged with regard to assurance was somewhat false. There were such things as temporary assurances. Fire and accident assurances were effected for a period of years, but if no fire or accident occurred there was no return other than the security enjoyed during the period. People did not expect to get their money back at the end of the time. There were also temporary assurances against death. It was true the ordinary form of assurance was against death whenever it occurred, but the premium then was much higher. Under the present proposal the premium was low, the assurance was a temporary one to cover the risk of loss of licence 1245 during a given period, and there was no validity whatever in the contention that the sums paid should be repaid at the end of the period. What was required was equitable consideration. Temperance reformers desired, and it was in their interest, to treat the trade fairly. The more extreme they were and the more licences they desired to see abolished, the more it was in their interest to treat the trade fairly and equitably, because they could not get rid of licences without persuading the public of the necessity, and it would be much more difficult to do that if there was any sense of hardship or unfairness connected with it. Their complaint against the Bill was that it went beyond all that was equitable and reasonable, that it gave excessive compensation for an excessive period, and was therefore unjust to the public.
With regard to the provision of compensation the business-like way of proceeding would be to take out a temporary assurance against the loss of the licence —and that was what the Bill provided. But at the end of the period the public should be at liberty to deal with the licences as they wished, and that practically meant that the value of the licences should cease at the end of the period. The proper means of meeting that contingency was for the owner and occupier to set up a sinking fund to cover the possible loss. The extra profit which the reduction in licences would bring to the remaining houses would be ample to provide a sufficient sinking fund for that purpose. The Prime Minister had suggested that fourteen years was too short a period. Personally he had never been disposed to insist upon a hard-and-fast line as to time; so long as full freedom was given to the justices and the public to carry out any reform they desired, he was not particular as to the number of years. If ample time were given, a sinking fund could very easily be set up, and the licence-holder would suffer no loss whatever. The contention that if the period were limited to fourteen years the sum raised would be too small to secure anything like an adequate reduction implied that the Prime Minister contemplated the borrowing of money for more than fourteen years, because unless money was borrowed on the 1246 security of the levy for more than fourteen years, there would be precisely the same reduction during the fourteen years as if there were no limit. It was a serious thing if the Government intended to allow borrowing for anything like that period. It would mean that during the time that all the levy was allocated in advance, practically all control over the liquor trade would be lost. The one thing that gave the authorities any control over the trade was the power to refuse the renewal of licences; that power was being limited by the necessity of paying compensation, but if the compensation fund were allocated for fourteen years it would disappear altogether. Personally, he objected altogether to the idea of borrowing. It was perfectly true that in one year sufficient money could not be raised to secure an adequate reduction of licences, but there was no reason why the levy should not be spread over a considerable number of years without borrowing. As a matter of fact, there ought not to be any limit to the levy, and personally he would be prepared to assent to the fund being increased by special levies on beer and spirits. The mover of the Amendment put the case very forcibly when he said that at present there was no vested interest or perpetual tenure, and the magistrates had full power. Under this Bill the position of the licence-holder would be altogether altered to the disadvantage of the public.
In regard to a time limit of some sort, he thought the old Church leases were on all fours with these licences, and that the precedent set in their case was an extremely valuable one. For 100 or 200 years it had been the custom for the Church to grant its leases illegally. The statutes forbade leases except for twenty-one years in possession, and forty years for mining and building, but the Church was in the habit of granting renewals on the payment of fines. Many Committees of both Houses of Parliament sat and endeavoured to provide means of getting rid of the difficulty, because the leases became enormously valuable properties. A Committee of the House of Lords in 1851 reported that for 200 years these leases had been illegally granted. They 1247 were made the subject not only of mortgage but of settlement and devise with limitations to children and their posterity. Legacy duty had been paid for years to the Government on the expectancy of renewal, and the Court of? Chancery, in settling marriage settlements, had made these twenty-one year leases the subject of settlement and devise, with limitations extending to grand-children and great-grand-children. That showed how these leases had been regarded a d dealt with by the law. There was a case in Paddington where it was decided to allow the land to be built upon, and Parliament allotted two-thirds of the value to the tenant and one-third to the Church, thus recognising the enormous interest the leaseholder had in that property. In 1860 Parliament dealt with these leases and handed them over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and provided that no lease should be renewed after 1884, and those which expired before 1884 should only be extended to that year, and that was practically imposing a time limit. These leases were granted in violation of the law and became valuable property, and this House dealt with them in the same way as it was now suggested that these licences should be dealt with, because they brought in the element of a time limit as the basis of an equitable settlement.
The Amendments put down within the last few days to Clause 4 suggested the desirability of accepting some such Amendment as this. The basis of the new licences was to be a time limit not exceeding seven years, which was deemed sufficient to recoup the licence-holder for his investment. The present Amendment suggested fourteen years for the old licences. If seven years was enough for the new licences, surely fourteen years would be ample for the old ones. When the right hon. Gentleman dealt with a similar proposal to this upon a former occasion he made much of the insecurity of the tenure, and he said if they had anything like a time limit the holder of the licence would become very careless, and all sorts of evil would result. At that time he (the hon. Member) ventured to point out to the Prime Minister that security of tenure had proved to be the source of a great deal of mismanage 1248 ment in the worst class of houses. As it was now proposed that the new licences should terminate at the end of seven years, it would have been very curious if the Prime Minister had repeated his old argument. Therefore they might dismiss that argument as having no bearing on the case now. It was important to remember that the proposal for the new licences meant that a large additional value would be given to the existing licences. This new proposal practically meant that no new licence was ever to be issued again upon the same conditions as the present ones. That placed existing licences in an exceptional position, and gave them an increased market value. Now they were being deprived of the power to deal freely with them. That proposal would give the present licences an extraordinary market value; and this point ought to be taken into consideration in connection with the time limit which had been suggested. Surely this Bill ought to provide some opportunity at some time or other of getting the whole of the licences upon the new revised system. There ought to be some period fixed when the revised licensing system would come into force, and that was a strong argument against establishing a system of perpetuity in licences.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he wished to say a few words in support of his hon. friend's Amendment. What they were discussing was really the amount of compensation which ought to be paid. The hon. Member for Manchester said the amount fixed by the Bill was too great and it was quite evident that that was the opinion of the general public, because since this j Bill had been introduced, as he had stated upon a former occasion, there had been an extraordinary rise in the value of shares in all the great brewery companies on the Stock Exchange. The hon. Baronet the Member for Peckham had stated that this rise was only an example I of the general rise of securities which had I taken place in recent times. That was I not so because he had received letters from directors and shareholders in great brewery companies saying that it was a fact that the introduction of this Bill had increased the value of their shares 1249 by giving a security of tenure where there had been no security of tenure before. When an insecure tenure was turned into a secure one it did raise the value of the property and to that extent in this case it did an injustice to the public. He agreed that the Amendment which the Government had proposed to Clause 4 entirely altered this question of a time limit, and it was exactly what he himself had put down on the Paper as an Amendment with regard to new licences. New licsnces were to have a seven years run, and at the end of that time the licensing authority was to have the most perfect freedom to make the best they could of the licence and renew it to someone else at an increased rental. All that was proposed in this case was to purchase from the existing licence holders the right to place them on the same footing as all new licence-holders. If they did not accept some kind of time limit they would have two classes of licences. The old licences would become extremely valuable under this Bill. They had heard a great deal about the pre-1869 beerhouses, but they were now setting up pre-1904 beerhouses. The Prime Minister said that this Bill was no obstacle to future licensing reform. Everyone knew what an obstacle the pre-1869 beerhouses had been, and it was not at all certain that the pre-1904 beerhouses would not prove just as great an obstacle to temperance reform as the pre-1869 beerhouses had done.
The principle of this Amendment was a very simple one and he could not under stand the inability of the First Lord of the Treasury to accept it. He recognised that in past times a very valuable monopoly which really was the property of the public was, under the law, given to the licence-holders. It ought to have been sold to them as it was going to be in the future. The law did not allow that and the justices who granted a licence had no alternative but to make a very valuable present of public property to somebody or other. It was recognised as a sort of expectation which had grown up and which they ought not to absolutely confiscate but which ought to be purchased from the holder at a reasonable value. The whole question was, what was the proper compensation to pay the existing licence- 1250 holders for giving up the monopoly which they now enjoyed? He did not pretend to say whether it ought to be enjoyment for a period of fourteen or twenty-one years, but clearly it ought to be for some definite term of years. The licence-holder at present had no legal right to a renewal of his licence. It was only an expectation, but they were now giving him a right to renewal unless he was compensated for the full value of the licence taken from him. The proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-west Manchester was that during a period of fourteen years no licence should be taken away unless compensation was given to the holder. It was said that this was a compulsory insurance by the publicans out of their own funds. He thought that a great deal too much had been made of that point by the supporters of this Bill. There was no reason whatever why a fund for public purposes should not be raised by increasing the licensing tax, and if the State chose to increase the licensin tax for the purposes of compensation, it was really giving the publicans compensation out of public funds. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] It was giving the publicans compensation out of funds which might be raised by Parliament and devoted to public purposes. Nothing in the world was easier than the making of a calculation of the amount required to give compensatlon for fourteen years and no longer. The actuary of any insurance company would at once calculate the amount that would have to be paid for fourteen years and no longer. The Solicitor-General had asked what they were going to do at the end of fourteen years. The answer was that at the end of fourteen years the licence-holder would have no further right to a, renewal of the licence. The question was, is it a fair and reasonable bargain to the holders of existing licences to give them fourteen years secure tenure in exchange for the precarious tenure which the/ now have? His opinion was that it was fair and he thought the general opinion certainly was that the perpetual tenure given them by the Government in this Bid was too much, as the rise in brewery shares incontestably showed.
There was one point of the Bill which had never been properly explained, and that; was the words in the clause which provided 1251 that the compensation was to be "calculated as if this Act had not passed." This expression might have a sinister meaning for the licence-holders. It might mean that the compensation was to be calculated as if the tenure was the present precarious annual tenure and not the I erpetual right to their licences which the publicans thought they were getting and which evidently the investors on the Stock Exchange thought they were getting. Was there any trap in these words, "calculated as if this Act had not passed," to catch the holders of existing licences? It might turn out that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-west Manchester was really more advantageous to the holders of licences than the terms of the Bill. The publicans ought to be careful that they were getting the boon they expected. He could quite understand that for the next year or two it would be very easy for an experienced valuer to say in a case of compensation that if the Act of 1904 had not been passed the holder of this licence would have had a precarious annual tenure, that he would have been liable to lose his licence at the discretion of brewster sessions, and that, therefore, he would not value it at more than five or six years purchase. That was very much less than the fourteen years proposed by the Amendment, and which the Member for North-west Manchester, was willing to concede to the existing licenee-holders. But his difficulty about the words was in regard to what would happen twenty or thirty years hence, and what a value: would then do if called upon to estimate the value of a licensed house "as if this Act had not passed." How would the valuer set about his work? He should like the Solicitor-General, or the hon. Memberfor the Stretford Division, who had experience in these valuation questions, or in the absence of these learned Gentlemen, the Home Secretary, to say definitely, first of all, how the value of a licence was to be estimated immediately after the Act was passed, and how the value was to be estimated twenty or thirty years afterwards. It would be a very great mistake if the trade allowed themselves to be contented with provisions which would not give them the protection they expected, and which would expose them 1252 to the risk of this particular Act being tampered with and altered by legislation in a future Parliament by people who might think that this Bill had not received due deliberation when passing through the House.
§ Sir EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said that as the Home Secretary had not risen to answer the light hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University as to the meaning of the words "calculated as if this Act had not passed," he should like to press the point, because it was a matter of the greatest importance. Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-west Manchester and the Prime Minister spoke as supporters of the Bill, but it was plain from their speeches that in opinion they were worlds apart. The mover of the Amendment had complained that the Bill ignored the three main facts. It ignored that there was now no vested interest, and no perpetuity of tenure, and it ignored the fact that the discretion of the justices was absolute in the matter of refusing to renew licences. He did not profess to be able to reconcile the speech of the Prime Minister and that of the right hon. Member for North-west Manchester. But the ignoring of these facts in the Prime Minister's speech and in the Bill itself was a very considerable part of the case against the Bill. The Bill, moreover, was going to abolish the notice or warning to the trade, which the mover of the Amendment said existed already. The right hon. the Member for North-west Manchester said that moderate temperance reformers ware not treated too well in the House. He admitted that he spoke rather slightingly the other day, not of the right hon. Gentleman, but of the class to which he belonged as being people who expressed their opinions but would not enforce them. While the speech of the right hon. Member for north-west Manchester was sound and satisfactory, he could not refrain from asking what was going to happen if the Amendment was rejected. The true type of a moderate man was the right hon. and learned Member for Dumfries who had made, as the Prime Minister himself admitted, a most moderate speech, in which the right hon. and 1253 learned Gentleman said that if this Amendment were carried, it would considerably modify his opinion in regard to the Bill. But if it was rejected by the Government, he remained an inveterate opponent of the Bill. Was the opinion of a moderate temperance reformer to be enforced? Would the right hon. Gentleman become an inveterate opponent of the Bill if the Amendment? was rejected? That was the only way in which to enforce the opinion of moderate temperance reformers; but if the Amendment was not accepted then all the expressions of opinion about temperance reform by the right hon. Gentleman were absolutely useless. They would count for nothing unless the right hon. Gentleman changed his action from support of the Bill into hostility.
He maintained that the Bill placed private before public interest in this matter. Temperance reformers wanted freedom to reduce licences, to change to a better system in carrying on the liquor trade, and to increase the licence duties. When was that time going to come? The answer of the Government as embodied in the Bill was "Never," and this was the reason of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. The Prime Minister said that future projects of temperance reform would not be prejudiced. The Bill, however, was being construed by the trade as giving them a title. If no Amendment of this kind was accepted, then, though he admitted that at present there was a claim for equitable consideration on behalf of the trade, he said that the Bill was going to transform the claim, not in equity, but in law. By doing this it was going to weaken very much the claim in equity; and if the Amendment was rejected, whatever the Bill might do in law, it was not attaching equity to what it did. Though it might be giving something in law, it was not only giving nothing, but removing something of the equitable consideration which many opponents of the measure felt to be due. That was why he joined in the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman who put this Amendment forward as an honest compromise. But the right hon. Gentleman also uttered a note of warning. He asked the trade to remember how good a bargain they were making at the present time—he supposed 1254 with the present Government—and to consider whether by being reasonable in accepting some Amendment of this kind they would not make themselves more comfortable in the hereafter. Even if the Amendment were accepted, he did not say that it would be regarded as absolutely satisfactory by all sections of temperance reformers, but it would do a good deal to weaken the resentment with which the Bill was being received. The Amendment, indeed, touched the very essence of the controversy, for it dealt with the question whether it was possible to turn the Bill into something which might be a measure of temperance reform, or whether it would not be a permanent barrier to temperance reform.
§ MR CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that the hon. Baronet opposite and others had argued as if the Bill provided something in the nature of excessive compensation to the trade or the owners of public-houses. But if they were to have anything in the nature of compensation at all, he contended that they could not have it in a more moderate or restricted form than in the Bill—if the measure was really understood. It had been argued that whan license premises were taken for the purpose of public improvements two kinds of compensation were in force. There was a trading compensation and a compensation for a diminution in the value of the premises themselves. As a rule the trade compensation was the larger figure of the two; but in the Bill there was no trade compensation of any kind. They were looking at the difference in the value of the premises as licensed or unlicensed, and this did not bring into consideration what was known as trade compensation at all. He also contended that most absurd estimates had been published as to the price which would be paid by way of compensation under the Bill. All these estimates had been based on a misapprehension because those who had formulated them had not studied what the proposals of the Government were in the Bill. If compensation meant indemnity, as it did, it was only fair to take into consideration all the special conditions in each case, and nothing could be more unfair than to bring in a number of years which in some cases would be too many and in others too few.
1255 They had to consider what was the chance of the renewal of a licence, if this Bill had not been passed. There were certain public-houses where the number of years purchase would be exceedingly small, because, having regard to the conditions, there was a great chance of the licences not being renewed. On the other hand, in the case of well-conducted public-houses, which were not likely to be interfered with, a much larger number of years purchase would be given; because if compensation meant indemnity all the special conditions in each particular case should be taken into consideration. In such circumstances, could anything be more unfair than to bring in a number of years which in some cases would give too much compensation, and in other cases would penalse properly conducted licensed houses. A larger measure of compensation would be given to the worst public-houses, and a smaller measure to the best conducted houses. Could any system of compensation which professed to be fair and equitable be worse than that? It could not be contended that the Bill would give a freehold or a permanent tenure. He would oppose that to the utmost, because it would give the licence-holder something to which he was not entitled. He would not give the licence-holder any greater interest than he had at present; and he could not imagine any member of the legal profession reading the Bill in any other sense.
If land were taken by a railway company it was valued for the purposes of compensation as it was, not as it would be when utilised by the railway company. Under this Bill, it was also expressly provided that the compensation should be assessed as if the Act had not been passed, and as if no increased security had been given. He thought it was of extreme importance that the question of compensation should be really understood and appreciated. There was no practical difficulty in the matter. After all, it was a case of insurance; and he could not understand the argument that it would be impossible in the future to put additional taxation on the property because of the insurance. The compensation was not in any sense a public tax; and, although he would demur to it at present, still if, in the future, additional taxation were thought to be fair, having regard to similar burdens 1256 on other classes, the present Bill would not prevent it. The word monopoly had been used. A railway company very often obtained from Parliament a very valuable monopoly. If, afterwards, it was found that the monopoly turned out to be more profitable than had been expected, was that any reason why the State should tax off the whole of the surplus profit. A principle of that kind would destroy all interest in statutory property. Having given a statutory expectation, the State could not annex the profits if the expectation turned out to be profitable. The Bill would not give the trade any greater right than it at present possessed; but, having regard to established expectation, they were entitled to have a fair measure of compensation assuming they conducted their business in a proper manner. He was not prepared to introduce a time limit, which, during its duration, would make any alteration of the law impossible. The Act might work well or badly. He believed it would work well; but if it worked badly it would be impossible during the period of the time limit to alter the law, however badly the Act might be operating. In that respect, he joined issue with the right hon. Baronet.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said it would not have the right during the period of the time limit. That was why he objected to the Amendment. He did not want Parliament to be fettered in the event of the Act not working properly. He believed that J the compensation to be provided would be sufficient without a time limit to reduce the number of public-houses by a third; and thereby effect a most desirable temperance reform.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said the subjects which were dealt with by the hon. and learned Member for Stretford were intricate subjects and dealt with in an intricate way but they seemed to him to be rather remote from the Amendment of the hon. Member for Manchester. The First Lord of the Treasury could only defend this Bill by assuming facts that did not exist and ignoring facts that did. 1257 The right hon. Gentleman commenced by assuming that the licence-holder had a perpetuity of tenure and therefore had a bona fide right to compensation and he was obliged to ignore what appeared to him to be a far more material part of the case, namely, that the licence-holder, or the brewer behind him, by this Bill would not only receive compensation but be put into a better position than before by reason of the fact that there would be less competition. It was under these circumstances that they failed to find any argument in the statements of the First Lord of the Treasury against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Manchester. He did, however, welcome one deliverance of the right hon. Gentleman which was also apparent in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Stretford. Both were much impressed with the objects of temperance reform. They denied that any difficulty would be placed in the way of temperance reform because the power of Parliament to further temperance reform would remain the same as though this Bill had not passed. The hon. Member for Stretford could not possibly understand how matters could be made worse by this Bill because the powers of Parliament remained and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord refused to admit any argument adduced against this Bill in respect of the difficulty it put in the way of temperance reform. If a compromise like this was refused it was quite clear they were thrown back to a position in which this Bill had no moral force at all. That was the position forced upon them. They objected to the Bill, and felt that they could not do better than to give due notice that they noted what was said by the right hon. Gentleman that he did not think it would make any difference in the future. It would be, then, all the easier to induce some future Parliament to bring about those reforms which they thought were necessary before but which would be doubly necessary now.
§ MR. HENEY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
said the ingenious speech of the hon. Member for Stretford had shown very clearly that it was most desirable that this clause should be throughly discussed before it passed into law and that some explanation should be 1258 given by the Government as to the exact way in which it was to work. The learned Solicitor-General might be able to explain to the Committee the exact principle upon which the Inland Revenue would value, and how they were likely to value, licensed houses under this Bill. He feared the debate would have little practical result, but as he had a kindred Amendment upon the Paper he felt constrained to add a few words. His Amendment contained what was properly called a time limit, and he had always thought that justice rather than generosity should guide the amount of compensation and that it should be for a limited period and on a sliding scale. J What was in his mind was that there should be a period when the public would be free to introduce a better licensing law. It was generally admitted that licence-holders now had only an equitable claim,: but this Bill, if passed into law in its present shape, would give them a vested interest of a perpetual character and future Parliaments when they desired to interfere with those vested interests would always have this Bill held up to them in the future as giving a legal and moral claim to the licence-holder, a claim which he did not now possess. He therefore contended that, if this Amendment was not accepted, an impediment would be thrown in the way of preserving to the public the right of licensing public-houses. All that was required was to see that justice was done. There was no reason for being generous to the trade. The Government were tying the hands of the public authorities in the future. The result, no doubt, might be the closing of considerable numbers of useless and pernicious public-houses now, but they must not entirely sacrifice the future to the present, and they might well be content with a smaller sum of money than was contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman rather than adopt a policy which, though it might have striking results at present, would put the licensing authorities in great difficulty, tie their hands at no very distant date, and be a bar to all further progress. They might fairly look forward to the time when more would be demanded in the way of temperance reform than was now demanded and therefore they ought to see that this compensation fund 1259 should be an assistance and not a hindrance. At present he was not satisfied that the Inland Revenue would be able to arrive at what was the moral and equitable value of a licensed house before the passing of this Bill, and he therefore appealed to the Solicitor-General to throw some light on this matter, and make it clear, in order that the Committee might know how far it was going.
§ MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
Expressed the opinion that this Amendment went to the heart of the whole question. It had been pointed out by the hon. Member who mm ed the Amendment, and still more forcibly by the hon. Member for Blackpool on the Second Reading of the Bill, that by providing a compensation fund they would at any rate liberate the hands of the licensing justices and free them from the natural reluctance they now felt to take away a licence without compensating the holder. He might be allowed to remind the Committee of some figures where the action of the magistrates in reducing licences to the great benefit of the community had taken place. This had taken place in districts where the evil had been forced upon the attention of the magistrates. In Liverpool 350 licences had been taken away in thirteen years, with the result that the arrests for drunkenness had decreased from 16,000 to 4,000. They had been able to dispense with the services of 100 policemen, and the moral condition of that town had been wonderfully improved in spite of the large and growing population. In Blackburn the number of licences had been reduced in fifteen years from 600 to 417, while the proceedings against licensees had diminished from thirty-nine to seven, and the arrests for drunkenness and disorder from 989 to 624 per annum.
The hon. Gentleman is now dealing with the general question. I must ask him to confine his remarks to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ MR. TOMKINSON
said he was endeavouring to show that some time limit ought to be imposed, and that the compensation fund would be altogether 1260 inadequate to effect even such a reduction as had been made under existing circumstances. In Winchester there was one licence to every 150 people. The licensing magistrates gave the brewers one year in which to submit a plan for reduction. They agreed to surrender fifty licences without any compensation, but after the speech of the Prime Minister they withdrew the offer, and now every one of those licences would have to be paid for on the basis of this Bill. He submitted that, unless a time limit were imposed, the efforts of temperance reformers for more than fifty years would be frustrated, and the trammels of the drink traffic more firmly fixed upon the backs of the people.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Somersetshire had stated, it was essential that this clause should be fully discussed in order that the Committee might know where they stood, with regard to the principle of compensation, it was a pity the whole afternoon should have been spent in discussing a question which had already been debated for two days and voted upon by the Committee. With regaid to the words "calculated as if this Act had not passed," the right hon. Gentleman had asked how anybody would be able to calculate, some years hence, the value of a business at the time this Bill passed, taking into consideration the conduct and everything else connected with the person carrying it on. The words had no application at all to the valuation in that sense. It was contended that the Bill would give a permanent or, at all events a statutory term to the licensee. The words meant that in the valuation no such permanency should be taken into account; but, that, when the Commissioners came to fix the value of licence or the value of premises for the purposes of the clause, they should consider the value having regard to the fact that the renewal of the licence was subject to the absolute discretion of the magistrates, and that the holder of the licence had only just such a tenure as he at present possessed. If there was any doubt as to the exact meaning of the words, he was prepared to insert "as if the licence were subject to the same conditions of renewal as were 1261 applicable immediately before the passing of this Act," or he would consider any other form of words that might be submitted before the Report stage. He hoped the Committee would now come to a decision on the question as there were a number of other Amendments which he would be glad to hear discussed.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
said the meaning of the clause had not yet been made perfectly clear. If no agreement were come to and the matter went to arbitration, the question would be left to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, who based their valuations on the takings of the houses.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said he was basing his remarks on the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries, and he would be glad to know upon what other basis than that of the takings of the house the Commissioners could arrive at a value. He should not support the Amendment, because he failed to see how anybody could vote for it who was opposed altogether to the principle of compensation.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 209; Noes, 250. (Division List No. 218.)1265
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hobhouse, C.E.H. (Bristol, E.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Delany, William||Hobhouse Rt. Hn H. (Somers't,|
|Allen, Charles P.||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay(Galway||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Ambrose, Robert||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fred|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Donelan, Captain A.||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Doogan, P. C.||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Douglas, Charles M.(Lanark)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Duncan, J. Hastings||Joicey, Sir James|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Dunn, Sir William||Jones David Brynmor(Swansea|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C.B.||Edwards, Frank||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Bell, Richard||Ellice, CaptEC(S. Andrsw's Bgh||Joyce, Michael|
|Benn, John Williams||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Black, Alexander William||Emmott, Alfred||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Blake, Edward||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Evans, SirFrancisH.(Maidstone||Kilbride, Denis|
|Boland, John||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lambton Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Langley, Batty|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Fenwick, Charles||Law, Hugh Alex, (Donegal, W.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Brown, George M.(Edinburgh)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Leese, SirJoseph F.(Accrington|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Flynn, James Christopher||Leng, Sir John|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Levy, Maurice|
|Burt, Thomas||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Lloyd-George, David|
|Caldwell, James||Furness, Sir Christopher||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Cameron, Robert||Gladstone Rt. Hn. HerbertJohn||Lough, Thomas|
|Campbell Rt. Hn. J.A.(Glasgow||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Lundon, W.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.||Grant, Corrie||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Grey, Rt. Hn. SirE. (Berwick)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Griffith, Ellis J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hain, Edward||M'Crae, George|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harcourt, LewisV.(Rossendale||M'Fadden, Edward|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harcourt, RtHnSirW(Monm'th||M'Kean, John|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Harwood, George||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Crombie, John William||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Maxwell W.J.H.(Dumfriesshire|
|Crooks, William||Helme, Norval Watson||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Cullinan, J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Higham, John Sharpe||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Murphy, John||Robson, William Snowdon||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Newnes, Sir George||Runciman, Walter||Thomas, David Afred(Merthyr)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Russell, T. W.||Tomkinson, James|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Brien, James F.X.(Cork)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Brien, Kendal(TipperaryMid||Schwann, Charles E.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan,|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|O'Connor James(Wicklow, W.)||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H (Renfrew)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Dowd, John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N||Sheehy, David||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Slack, John Bamford||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Smith, H C(North'mb, Tyneside||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Perks, Robert William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Soares, Ernest J.||Wilson, HenryJ. (York, W.R.)|
|Price, Robert John||Spear, John Ward||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Priestley, Arthur||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Rea, Russell||Stewart, Sir MarkJ. M'Taggart||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Reddy, M.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Woodhouse, SirJ. T.(Huddersfid|
|Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries||Strachey, Sir Edward||Yoxall, James Henry.|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Sullivan, Donal|
|Rigg, Richard||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||William Houldsworth and|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Tennant, Harold John||Mr. Tritton.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Chapman, Edward||Gordon, Maj. Evans-(T'rH'mlets|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Charrington, Spencer||Gore, Hon S.F. Ormsby-(Linc.)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Coates, Edward Feetham||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Arrol, Sir William||Coddington, Sir William||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon Sir H.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, SirEW(B'rySEdm'nds|
|Austin, Sir John||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury|
|Bagot, Capt. JoscelineFitzRoy||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Crean, Eugene||Gretton, John|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Groves, James Grimble|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Gunter, Sir Robert|
|Balfour,Rt. Hon A. J.(Manch'r||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Balfour, Capt, C. B. (Hornsey)||Davenport, William Bromley||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.|
|Balfour, RtHn GeraldW(Leeds)||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashf'rd|
|Banbury, Sir FrederickGeorge||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir FredDixon||Harris, F. Leverton(Tynem'th)|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Dorington, Rt. Hon. SirJohnE.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Doughty, George||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Bignold, Arthur||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Heath, James (Staffords. N.W.|
|Bigwood, James||Duke, Henry Edward||Helder, Augustus|
|Bill, Charles||Dyke Rt. Hon. SirWilliamHart||Henderson, SirA.(Stafford, W.)|
|Bingham, Lord||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Bond, Edward||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Bowles, Lt.-ColH. F. (Middlesex||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King'sLynn||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ.(Manchr||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.||Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Horner, Frederick William|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bull, William James||Fisher, William Hayes||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fison, Frederick William||Howard John(KentFaversham|
|Butcher, John George||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Hozier, Hon James HenryCecil|
|Campbell, J.H.M.(Dublin Univ.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Hunt, Rowland|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Flower, Sir Ernest||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Forster, Henry William||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Foster, Philip S(Warwick, S.W.||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Garfit, William||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W(Salop|
|Chamberlain, RtHonJ(Birm.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Keswick, William|
|Chamberlain, Rt HnJA(Worc.||Gordon, HnJ. E. (Elgin& Nairn)||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford East)|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Lawson, JohnGrant(Yorks. NR||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Spencer, Sir E. (W.Bromwich)|
|Lee, ArthurH(Hants. Fareham||Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington||Stanley, HonArthur (Ormskirk|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Peel, HnWm. Robert Wellesley||Stanley, EdwardJas(Somerset)|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Percy, Earl||Stanley, Rt Hon Lord (Lancs.)|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Pierpoint, Robert||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Stroyan, John|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(BristolS||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Talbot, Lord E. (Chicester)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G.(Oxf'd Univ|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pretyman, Ernest George||Thompson, DrEC (Monagh'n, N|
|Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lucas, Reginald J.)Porstmouth||Purvis, Robert||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Pym, C. Guy||Tuff, Charles|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Randies, John S.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Rankin, Sir James||Valentia, Viscount|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Vincent, Col. SirC. E.H (Sheffield|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Ratcliff, R. F.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W.F.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Maxwell, RtHn SirHE(Wigt'n||Richards, Henry Charles||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H.M.||Ridley, Hon M W (Stalybridge||Welby, Lt.-ColACE (Taunton)|
|Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Ritchie, Rt.Hon. ChasThomson||Welby, Sir CharlesGE(Notts.)|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. JohnLloyd|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Whiteley, H(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Robinson, Brooke||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Morgan, DavidJ.(Walthamstow||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Wilson-Todd, SirWH (Yorks.)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Wortley, Rt. H'n. C. B. Stuart|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, W. W.(Liverpool)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Murray, RtHnAGraham(Bute||Samuel, SirHarryS(Limehouse||Young, Samuel|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Younger, William|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Myers, William Henry||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
§ MR. BLACK (Banffshire)
said the Amendment which stood in his name on the Paper would, he hoped, not be considered as marring the Bill, because it was in entire accordance with its principle, and provided that where a licence was forfeited for public purposes the compensation should be paid by the trade. Unless this Amendment was inserted in the Bill, the net result would be that public improvements would be greatly hindered, because undoubtedly the result of the measure would be to very largely increase the amount of compensation which, but for the Amendment, would be required to be paid by the public authority if the licence were forfeited for any purpose of public improvement or utility. In several respects the monopoly value of the licence would be enhanced by the passing of this measure. First of all there would be an increased value vested in the licence by legitimate 1266 increase, in consequence of the payment of contributions and diminution in other licences under this Act. First of all there would be fixity of tenure proposed by this measure which was estimated to increase the value by three or four times. Then there was the increase in value which accrued by increased population, and non-granting of new licences, but there would also be increases in monopoly value which might be termed illegitimate. There would also be the increment through forfeiture of other licences by non-observance of the terms of the licence granted. Further there would be the withdrawal of reasonable pressure brought to bear on licence-holders by the licensing authorities. For instance, he was informed that out of forty-six licences withdrawn in Glasgow by the operation of the public authority, only four received any compensation, because the magistrates were 1267 enabled by the reasonable pressure they I brought to bear on the licence-holders to dispense with the licences without compensation. If a public authority in any future time required to suppress licences, they would require, according to the proposals of the Bill, to pay the increased monopoly value of those licences. He further submitted the Amendment was reasonable because in making a public grant of a monopoly to a trade—as they did in this case—it was reasonable that they should do so subject to the public uses. The obligation to pay compensation on the part of the trade was stronger in this case than where a licence was taken away on the ground of non-requirement, because in the case he was figuring the licence which had been removed would be a valuable licence, and not one which was not required. The result would consequently be that the trade—unless the Amendment were accepted—would get the full increment in the shape of largely increased trade without any payment on its part. The Government were between two masters, one being the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—who really made the suggestion to which his Amendment gave effect—and the other the brewing interest. It would be interesting to see which master the Government would serve.
In page 1, line 28, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'or where licensed premises are required for purposes of public utility or improvement."—(Mr. Black.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOE THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS DOUGLAS, Kent, St. Augustine's)
said the clause only applied to licences taken away for a particular purpose. What the hon. Member proposed was that if it was necessary to take a licence away for the purposes of a public improvement, it should come under the provisions of this Bill. Surely that was entirely reversing the practice which now prevailed, which was that if property was taken away for the purposes of public improvements compensation should be given under the 1268 Lands Clauses Act. He could not see why if a house was taken away, and the licence forfeited for the purposes of a public improvement, compensation should come out of the fund provided for by this Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved an Amendment defining the amount of compensation to be paid to different persons who were interested in a licensed house. Under the proposals of the Government that was left to be decided by quarter sessions. It would be felt by many persons, and very largely by those who were interested in these houses, that it would be an advantage if the House were to define the amounts that were to be paid to the different persons concerned, both because the question was one of very great importance, and also because the compensation under the Bill was for an act of a public kind different in character from the usual acts for which compensation was paid. If an ordinary property was taken for a railway or a public improvement the persons dispossessed, although debarred from carrying on their business at a particular place, were not prevented from commencing again in a neighbouring place. But under the Bill if a public-house was closed there would be no opportunity for a man, once dispossessed of his licence, carrying on business in a neighbouring street because the very intention of the Act was to diminish the number of licences. Therefore the publican was subjected to a kind of inconvenience and loss which the ordinary person whose business was taken away in consequence of a public improvement was not generally subjected to. It was consequently necessary to carefully define the particular amounts which were to be paid and the manner in which it was proposed to distribute them.
First of all, he proposed that those who were employed in or about licensed premises should be paid three months 1269 wages or salary. This was to meet the case of tenants, managers, and other persons employed in these houses who, if there was a general reduction of licences as the Prime Minister suggested, would be seriously injured in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining employment in their own business. Then he proposed that the occupier of the premises, i.e., the tenant, should have a sum equal to two years profits, calculated on the average of the last five years and also the difference between the value of the stock and fittings in the premises as valued between the ingoing and outgoing tenant. He also proposed to give to the licence-holder a definite right, which he did not feel at all certain he would have under the Bill, of compensation for the loss of his stock. There were many licence-holders the greater part of whose capital was invested in the stock and fittings of their respective houses, and if their licences were taken away, they would be injured by being obliged to sell, and further by the fact that a reduction in the number of houses would lead to a corresponding reduction in the demand for stock. He did not see anything in the Bill to enable quarter sessions to make an allowance of that kind to the occupier, and it was therefore well to insert a definite proposal in the Bill. Then he proposed that the owner of the premises should have the cost of any structural alteration necessary to adapt the premises to other uses than the sale of intoxicating liquors; and further, that up to 1914 there should be paid in addition to the compensation mentioned to the owner of the premises a sum equal to the average annual profits as above, multiplied by the number of years unexpired between the date of the refusal of the licence and 31st December, 1914.
The Prime Minister had stated that he could not understand the argument in favour of the time limit; but the right hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that the feeling in favour of it was strong in the country and that there must be some basis for some arrangement of that kind. The proposal which he made would, he believed, meet the difficulty, and be just to the publican, while it would not cause any injustice 1270 to others concerned in the trade. What was at the bottom of the feeling was that the value of a licensed house was altogether different from the value of other businesses. The goodwill of an ordinary business was due to the energy and good management of the owner or to the particular position of the house, but the goodwill of a licensed house had, in addition, a value due to the monopoly given to it by the State. That was worth twelve or thirteen years purchase, while the ordinary goodwill of an ordinary business was worth only two or three years purchase. Everyone acknowledged that the growth of the monopoly value had been a misfortune and a mistake and it would be far better if the country could obtain that value for itself. What he proposed was that they should give an absolute right to the owner of a licensed house, till 1914, that no licence should be granted within a certain distance of his house and that during those ten years he would continue to have his monopoly value. If they did that they could at the end of that time quite reasonably and justly treat his licence as a new one, put it on the seven years system proposed for new licences, and obtain the monopoly for the public generally, instead of for individual owners. He was not bound to the terms of the distribution of the compensation embodied in his Amendment, and only put them forward as a basis for compromise. He begged to move.
In page I, line 28, to leave out from from the word 'Act' to the end of Sub-section (1), and insert the words 'the following sums shall be paid as compensation to the persons concerned.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'a sum' stand part of the clause."
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said it was impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment. Grave injustice would be done if the compensation was distributed on the basis proposed. The occupier of the premises was to get exactly the same amount of compensation, whether he was merely the manager or the holder of the substantial interest of a lease. It was perfectly evident that that could not be just. All the owner was to get was the sum necessary to structurally alter the premises for the carrying on of another business, without relieving him of the covenants into which he might have entered by reason of the premises being licensed. That really was no compensation at all. The hon. Gentleman had asked him whether the holder of the licence would be allowed for fittings under the scheme of compensation proposed in the Amendment of the Home Secretary. It was a little out of place to discuss that proposal now, but as they might not come to that Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] Everybody knew that the Amendment might not be reached.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that if the Amendment were not reached, it would be due to the protracted discussions on the first clause of the Bill. But his answer to the question was that the whole question of the loss sustained by the holder by reason of his being deprived of his licence would be taken into account.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
said that this was the proper occasion, and the only occasion, for the discussion of the important question as to how the compensation money was to be distributed among the various persons entitled to 1272 share in it. The Solicitor-General had referred to the Home Secretary's Amendment ten pages lower down, and had reproached them for occupying time on other Amendments. But the useful discussions that afternoon had been initiated by Members sitting on the Government Benches. Therefore it was not judicious for the Solicitor-General to have raised such an issue. This was the only opportunity that would be available for placing what was a real grievance before the House and the country. The very fact that the Home Secretary had put down an Amendment, which would never be reached for discussion, showed that the Bill as it stood was inequitable, or at least did not provide an equitable solution of the problem of the distribution of the compensation. It was quite clear that as the Bill was framed the only person who would receive anything, in the vast majority of cases, would be the brewer, and not the person actually engaged in the business. The Government had awakened to the fact that their proposal would not bear examination, or might have unpleasant results outside, and so they had tardily put down an Amendment, in the name of the Home Secretary, which proposed to add at the end of Sub-section 2—Having regard in the case of the licence-holder not only to his legal interest in the premises but also to his conduct and to the length of time during which the has been the holder of the licence, and the holder of a licence shall (notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary) in no case receive a less amount than lie would be entitled to as tenant for a year, or from year to year, of the licensed premises.He had not the least notion how a valuer was going to work in order to find out what was the amount to which a man was entitled as tenant for a year or from year to year, which was a totally different thing, but in some way or other, by some oblique process of reasoning, his conduct was to come into question in determining the true scale of remuneration. He could only say, as a practical man, that the wording of the section was too obscure to be worthy of any consideration.
They, therefore, came back to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Lincoln. He could not pledge himself to support all the proposals of the 1273 hon. Member's Amendment, but he hoped that it might become a substantive question in order that the Committee might be enabled to deal with the whole question of the distribution of the compensation fund. But there were one or two features about the Amendment which deserved the sympathetic consideration of the House. In the first place it singled out as deserving of a share, at any rate, in the fund not merely the owner and occupier, but the persons employed in the business and who obtained their livelihood by a continuance of the licence. For his part he could not regard any scheme of compensation as satisfying the necessities of the case which left unprovided for those persons who were pursuing a perfectly honourable calling and who found their means of livelihood suddenly put an end to through the operation of the Bill. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would affirm that the employés of the licence-holder had an equitable title to a share in the fund. The hon. Member then distinguished between the case of the owner and the occupier. It was absolutely essential, if justice was to be done in this matter, that the occupier should have a first charge on the fund. It was not the great brewers that would suffer from the suppression of licences; on the contrary, in many instances they would positively gain from their reduction. On the other hand, the individual publican, whatever be his legal status, whether tenant, manager, agent, or trader by commission, was the man actually carrying on the business and was the first person to suffer if it was suppressed. Both in respect of the occupier and the owner the Amendment of the hon. Member proposed to limit the amount of compensation on a rational and satisfactory basis. But the Go eminent having put down an Amendment in a place of the Paper where it would never be reached, which it was impossible to construe and difficult to understand, and the hon. Member having at this stage put down in plain language a proposition which everyone could follow, this was the appropriate moment to discuss the whole question.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that the right hon. Gentleman apparently desired 1274 to discuss the whole question now. But it should be observed that the whole question had not been gone into by the mover of the Amendment. Personally he had not the least objection at the first moment to discuss the subject in its entirety, for he thought that the right hon. Gentleman would acquit him of any desire to shirk the discussion of any point that might arise on the Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
pointed out that the Government was appealing to the Committee to discuss the question under conditions which made it impossible to do so adequately.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that the moment the right hon. Gentleman was disposed to issue a challenge on the issue he should be prepared to deal with the question. The right hon. Gentleman, moreover, was absolutely wrong when he said that after some hesitation the Government had at length put down the Amendment giving a portion of the compensation fund to the manager. On the first day in Committee he stated that the opinion of the Government was that any holder of a licence, manager or otherwise, was a person interested in the licensed premises; and when the hon. Member for Leeds challenged that opinion he had stated that if it were not so he was prepared to put down an Amendment to make the point perfectly clear. The Government were now told that in putting this Amendment on the Paper, they had placed it there with some ulterior motive, and because they had been driven to do so by persons who were largely interested in public-houses. Such a view came very well from those who had constituted themselves the champions of these managers, from those who had in the first instance tried to destroy all their interests, who had tried to make the various persons interested strangle each other. This new-born enthusiasm for the persons who were engaged in the public-house business was as amusing as it was amazing. The Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman had ridiculed ran as follows —Having regard in the case of the licence holder not only to his legal interest in the premises but also to his conduct and to the length of time during which he has been the 1275 holder of the licence, and the holder of a licence shall (notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary) in no case receive a less amount than he would be entitled to as tenant for a year, or from year to year, of the licensed premises.Those words, which seemed to be strangely unfamiliar to the right hon. Gentleman, were taken from the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, which contained a special provision for persons holding a tenancy from year to year. As a matter of practice many tenants of licensed houses held an agreement for three months; some were managers, and some were weekly, some monthly, and some three or six monthly tenants. Although these agreements were short, they had continued in many cases for a considerable time. The Government had therefore said that it was fair in these cases, although the terms of agreement were short, for the holder of the licence to get at least the share of the compensation which a tenant from year to year would get. It was an advantage to make it clear that the person who held a weekly, monthly, or three-monthly tenure should receive an amount of compensation measured at least according to the same scale as if he held a tenancy durable from year to year. That was a very great benefit to these men. He saw no difficulty in having regard "not only to his legal interest in the premises, but also to his conduct and to the length of time during which he had been the holder of the licence." The man who held on a short agreement, continued year after year and renewed from time to time, had the same kind of equitable expectation as the owner of the house had in relation to the licence for which compensation was being set up under the Bill. That being so, just as the claim to compensation was set up in consequence of the equitable expectation that the owner had, so this man who had been in that employment under a short agreement, ought to have his right recognised by quarter sessions. And why should the light hon. Gentleman throw ridicule upon the consideration of his conduct? Was it not well that the man who had conducted a house well should get more compensation?
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
replied that it was a matter of extreme importance to the brewer that the premises should be well conducted, otherwise he might lose the licence altogether. The Government endeavoured to put a premium upon the good conduct of the house, believing that the person who was in possession should have that inducement to carry on the premises properly. The bad conduct of a house might deprive the owner of a great deal of compensation, and it was not an unfair provision that if the licensee had conducted it well he should receive a larger amount of compensation. They had endeavoured to put a premium upon the good conduct of the house, and to do what was just and equitable as between the different parties.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said the Solicitor-General Stated that he had dealt with all the main points raised during the discussion. But in the course of the two speeches he had delivered he had not made the slightest allusion to that part of the Amendment which provided that compensation should be paid—(a) To all persons employed in or about the licensed premises in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquors, three months wages or salary.He knew the case of a brewer who had received in licences from the public a monopoly value to the extent of £100,000, and they were now asked to compensate him to the fullest possible extent for any licence taken away for public purposes. The persons employed in those licensed premises had as great a moral right to share in the compensation fund as the brewer. The Prime Minister asked them to consider the broad equities of this case. He thought this Bill stood on very narrow grounds if it excluded from its equities all those persons employed in connection with licensed premises, many of whom had spent practically the whole of their lives, working long hours. The broad equities of the case demanded that those people should receive that fair treatment which the Bill did not give them. The Solicitor-General said it was impossible to accept this Amendment because the whole Bill was based upon depreciation of property. He commended that statement to the notice of the Committee, because they had always 1277 been told that there were great questions of morality involved. Now the reason given was depreciation of property, and personal claims were entirely ignored. He wished to draw the Solicitor-General's attention to an Amendment on page 35 in the name of the Home Secretary which was as follows—In page 2, line 10, at end, to insert the words 'having regard in the case of the licence-holder not only to his legal interest in the premises but also to his conduct and to the length of time during which he has been the holder of the licence, and the holder of a licence-shall (notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary) in no case receive a less amount than he would be entitled to as tenant for a year, or from year to year of the licensed premises.'He could quite understand that a licence-holder under very short notice was going under this Amendment to receive not less than twelve months compensation, but what he wished to know was whether a tenant who might be entitled to a longer period than one year could contract himself out of this Amendment in respect of that longer period? If he could contract himself out of it then the position was that a man under a week's notice who had been there for only a few weeks or months was entitled to exactly the same compensation as the man who had been there for twenty or twenty-five years and whose conduct was irreproachable. Was it possible for the latter individual to contract himself out of his rights or, in the words of the parable of the vineyard, was the man who had worked one hour entitled to one penny and the man who had worked twelve hours only entitled to the same amount?
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said there I were many considerations which hung together in regard to this matter. He did not know whether, for instance, the hon. Member meant to say that no lessee was to be allowed to contract himself out; if so, that was the intention of the Government. It was absurd to lay down that a man who was going to take a lease of his premises should not enter into any contract he pleased. The men they had to protect were those men who had short tenancies who were really in the nature of employees or managers and not lessees at all. They had proposed an enactment that, notwithstanding 1278 any contract entered into, they were to get at least one year's compensation.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly clear and they now knew that these men who had been tenants of licensed premises for a very long period of years were to be free to contract themselves out of the benefits of this clause.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said he meant from year to year. In future, in every case of agreements made between landlord and tenant, there would be a provision contracting them out of the interest they had in the licence. They were proposing to give to the man who had been in the house a few weeks the same compensation as the respectable and responsible tenant of irreproachable character, who had been in the business for twenty-five or thirty years. What equity was there in that? He had an Amendment on the Paper which he ventured to think met this case fully. It was on page 27—In page 2, line 2, after the word 'shall' to insert the words 'after making equitable provision for the licence-holder and the persons usually employed in or about the licensed premises.'He asked the Government whether that was not a fair and equitable way of dealing with this question. When the meaning of the Government Amendment was fully realised, the people of this country would be more amazed than ever at the extraordinary inconsistencies of the Bill which they were now, under unfair limitations of time, endeavouring to discuss.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.