§ [5th ALLOTTED DAY.]
§ As amended, considered.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The first clause on the Paper, that standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Salford cannot be moved as a new clause, but may be proposed as an Amendment to Clause 1 at the end of line 1. With regard to the clause standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester it requires some alteration in order to make it relevant to the Bill. It would be necessary in order to bring it into order, to insert after "1872" the words "from administering this Act."
§ SIR. J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said he would of course make that alteration and would move the new clause in the following form: "A justice shall not be disqualified under Section 60 of the Licensing Act, 1872, from administhis Act by reason only of his holding shares in any such company as is mentioned in that section, unless he is also a director or otherwise directly concerned in the managment of the company." He said it dealt with a case of very great hardship. At one time the law did not allow a shareholder in any railway company which had refreshment rooms of its own to sit as a licensing justice; but that disqualification was considered too extreme and was removed; and he thought that the section of the Act of 1872 which provided that a magistrate having shares in a great brewery company was disqualified from acting as a licensing 1230 justice ought also to be abolished, especially as it was a common practice for magistrates with extreme temperance opinions to adjudicate at licensing sessions. To these men the trade was so obnoxious that, like Nero, they wished it had only one neck which could be cut through. To say that a man who held brewery shares was unfit to perform the ordinary duties of licensing justices was not only unnecessary but unjust. He did not think he need labour the point as the reasons for removing the disqualification were so obvious.
A Clause. (Provision as to disqualification of justices.)A justice shall not be disqualified under Section 60 of the Licensing Act, 1872 from administrating this Act by reason only of his holding shares in any such company at is mentioned in that section, unless he is also a director or otherwise directly concerned in the management of the company."—(Sir.J. Fergusson.)Brought up, and read the first time.
Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the clause be read a second time."
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON,) Dublin University
said the Amendment to the clause on the Paper which was suggested as necessary by the Speaker showed how impossible it was to accept any Amendment to the Bill of that kind. This Bill did not lay down any new qualification or any new disqualification of the magistrates who were to administer the licensing law, and if they were to make an addition to the qualification for administering one Act as against another the system would be rendered absolutely unworkable. He was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be under a misapprehension as to the existing state of the law. He seemed to suppose that a magistrate holding shares in any brewery company was disqualified from acting as a licensing justice. The 60th Section of the Act of 1872 only disqualified a magistrate from acting as a licensing justice who held shares in a brewery operating in his licensing district. Whatever might be thought of the law as it stood—and he thought there was more to be said for it than against it—it was impossible to accept an Amendment to 1231 this Bill which would not be applicable to the general licensing law, and which would prove absolutely unworkable and unpracticable. He strongly deprecated the practice of magistrates who had expressed strong temperance views administering the licensing laws; but there was no other course but to leave it to the good feeling and sense of justice of those magistrates whether it was right, after they had made up their minds, to go on the bench and adjudicate in licensing cases. Such conduct could only lead to agitation in the district, which would do more to destroy the power of the magistrates as an administrative body than anything he could possible conceive. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would realise the desirability of leaving the law as to qualifications and disqualifications where it stood at present, and would not I attempt to set up any special jurisdiction.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said the Solicitor-General had given the House a very important interpretation of the law. He was bound to say he did not read it in that light.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The right hon. Baronet is only entitled to make a personal explanation. He cannot proceed to argue the matter.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said he felt much relieved at the attitude taken up by the Solicitor-General, But he would like to point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman that it was not unknown that magistrates who were practically the owners of public-houses were to be found at times sitting on the bench when licensing cases were under consideration, and he was glad the Solicitor-General had put his foot down upon that practice. With regard to his observations as to temperance men going on the bench with their minds already made up against a licence, he would like to point out that there was no similarity between the two cases, as the temperance reformers had no direct interest in the licence as the brewer had.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
I take it the hon. Member does not dispute my proposition that a man ought not to adjudicate 1232 upon a matter on which he has made up his mind beforehand.
§ MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R., Spen Valley)
observed that the Solicitor-General appeared t3 be troubled about people with preconceived opinions in favour of temperance. He had no condemnation for the magistrates who went on the bench with a preconceived determination not to take a licence away unless compensation was given.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
noted that that remark was only made by the hon. and learned Gentleman when it was drawn from him, and it was not cheered by the supporters of the Bill. There were Gentlemen in that House arid magistrates all over the country who had again and again declared that licences ought not to be taken away unless compensation was given. That was not the law. They went on the bench with a preconceived determination not to take away licences without securing compensation, and yet there was no condemnation from the Government for that conduct. He quite agreed that men should not sit on a bench upon a definite case upon which beforehand they had announced a definite decision, but it was a little wearisome to hear these objections thrown at only one particular class of magistrates with preconceived opinions. During the sittings of the Royal Commission it transpired that on one bench there was a gentleman sitting regularly on licensing matters who was solicitor to five brewers in the town. Had he no preconceived opinions? He quite agreed with the reading of the law just given by the Solicitor-General as to the extent of the existing disqualification, and he thought that was sufficient.
§ MR. GROVES (Salford, S.)
reminded the House that the origin of the Rill was to be traced to the drastic and ill-advised action of certain magistrates with preconceived opinions in connection with licensing matters. That had led the Government to introduce this legislation, and had it not been for that action the law might have remained untouched for a long period of years, for they would have continued in the future to rely upon justice and equity. They had been told that unless a man had a direct personal interest in the immediate district he was not disqualified from acting as a licensing magistrate, but it frequently happened that a man preferred to make his investments in breweries with which he was personally acquainted. He quite agreed that if a man had a direct personal interest he ought to be disqualified by law, if not by his own conscience, from adjudicating, but that was a very different thing to saying that from every bench of magistrates should be eliminated its most active members probably, because they happened to have a small or general interest in the trade. It was the extreme absurdity and one-sidedness of that position which had induced his right hon. friend to put this clause on the Paper. He knew of a case in which an honorary official of a society for the total suppression of the liquor traffic continually sat on a licensing bench, and all attempts to point out to him the impropriety of such action had failed. It was such cases as these that emphasised the inequality and burning injustice of the present state of the law. If this Bill was to become a working success—as he hoped it would—and a greater measure of temperance reform than many anticipated, the Government would do well to give their careful attention to this question of disqualification.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is now discussing the question whether magistrates holding strong views against the granting of licences should act as licensing justices. That is not the proposal contained in the new clause, which is strictly limited to the question of disqualification through holding shares
SIR J. FE RGUSSON
After the statement of the Solicitor-General I will, 1234 with the permission of the House withdraw my Motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
moved an Amendment to limit the duration of the Act to 1st January, 1919. He said this was a different way of getting at a sort of time limit to any which had hitherto been proposed. The object was to make the Bill a temporary instead of a permanent Act of Parliament. As the question had been discussed before, he would not take up much time. It was clear that this Bill would not be a final settlement of the licensing question. It would not effect very much one way or another except in the way of establishing vested interests which would interfere with legisation in the future. If this Government had not the time, resource, or political courage to deal with a question of that magnitude in the way it should be treated, they ought not to stand in the way of future Governments dealing with it. It was a question which needed dealing with drastically. The Bill had been introduced to meet a temporary political difficulty—to retail for the Government the support of the brewers; therefore let the Bill be of the same character as the difficulty which created it, and let the Government consent to make the Bill a temporary measure. To make a Bill of this character permanent was introducing a very serious obstacle in the way of temperance reform in the future. There had been no end of methods adopted in America and our Colonies to deal with the temperance question, but if the present Bill became law without introducing some time limit, methods to the same end could not be applied in this country. The Bill would convert a licence into a property. But by making the Bill temporary in its operation the trade would enjoy fourteen years wherein to clear out. That was a generous estimate, and it ought to be considered satisfactory. The Government had inserted a provision with regard to new licences at the end of seven years, and providing that the licensees should not have a reasonable expectation of renewal. The new licence-holders under 1235 the Bill, therefore, were rot in the same position as the holders of old licences. The House could not deal with this great problem in this trivial and small way. There must be a clean slate. There were only two ways of doing it. Either the Government should say that if the publican's property was taken away in the public interest the public must pay for it—that would be the courageous view—or they might say that a time limit would be enforced in the way he suggested by his Amendment, for the public would say, "We are asked to buy our own property; it is public property; and we say that we are not going to buy what is our own property." Thus they gave the publicans fourteen years, and if either of those suggestions was adopted the Government would be provided with a clean slate in approaching the consideration of the problem. But the policy adopted by the Government was rather to put off the evil day and to make the eventual handling of the question more difficult than it was before. They could not accept the grossly antiquated proposition that the trade was going to provide the compensation. The licence duties were sufficiently low in all conscience. Let them take the United States of America. Why, in New York City alone—and the population there was a million less than the population of London—licensed houses paid more than half a million a year more for duty than the whole of the licensed houses in the United Kingdom! He knew he was leading a forlorn hope in this matter, but the Opposition, at any rate, could not accept the Bill as a final settlement, or even as a serious contribution towards the solution of the licensing problem.
A clause. (Duration of Act.)
This Act shall continue in operation until the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen."— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
said he was afraid that he must agree with the hon. Member that his attempt 1236 to impose a time limit was a forlorn hope. The Government had given its reasons on several occasions why it could not accept a time limit, and he did not think that the hon. Member had brought forward any fresh argument to induce the Government to alter the decision it had stated over and over again. It should not be forgotten that the compensation money was to be provided by the trade itself and not by the public. A time limit, therefore, would not be fair to those who were contributing towards the compensation fund. It would, indeed, be hard on licensees who insured their premises under the Bill if the period of insurance were limited to fourteen years. A licensee at the end of one year's insurance might receive full compensation, whereas the licensee who contributed for ten years, or a longer period, might find that he had been contributing to the benefit of his rivals but to the eventual loss of himself. This was merely one of the grounds on which the Government had come to the conclusion that a time limit was out side the scope of the Bill. The hon. Member in moving his clause had admitted that he was leading a forlorn hope. No doubt he would desire to test the opinion of the House, and he hoped the debate would not therefore be unduly prolonged.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
said he regretted to hear the speech of the Home Secretary, and he was sure that in days to come the supporters of the Government would regret it. The right hon. Gentleman had produced no new argument against the need for a time limit, and he himself in rising was not possessed by any feeling of vanity that he might succeed where both the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Carnarvon had failed. But he protested against the assumption that underlay the right hon. Gentleman's speech—the assumption that, if this period of mutual insurance lasted only for a limited time, at the end of that period some injustice would be done to the trade. That would not be so for two reasons. In the first place, if this Bill had the effect which its promoters attributed to it, and if it would reduce unnecessary licences, it was quite clear that at the end 1237 of the period the area of reduction would be much narrower than it was at present. In other words, there would not be the same reason on the part of the licensing authorities to interfere in anything like the same drastic manner with licence-holders. That rested on the assumption that the Bill would have the effect attributed to it by its authors—an assumption which he himself did not share. The second point was equally clear. It was that the survivors who had contributed to the compensation fund during the period would have obtained a diminution of competition and an enhanced value of the premises in which they were interested, which would be an ample quid pro quo for what they had contributed to the fund. Therefore, people who had contributed to the fund, and who had not themselves been made victims of the process of reduction, would have an enhanced value of their premises and a diminished risk. The matter went to the very root of the whole argument; and he again wished to express his deep regret that the Government had not seen fit, even at the eleventh hour, to incorporate in the Bill a provision which, although it would not destroy many of the objectionable features of the Bill, would, at any rate, limit its operation.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was under a misapprehension as to the effect of the time limit. The right hon. Gentleman said that after fourteen years the number of redundant licences would be much less. He entirely agreed. But why should a person after fourteen years had elapsed not receive the same measure of treatment as he would have received during the fourteen years. They had to consider the individual effect in these cases. It was totally unjust and unfair to say that an individual who after fourteen years was deprived of his property in the public interest ought not to be placed in the same position as a similar individual who had been deprived of his property just before the termination of the fourteen years. The fact was they could not apply the time limit if they wanted to deal fairly and justly as between the State on the one hand and the individual on the other. The right hon. Gentleman also said that alter fourteen years the survivors would 1238 have property enhanced in value. It was a question whether that would be so or not; but, in any event, what argument was that? If the argument were to work fairly, they ought to increase the compensation in that case, He thought the right hon. Gentleman would feel that that was not a sound argument; because if what was right was right now or next year it would be equally right in the future. In reply to the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, he would point out that no one assumed that all temperance reform could be dealt with him one Bill. This Bill would, however, reduce the number of redundant public-houses; and there was no temperance reformer who would not agree that that was at least one of the directions in which they should proceed if they desired a true measure of temperance reform. What would be the effect of the Amendment? It would reduce the fund which would be available for buying out redundant public-houses which ought to disappear according to every temperance reformer. That ought to be carried out on the very lines that his Party had always adhered to, and always would adhere to, viz., that they could not do justice in one direction if they did conscious injustice in another. The whole basis of a time limit was a fallacy. The principle on which they should proceed was that there was a case for fair treatment whenever private property was taken away in the public interest.
§ * MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said that a great many hon. Members on both sides held the view that in order to, meet the temporary emergency which this Bill sought to deal with, it was not necessary to establish a permanent system of compensation. They recognised, however, that there was a temporary emergency which ought to be met by legislation. The magistrates in the past took a certain view of their duty; the magistrates of the present had, in response to public opinion, changed that policy, and had come to the conclusion that licences granted in the past ought not now in the public interest to be retained. That change in policy called for some system of compensation for houses which were closed in the public interest. But 1239 they had not agreed, and did not agree, to a permanent system of compensation to meet a temporary emergency. That would not be a right thing, or a thing that could remain permanently on the Statute-book. Taking that view, he could not but regret that the hon. Gentleman opposite had thought it right to move his Amendment. There were two forms of what might be called a time limit. The Amendment was a form of time limit which sought to render the Bill transitory, and which sought to disable it as a permanent settlement. That being the nature of the Amendment, he could not support it; and he thought many of his hon. friends who were in favour of the principle of a time limit would not be able to support it either. The object to be aimed at was not to render the Bill transitory or nugatory, but to secure a fair and final settlement. If it were to be final it must be fair, and if it were to be fair it must be final. That was where he took issue with the hon. Gentleman opposite. If a new system of licensing were to be introduced in which capital was to be invested, it could not be fair unless it gave the security which a permanent Act of Parliament gave. Fairness and finality went together; and they were not without hope, even yet, that the Bill might be so amended as to afford a permanent settlement of the matter.
The other class of time limit was of a totally different character, and sought to secure a permanent and final settlement of the matter. He recognised that there was a great deal of force in the argument that, if they were asking people to pay into a compensation fund for fourteen years, they could not regard that as an insurance fund, which would be completely exhausted by the protection received (luring such period; and that it would not be fair that a man who had been paying into the fund for fourteen years should have his own licence abolished in the fifteenth year without receiving any compensation at all. That would not be a fair settlement. He had put down on the Paper a competitive Amendment. The two were covered by the generic term of time limit, which was, however, inappropriate as a description of two Amendments of a very different character. Many of them thought the 1240 matter of such importance that it ought to be dealt with apart from Party considerations. This was not the last stage of the Bill. Amendments might be made in another place; the Bill might come back to that House in a different form; and their business at that stage was to leave it as far as possible in a form which would permit of the alteration they desired in order that it should be a permanent settlement. Therefore, he thought that the hon. Gentleman had been ill-advised in bringing forward his Amendment. It would destroy the Bill, whereas his object was to make the Bill a final settlement. He appealed to his hon. friends who were interested in the trade to give further consideration to that matter, and to see whether it would not be desirable in their own interests to make some concession which would render the Bill a permanent settlement. The present form of the Bill was so disputable that it could not be regarded as final. The Amendment he had put down would be moved in another place; and he hoped that ultimately the Bill as passed would be a final settlement.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that the hon. Gentleman had stated that fairness and finality went together, and that if the Bill were fair it would be final.
§ * MR. BOUSFIELD
said he simply laid down the proposition that the two things must go together; that any Bill that was final must be fair, and that a Bill to be fair must be final.
§ MR. BRYCE
expressed his obligation the hon. Member for having corrected the impression he at first created. He had created the impression that this Bill contained so many disputable elements that t could not be final, and it was because he Opposition held that view that this Amendment had been moved in order that t should not be final. The House should recognise that this matter must be dealt with again, and dealt with on different lines, and the Government would do well to recognise the views of many moderate men of their own Party who felt that the Bill could never be permanent. Another reason why this measure must be a temporary measure was that it was brought forward to meet and deal with a 1241 temporary evil. This was not a measure founded on the principles of eternal justice. Had it been so it might have been introduced many years previously when licences were being taken away without compensation being paid. If eternal justice demanded that compensation should be given in these cases, compensation was required to be given just as much then as it was now. The hon. Member for Salford had given the true explanation of the introduction of this Bill, an explanation which had been often given by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House and one they were glad to find confirmed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Gentleman had let the cat out of the bag. He said if they were going to take away the owner's property after fourteen years it was just as had to take it away then as now. The hon. Gentleman had shown what was the real fallacy on which the whole case for this Bill rested. In his view a licence granted for a year, to expire at the end of a year, was property; in his view the licensing bench of magistrates when it granted a licence made a gift of a property to the recipient of that licence. He admitted that, if that was the correct view to take, those opposing the Bill were entirely out of Court, but in their view it was not a property; in their view the most that could be said was that a reasonable expectation had been given that what had been done before would be done again. But that expectation could not last for ever and it was absolutely put an end to by a plain declaration removing all hope in the future. The question was how long the notice should be? His hon. friend had put it at fourteen years. Such a term was surely long enough to enable people to escape from the delusion that a licence for one year meant a licence to he continued year after year without end. The hon. Member for Stretford had argued that at the end of fourteen years the value of the property would be enhanced, and that the owner ought to get a better price, but the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot that the owner had had the benefit of that enhancement during that time. He quite agreed that if it was a property it would be a more valuable property in the end and that the owner, therefore, ought to receive greater compensation, but if it was not a property at all but only an expectation, then that expectation got less as years went on after the notice was given. The 1242 Home Secretary had not added any new arguments; he had not given any argument at all. The right hon. Gentleman could not find the slightest answer to the case as to whether this was a property or only an expectation. If it was a property the compensation ought to come out of public funds; if it was merely an expectation then the time limit did not affect it. He thought the best way that the House could mark its sense of the temporary character of this Bill, was by enacting that it should be in force for only a fixed number of years.
§ MR HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
expressed his regret that the question of the time limit had been put forward in so crude and unsatisfactory a form. To make the Bill temporary would produce an entirely wrong effect, because the effect would be that, before a certain day, there would be full compensation under the Bill and that after that date there would be no compensation at all. Such an arrangement did not appeal to him. This Bill was clearly not a permanent settlement of this question. What he had always thought they wanted was a sliding scale of compensation, or the establishment of the principle of valuation, based on the non-renewal of a licence after a certain day, and on the absence of any expectation. That would not be done by making this Act temporary. He could not help thinking that if something of that kind had been introduced into the Bill by the Government in the first instance, it would have been accepted by reasonable men on both sides. It was true that this was a measure of temperance reform, but he considered that too high a price was being paid for it.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that the particular form of time limit proposed in this Amendment was about the worst possible that could be conceived. The right hon. Member for Aberdeen had said that this Bill could only be a temporary measure, but one of the favourite arguments in the previous debates was that the Government were preventing any-new legislation on the subject. The right hon. Member for Aberdeen took a different view of the power of Parliament, 1243 with the nation behind it, from that taken, he thought, by the right hon. Member for Berwick. There was, however, no use legislating in this way by throwing out threats as to whether a Bill would be permanent or temporary. The Bill would be permanent until the House desired to change it; but let them not put clauses in the Bill which would not only render it difficult to carry on the system of licensing in this country, but would subject it to the uncertainty which would be caused by the idea that Acts of Parliament could be torn up by the mere fact that the different Parties walked across from one side of the House to the other. If the Amendment were carried, what was to happen at the end of the fourteen years? The Amendment set up no system, and he submitted with confidence that the licence-holder would be in a great deal stronger position at the end of the fourteen years than he was in now. The ante–1869 houses were brought within the scope of this Bill, but at the end of fourteen years they would be said to be outside the Bill. The Amendment, if passed in its present form, would throw the whole licensing system into a state of absolute chaos at the end of the period. He would not again go over the arguments with regard to a time limit—whether there ought to be compensation at the end of the limit, or whether the time limit itself ought not to be the compensation, which to his mind was the only real alternative—but the proposal that after making the man insure they should say at the end of the period that everything was at an end and that the old system should revive was an absolutely hopeless Amendment. The hon. Member for Carnarvon had asked where was the unfairness of a fourteen years time limit seeing that the Bill had set up a period of seven years for new licences. New licences and old licences had nothing whatever in common. The holders of new licences would possess none of the existing interests, and because there would be a clear field the Government had determined that no monopoly should be permitted to arise in connection with new licences. But what had that to do with old licences which had a recognised interest, saleable in the market, recognised by the State for purposes of taxation, and recognised as possessing an 1244 easily assessable value? The time limit Amendments which had been rejected were attempts to solve the question in relation to the licence itself; but the present Amendment proposed to apply a time limit to the Bill, and that he felt was absolutely impossible of acceptation.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said the Solicitor-General had stated that another Parliament would be absolutely free to reverse legislation passed by the present Parliament. That, of course, was perfectly true, since every new Parliament had, in theory, a perfectly clear start, but what had been done in one Parliament might make it more or less difficult for another Parliament to feel itself free in the matter. Much of the Solicitor-General's speech was, in effect, an exemplification of the manner in which, if the Bill passed without a time limit, it would, year by year, become increasingly difficult for the House to adopt any alternative system of temperance reform. The right hon. Gentleman argued against the adoption of the time limit on the ground that, by the Bill, licence-holders were to pay an insurance calculated on the assumption that their licences were never to be taken away in the public interest without full compensation, and that, as long as that went on, it would become more unjust to impose a time limit on the remaining licence-holders. The right hon. Gentleman therefore argued that anything in the nature of a time limit was unsuitable to the Bill and to the system which that Bill would establish and would become increasing unsuitable as time went on. That was precisely the reason why they on the Opposition side regarded it as of the essence of the case that a time limit should be introduced. If the Bill was passed, the Solicitor-General and the Government supporters generally would be the first to argue that, inasmuch as a system of insurance had been set up all over the country and an expectation created that there would be no time limit, therefore, from that point of view, any future Parliament would be in equity bound by what was done by the present Bill. He submitted that the manner and the special circumstances under which the Bill was being passed would make it unusually little binding either in reality or in equity upon any 1245 future Parliament. He noted a very significant omission from the Solicitor-General's speech. The right hon. Gentleman opposed the Amendment before the House on the ground that it was the most unsuitable form in which the question of the time limit could be raised, but he did not say that he or the Government would regard with any greater favour some other Amendment in what they conceived to be a more suitable form but asserting the same principle. The Amendment before the House was a forlorn hope, but was the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney any less so from the Government point of view? The only allusion of the Solicitor-General to a more suitable form of dealing with the matter was where he said that other Amendments had already been rejected by a large majority. If that was so was it really worth while for the hon. Member for Hackney and the right hon. Member for East Somerset to quarrel with the form of his hon. friend's Amendment. If the Government had given any indication that they would be prepared to accept the time-limit principle in any other form he would have paid great attention to what the hon. Member for Hackney had said.
§ * MR. BOUSFIELD
said he quarrelled not with the form but with the substance of the present Amendment, the effect of which was practically to render the present Bill not a settlement of the matter at all, whereas the object of his own Amendment would have been to render it a permanent settlement.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
said the impression on his mind was that the hon. Member disapproved of this particular method of seeking to introduce the time limit. There was much in the hon. Member's Amendment, but, as the Government had not the remotest intention of supporting it, the question as between the various forms of introducing the principle became a very little one. The objection of Members on that side of the House to the Bill had been admirably stated from the Government Benches. The hon. Member for Salford had begun by saying that the Bill was introduced because certain magistrates had taken away licences without giving compensation.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
replied that the hon. Member had gone further than that; he had said that if magistrates had not taken away licences without giving compensation the Bill would not have come before the House. But the hon. Member for the Stretford Division had gone even further and said there must never come a time when magistrates should again be able to take the course of extinguishing licences without compensation. That was really the main ground of his (the speaker's) objection to the Bill—that it would close the door, as far as it was possible for the present Government to close it—against any alternative method of temperance reform. The creed of the Government's supporters was based on the fact that they regarded licences granted for a year only as perpetual property. So that if, after the passing of the Bill, any attempt was made by a future Parliament to raise the question, members of the present Government would be the first to say that the matter could not be freely dealt with because a legal title had already been given. That was why he regarded the Bill as having no binding effect, and he submitted that the Opposition should place on record on every available opportunity their view that the Bill, having been passed at the fag-end of a session and by the methods which had been adopted, could not be recognised as permanent by future Parliaments.
§ * MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
, who said that he unfortunately had had an Amendment for a graduated time limit ruled out of order, expressed disappointment that the Government had not seen their way to introduce a time limit into the Bill. In his constituency there was a very strong wish for the reduction of licensed houses and a feeling that that would not be accomplished except somewhat on the lines of the present Bill, namely, by having compensation raised from the trade. Of that part of the Bill he entirely approved. While it might be contended that the licence-holder had only one year's legal holding, he submitted that custom had given him a considerable moral holding, and that the levying of death 1247 duties especially afforded a strong reason against licences being taken away without compensation, except for misconduct. He had, however, a strong objection to the holding being turned into a permanent vested interest. He was not concerned to defend the legislative action or policy of the temperance societies of the country; they had done much social good by the propagation of temperance principles, but he believed that too often they had hindered legislatively the cause they had at heart by their extreme attitude. Throughout this debate a somewhat different spirit had been manifested. The justice of compensation had been recognised, and he could not help believing that an opportunity had arisen which might have been utilised in the interests of temperance reform without inflicting any injustice upon licensed victuallers. He thought it was very unfortunate, therefore, that the Government should be passing a Bill which was extremely offensive in this particular to temperance reformers of all degrees. He appreciated the altered attitude of temperance societies on the matter of compensation, and regretted the Government had not seen fit to meet this by giving a time limit and thus promoting a lasting and just settlement of this difficult and complex question.
Another reason why he advocated a time limit was that the holders of the best class of licences would contribute very heavily to the compensation fund from which they would never receive any return, because there was no danger of their licences being withdrawn, whereas the plainer class of house, which would contribute much less, would receive grants from the fund or such increased trade as would more than compensate them for the contribution they made to the fund. While it was a necessary arrangement in order to secure the reduction of licences on a just principle it was a system which ought not to be permanent in its character, but after a reasonable number of years, when the redundant licences would have been withdrawn, they might expect that State regulated compensation should cease, and it should be a condition in granting renewals that there should be a mutual insurance fund into which the holder of each licence would pay in proportion to risk and liability of losing his 1248 licence. It would be unjust to the holders of the better class houses that they should have permanently to contribute heavily to a fund from which they would never receive any return. He asked the Solicitor-General to consider whether it would not be wiser in the interest of the trade to have a time limit. He was anxious to do justice to the licensed victuallers, but he was aware that they could not control the Government. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"] All he could say was that the licensed trade had suffered more from temperance reforms at the hands of the Party which supported the Government than they had at the hands of the Party opposite. It was true that every bit of temperance reform for the last twenty-five years had come from his side of the House. He wanted this to be a lasting settlement which would secure justice to the publican and yet appeal to the good judgment of all sections of the people. He hoped the Government would yield on this point, and, if they did he felt sure they would be rendering a service to temperance reform which future generations would bless them for.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said that on two occasions legislation granting the Principality of Wales popular control of licences had been passed by this House. Evidence on this point was brought before the Licensing Commission, and in the Chairman's Report it was recommended that at the expiration of seven years Wales should have a large measure of popular control. The Amendment provided that this Bill should cease to operate in fourteen years and that would at any rate hold out to the people of Wales some hope that at the end of that time the, way would he open to them to pass, legislation on this question in accordance with the prevailing sentiment of the country. The House would understand the strength of the opposition of Wales to this Bill and how earnestly the Welsh people would support any Amendment which would have the effect of enabling the Principality, within a certain number of years to work out its own salvation in accordance with the prevailing convictions of the people.
§ * MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashir, Radcliffe)
said that he would like, even at that late hour, to endorse the remarks made by the hon. Member for Tavistock. He was profoundly convinced that the Government might yet make a better bargain in the interests of the holders of licensed property if they adopted a time limit than if the Bill was not altered in that respect. Whatever was said by mere partisans, they all knew that there was a sufficiently large body of opinion in the country opposed to this Bill which would make itself felt hereafter. Indeed, the vast majority of the people of the country were unalterably opposed to the Bill. He was one who would do justice to every interest concerned, but he believed that in order to effect a settlement of this matter the Government could have extorted from the opponents of the Bill more than justice, and that might have led to a permanent settlement. It would be bare justice that they would get in the future, he was certain, because if the Bill was passed in its present form against the entreaty of all the Members on the Government side who had prayed them to allow some time limit, reinforced by the solid opposition to the Bill in the country, they might depend upon it that the people of the country would not admit the principle that any Government, by whatever majority they passed a Bill, should be allowed to permanently thwart to such an extent the wishes of the people at large. Being himself a licensing magistrate, he was certain that this Bill, merely from the administrative point of view, would cast on quarter sessions such difficult duties that it would require amendment. If the Bill was so good a measure as the Government thought, surely they might trust to the working of it to convince the Legislature of the future, when the subject came up for examination, that it was best to carry out the same principle again—supposing a time limit was put into the Bill. If a time limit was not put into the Bill, it was a slap in the face to Members on the Government side of the House—who vet voted in the Lobby for the Government, however—and it was a slap in the face to the large body of Unionist temperance opinion, which would reassert itself at the polls, per- 1250 haps not by active opposition to the Government but by a slackening of the moral fibre of those who fought in the interests of the Unionist Party.
Although a temperance man himself, he had tried to approach this matter from an absolutely impartial standpoint—a very difficult thing for a Party man to do. The main object of the Bill was to make safe the financial interests of the owners of licensed premises. At all events, they were all agreed that that was one of the objects of the Bill; and he put it to the guardians of that interest in the House, that they were making a great mistake—how great the near future might prove—in neglecting the opportunity of making a settlement of the question. As Party men it suited him and other Liberals much better for the Bill to become an Act as it was. It would he Party capital for them, and would enable them to win votes from quarters from which they would not expect them. He was honest when he said that he believed the Liberal Party would gain from this Bill going to the country as an Act of Parliament; but, of course, they would have the question to deal with later on. It would, nevertheless, be a Unionist Party advantage to have it settled now. He believed it would tend to the settlement of this question if the Government, if not in this House then in another place, were to accept something in the nature of this Amendment.
§ MR. BARRAN (Leeds, N.)
said he wished to call attention to some of the differences between compulsory insurance regulated by the State and compulsory insurance not so regulated. That was really the difference which this Amendment would produce in this Bill. The existence of the Bill for fourteen years would mean a compulsory insurance during that time. The State would undertake the regulation of it, but at the end of that period it would be quite as compulsory an insurance as before. There would, however, be this great difference. During the fourteen years when it was regulated by the State it would be confined to comparatively small localities, whereas at the end of that period the area would be widened practically to the Whole country. In other 1251 trades, and more especially dangerous trades, there was at the present time, to all intents and purposes, compulsory insurance. Employers were hound to expend a large sum in insurance, and any large employer who failed to do so would be courting certain disaster under certain circumstances. The trades which were put under that law got nothing from the Government, as the licensed trade did. The licensed trade got a very valuable asset, and that was an additional reason for insisting that licence-holders should be put under such disadvantages, if he might use the term, as would make their own insurance at a later period absolutely essential. During fourteen years, of course, they would have security or compensation. At the end of fourteen years there would be a very largely decreased number of public-houses. That meant that at the end of the period the trade would have a stronger monopoly than they had at the present time. They would have a combination more powerful even than any of those trusts of which the disadvantages in other countries had been seen. This combination would enable them to take from the consumers whatever funds they might require for compensation, either by an advance of prices or by
§ what the trade understood equally well—the question of quality. This Bill would give to the monopoly greater power still. There was no limit put to the continual increase in the value of these licences. No arrangement was made while the Bill was going through Committee to limit the amount of the valuation. Therefore they were giving to the licences an enormously added capital value in the future.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)
said he wished to speak on behalf of a body of people whose views had not been voiced in the House, so far as he knew. They would hail with delight the acceptance by the Government of such an Amendment as that proposed by the hon. Member for Carnarvon. As he read the Bill, a time limit was foreshadowed in regard to new licences it seemed to him that there would be very great difficulty, speaking from the quarter sessions point of view, in dealing with the two kinds of licences.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 138; Noes, 220. (Division List No. 277.)1255
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Asher, Alexander||Duncan, J. Hastings||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Dunn, Sir William||Joicey, Sir James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Edwards, Frank||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire|
|Atherley. Jones, L.||Ellice, CaptE. C(SAndrw'sBghs||Joyce, Michael|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Evans, Sir Fran. H. (Maidstone||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Fenwick, Charles||Lambert, George|
|Bell, Richard||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Langley, Batty|
|Boland, John||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Brigg, John||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Levy, Maurice|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Burt, Thomas||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E.(Berwick)||Lough, Thomas|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lundon, W.|
|Caldwell, James||Hain, Edward||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cameron, Robert||Hammond, John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Harcourt, Lewis V.(Rossendale||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hardie, J. Keir(MerthyrTydvil||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Harwood, George||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Crombie, John William||Higham, John Sharpe||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)|
|Cullinan, J.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Horniman, Frederick John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Nussey, Thomas Winans||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|O'Doherty, William||Seely, Maj. J.E.B.(Isle of Wight||Ure, Alexander|
|O'Malley, William||Shackleton, David James||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds, S.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Sheehy, David||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Slack, John Bamford||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Parrott, William||Sloan, Thomas Henry||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Spear, John Ward||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Stanhope, lion. Philip James||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Price, Robert John||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilson, Henry J.(Yorks., W.R.)|
|Rea, Russell||Sullivan, Donal||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Tennant, Harold John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)||Lloyd-George and Mr. Whittaker.|
|Runciman, Walter||Tomkinson, James|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Toulmin, George|
|Schwalm, Charles E.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Davenport, William Bromley||Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside|
|Allhusen, Augustus HenryEden||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Hoult, Joseph|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dewar, Sir T.R.(Tower Hamlets||Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.|
|td>Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Dixon-Hartland, SirFredDixon||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Doogan, P. C.||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J.(Manch'r||Doughty, Sir George||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W.(Leeds)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N.R.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Fisher, William Hayes||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Fison, Frederick William||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Bigwood, James||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Forster, Henry William||Long, Col. CharlesW.(Evesham|
|Brassey, Albert||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Long, Rt.Hn.Walter(Bristol,S.)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Galloway, William Johnson||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Gardner, Ernest||Lowe, Francis William|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Garfit, William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Butcher, John George||Gordon, Hn. J.E.(Elgin& Nairn)||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth|
|Campbell, J.H.M. (Dublin Univ||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Greene, Sir E.W(B'rySEdm'nds||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh, W|
|Chamberlain,Rt Hn. J.A(Worc.||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Chapman, Edward||Gretton, John||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Groves, James Grimble||Maxwell, RtHn. Sir FL E(Wigt'n|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mount, William Arthur|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hayden, John Patrick||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Crippe, Charles Alfred||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Heaton, John Henniker||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Robinson, Brooke||Tomlinson, Sir Win. Edw. M.|
|Nolan, Col. JohnP.(Galway, N.)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Tully, Jasper|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Valentia, Viscount|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Vincent,Col.Sir C.E.H(Sheffield|
|O'Dowd, John||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Samuel, Sir HarryS.(Limehouse||Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C.E(Taunton|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Percy, Earl||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.—Col. Edward||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Purvis, Robert||Smith, RtHn J. Parker(Lanarks||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Rankin, Sir James||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Ratcliff, R. F.||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stroyan, John|
|Renwick, George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Ridley, Hon. M. W.(Stalybridge||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G(O xf'dUniv.||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Thompson, Dr. E C(Monagh'n, N||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said he begged to move the clause which appeared on the Paper in his name. He need not trouble the House by reading the clause, which was somewhat clouded by legal phraseology; but he would like to state in popular language what was the object of the proposed Amendment to the Bill. He wished to make it possible for an existing licensee, the period of whose licence was for one year, to elect to take a new licence for seven years. He would point out to the House that the situation of this clause had very materially changed since first placed upon the Paper, and while the Bill was going through Committee. At that time the Government had not adopted the view that the best system of licensing was to sweep away the annual term and to grant every licence for a period of seven years. They had apparently now come to the conclusion, in regard to all new licences, that the term of their duration instead of being one year should be seven years, subject of course to the discretion of the magistrates, who might fix it at a less period. As he understood it, it was open to them to grant licences for seven years, but not for more. He congratulated the Government upon the courage with which they had adopted this ultimately universal system for dealing with this trade, regulating it, and bringing it into accordance with utility and good sense. It was obvious that a seven years term would satisfy both classes which 1256 were interested in the granting of licences. It satisfied the licensee because it gave him a fixed period during which he had comparative security of tenure, subject of course to forfeiture for had conduct; and at the end of that period his chance of renewal would not be for one year, but for seven years. The result was that a term would be given long enough to form the subject-matter of insurance which might be effected on mutual lines. Therefore, from the point of view of the licensee, they put the trade upon a reasonable basis. All that was asked on behalf of the friends of temperance was that there should be some opportunity for readjusting the number of houses to the public wants. At the end of the seven years under that system this opportunity would arise. By this proposal they would accomplish the three-fold object of regulating the trade on businesslike principles, of satisfying the public requirements, and of giving security of tenure for a limited period, which would enable the licensee to make his own insurance and relieve him from the obligation of coming under the cumbrous system of insurance by public authority. If that was a good system in regard to new licences, he hoped the Solicitor-General would tell the House whether it would not work equally well with regard to existing licences.
The proposal of the Government as it stood was in an imperfect and truncated condition. It suggested an admirable 1257 provision in regard to new licences, but it made no provision for the licences now in existence. He hoped that he would not be met by a plea of non possumus. His suggestion was that they should pro-wide a mode of merger which created no conflict with the operation of this Bill. The Bill would continue in the case of the old licensees who preferred the machinery the Government provided for insurance, but in the case of the old licensees who Aid not prefer that machinery, it should be possible for them to take new licences lieu of the old. It would be said by some of his friends that the effect of this clause would be to entirely destroy the Government scheme, and for two reasons. In the first place, it had been said that the existing licensees of large properties would elect to take a seven years licence because they would be relieved from a contribution to the fund, and thus licences in large properties would not be brought within the scope of the operation of the fund. On the other hand, the small licensee would be kept out because it would be said that if they continued under the existing system their contribution to the fund would be increased by the fact that the holders of the large licences would keep out and elect to take a seven years licence. The result would be that there would be no fund and no mode for compensating the houses suppressed, and, therefore, no suppression would take place. What was the answer to that? In the first place, he did not think it was clear that they could prevent the Government scheme being destroyed in the case of large hotels, because they could easily arrange with the magistrates to take a new licence for seven years, and thus be kept out of the operation of the Bill altogether. If in the course of a few years so large a number of licence-holders elected to take up new licences for seven years as practically to bring the existence of the fund to an end, they would then be exchanging the new system for the old by the simple option provided under this clause. Parliament would then see that the seven years system had been a success, and the cumbrous machinery of insurance by public authority would be abolished. He put this suggestion before the Government because he did not think that the 1258 law could be left for any appreciable period in the present state of confusion. They could not have working side by side in a satisfactory way a seven years system and an annual system. The seven years system was a rational one which commended itself to all those engaged in the trade, and if the Solictor-General could I not accept his suggestion he would like him to suggest some other method.
A clause (Seven years licences).Upon the proposed grant to any person after the passing of this Act of a new licence, or upon the application be any licensed person for the renewal of an existing licence, such proposed grantee or applicant shall declare whether he elects to have such licence granted or renewed, as the case may be, for one year, or whether he prefers in lieu thereof to have issue, to him a seven years licence. In the latter event, Sections 1, 3, and 4 of his Act shall not apply to such licence, and the same shall operate in all other respects as an annual licence save only that the duration thereof shall be seven years instead of one year and that during the currency of such period the licensing justices may, if they think fit, forfeit such licence upon the ground that the licensed premises have been ill-conducted or are structurally deficient or unsuitable or upon grounds connected with the character or fitness of the holder of the licence, and upon the expiration of the said period and of each succeeding period of seven years the said justices may in their discretion grant the renewal of the said licence or may refuse the same without any obligation to pay or provide compensation, and in such manner as licences are now renewable subject only to forfeiture upon the grounds above stated."—(Mr. Lawson Walton.)
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said the first proposal of the hon. and learned Member was in regard to the granting of new licences, and he proposed that instead of the system under the Bill which provided that a person could only get a new licence by paying the full monopoly value, subject to conditions as to tenure which the magistrates might lay down, that the brewer or the publican who already held a licence might elect to take out a new licence for seven years in place of it 1259 without paying anything for its monopoly value and without any of the restrictions which the magistrates could place upon new licences. Such an applicant would be in a vastly superior position to an ordinary licence-holder. The view of the Government was that they ought not to grant a new licence without making the holder pay the monopoly value, which was the difference between the value of the premises with and without a licence. What his hon. and learned friend sought to do for the trade by this Amendment, as opposed to the proposals of the Bill, was to give the brewers an option. Instead of adhering to the system under the Bill, the hon. and learned Member proposed that the brewer, the publican, or the applicant might elect to take a new licence for the same period without paying anything for the monopoly value which would be conferred upon them. If he were to have regard to the cause of the brewer or the publican only, he would say that this Amendment could not possibly do them any harm, for it would enable them to create a new monopoly. Such an applicant for a new licence would be placed in a greatly superior position than was the case at present, because he would enjoy a run of seven years without interruption, and without having paid a shilling for the monopoly that was given to him. This proposal would destroy the compensation basis of the Bill, and the Government could not accept the Amendment.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said that upon this very important question, he quite agreed with what the hon. Member opposite had said, that looking at the future licences there must be uniformity of system. It was impossible to suppose that they could have two classes of licences, one an annual licence subject to compensation, and the other a seven years licence, upon which the monopoly value was not subject to the compensation clause. The vice of this Bill was in suggesting a new system which was wholly inapplicable, having regard to the conditions they had to control, and which must operate badly. Our licensing system should be placed upon the best basis possible. The Government proposed to adopt the 1260 principle of a possible seven years term. From his experience as a licensing magistrate, he would never consent without a protest to the withdrawal from the supervision of the licensing justices of any licence granted by a magistrate for so long a period. A licence ought to come up for supervision every year, in order that the justices might see that the holder was taking all precautions and acting in accordance with public wellbeing and public morality. It was not a question of illegality, but let them consider what might happen. Take the case quoted in the House of a publican refusing to serve soldiers in uniform. Under this seven years system he submitted that such a thing could be done with impunity for the whole of that period. That was, a fatal blot on this system. The seven years system gave no security that the result of a title of this kind might not be that, instead of the public getting what they wanted, they would either get the big brewer who wanted to make a large profit out of the house in the seven years and the tied-house system, or municipal public-houses. He could not conceive the advisability of granting a licence, the nature of which made a tied house a necessity. Nothing could be worse; and he would look with suspicion at anything which introduced a system which might conduce to municipal public-houses. The conditions the Government imposed in this case would not permit any ordinary man to apply for a licence. A man who wanted a new licence nowadays had to go to a large expense, and had to make a very good title for a new licence for particular premises. The justices were not likely to grant to the applicant a redundant licence, but only a licence required in the public interest, and one which would not be likely to be interfered with in the future, and that was the real security the licensee obtained. If the Government wished to intercept monopoly value in the future—and he did not think the licensee should have it—it ought to be done by a proper scale of Imperial duties. By putting up licences to auction the worst possible class of men might be obtained, if only they offered the best price. That was a bad principle, and he hoped it would not be sanctioned for the first time by a Unionist Government 1261 which was supposed to have particular regard for the principles of local government. He agreed entirely as to the desirablity of having a uniform system with regard to licences, but he hoped the Amendment in its present form would not be accepted.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
was a little surprised to find how much he was in agreement with the hon and learned Member for the Stretford Division. He agreed that this question ought not to be dealt with in a temperance Bill, and he could hardly conceive that anybody could regard, it as a temperance reform. In his opinion it ought to be done in a Finance Bill, and this wag an attempt to do in an indirect way what ought to be completely and uniformly done in some future Finance Bill. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that they ought to have one uniform system, and that the proper way of dealing with the monopoly value was not to cast upon local magistrates the difficult task of finding out how much duty ought to be imposed on the granting of a new licence. The duty was an Imperial asset, and it ought to be levied by the Imperial Government. It ought to be ascertained by the Inland Revenue and be exacted from all licence-holders, new or old. He welcomed the Bill because it introduced into our legislation for the first time the very principle for which the hon. and learned Member had contended. For the first time the principle was being recognised that it was the right and duty of the State to exact from every licensed holder of a public monopoly the full value of that monopoly. Clause 4 made the Bill a totally different measure, and he could not imagine that it would be possible for Parliament to go on with the anomalous position which it would create by having not merely two distinct sets of licences, but three totally different classes of licensed victuallers. How could the finances be properly dealt with if there were three different sets of duties, each having a separate origin and a separate destination? He regarded Clause 4 as a most important new departure in respect of the great principle to which he had alluded—so important that he was rather inclined to diminish such resistance as he had offered to the Bill. The clause would have enormous 1262 effects. The time would come when the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take the matter into his own hands, and, instead of receiving £1,500,000, he would get the £10,000,000 which he (the speaker) believed ought to be produced. His hon. and learned friend the Member for Leeds wished to exclude from the application of Clause 4 the licences dealt with in his Amendment and that deterred him from supporting it. If they levied compensation, they reduced the monopoly value, so that it was immaterial whether the new seven years licences paid compensation money or not. The important 1point was that the only new licences, which would be possible would be subject to the monopoly clause and the whale value of the monopoly would be devoted to public purposes.
§ * MR. BOUSFIELD
sympathised with the desire of the mover of the Amendment to obtain a uniform system of licensing after the lapse of a sufficient number of years. From the point of view of a final settlement, he did not think the period of seven years for new licences was sufficiently long to secure the object the Government had in view, viz., that of giving a man such a term as would enable him to recoup himself for the capital expenditure he had made. If the term was inadequate the magistrates, at the end of the period, would say, as they said now, that the man, though he had no legal right, had a moral right to a renewal inasmuch as he had not held the licence for a sufficiently long period to recoup himself for the expenditure he had made on the premises. So strongly was he impressed by that argument, that he believed Section 4 would not be operative unless the Government saw their way to extend the term. He would be glad if, by some means the provision of Clause 4 could, after a term of years, be applied to all licences. The scheme of compensation was based upon having as large an area as possible for compensation purposes, and as the Amendment would necessarily tend to restrict that area by diminishing the number of houses by which the fund would he supplied, and thereby reduce the advantages to be derived from the operation of the Bill, he regretted that he would be unable to give it his support.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON
intimated that under the circumstances he would not press the Amendment to a division.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ * MR. BOUSFIELD,
who had given notice of the following new clause, "After the end of fourteen years after the passing of this Act existing on-licences shall not be renewed, but in place of every existing on-licence which is still in existence after the end (if such period there shall be granted at the next licensing sessions a new licence for the term of seven years, subject to the provisions of Section 4 of this Act, but without the imposition of any payment or conditions under such section other than the conditions (if any) attached to the existing licence. Provided nevertheless that such new licence may be refused on the same grounds and subject to the same terms and conditions as the renewal of the existing licence might have been refused"; said he had put the Amendment on the Paper as a supporter of the Bill, and in the hope that it would tend to make the Bill a final settlement of the question with which it dealt. He agreed, however, that at present the Amendment had no chance of acceptance, but he felt that if it came before the House -at a later period, having at its back the voice of a stronger authority the Government would be compelled to re-consider their position. He had reason to believe that the Amendment would be moved in another place; and in the hope that it would be then carried and come back to this House at a later stage, he did not propose to move on the present occasion.
§ * Min WORSLEY-TAYLOR (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said he had put down this Amendment in order to call the Solicitor-General's attention to what appeared to him a doubtful point under the Act of 1872. The effect of Section 60 of the 1872 Act was to provide that no justice should act for any purpose under that Act in respect of any premises in the profits of which such justice was interested or of which he was wholly or partly the owner, lessee, or occupier. There was a doubt under the present 1264 Bill whether that disqualification of a justice to act might not be made hereafter to apply to circumstances which were not contemplated at the time when that section was passed. His Amendment had particular reference to two clauses of the present Bill. Clause 5 gave power to quarter sessions to divide their area into districts, and Clause 3 required them, if it was necessary, to impose the charges which were made in the Bill on all the licensed premises in the whole of their area or in a given district. It was doubtful whether the words of Section 60 might not prevent the owner of a house from acting even in the limited administrative sense that was implied under the two clauses to which he referred. Strictly speaking he would not be acting in respect of his particular premises, but on the question whether an area should be divided into districts. If his house happened to be in one of those districts it might be held that he was disqualified from acting although he thought no one could seriously suggest that there would be the slightest objection, in fact, to his so acting. Again, in respect of imposing a charge on all the licensed premises in the area, his own licensed house might be one among hundreds and possibly it might be held hereafter that he was disqualified from acting in that matter. If that were the case it would disestablish scores, almost hundreds, of county gentlemen who were regular attendants at quarter sessions, and it was to clear up the point that he had put down his Amendment.
A clause (Provision as to Disqualification of justices)—No justice shall be disqualified under section sixty of The Licensing Act, 1872, or otherwise, to act with reference to the imposition and levying of charges on licences in any area or district, or the division of any area into districts, under this Act by reason of his being wholly or partly the owner of any licensed premises within such area or district."—(Mr. Worsley-Taylor.)Brought up, and read the first time.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said the point raised by the hon. and learned 1265 Member was whether the provisions of this Bill setting up the compensation fund, would debar a member of quarter sessions from taking part in those proceedings because he happened to be interested in public-houses in the district where the fund was being set up. He had looked at the section referred to, and it seemed to him clear that Section 60 of the Act of 1872 was intended to prevent any justice acting in a matter which specifically affected a particular house in which he was interested. It would be a far-fetched construction to extend that prohibition to the duties which the hon. Member had mentioned. If, however, he was assured that there was doubt in the matter he would see that words were inserted to meet the case.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
did not think that there could be any doubt that the circumstances mentioned by the hon. Member for Blackpool would not disqualify justices, because it was only in cases where their own houses were actually being considered as a matter of specific investigation that the disqualification would arise.
§ MR. WORSLEY-TAYLOR
said that what had been said would relieve all anxiety on the point, and every justice would feel that he was entitled to sit under the circumstances he had described. He therefore begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ * MR. WHITTAKER
asked if in a case where a landowner owned a public-house and the local justices recommended that it should be one of the public-houses in that district which should have their licences refused that landowner would be disqualified from acting in such a case at quarter sessions.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
, in moving to omit Clause 1, said that as originally drawn it provided that there should be a permanent vested interest in new licences. That was held from the very beginning to be a fatal defect in the Bill. The Government did meet the 1266 general feeling in regard to that, and introduced an Amendment which made it clear that, so far as new licences were concerned, there was to be nothing in the nature of a vested interest created in them. Subsequent Amendments were introduced to carry that into effect. He was bound to say that he had considerable doubt as to the way in which they would be ultimately construed. Whether the Amendment would go further than to prevent the creation of any vested interest in new licences was a question on which there might be considerable difference of opinion. Clause 1 contained a number of extremely objectionable provisions. It made a very great difference in the administrative powers the magistrates would possess in future as compared with the powers they possessed at the present time. He could not agree that the words introduced with regard to the conduct of the house and of the licensee covered the whole ground covered by the administrative jurisdiction of the magistrates. At present the magistrates had powers with regard to hack-doors and side-entrances, and some of the best work they had done in Liverpool and other large towns had been in the making of premises more easy of police supervision, and in preventing secret and illicit drinking and improper practices. It appeared to him that under this clause it would be extremely difficult for the magistrates to continue that excellent work. He regarded that as a very great blemish on the Bill.
In regard to the tenants of tied houses, the Government had a great opportunity of doing something to improve their position. It would have been possible, by giving the magistrates certain powers, to have destroyed some of the worst features of that very bad system. The Government, however had not availed themselves of the opportunity of dealing with that system. He doubted whether such an opportunity would arise for a long time to come. Nor had the Government dealt with the question of transfer. Owing to the existence of the tied-house system public-houses passed from hand to hand with great rapidity, and with great deterioration in many cases to the character of the houses. He knew of instances where what were called free houses had been 1267 converted into tied houses, with the result that instead of remaining places of refreshment they had become mere drinking dens and nothing more. In this country there were 20,000 transfers of tied houses every year. What they meant in the way of bankruptcies, and other very objectionable things in the tied-house system, it would be difficult to enumerate. He regretted that the Government had not introduced in the first clause a provision to enable the magistrates to put some restriction on the enormous number of transfers and changes of tenantry. It was one of the most scandalous parts of the licensing system at the present time. He regretted the Government did not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Plymouth, who wished to make it clear that quarter sessions were to act under the Bill as administrative bodies. The result of that refusal would be that they would not have that free discretion which local justices now possessed to deal with the licences that came before them. Another important question raised by the first clause referred to the payment of compensation. A great deal had been said with regard to the sympathy which the public felt for the licence-holder. There was no doubt that the public felt a considerable amount of sympathy for the licence-holder who was dispossessed. But what justice did the licence-holder receive under this Bill? He was placed in an extraordinary and an anomalous position. It was the desire of the public that the licence-holder should receive his fair share of compensation, and it was their impression that he would receive the greater part of the compensation. That was a delusion from which before long there would be a rude awakening. His compensation was limited to one year's tenancy ill the licensed premises.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said 85 per cent. of the licence-holders of this country were tenants of tied houses. This Bill contained nothing to prevent such tenants from contracting themselves out of their interest for a longer period than one year. The Solicitor-General had said that the Government did not propose to interfere 1268 with their right to contract themselves out of their liberty.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said the practical result would be that a man who had been in a public-house for a few weeks might receive the same amount of compensation as a man who had been a tenant of a similar house for twenty or thirty years. That was the anomaly he was drawing attention to.
§ MR. CRIPPS,
on a point of order, asked whether the matters to which the hon. Member was referring did not arise on Section 2, and not Section 1 of the Bill.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Section 1 only settles the principle that licences can only be refused, in certain cases, on payment of compensation. The amount of compensation and the mode of ascertaining it arises on Section 2.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said he would not pursue the subject any further. His only object was to show that the compensation to which this clause referred would be likely to work very injuriously to the licence-holder. Those who believed that the conception of the Bill was unsound would by voting against Clause 1 record their opinion that the Bill had been introduced in the interest of a portion of the licensed trade, and that the portion which deserved their sympathy least of all.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 1, line 5, to leave out Clause 1."—(Mr. J. II. Lewis.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words of Clause 1, to the word 'on,' in line 5, stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said that a good part of the clause had not been discussed owing to the operation of the closure. It was clear that the clause did destroy the existing discretion of the magistrates with regard to all those minor points of conduct of licence-holders which were so important in making the difference between good and doubtful conduct of 1269 the premises. They had never yet had an explanation from the Government why they did not carry out on the first clause the intentions they declared on the First Reading of the Bill with respect to the discretion of the local justices. To have drafted the clause in this way would have saved a great deal of discussion, and at the same time would have avoided the great evil which the Government had quite unnecessarily introduced in this Bill, viz., that they were destroying the beneficial powers of the local magistrates not exactly to make by-laws, but to make such conditions upon renewal of licences as would have all the effect of by-laws, ensuring good conduct on the part of the licensee. He thought that the Government had gone out of their way to destroy the discretion of the local magistrates, which they themselves, on the First Reading of the Bill, declared they aid not intend to do. For his part, he very greatly deplored that fact, and it was one of the greatest evils to be found in the Bill. The second matter to which he wished to refer was that the Government had persistently refused to meet all the efforts on that side of the House to make the operation of this clause tend in the direction of minimising the prevailing method of tying up these houses in the hands of the brewers. He knew that the Government had not a free hand; they had a certain command to obey, and it would have involved a revolt of a small section of their supporters if they had done anything to set free the tenant as against the owners of the licensed premises. If the Government had had at heart a measure of licensing reform, here was an opportunity, so far as moulding the machinery of the clause was concerned, to restore the position of the licence-holder to that which he had before the great brewers began their campaign of buying up the licensed premises. That had a very important effect on the method of esti-
§ mating the amount of compensation that was to be paid. The tied-house system had introduced not only a great evil in the administration of the law, but had also given a fictitious value to the licence. Unfortunately, it was on that fictitious value that the Government had made their estimate for the purposes of compensation. The Government might have produced a reduction of the number of licences if they had taken the opportunity of destroying the monopoly power of the tied-house system, and left the Bill on the basis of giving compensation to those persons who lost their employment because of the operation of the Act. If the Government had done that, this Bill would have gone through practically by common consent. The Government had, however, chosen the other way; and he felt sure that on both these points the country would not be satisfied with the proposal that they wore now about to carry, and that the country would, at some time in the future, insist on restoring to the magistrates the discretion, which had been of great benefit of recent years, and would insist on an effort being made to destroy the evil system of tied houses. He was glad to see that the free house licence-holders had had the courage to separate themselves from that portion of their fellow-traders who were bound to the tied houses and who were satisfied to go on in the miserable and degrading position of parting with their freedom in carrying out the public duties which were imposed on them by a licence to sell intoxicating liquors. He regretted that the Government had persistently refused to accept all Amendments which would have improved their Bill, and he believed that they would greatly lose in persisting in that course.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 232; Noes, 140. (Division List No. 278.)1273
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Balcarres, Lord||Bond, Edward|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J.(Manch'r||Bousfield, William Robert|
|Allhusen, Augustus HenryEden||Balfour, Rt. Hon G. W.(Leeds)||Brassey, Albert|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Brotherton, Edward Allen|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Butcher, John George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Campbell, J.H.M.(DublinUniv.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bigwood, James||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Chamberlain,Rt Hn. J.A(Worc.||Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Chapman, Edward||Hoult, Joseph||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Charrington, Spencer||Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Purvis, Robert|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rateliff, R. F.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W.||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.)||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T.(Denbigh)||Renwick, George|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Keswick, William||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Ridley, Hon. M.W.(Stalybridge|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Ridley. S. Forde(Bethnal Green|
|Gust, Henry John C.||Knowles, Sir Lees||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Win.||Robinson, Brooke|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Davies, SirHoratioD.(Chatham||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Denny, Colonel||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N.R.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmund||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Samuel, Sir HarryS.(Limehouse|
|Doogan, P. C.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Doughty, Sir George||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham||Seely, Charles Hilton(Lincoln)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Long, Rt.Hn.Walter(Bristol,S.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants., W.)||Lowe, Francis William||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Smith, RtHn J. Parker(Lanarks|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth||Spear, John Ward|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset|
|Fison, Frederick William||Macdona, John Cumming||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh, W||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Stroyan, John|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G(Oxf'dUniv.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Maxwell, RtHn. Sir H.E(Wigt'n||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Thompson, Dr. E C(Monagh'n, N|
|Garfit, William||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Tomlinson, Sir Win. Edw. M.|
|Gordon, Hn. J.E.(Elgin&Nairn)||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Tuff, Charles|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Tully, Jasper|
|Greene, Sir E.W(B'rygEdm'nds||Moore, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Vincent,Col.Sir C.E.H(Sheffield|
|Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Gretton, John||Morrell, George Herbert||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Groves, James Grimble||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Mount, William Arthur||Webby, Lt. Col. A.C.E(Taunton|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Harris, F. Leverton(Tynein'th)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Harris, Dr. Fredk. R.(Dulwich)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wortley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Nicholson, William Graham||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nolan, Col. JohnP. (Galway, N.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Nolan, Joseph (Lout h, South||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Henderson, Sir A.(Stafford, W.)||O'Dowd, John|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Pemberton, John S. G.||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowers.|
|Hobhouse RtHn H(Somers't, E||Percy, Earl|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Asher, Alexander|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Allen, Charles P.||Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Perks, Robert William|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hammond, John||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Harcourt, Lewis V.(Rossendale)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Harcourt, RtHn. Sir W(Monm't||Price, Robert John|
|Bell, Richard||Harwood, George||Priestley, Arthur|
|Boland, John||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Rea, Russell|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Helme, Normal Watson||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brigg, John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Higham, John Sharpe||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Burt, Thomas||Holland, Sir William Henry||Runciman, Walter|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Horniman, Frederick John||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Caldwell, James||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Cameron, Robert||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jacoby, James Alfred||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isleof Wight|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Joicey, Sir James||Shackleton, David James|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Joyce, Michael||Sheehy, David|
|Crombie, John William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Kilbride, Denis||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lambert, George||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Langley, Batty||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Delany, William||Levy, Maurice||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lloyd-George, David||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lough, 'Thomas||Tomkinson, James|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Lundon, W.||Toulmin, George|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacVeagh, (Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Ure, Alexander|
|Edwards, Frank||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Wallace, Robert|
|Eli bank, Master of||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds, S.)|
|Ellice,Capt E.C(SAndrw'sBghs||Markham, Arthur Basil||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh, N.)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Evans, Sir Fran. H. (Maidstone||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Moulton, John Fletcher||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Eithmaurice, Lord Edmond||Murphy, John||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby, Co.)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||Wilson, Henry I. (York, W.R.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||O'Doherty, William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||Parrott, William||TELLERS FOR TEE NOES—Mr.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Partington, Oswald||Herbert Lewis and Mr. J.|
|Hain, Edward||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||H. Whitley.|
Question put, and agreed to.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 1, line 5, after the word 'an' to insert the word 'existing.'"—(Mr. Akers-Douglas.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word "existing' be there inserted."
§ MR. DISRAELI (Cheshire, Altrincham)
said that this was not a drafting Amendment. It raised the whole question of old licences versus new licences. A protest had been already made against the alteration in the Bill providing for two kinds of licences; and he also wished to protest against it. The insertion of the word "existing" would draw the line between existing licences and licences granted after 1905. They all now deplored the ante–1869 licences; but in future they would have the ante–1905 1274 licences. He could not understand why the Government had altered their mind in the matter. Licensing Bills were thrown down on the floor of the House to be wrangled over by the trade on the one hand and the teetotalers on the other; but the Government would be well advised to take the opinion of an intermediate and moderate section of the House. Hon. Members who acted on quarter sessions and petty sessions held the opinion that to set up two kinds of licences was to alter the Bill very materially for the worse. In the case of a new licence; if the house were well conducted, it would not be necessary for the licensee to appear before the magistrates annually, which was a disciplinary measure of the greatest advantage. It appeared to be assumed that benches of 1275 magistrates were always granting new licences; but as a matter of fact, it was extremely difficult to obtain a new licence at present. Application after application was refused, and perfectly rightly refused, unless it could be shown, beyond any doubt, that the licence was wanted. The Government had consented to the introduction of a time limit, which they had refused in another part of the Bill, and in order to do away with one kind of interest, they allowed the trade to build up another—a seven years interest—because it could not be said that no interest would accumulate during the seven years. Not only would a vested interest accumulate, but it would accumulate seven times or seventy times seven times as much as the interest would under the old system. He could not let this matter pass without protesting against it.
§ MR. GROVES
said he was encouraged to move the Amendment standing in his name by an expression which fell from the Home Secretary at an earlier stage, holding out hope that off-licences would be included within the scope of the Bill. Off-licences were of great variety, and all of them could not be included, but he asked the Government to give consideration to those off-licences which came on all fours with the beerhouse licences already within scope of the Bill. Otherwise, a very considerable number of licences up and down the country would be left out of the operation of the Bill, and he strongly pressed on the Government, that there was a real claim on the part of the humbler beersellers of the class described to be included in the Govern-merit's proposals. He did not say that they should have a full measure of compensation, but compensation on a reasonable and modest scale. He trusted the Government would not give a negative reply without taking time to consider the question, and that they would see if some measures could not be adopted now or in another place to give effect to a modest request on behalf of a modest class. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to theBill—
In page 1, one 5, after the word 'licence,' to insert the words 'or a licence for the sale of beer not to be consumed on the premises.'"—(Mr. Groves.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said on the-last occasion on which this particular question was discussed he thought it was clear that the Government had thoroughly made up their mind that they could not include these licences in the scope of this Bill, because in their opinion they were on an entirely different footing and were not such as could come within its terms. There were at least eight or nine different classes of "off" licences, and very few comparatively of the total number of "off" licence-holders would hold licences for the sale of beer only. He understood that the holders of beer, "off" licences were not anxious to come into the Bill as it stood. but that it was proposed that they should pay less towards the compensation fund and on a different basis. That, however, would introduce a further complication. At the present late period he was not prepared to re-open the question, and he could only regret that the hon. Member should have received the impression that he had held out any hopes of reconsidering the matter.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS,
in moving to except tied houses from the operation of the Bill, said he strongly objected to the State giving the sariction of its support to that particular form of carrying on the liquor trade. There was no reason why these houses should be included in the Bill at all. Brewers owned these houses in large numbers, and could themselves, by establishing a system of mutual insurance, easily effect privately what this Bill proposed to do publicly. This House had no right, by intervening in the matter, to make it easier for the present bad system to continue. Unfortunately the system had grown to such an extent that 85 per cent. of the licences were for tied houses, while in one county the percentage was actually 93. The tenants were practically tenants at the will of the 1277 landlord; they were compelled to buy all the articles they sold from the brewers to whom they were tied. The results of the system to the publican were disastrous. He was ground to the lowest possible point; to make a living he was compelled to force his goods upon the public, and very often to have resort to illegal inducements to secure custom. It was not to the advantage of the public that such a system should continue, and he submitted that houses of this character should be exempted from the operation of the compensation clauses of the Bill. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 1, line 5, after the word licence,' to insert the words 'other than a licence the holder of which is subject to conditions requiring him to purchase the commodities or goods which he sells or uses from any particular person, firm, or company.'"—(Mr. J. H. Lewis.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. BROADHURST
remarked that a proper share of the compensation, if any were to be given, should go to the tenants at will of tied houses. Frequently the tenant at will was led, if not by force, at any rate by misleading statements, into investing his savings, perhaps the savings of a lifetime, in a beerhouse, and frequently he lost what he invested in it. This tied-house system was at the root of almost all the discredit which had been brought upon the drink traffic in the last twenty or twenty-five years. When these tenants realised the facts, they often discovered to their hor or that it was impossible to make a living if they carried on the business of the house in an honest straightforward way in accordance with the law. The Government should step between these unprotected tenants and the big rich brewery companies and say that these tenants should have proper reward if their houses were closed in the public interest. He remembered Mr. Goschen's scheme, which was defeated, and that the money which was to have been used for compensation was switched on for technical education purposes, under county and borough councils. That scheme was mainly opposed because it made no efficient provision for the tied-house tenant. It was 1278 exactly the same case here. The tenants at will should be the objects of the commiseration of the House of Commons, and that House should see that there was ample provision for securing the interests of the unhappy victims of the tied-house system. Since he introduced this subject ten or twelve years ago he had received thousands of letters from all over the country pointing out the hardships and injustice that were perpetrated under the system. One man hid lost £300 in such a business and he had had to leave without a farthing of compensation. These people should be protected against the despotism and almost slavery to which they were subjected.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said the hon Member opposite appeared to be moat anxious to protect the manager and the licensee of tide houses.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said the effect of this Amendment would be that all the protection they had at present would be abolished without their receiving a penny. That was the reason why he found some difficulty in reconciling the speech of the hon. Member with the Amendment. It was hardly necessary to go into the merits or the demerits of the tied-house system. He did not agree with the view which was so often put forward—frequently somewhat recklessly put forward—as to the demerits of the system. He knew one instance in which the managerial system, under a good brewery where strict inspection detained, had been most effective in promoting the proper conduct of public-houses.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said the hon. Member's opinion was that there were no good breweries. Whatever might be the merits or the demerits of the tied-house system, it was really Parliament who had been accountable for allowing the tied-house system to grow up. They had brought it about by the very legislation they had passed in relation to licensing. If they took the trouble to go back to 1279 see what was the origin of the tied-house system, they would find that it was simply this. The magistrates under what was called the yearly licensing system had told the people that if their licences were to be continued they must spend somany hundereds of pounds in putting their premises into proper condition and making of the licences. The for the renewal of the licences. The result was that the people were driven to go to the brewers to borrow the money to enable them to carry out the behests of the magistrates. The further result of that was that compacts were entered into with the brewers who took the risk of the yearly tenancy, binding the licence-holder to take goods from them, and so by degrees the tied-house system grew up. That had rendered it absolutely impossible for any man without considerable capital to take these licensed houses and to carry them on. It was a perfectly legitimate arrangement, and to accept the Amendment would mean that magistrates having to get rid of a redundant licence, in making a choice, would naturalluy select the tied house in preference to the free house, because no question of compensation would arise. There was no ground whatever for the limitation. Which would be to the disadvantage of the licensees for which the hon. Member was champion.
§ * MR. REA (Gloucester)
said the Solicitor-General had told them that the merits of the tied-house system were not raised by the Amendment before the House, but he did not observe that the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman related to anything else but the merits of that system. The Solicitor-General said this Amendment would exclude the tied-houses from the operation of the Bill, and that 75 or 80 or perhaps even 90 per cent. of the licensed houses of the country were tied. Of course, to exclude such a percentage would be to stultify the Bill. He himself contended that would not be the effect of carrying the Amendment, because he did not believe that the brewer landlords would consent to lose the benefits of the endowment which the Bill gave. He would make another arrangement with his tenants. He agreed that the tied-house system was a great evil. Tied houses 1280 differed in various localities. A tied house in London was a house where probably a brewer was an indulgent creditor. In Liverpool a tenant was a mere servant, and in various parts of the country a tied house was something between the two. It was quite possible for the tie to be more onerous and more enslaving than any agreement for paid service. In his own constituency he found that a large number of the tenants of tied houses had parted with their personal, political, and economic freedom. The conditions of the tie were really in many cases quite degrading, and altogether contrary to public policy. It was a common thing, for instance, that the tenant was bound to keep his house open during all legal hours. It was astonishing when they examined this question to find what a great proportion of six-day licences were held by free men, and what a very small proportion of these licences were held by the tenants of tied houses. In his part of the country it was a condition of the agreement in many cases, that the brewer landlord had the privilege of entering the premises at any hour day or night, and searching them to see if there were anything there he had not supplied. An Englishman's house was supposed to be his castle, but it was not so if it were a tied house. The conditions were onerous and degrading in other respects. The tenant was not permitted to even question the measure of the goods supplied to him, and, if he could not question the measure, how could he question the quality. The tenants were bound to do nothing to injure the licence, and in many instances, to "annoy" their landlord meant forfeiture of their tenancy. Beyond that, in cases which he himself knew of, they had bound themselves to appear before the licensing magistrates and support their own dismissal, and to transfer all their rights in the licence to another person. The proof of this was in the number of transfers that took place. He had in his mind an instance of a house which had had four tenants in sixteen months. A friend of his own, a large employer of labour, told him that three of his men had left him to take up public-houses under the tied-house system; and they all came back to him seeking employment, after a few months, broken men. Old workmen, who thought they 1281 had enjoyed many happy hours in the public-house, imagined that if they had a public - house of their own they would be in a paradise; but they soon found that they had nothing of the kind. He maintained that if this Amendment were accepted, it would do a great deal to reduce, if not to end, the tied-house system and free the tenants.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said that the right hon. Gentla-man opposite said that the tied-house system had its merits, but he was very careful not to say what these merits were. The tied-house system, as now in vogue, was popular with no section of the constituencies, except that of the brewers. He himself had never heard one single voice lifted up in praise of it.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he had, and he did not think it had spoken glowingly of the system, and if it did report in favour of it, it went against the universal sentiment of the country. The Solicitor-General told them that the origin of the system was that the licensees were not able to carry out the alterations which the magistrates deemed desirable for the conduct of the business of a licensed victualler. That was wholly erroneous, and there was nobody outside Ireland who could, he should have thought, have put forward such a plea.
§ MR. LAMBERT
asked if the right hon. and learned Member would tell him that history now. He would rather have it now than later. He maintained that the origin of the tied-house system was the insane competition of the brewers to get hold of public-houses in order to make bigger profits from the sale of their liquor.
§ MR. LAMBERT
Really we are getting some new versions of history. The hon. Member said that the tied-house system came in vogue long before the brewers.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he would be very glad if hon. Gentlemen opposite would not give different versions of this history. There was no doubt in the minds of impartial people that it was the endeavour of the brewers to get larger profits on the sale of their liquor that had created this system of tied houses. Possibly they might get another version of the history of the tied-house system from the hon. Member for Manchester. He would suggest that if the Amendment of his hon. friend were carried it would prevent an injustice being done to the holder of a free licence. The Solicitor-General told them that if there were redundant houses, the free houses would be suppressed and that the tied-houses would be continued. He did not believe it. The magistrates were as fully alive to the evil of the tied-house system as any body of men could be. What were they going to do by the Bill? They were going to make the holder of the licence of a free house pay an annual sum for compensating the brewer who owned the tied houses. Besides, they knew perfectly well, that the price of the materials from which beer was made had gone down very considerably. He wanted to know whether the price of beer had gone down. On the contrary, it had been kept up by the tied-house system. The brewers charged the public what they liked, and compelled them to consume their beer, no matter how had it was. If the Solicitor-General could reduce himself to an ordinary beer-drinking citizen he was certain the right hon. and learned Gentleman would never pour down his throat the concoction the brewers turned out. No matter how bad it was, however, the public had to drink it, wholly owing to the tied-house system. That was not right or fair. No wonder the people of the country who were not teetotalers were against the system, and believed that it was a bad system for the morality of the district in which they resided. Why should the brewers have a monopoly and compel the people to take their beer, no matter how bad it was? The public were rebelling against the system, and he did not believe 1283 that a public meeting could be got up in favour of the tied-house system.
And it being half-past Seven of the Clock the debate stood adjourned till this evening's sitting.