§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ *MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
in moving that the Bill be read the third time upon this day three months, said—In asking the House to take the strong step of rejecting at this stage what I suppose is the principal piece of Government legislation of the session, I justify myself on the double ground of the character of the measure and of the method by which the power of effectual and fruitful discussion of many of its most important provisions has been withdrawn from the House of Commons. No one disputes—certainly no one on this side of the House—that legislation upon this question is urgently needed and long overdue; nor do I believe that those who are called temperance reformers, after something like 91 thirty years of almost unrelieved barrenness of legislation, would have shown any indisposition to receive in a conciliatory and, indeed, n a welcoming spirit any reasonable change, however modest its scope, which seemed to offer even a faint prospect of real advance. It is true that this Bill originated under circumstances which might well warrant a certain amount of preliminary suspicion. Its birth was heralded by rather strange portents. As far as I know, it is the first measure of so-called temperance reform which has ever been introduced in Parliament, not only at the instigation but under stress of the menaces of the trade, by whom—to judge by the evidence one sees around one—throughout its progress and down to this moment it has been received with a warmth of favour which, though judiciously restrained in expression, and sometimes for a few moments altogether disguised, is, I am certain, both fervent and genuine. But although we should not have been prone at the first blush to expect any large instalment of reform from that quarter, yet I can honestly say that, if this Bill had seemed to us to indicate even the line towards a proper solution of the question, we should have been perfectly content not only to judge it on its merits, but to accept what we could get out of it. But the unfortunate fact about the Bill is that the more closely it was examined the more it became apparent that it was a step not forward, but backward, and a step which was attended by this great and formidable disadvantage—that it created, I will not say an insuperable obstacle—of course the power of Parliament backed by public opinion
ould overcome any obstacle of the kind—but certainly a crop of new interests and of new claims which must in the future seriously embarrass those who approach the solution of the problem in a different spirit. These were the general grounds on which we opposed the Bill on the Second Reading, and it is appropriate at this stage to ask how far the objections which were then taken have been met or mitigated by subsequent changes.
One concession I am very glad to be able to make. I do think the fourth clause, dealing with new licences, has been substantially improved. I welcome that 92 clause because it places in explicit and emphatic terms upon the Statute-book a Parliamentary declaration that as regards all new licences the monopoly value which is created by the public is to be reserved to the public. At the same time I must point out that new licences are but a mere fraction of those with which a licensing measure has to deal, and under the state of things created by this Bill, when every old licence will be incapable of extinction except by payment, the proportion of new licences to old will be smaller than it has ever been. Again, the very improvement which the clause effects in the status of the new licensee—who will have no claim to any pecuniary consideration when the term of his licence expires—brings into more startling relief and exaggerates the invidious contrast between him and the holder of an old licence which cannot be got rid of without paying value for it.
While I gladly acknowledge that Clause 4 has been improved, the two main defects of the Bill still remain—I mean, first, its administrative provisions, and next, the method with which it deals with the problem of the renewal of existing licences. As regards the administrative provisions, there are two serious objections which no attempt whatever has been made to meet. The first is that, quite apart from the question whether it is desirable to transfer the authority from the licensing justices to quarter sessions, you have under the new arrangement created by the Bill a splitting up of authority which must from the administrative point of view lead to friction and inefficiency. In the future it will be impossible for either of the authorities to act upon a combination of grounds. The licensing justices may think that the man's record by itself is not bad enough to justify them in taking his licence away, although the interests of the neighbourhood require that it should be taken away. On the other hand, quarter sessions may think that the interests of the neighbourhood alone are not sufficient, though a very little more would suffice to enable them to act upon that ground; and that splitting up of jurisdiction is almost certain to lead in practice to the retention of licences which ought to be abolished, or at any rate to increase the difficulty of dealing with them. That is 93 a practical point which does not raise any question of principle. But behind and beyond that is the much larger objection to the whole of this transfer of jurisdiction that it is a retrograde step. It is taking away the original jurisdiction from a body which has close interest and direct knowledge, and transferring it to a body which has a remote interest and an indirect knowledge. I call it retrograde because it is flying in the face of the whole tendency of legislation in this matter. As far back as 1835, when the Municipal Corporations Bill was before this House, Lord John Russell, who was in charge of the Bill, proposed that the licensing powers should be vested in the borough councils, and the House of Lords alone presented that change from taking place. To come to more modern times, as recently as 1888 the predecessors of the present Government made a similar proposal when they were creating their county councils. The right hon. Member for Croydon, who was in charge of the Local Government Bill, said—It may be asked whether we do not propose some means whereby the locality shall have some voice in the decision of such an important question as that of licensing. We propose that the county councils shall divide their area out into licensing divisions, and that they shall form a licensing committee for each division to consist of every member elected to the county council for the division, together with an added proportion of selected members from the council.As far as this Bill goes the proposed transfer from a local body to a more remote body is opposed both to the proposal made in 1835 and to the spirit of the proposals of the right hon. Member for Croydon in 1888.
Then as to the question of policy, which is summed up in the problem of compensation, there are, in my view, only two possible theories of compensation. I can quite understand the position of those who say. like my hon. friend the Member for Camborne, "You ought not to deal with compensation at all." That is a perfectly logical position. But for those who think, as I myself have often said, that for facilitating the solution of this problem the question of compensation must be entertained, there are only two possible theories. The first is the theory that compensation is due to the man 94 whose licence you take away—or rather, to speak more accurately, whose licence is not renewed—as a matter of justice. That is so if a licence can be regarded as a property, I will not say in any intelligible, but in any intelligent sense. If a man's licence is a property, and if it is taken away in the public interest, then on grounds alike of precedent and principle he ought to be compensated for tile loss he has sustained. But he ought to be compensated not out of a particular fund earmarked on the ground that it comes from the trade, but compensated, like everybody else whose property is taken away on public grounds for public purposes, out of public funds. That is a perfectly logical view, but it is not the view of the Government. It is quite true that the Prime Minister constantly speaks of licences as if they were property. Yet when he comes to the real test he has not the courage of his convictions, and he will not propose, as he ought to propose, if this is property in the real sense of the word, that the public and the public alone should be burdened with the liability of compensating the owner when it is destroyed. That is the theory of justice. The other theory is the theory of what is sometimes very loosely called equity—a very chaotic and misleading term—and what I prefer to call the theory of expediency. What is the argument for compensation founded upon expediency? It is that in point of practice, although there was no property in a licence at all, there has been an expectation that a licence once given would be from time to time renewed unless there was misconduct, and that there has been consequently a reluctance on the part of the licensing justices to interfere with that expectation and to do their duty to the public. It is upon that ground—the existence of that expectatiott—and upon that ground alone—that I am prepared to assent to some form of compensation.
But what are the logical consequences to those who take that position? Surely they are these. First of all that you can determine the expectation by reasonable notice in point of time. The expectation is created by the existence of circumstances which raise a belief in the minds of the persons interested that it will be realised. But the moment 95 Parliament steps in and says, "We give you full warning that after a certain time you are not entitled to entertain such an expectation," the whole foundation disappears. Therefore, it follows that after a reasonable time you should put an end to it. It follows also that your scheme of compensations should be a graduated scheme—that is to say, it should be on a diminishing scale towards the end of the period as compared with what it was at the beginning. If these two conditions are satisfied I will add a third which, to my mind, is equally important, and that is that the fund from which the compensation is to be drawn should be a national and not a local fund. I am perfectly satisfied that a large number of the difficulties which will attend the practical administration of this measure, should it become law, will arise from the fact that you have divided the compensation fund into a set of water-tight compartments, apportioned to each locality, and that it cannot be treated as a whole.
Let me now deal with the only argument which I have yet heard against the justice in theory and practice of the time limit. The Prime Minister says that when we come to the end of the period we shall have precisely the same set of hardships which make it so difficult for the licensing justices to reduce licences as now. Hardship! The publican will have ample notice that his licence may not be renewed, and he will have time to insure himself, if necessary, against that contingency. But it is said that he will have contributed to the compensation fund. As I have said, any logical system of compensation will make it a diminishing contribution, so that in the later years it will be almost nothing. But, apart from that, I say the publican will have got a quid pro quo. In the first place, if the Act is to succeed in what is said to be its main purpose—namely, the reduction of redundant licences—it is quite clear that at the end of the period, if reasonably long—say, fourteen years—there will be such a reduction in these licences that redundancy will be a rare thing, and, of course, as redundancy ceases the risk to the publican of losing his licence is small, and it is a risk that 96 could be insured to-morrow in any insurance office in the country. Moreover, the reduction in the amount and stress of competition must surely enhance the value of licences, not only at the end of the period but during the whole period that the process of reduction is going on. I find that, even without any change in the law, between 1900 and 1903 the number of on-licences in London decreased by 7 per cent., although both the population and the consumption of alcohol largely increased in those years; and it is obvious that there must be a greatly enhanced value in the licensed premises which remain. If there was that normal and natural process of reduction during those years, the process ought to be quickened by the compulsory reduction which will come into operation under the Act; and it stands to reason that the publican will be in a much better position, even if there was no compensation fund at all. Besides, there is the material consideration that you will be leaving him in the possession of a valuable interest which the public creates, which exists now only on sufferance, and which by adequate taxation could at any moment be put an end to. We are raising now by the duty on public-house licences in England and Wales the ridiculously inadequate sum of £1,500,000 a year. I find that in the City of New York alone they raise half a million sterling more from the same source of revenue. In England the average rate of licence duty is only £38 a year, while in New York it a mounts to £240 a year. Is it not obvious from those figures that we leave to the unfortunate publican who has to contribute to a compensation fund, and whose hard lot excites such sympathy in the bosom of the Prime Minister, a large margin of profit which does not belong to him in equity at all, and which the State has a perfect right to appropriate to itself at any moment? I hope I have made that perfectly clear.
I have one more argument to advance for the rejection of the Bill, and that is derived from the method in which the measure has been handled by its promoters. I have in my hands a printed copy of the Bill, which I hope will be printed and circulated throughout the country. It shows graphically, but by the very simple method 97 of compartments, what parts of the Bill were discussed in Committee or on Report and what remained undiscussed at either or both of those stages. It further shows how many Amendments have been introduced at the instance of the Government without any discussion by anybody at all. I will just summarise the results. There are 264 lines in the Bill as it appears after consideration on Report. Of these 264 lines 54 only have been discussed either in Committee or on the Report stage. That is to say, 210 lines out of 264, or four-fifths, of the Bill have been left entirely undiscussed, and in these 210 lines Government Amendments have been introduced, without consideration or debate, to the amount of 105 lines—exactly one - half. Let me add as to the two schedules that they have been carried without discussion at any time or by any one. The points covered by the undiscussed parts of the Bill include the right of the justices and others to appear before the licensing committee; the basis of compensation; how the amount of compensation is to be ascertained; the division of the compensation, when settled, between the parties interested; who are the parties interested; what appeal there should be; what is to be the amount of compensation levied; on whom it is to be made; what are the proportions to be paid by owner and tenant; over what area; what are to be the borrowing powers of the authorities, and what is the character of the rules to be made by the Home Secretary. These are all points of considerable importance and neither in Committee nor on the Report stage have we had an opportunity of considering them. I do not suggest they may not have been incidentally alluded to in the course of the debate, but substantially they are points covered by the undiscussed parts of the Bill. I do not complain in the least of the manner in which the Bill has been conducted within the limits which the Prime Minister has allowed. The Solicitor-General has shown in the conduct of it uniform courtesy, unfailing lucidity, and, I must add, inexhaustible resource. It is not the fault of my right hon. friend that he has not had a more extended field for the display of these admirable Parliamentary qualities in connection with this Bill. I think the Bill 98 is a bad Bill; but whether it is a good Bill or whether it is a bad Bill, surely it ought to be a sufficient reason for its rejection that, good or bad, it is not the handiwork of the House of Commons. It is—to a degree which is wholly unprecedented in a measure which if it once passes this House is reasonably certain to take its place upon the Statutebook—the exclusive and uncorrected composition of the Government and their draftsman, and this House in, being asked to read this Bill a third time, is being invited to perform the function not of a Parliament but of a registry. If I ask the House, as by my Amendment I do, to reject the Bill on Third Reading, I do so because it marks at one and the same time the capitulation of the State to a powerful and organised interest, and the surrender by the House of Commons of its power to mould the law of the land. I beg to move.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Mr. Asquith.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON,) Dublin University
For the references made by the right hon. Gentleman to myself with regard to the conduct of the Bill I must express my obligations. I received uniform courtesy from both sides of the House, and for that and for many valuable suggestions made by hon. Members I desire to express my warmest thanks. Of course the Government anticipated that the right hon. Gentleman would base the main portion of his speech upon the fact that the discussion has been curtailed. That is always an eloquent topic, and it is always a very unpleasant kind of procedure for Members of this House. I myself have a very vivid recollection, when I was not a very old Member of the House, and when I sat on the Opposition side, of the hardships of the guillotine not upon a question of whether publicans should be allowed to be compensated, but as to whether my own country should be separated from this country. But the truth of the matter is that everybody who has followed these 99 discussions knows perfectly well that the main principles and the main details of the Bill have been discussed ad nauseum. The right hon. Gentleman enunciated a certain number of questions which he said had never been touched upon. Why? Because there are a certain number of other questions which have been argued and divided upon five, six, and seven times over. If the House of Commons selects a number of provisions in the Bill as being the main provisions both as to principle and procedure, they can hardly expect, if they discuss these time after time, to leave adequate Parliamentary time for the discussion of the less important matters in that Bill. I noted two admissions of the right hon. Gentleman. He has admitted that for the last thirty years there has been an almost absolute barrenness of effort to deal with this public-house question, and in addition to that he said that this question was quite urgent. That, at all events, is some justification for the Government making an effort to deal with the question.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the genesis of the Bill was what made it so suspicious. I venture to think that there never was a Parliament more pledged to a settlement of this question and upon the lines on which this Bill proceeds than the present Parliament. I am told that out of the total number of Members of this House at least 400 gave pledges at the last election that they would support legislation for preventing licences from being taken away without cause without compensation. The Leader of the Opposition himself in his election address put forward the same idea, limited, I think, to compensation from the trade. That is exactly what this Bill does.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's version of any address.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
That was an element in it. It was part of a great measure for compulsory reduction of licences throughout the country. 100 With a view to such a reduction I was willing that Parliament should recognise that certain consideration should be given out of their own funds to the dispossessed licensees.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
Certainly the right hon. Gentleman has called "compensation" "consideration," but I do not find any substantial difference between my statement and what he has now said. Let me take up the objections which have been made to the Bill itself. The right hon. Gentleman's first objection was to what he called the administrative provisions. He said that in the past the justices had been able to refuse, and, indeed, had only refused licences on more than one ground, and that they would not be able to do that in future. I join issue entirely with the right hon. Gentleman. What is to prevent justices joining any of the grounds mentioned in the first section?
§ *MR. ASQUITH
was understood to say that they could not consider the question of non-requirement, because Parliament did not enable them to do so.
§ Sin EDWARD CARSON
Oh, Yes; indeed they can. That is a matter they are to consider, and if they think the requirements of the neighbourhood will be best met by taking away a licence they can take it away, and the licensee will get compensation. That is the very matter that hitherto the justices have in reality not been able to do, because of the unfairness which they felt they would be inflicting upon the licence-holder. But I think that what the right hon. Gentleman meant was that very often in the past magistrates, not being satisfied with the evidence as to any one ground, had put two grounds together and professed themselves satisfied with the composite ground. That, in my opinion, is a very improper proceeding. Either there is a ground or there is not, and you cannot salve your conscience by saying that there was partly one ground and partly another, and that by adding the two together you obtained one good ground of refusal. The right hon. Gentleman then said that we were taking away from the local magistrates the original jurisdiction and transferring it to quarter sessions. I 101 absolutely deny that proposition. So far from taking away the jurisdiction of the magistrates this Bill actually increases it. Is there any jurisdiction taken away from the magistrates in county boroughs? On the contrary the whole jurisdiction under this Bill is transferred from quarter sessions to the local justices. That will affect 25,000 licences in the country, or one-fourth of the whole. Then there were 33,000 licences which before this Bill were not under any magistrates, but by this Bill the magistrates are given jurisdiction in regard thereto. In the counties there are 20,000 licences, and those added to the 25,000 to which I have referred will make 45,000 out of a total of 99,000 in regard to which the local justices will have far more jurisdiction than they have ever had before. Then take other licences. The right hon. Gentleman says that the power exists in the local magistrates, and that the power is being transferred to quarter sessions. The power never has been with the local justices. They had the power to select particular licences for adjudication, and to adjudicate upon them, but the matter always went to quarter sessions.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
I defy hon. Members opposite to produce a single case in which a licence was taken away and the licensee did not appeal to quarter sessions. Why should a man allow his property to be confiscated or his licence taken away without testing the justices' action by an appeal to quarter sessions? What has happened now? The right hon. Gentleman says the original jurisdiction is given to quarter sessions. No such thing. They have no original jurisdiction whatsoever. The local justices will select the houses and send them up to quarter sessions, they being the body who have to administer the compensation fund, and that is the sole reason why the matter is sent to them. But they have no original jurisdiction; that remains with the magistrates.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
To select the licences which they think ought to 102 be taken away, and it is only with the licences they select that quarter sessions can deal. I do not call that original jurisdiction. But we have done something more which the right hon. Gentleman entirely overlooked. In these cases of licences refused on the ground of redundancy, with an appeal to quarter sessions, the non-county boroughs with separate commissions of the peace have never had representation. They have been given a representation at quarter sessions which they never had before. Is it a fair description of the Bill, then, to lay down the proposition which the right hon. Gentleman has done that we are now transferring the whole power of the local justices to quarter sessions. A proposition in the opposite direction would be far nearer the truth for never before has so much power been given to the local justices.
Passing from the first clause the right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of compensation. I find sonic difficulty in following what he really thought ought to be done with regard to compensation. He admitted that there must be some compensation some day or other—I think last year he called it indemnification. [An HON. MEMBER: No, solatium.] Yes, he called it solatium My own view is that the only solatium to a publican whose licence is taken away in the public interest is compensation. The right hon. Gentleman said that if there was a licence taken away in the public interests compensation ought to be paid out of public funds, but that the Government had not the courage to do that. I notice that in a later part of his argument he said that the insurance under the Bill was really public funds. I do not agree with his view as to what is the proper way to set up an insurance fund. If the right hon. Gentleman is logical in his argument I do not think he has any reason to quarrel with us or our courage. He went on to say that he based his view upon equity.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
Then the right hon. Gentleman prefers "expediency," and the proposition is that there is an expediency for doing something for the publican so as not to allow his licence to be taken away from him with-out an effort being made to give him something in return. There is an expediency in that because, as the right hon. Gentleman says, you cannot possibly expect that any system will be looked upon as a system of justice, even assuming that there was no question of compensation at all, where a number of men having public-houses side by side, under exactly the same conditions, all well behaved and carried on, came up and the magistrate had to make a selection as to which of them he was going to destroy. Nobody could ever pretend that any such system can be considered as a system of justice. Well, what is the question of expediency? I will put it on the ground of expediency. If there is expediency, can there be any fairer or more statesmanlike course than to solve that expediency at the expense of the trade itself? Can you suggest any fairer way than by giving such security as will enable the trade to insure against the non-renewal of licences when the public interest demands that the licence should no longer be granted? But whether you put it upon the ground of expediency or upon any other ground, how much do we gain by chopping words in this way when in reality we come to this compromise—that the trade give up all right to say that they ought to be compel-sated out of public funds, and are willing that an insurance should be exacted from them to the amount of £1,250,000 a year? In this compromise, upon the one side the allegations which existed even up to last year that compensation ought to come out of public funds is given up, and upon the other side the trade are given the security that an insurance fund is set up against the hardships and the injustices that would be done if a licence were taken away in the public interest.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the proper solution of this problem would have been to give notice to determine such expectancy as the publican had. I never disputed that at 104 all nor have the Government ever disputed it. We have said over and over again that there were two ways of taking away these licences. There is either the method the Government have adopted of allowing the trade to insure, or the method of giving absolute security over a certain number of years, but the two things cannot be put together, and I would like to know what any member of the Opposition would have said if we had brought in a Bill to provide that for the next fifteen years no publican should have a refusal of the renewal of his licence. What we want, and what is the aim, I think, of every man in the House who considers temperance reform in connection with the suppression of public-houses at all, is to deal with the immediate question and to get rid of as many public-houses in the immediate future as possible. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman in another portion of his argument said that after the time limit—which it was suggested in Committee should be fourteen years—probably the greater number of redundant houses would have been_ got rid of.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
The right hon. Gentleman based an argument upon it. Well, what is the good of basing an argument upon an assumption that he does not believe. The right hon. Gentleman's whole argument as to the reason why the time limit would be a proper method of solving the question was mixed up with the insurance fund, because he said that at the end of the time limit there would be a greater value attached to the remaining houses and the redundancy would be a smaller risk. If that is the true foundation of any argument it is a justification of the Bill, because it shows that within a comparatively small period of fourteen or fifteen years—a very short period in the history of a country—we shall really have solved that question of the redundancy of licences. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that at the end of that period the publican who remains will have a better property and greater value in his house. He may have greater value 105 if you frame the scheme in the way the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, but he would have less security for the greater value, and therefore, when he was deprived of it he would have the greater hardship, and I cannot see what solution that would be to tell a man that at the end of fifteen years he will have greater value in his house, but it is quite true that that value can be put an end to at the mere ipse dixit of the magistrates. The truth of the matter is that no alternative has been suggested to the scheme of the Government which will hold water. [Cries of "Oh."] Nobody has attempted in Committee to bring in the time limit, which the right hon. Gentleman suggests. If they had I have always said it was worthy of consideration whether You should not carry out your scheme of getting rid of these redundant licences without an insurance, and in that way give compensation to the individual, but you can never run the two systems together. A time limit gives no compensation unless you give security for that time; and if a man is insuring at his own expense you are not giving him security, but he is paving for it out of his own pocket. That seems to me to be almost the whole of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman.
For my own part, I have never suggested that the cutting down of the number of public-houses was any very great step in temperance reform, but many hon. Members on both sides of the House think it is. If it is, I then this Bill is a great advance in the direction of temperance reform. I should like any Member of this Home to read as I read this morning once more the description of the 1869 beerhouses given by the hon. Member for Spen Valley. I should like them to read petition after petition presented to this House asking Parliament to do something to enable the justices to take these houses under their jurisdiction, with a view either to their suppression or improvement. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley, who knows this subject perhaps better than any Member in the House, made an eloquent speech pointing out that it would be a real advance in temperance reform if we could get rid of the evils of the 1869 beerhouses, which constitute one third of the whole of the existing licences 106 in this country. If all that is true, have we not made a great advance in what the right hon. Gentleman has admitted to be a burning question? Again, what has been happening all these Years past since this question of the suppression of public-houses has become more or less a burning one? Notwithstanding the difficulties of getting rid of these houses, no Government has hitherto attempted to put new licences on a different basis which would prevent the very difficulty increasing with which we are met when we come to solve that question. I think it is something that hon. Members on both sides of the House do accord to our proposal for a change in the system of granting licences some meed of praise as doing something to make a fresh start in order that we may not be met with the difficulty in the future.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that as regarded new licences the objection would be that the Bill would exaggerate the invidious contrast with the old licences. We cannot help that. We must make, a start some time, and make it without any fears, invidious comparisons or anything else, and having solely in our eye the interests of the public which are entrusted to our charge. The right hon. Gentleman also made one other observation, and it is the only one with which I should like to deal for a moment. He said that one of his objections to this Bill was that it placed obstacles in the way of remedial legislation. I have heard that more than once in the course of these debates. It will certainly place no obstacles in the way of new legislation, if that new legislation is just. Hon. Members may say there is an obstacle because we have admitted the principle that these licences ought not to be taken away, or the renewal refused, unless compensation is paid. If that is the obstacle, I am glad we should place that obstacle in the way, because I think it is founded on the most elementary principles of justice. If you want to do injustice—and that is really what the proposition comes to—you can do injustice if von can get the country to endorse your intention. If the only obstacle we have placed in the way of new legislation is the one I have suggested, I think we may rest satisfied that in doing justice to a trade which perhaps, 107 more than any other trade in this country, has been legislated against, we are doing that which will not only enable them to feel that they have been dealt with fairly by this House, but will enable the justices, at the same time to carry out those high duties in the interests of the public which we all know they desire to carry out and which we believe this Bill will facilitate.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
said they all acknowledged the uniform courtesy and consideration the Solicitor-General had given during the discussions on the Bill to those who differed from him. He ventured to say, however, that the speech which the hon. and learned Gentleman had now delivered in his official position would arouse deep dissent and dissatisfaction on the Opposition side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed doubts, as the Prime Minister had done, as to whether a reduction in the number of public-houses would necessarily result in a great diminution of drunkenness. He also said that this Bill, which would deal with the question promptly, did not create any obstacle to further legislation regarding the evils which existed in connection with the liquor traffic. The speech of the hon. and learned Member, like many others front the Government side of the House, and some from his side, seemed to deal only with the interests of those who were engaged in this traffic. Hon. Members talked of wishing to do justice to the trade. What ought to be present to the mind of every Member of Parliament in giving his vote was not so much what was just or unjust to those engaged in the trade, but what was urgently wanted in view of the visible condition of the people. It was a singular coincidence that on that very morning when the House had to come to a vote on this vitally important issue there had been distributed the Report of the Committee on the Physical Degeneration of the People. One of the most striking paragraphs in the Report was the following—Next to the urbanisation of the people and intimately associated with it, as the outcome of many of the conditions it creates, the question of 'drink' occupies a prominent place among the causes of degeneration. The close connection between a craving for drink and had housing had feeding a polluted and 108 depressing atmosphere, long hours of work in overheated and often ill-ventilated rooms, only relieved by the excitements of town life, is too self-evident to need demonstration, nor unfortunately is the extent of the evil more open to dispute.He wished these words had been rung into the ears of the Prime Minister at an earlier stage of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of the drunkenness of the people as their own fault, and not the fault of the circumstances by which they were surrounded. The magistrates by their past conduct, and many of the great landlords of the country, were responsible for the presence of the innumerable sources of temptation in the midst of the people. Was it not the plain and obvious duty of Parliament before considering even the question of justice—he was as fond of justice as most men—to place in the forefront the question what they ought to do to check and limit the temptations in our great towns which, as they all knew, worked the ruin of many people in this country? Some of the hon. Members opposite who had spoken in the debates on this Bill had referred only to the interest of those who had invested their money in this traffic. It seemed to him if they would think of the poor wretches, the gin-and-beer-soaked, greasy, ragged wrecks of manhood and woman- hood around every public-house, and of the pale, half-starved children who were the victims of this trade, they would take another view of this question from that merely of justice or injustice to those who had realised a gigantic profit generation after generation out of the miseries and the degradations of the poor. He said frankly that he detested the Bill, which, he believed, would not lessen the great sources of moral and physical mischief to which those connected with the trade had consecrated and devoted their wealth to the fatal work of debasing their fellow-citizens. That might seem a strong expression, but let hon. Members consider how the great beer interest had been organised during the past few years, and the way in which they had endeavoured to extend the trade in every possible way. He did say he was right in using strong expressions in the face of these facts.
They were asked by the Bill to consecrate the trade as a vested right, and to give it a permanent endowment 109 representing £300,000,000, which by the provisions of the Bill would be increased year by year. They knew perfectly well that the compensation fund was absolutely insufficient. The machinery of the Bill was directed not to the mitigation of the great national curse of intemperance but to the putting of handcuffs and fetters on the only means of national emancipation. He denounced the Bill as a conspiracy against the national life. It did not contribute anything to the national health, vigour, mental and manual skill, in the great combats of industrial competition. It would not increase the national wealth. It was estimated that one-sixth of the wages of the working classes was thrown away on beer and gin. Even half of that money would be sufficient to transform England into a sort of garden city from end to end. He doubted whether this Bill would have the effect of reducing the number of licensed houses. It seemed to him to offer little or no inducement for the refusal of renewals on anything like an adequate scale, and they would go on increasing in value year by year until that increase formed a prohibitory barrier against reduction. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Ripon Division, in referring to Clause 4, had stated that it would tend rather to the multiplication of new licences and that it would be a source of temptation to obtain relief of local taxation from the proceedt of these licences. He thought very great weight ought to be attached to thas observation, because the Government had refused in any wav to put the funds provided by the high licences into a national fund. The devoting of these high licence charges to a fund for local purposes constituted a genuine danger. The principle of high licence, beneficial as it was for intercepting the monopoly value, had the grave danger that it might multiply facilities for physical and moral debasement. It had been said that the Bill might diminish the chances for improvement which were associated with the trust public-house system. He did not look to Lord Grey's scheme as a solution, but accepted the trust system only as an alternative less undesirable than the private profit system. The effect of Clause 4 might be that that form of mitigating the drink evil might be discouraged and under the influence of these motives the whole of the new 110 licences might be placed more at the mercy of the brewers than they had been before.
The Bill was bad from the results which had obviously flow from its operation. It was also bad in respect of the source from which it came. They knew perfectly well the origin of the Bill. They knew where this Bill came from. In substance it came from the board-rooms of the great brewing companies. They had dictated the silencing of discussion in the House. They held the Government in their hands, and said to the Government, "We must have our way, or you will suffer for it." The brewers and distillers were the last friends of this decrepit Ministry, which had stripped itself of every principle, and which had been stripped by the country at the by-elections of every vestige of national mandate or approval. The trade held the fate of the Government in their hands and had thrust their proposals down the throats of a discredited Ministry. He and his friends had listened with much satisfaction to the speeches from the other side of the House inviting the Government, at the last hour, to place a time limit or some restriction on the principle of compensation. They all knew—it was admitted by the Solicitor-General himself—that there was not the shadow of a claim, either legal or equitable, for compensation. The licence-holder and the trader had known it all along. They knew what would be the decision in the Farnham case. It was plain from that decision that it was not only the right but the duty of the local justices to frame a scheme dealing with the whole of the circumstances of the district and to fearlessly reduce the licences to what, in their opinion, was the right measure that should be provided for the district under their supervision. He had always been opposed, in the strongest way, to the principle of compensation. It seemed to him that there could be no right of compensation for a licence granted not for the benefit of an individual, or a class, or a trade, but in the supposed interests of and on the supposed demands and requirements of the people themselves. That was a point which had been absolutely forgotten by many hon. Members in the course of the debates. Any form of compensation whatever, except in the very limited form 111 suggested in the Report of the Peel Commission, was wholly inadmissible. In the words of the Leader of the Opposition that was obviously the only form of compensation that could conceivably be given. He had always said that even that was, on principle, undesirable and improper. The thing would take care of itself by a limited form of insurance under which the licence-holder would get all that he could legitimately look for, but the trade would not have that.
They had been assured, again and again, that this money was the money of the trade. That he utterly traversed. This vast misbegotten and absolutely unsound mountain of wealth which had grown up in the absence of sound legislation and administration, was not theirs to play with at their pleasure. Under the fiction of this law it was meant to give them for the first time the right to use this money, which they now considered was their own property, and to deal with it in their own way, and to use it for mutual insurance to mitigate any losses which they might incur by being deprived of their licences. But this was a national asset. It was open to national taxation at any time, and one of the most obvious evils of the Bill was that there was an attempt to withdraw from the control of the proper financial authorities, the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, the collection of this money which was national money, and to which the country was entitled to look for the relief of taxation. By transferring the power from the local magistrates to the quarter sessions it was meant to strengthen the position of the trade by setting up bogus claims which he sincerely hoped would be taken from them by a courageous and honest Treasury and converted into a proper relief for the taxpayers who were now groaning under burdens of taxation for the sake of the privileged classes. He felt very strongly about this Bill. He did not know that there was a single Bill ever introduced in the House of Commons in his nineteen years experience which had excited such a profound feeling of indignation in the constitutency which he represented, and he had felt it his duty to enter his emphatic protest against the policy of the Bill, and to express his determination to do his 112 utmost to defeat not only the policy but the whole provisions of the measure.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said he did not want to travel over the whole ground in connection with this Bill, but there were two or three points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife to which he would like to refer. The true purport of this Bill was to provide a fair and just method by which they could get rid of a large number of redundant public-houses which existed at the present time. That was, he submitted, a true principle of temperance reform. No one could suppose that by one measure they could bring about all that they desired as regarded temperance reform, but no student of this question who desired an improvement in our social laws relating to the drink question would deny that the first and necessary element of a real advance was the diminution of the number of redundant public-houses. The purport of this Bill was to make that possible, which could not be done at the present time. It had been pointed out more than once, though the argument had never beer answered, that this Bill, for the first time, enabled the magistrates to deal with what lie called the plague-spot of the present licensing system—viz., the beerhouses under the Act of 1869. That was a most important question in every country district and was the main obstacle to securing a real system of reduction of public-houses, especially in the northern country towns. These beerhouses in Manchester were a crying evil. There were 2,000 of them which could not be touched at the present moment. If any Member opposite was really sincere in his desire for temperance reform, he must admit that no such reform could be carried out on a satisfactory basis until these 1869 beerhouses were attacked. That, in itself, he thought, would justify this measure. There were 33,000 of these beerhouse licences in England or a third of the whole number, and therefore, to bring them under the scope of the Bill was a very large and just measure of temperance reform—although it could not be done without compensation. That would enable the licensing magistrates, under the powers in the Bill, to deal 113 with the worst. plague-spot—as regarded drunkenness—in the country.
His second point was—he was not for a moment taking the county boroughs into account—that the great difficulty in regard to the due reduction of the number of public-houses was that the power of the magistrates, in the petty sessional divisions, was exercised on a too small area. Now, any one who had considered and worked the existing licensing system practically had no other feeling than that in order to bring about a proper system of temperance reform in regard to public-houses. there must be a large area. By this Bill they were increasing the jurisdiction of the local magistrates, giving increased powers to every small borough which jurisdiction at the present time, and bringing into the purview of the magistrates the ante-1869 beerhouses, which, hitherto, whatever abuses attached to them, could defy the law.
A more important point in the Bill was in regard to the compensation provisions. The absence of any fair and just proposal for compensation did, in fact, stand in the way of the magistrates taking any measures of temperance reform as regarded the reduction of public-houses where they were redundant. He did not care on what ground that disinclination to reduce public-houses was based—whether on the moral sense of the country or on the question of expectation on the part of the licensees that their licences would he renewed. Whatever the basis might be there was that feeling that they could not take away a large number of these redundant public-houses without giving a just measure of compensation to the owners and the existing licence-holders. That was expressed, as a matter of fact, in what was going on. Except in county boroughs the advocates of temperance reform never could get the number of these redundant houses reduced. Occasionally a spasmodic effort was made but it always roused friction. If the country was taken all over, the conditions, as they stood, were an absolute bar to any substantial reduction in the number of public-houses. What were the compensation proposals under the Bill? They had been, he would not say misrepresented, but misunderstood, through- 114 out the whole course of the debates on the Second Reading, in Committee, and on the Report stage. To begin with, the fund, as they knew, was an insurance fund derived from the trade itself. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman for East Fife that there was all the distinction in the world between a compensation fund derived from public money in the ordinary sense, and that contributed by the trade. He thought that anyone who in that House had proposed to raise the compensation fund direct from the National Exchequer would not have been listened to for a moment [OPPOSISTION cries of "Hear, hear!"], and the person who would have denounced it most of all would have been the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife. He had held, for the last twenty years, that the proper way in which to deal with compensation was on the insurance principle, and not by direct contribution from public funds. The measure of compensation in the Bill was not the trade loss which the licensee might suffer. It was not as if it were a compensation case in which the public-houses were taken for public purposes. It was compensation on a limited scale, being only the difference in value of the house licensed and unlicensed, just as if the Act had not been passed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife talked about enhancement. Nothing of that kind was contemplated under the Bill. The Bill would not compensate the owner of the premises as though he had a permanency or a freehold. It would only compensate him on the basis that the enjoyment of his tenure would be narrowed. He challenged any hon. Member to suggest a more moderate measure, or a measure that would give a less amount of compensation to the person injured than would be given under the Bill. Not only that, but there was a special provision which protected the position of the licensee. Under the existing law, if the licensee were only a manager, he would not get any compensation at all; but under the Bill the licensee would receive compensation even though he were only a manager. That was just; and to his mind, if there was to he compensation at all, it could not be put on a narrower or more concentrated basis- 115 With reference to the time limit, the right lion. Gentleman seemed to misunderstand the principle of compensation as attached to the time limit. He said "there was an expectancy." But all property was expectancy more or less secure; and, according as it was more or less secure, it was more or less valuable. The right hon. Gentleman said that the time limit would destroy that expectancy. Of course, if all property were thrown into a hotch-potch in ten Years, in that sense the expectancy would be limited to the ten years. But having regard to justice and fairness, why should the expectancy here be more limited than it was at the present time? That would be the effect of a time limit. At present, the expectancy was more or less secure according to the conditions. All they asked was that compensation should be assessed on the basis of expectancy. In some cases the expectancy would be worth a large sum, because it was good; and, in other cases, it would be worth only a small sum, because it was bad. What would be the result of a time limit? A man who had a poor and badly conducted house would be given a larger amount of compensation than he would be justly entitled to; and where a man received more than he was entitled to that was confiscation, just as it would be confiscation if he received less than he was entitled to. Again, a man in an admirably conducted house, which the magistrates for some reason or other desired to remove, would be given less under a time limit than he would be naturally and properly entitled to if the real basis of his claim were considered. Therefore, a time limit would result in too much compensation in some cases and too little in others. The only true principle was to take the property as it stood, giving less to property which was insecure and more to property which was secure. There was really no other basis of compensation.
There was one other aspect of the time limit which was very much disregarded by hon. Members opposite. Under the Bill, it was desirable to get as large a fund as possible in order to reduce, as quickly as possible, the number of redundant public-houses. Under the Bill there would be ample funds to reduce the number of public- 116 houses to the number mentioned in Lord Peel's Report. What hon. Members would not appreciate was that the houses it was desired to suppress were houses in which a small measure of compensation would be sufficient. In his own district they wished to get rid of the ante-1869 beerhouses; and they found that the compensation was almost nominal in amount, because the value of the houses was little more than if they had not been licensed. Therefore, without a time limit, the Bill would be able to bring about even the measure of reduction mentioned in Lord Peel's Report. But if a time limit were introduced, the fund would be immediately diminished and crippled, although, from the temperance point of view, it ought to be as large as possible. He had never seen any answer to that argument. The truth was that so many hon. Members disliked the idea of any compensation at all that their minds were entirely on the compensation question; and they did not see that the more they got out of the trade under the head of an insurance fund, the greater would be the fund for the reduction of redundant public-houses. Why, therefore, should they, under the guise of a time limit, reduce the fund on which temperance reform in the future would mainly depend? As regarded new licences, the provision was an important but minor part of the Bill. The main principle of the measure was the reduction of the number of redundant public-houses; and that would not be possible without having a compensation fund on a fair basis. On these grounds, he was a very strong supporter of the Bill. He believed that under it they would get justice and that reduction in the number of public-houses without which they could not have any satisfactory system of temperance reform.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said that the hon. and learned Gentleman had contributed a very clear and valuable speech to the discussion with reference to the time limit. The hon. Gentleman supported the Bill because it would lead to a reduction in the number of redundant public-houses. They, on that side, were in entire accord with that object. He did not, however, follow the hon. Gentleman when he said 117 that a time limit would reduce the compensation fund. The view on that side was that the contributions should continue during the period of the time limit; and that, at the end of it, the magistrates should have an absolutely free hand.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said that if the fund were capitalised for fifteen years instead of for perpetuity the hon. Gentleman would see the difference.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
said his idea was that the fund should cease at the end of fifteen veers. The hon. Gentleman referred to the county areas as being too small, and he, therefore, thought the quarter sessions would deal better with the matter. That was not his experience. Every village was a separate entity for this purpose, and quarter sessions would not know the needs of a village fifteen or twenty miles distant. His contention was that every village should be looked at separately, in order to ascertain whether the facilities were sufficient or in excess of the requirements. What would happen under this Bill was that where a licence was taken away partly owing to improper conduct on the part of the holder, and partly because the house was not wanted, full compensation would he given. The Solicitor-General had tried to assure the House that the licensing justices' powers were augmented under this Bill. Speaking generally, in the last twenty-one years the total number of licences refused on the ground of non-requirement had been 1,540. In each case there was a right of appeal to quarter sessions. but in 1,131 of the 1,540 no appeal was lodged. That was to say, that in 1,131 cases the applicants were satisfied with the decision of the licensing justices and did not appeal against it. Therefore, in 80 per cent, of the cases of non-renewal the last word lay with the licensing justices. In future, in similar cases, where under the old condition of things there would have been no appeal, the licensing justices would not be able to decide the matter at all: they would not hove a word to say upon it except to report. Was it not quite clear that the work done by the justices in the past without an appeal could not be done in the future?
With regard to the ante-1809 licences, he might say that one of 118 the most urgent reasons for temperance reform was to deal with these licences, which could not be taken away on the ground of non-requirement. It would be convenient to remember what had happened with regard to those licences since 1869. In that year there were 49,000 odd licences of that description. now there were 27,000. They had been reduced by almost half, which was perfectly satisfactory. The real blot on this Bill was that it did not provide an adequate sum for compensation for the licences to be taken away. His own view was that the levy ought to be made proportionate to the demand upon it. If a licence was not required it should be taken away and the demand upon the remaining licences should provide proper compensation. That was not done in this Bill. Under this Bill there was no compulsory levy at all. Then under Clause 7, Sub-section 3, the City of London was set apart as a separate entity, which meant that a contribution of £25,000 annually was put down outside the London area. It was a very curious thing that there should be a separate rule for London. It was as well for the Liberal Party to remember that, so far as the time limit was concerned, they had the Bishops with them and, therefore, they might hope that in another place something might be done to put the Bill on a proper footing.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife had pointed out that this was the handiwork of the Government. That was true to an extent, but the genesis of the Bill was very well known. The beginning of this Bill—and it was a temperance measure—was started at a meeting of the Leicester Licensed Victuallers' Society in June, last, when the chairman of the society said—No one appreciated temperance more than the trade.which he could quite understand, because, they lived out of it. The secretary went further and stated that the Parliamentary Committee of the retail trade took the final step to bring about the Bill, and that the Bill was the result of a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee with a Committee of the Government.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERSDOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
There is not a shadow of foundation for that statement.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
was sorry to hear the right hon. Member's contradiction, because he feared that he had been giving away the trade too much. He could not discard the statement of a gentleman occupying the responsible position of a secretary so easily, and it would be interesting to know who the Government representatives were on this Committee, and who it was that discussed it with the Government, and how the Government held out, as it always did, and finally, being a weak Government, gave way in the end. They had tried to find out where the compensation was going—it was not clear now as to where it was to go. Most of it no doubt would go to the brewers, and those who actually held the licences would get very little. When making his final protest against the Bill he could only say that he believed it was a bad Bill, hut remembering the sources from which it came he believed it was the final act of compensation on the part of the Government. They had compensated all sections of their supporters, and therefore he assumed they had completed the Work they had come into power to do. He voted against the Bill in the hope that, as it was the completion of the work of the Government, it also meant the completion of the present Parliament.
§ *SIR JOHN ROLLESTON (Leicester)
said the last speaker had referred to an incident which he said had happened in his (Sir John's) constituency; but he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had formed an erroneous impression of what took place. He (Sir John) could remember, when the text of the Bill was first published, that the secretary of the Licensed Victuallers' Association denounced the Bill in strong terms. He had not adhered to that position, but the fact that he did so at the outset proved, he thought, that there was no collusion between the Government and the publicans.
§ *MR. JOHN ROLLESTON
replied that the report of the proceedings which he read was in another paper. Continuing, he said he could not let this Bill pass through the House without expressing on behalf of those he represented his appreciation of the action of the Government, and especially of the services of the Home Secretary and the Solicitor-General, in having introduced and piloted through a rather tempestuous passage in that House this most useful measure. He had not intervened much in the debate; but he did not suppose there was any Member who had endured more outside on account of the Bill than he had, and his humble exposition of its provisions in answer to protests of his constituents had been both detailed and laborious. He thought it was fair to say that a very large number of petitions which he had presented and resolutions and letters which he had received had been violently hostile to the Bill. Most of them he believed were genuine expressions of opinion. Some were clearly prepared before the introduction of the measure; others were machine-made. Mainly, however, he believed they were genuine expressions of opinion. He could well imagine an unsophisticated Member of Parliament with an easy and an unopposed seat thinking, if he were in his place, that the whole force and power of his constituency would be directed towards unseating him if he dared in face of such representations to lift a finger or utter a sound in defence of this Bill. He had no such fear, nor did he anticipate any such results. An hon. Member became accustomed after many years of diagnosis to feel with some degree of accuracy the pulse of his constituency, and was able to gauge the apparent force which a minority assumed to have behind it when it placed itself in opposition to any great Bill or measure, and he also learned to appreciate the real power and the quiet strength of that great body of people, the majority of whom were never heard or seen in these controversies. It was this great class who would give this great measure dispassionate consideration and would apply to it a logical mind, and who would prefer to seek out for themselves and follow the interests of justice and truth rather than the noisy battle cries of political Parties. 121 It was this great class, he felt, who would support the action of the Government in this matter, who would recognise the measure as one of justice and progress and as calculated to remove one of the greatest obstacles in the path of temperance reform. On behalf of those he represented he desired to give it earnest support.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cornwall. Camborne)
said he hoped that the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat would not meet with very bitter disappointment on the occasion of the next election, and would not find that the petitioners against this Bill had really experienced the feelings set forth in their petitions. Personally, he could not understand why people who petitioned did so unless they believed in their action.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Then they ought not to have been presented. Continuing, the hon. Baronet said he was reminded of a very trite saving by Mr. Disraeli in one his novels. He laid down as a political watchword the fact that it was the duty of politicians to provide for the social welfare of the people. If this Bill did provide for the social welfare of the people it was a good Bill, if it did not—and in his opinion it failed to do so—then it was a bad Bill. Throughout the long discussions which had taken place upon it one satisfactory element had been notable and that was the admissions as to the great evil of drinking that went on in this country. The Royal Commission appointed by the Government had admitted that to be a gigantic evil which no effort should be spared to endeavour to eradicate. The Government tried to deal with the evil in their Bill of 1902, and they did something to restrict the sale of drink, but still that Bill did not go far enough. This measure was spoken of as a great measure of temperance reform, and 122 it was very curious that a measure of temperance reform should fail to ensure the support of temperance reformers. He did not believe there was a single Bishop in the country who supported this Bill as it stood; there was hardly a clergyman who did so. He had seen letters in the Press trying to make out that the clergy were in favour of the measure, but he did not think they were quite so bad has that. He did not believe, also, that there was a magistrate in the country who supported the Bill as it stood. They would not oppose it, but they did not think it wag what it ought to be in many material respects. And, finally, he might say that, in his opinion, there was not one person among the great body of temperance reformers, who had spent their lives in trying to grapple with the evil, who could honestly support the Bill. It seemed to him that compensation was the be all and end all of the Bill. The head and front of the offending of the measure was contained in the first two or three lines which set forth that licences ought not to be taken away without compensation. That was the spirit of the Bill, and that single fact condemned it most entirely in his opinion.
The hon. Member for Stretford had explained that the Bill would allow the trade to insure. What on earth prevented the members of the trade insuring at the present time in the same way as any other trade or business was insured. He would like to read a short extract from the Spectator which was not an extreme or extravagant paper, but was the very essence of respectability. It said—Another curious perversity of view exhibited by Mr. Balfour is to be found in his assertion that the compensation is not to be given out of public funds, but is to be provided by the trade. That is, of course, a pure paradox. The State has hitherto given the publican free or almost free a valuable property. Under the Bill it is stipulated that a small portion of this annual gift shall be returned to the State. But this does not make the compensation fund a private affair of the trade. The Bill merely takes partial possession of a great national asset which has hitherto been wasted. It is not the trade which provides the compensation fund but the State, which has created the value attaching to licences owing to its system of monopoly. The money goes into the public Treasury and is public money like all other money collected by aw. Its quality cannot be altered by calling it a 123 fund provided by the trade any more than the money paid out of A's waistcoat pocket differs from the money paid out of A's trouser's pocket.That was the doctrine he had preached for many years past. It was not right to talk of this being the money of the trade—it was public money and that fact would not be altered. The money was being paid in order to give a locus standi and permanency to the public-house. The Bill in fact was intended to establish for ever the public-houses of this country, and it was being done not by the trade but with public money. The hon. Member for Bolton had described the public-house as a necessary adjunct to civilisation. He had declared that it was a great social need in our life. When he (Sir Wilfrid) heard that he was reminded of the expression used at a great banquet at which lots of champagne was served. A visitor put down his champagne glass and said. "I do love civilisation." He had another quotation he would like to read, and that was from The Times—he was in fact quoting now from all respectable papers. The Times said years ago that the public-house was a huge misery and nuisance that degraded, ruined, and brutalised a large portion of our population, yet here they had a Bill to establish an institution which did all those things. It seemed to him that there never was a worse object underlying any Bill. He had listened to all the debates on the measure as to the arrangements for magistrates, etc., but that was all leather and pruneila—compensation for the publican was the real essence of the Bill, and that was why he was opposed to it.
There were only three courses that could be taken by the State with regard to the liquor traffic. The first was free trade. There might be supporters of that policy, but he had never met them. The second was prohibition of the sale of liquor—a course; which, when given a fair trial, had never failed to stop drinking. It was a most extraordinary theory that you could prevent people becoming intoxicated by supplying them with intoxicating liquor. The only way was to stop the supply. The third course was that of regulating the traffic. That had been tried for 124 400 years, and it had always failed, and this "great temperance measure" would doubtless share the same fate. What the people had demanded was not fresh rules and regulations, but the power to keep the nuisance out of their own district if they thought fit. Temperance reformers had demanded nothing outrageous; they did not want to interfere with the magistrates, but surely if the people did not want a licence in their locality no bench of magistrates ought to be allowed to thrust a licence upon them. If the power of local option were given, people would be able to live in what were sometimes called "uncontaminated zones." It was most extraordinary that Parliament should be spending night after night in arranging how the people were to have drink. Why could they not be allowed to do without it? Surely English working men were as good as the Kaffirs and Zulus, and yet a liquor law had been passed in South Africa such as was refused in England. There was something amazing and pathetic in the present position. Everywhere throughout the world the people were rising up against the liquor curse. The movement was spreading in all English-speaking countries. In America 30,000,000 of people lived under the system of local option. And yet here in England nothing was being done except to consolidate our shame and to perpetuate our misery.
The Bill was going to another place where it was possible, though not probable, that it would be improved. The Prime Minister thought he had done a great stroke of business in introducing and carrying through the House this measure. Nobody appreciated more than he the superhuman skill, ingenuity, dexterity, ability, and agility of the Prime Minister; they were unequalled in history. The right hon. Gentleman had accomplished an unequalled task in keeping his Party together, which was considered a man's one great duty in politics, but it was doubtful whether, on looking back, he would derive any lasting satisfaction from this legislative achievement by which he had riveted the chains of this curse upon his fellow-countrymen, and introduced Tammany Hall into English politics. If the Liberal Party did not make it their first and foremost duty when they came into office to repeal this wild and wicked 125 legislation all their organisation, declarations, declamation, and demonstration would have been nothing more than a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. The opponents of the Bill could do nothing more; they had resisted its progress as long as they had the power; it would now go to another place where it would doubtless be passed; but he still had confidence that this atrocious measure would arouse temperance reformers, the Liberal Party, and the nation, to the ultimate overthrow of the system which was, to the people of this country, their heaviest burden and their greatest curse.
§ MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said the Bill had been described as a measure to enable licence-holders to insure themselves, but that was a thing that licence-holders had always been able to do, and, as a matter of fact, one company alone insured £60,000,000 of this class of property, undertaking to insure licensees against all risks beyond their own control. This Bill did something very different, in that it set up a vested interest, and gave Parliamentary recognition to a permanent right in licences which had never before been acknowledged. The Solicitor-General had stated that this trade had been legislated against more than any other. So far from that being the case, it was the one trade which, beyond all others, had been financially favoured by Governments. It had enjoyed the fruit of a public monopoly to such an extent that, when a brewery secured a new licence, it obtained from the public something which it could immediately sell for many thousands of pounds. In the financial relations between the nation and the trade, the trade had been favoured at the expense of the nation, not the nation at the expense of the trade. It had been claimed that for the first time the ante-1869 beerhouses were being brought under control. But under what sort of control? The complaint against these "plague-spots" had not been altogether with regard to their number, but to the absence of control, due to the lack of power on the part of the justices to hold out any threats which would give weight to their instructions. The only 126 threat they would be able to hold out in future would be that, unless they conformed to the instructions given, the licence would be taken away, but that full compensation would be paid. That would mean in many cases an enormous profit to the owner, because not only would he receive compensation, but the remaining houses owned by him would benefit by the increased trade which would accrue to them.
As to the contention of the Solicitor-General that greater powers were being given to the justices, what had they done in the past, and what would they be able to do in the future? Putting aside Birmingham and Liverpool, which had been frequently referred to, what had happened in Manchester? In the year 1903 the justices refused the renewal of forty licences; under this Bill, the total fund at their disposal being only £34,000, they would be able to refuse only seventeen. In Exeter, where the reduction had been thirteen, they would now be able to refuse not more than two, as the compensation fund at their disposal would be only £2,342. In Canterbury, instead of being nine, the reduction would be less than two. In Swansea, the reduction would not exceed five, whereas it had formerly been sixteen. It was sometimes stated that in large areas, where the annual value of the public-houses was low, and the amount of the compensation fund would therefore be small, the capital value would be proportionately light, and that consequently the possible reduction in licences would not be so small as might appear probable at first sight. A few days ago figures were given relating to the last six licences which came under the review of the Inland Revenue authorities for death duty purposes. The smallest values were £3,500 and £3,200. But what was the assessment? One was assessed upon an annual value of £50, and the other upon an annual value of £60. So that even with a very low annual value for assessment purposes, the capital value for compensation under this Bill would not be less than £2,000. So far as the reduction of licences was concerned, in 1903, renewals were refused in 480 cases, and 350 licenses lapsed, making a total reduction of 830 under the existing law. 127 It might be said that that was an exceptional year, but it should be borne in mind that those who demanded this legislation had put forward their claim, not only on account of the reductions in 1903, but especially because the reductions were likely to be still larger in the future. In the face of these facts how could hon. Members represent this Bill as one to reduce the number of licences? As a matter of fact, it was a Bill to limit the reduction.
It had also been said that the Bill placed a fund of £1,250,000 at the disposal of quarter sessions for compensation purposes. But the Bill did not compel quarter sessions to levy this amount; they might levy the full amount, or a smaller amount, or even make no levy at all. If the Government had really desired that this sum should be devoted to the reduction of licences, they would have made it obligatory upon every Court of quarter sessions to levy the full sum, and that when in any case the whole of the fund was not required for the particular district, the surplus should be transferred to the Board of Inland Revenue, to be used in districts where the fund was found to be insufficient. Throughout the debates there had been an entire absence of any recognition, on the part of the Government, of the magnitude of the evil. In the Report just issued on the degeneration of the population, it was stated that drink was a most potent and deadly agent of physical degeneration, and that the craving was appallingly hereditary in its character. When one turned from the speeches of the Prime Minister to the Report, even of the majority of the Royal Commission, one would think that different trades were under discussion. The Majority Report realised that there were connected with this matter evils of which the Prime Minister appeared from his speeches to be unconscious. It was true that in one of those speeches reference was made to drunkenness, but it was merely that the drunkard might be denounced and scorned. The House ought to hesitate to use terms of blame and scorn to these unfortunate individuals, the extent of whose temptation they were powerless to measure. Politicians would be better engaged in bracing themselves to resist their own temptations, than in casting scorn 128 upon those who yielded to temptations to which they themselves were strangers. He knew of a poor man who spent a whole week of his annual holiday without venturing to cross the threshold of his home, because of the special temptations which awaited him at the time. He wished they could have heard during these debates that the Prime Minister had been able to refrain for a whole week from communicating with those who were endeavouring to tempt him by the promise of their votes or the threats of their withdrawal. The Prime Minister had denounced these poor men who had yielded to temptations, the strength of which he could not measure, but taking the whole history and character of this Bill, it was doubtful whether the right hon. Gentleman's own temptations had been wholly overcome.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
reminded the House that, on the First Reading of the Bill, he pointed out that every man who had invested a penny in the trade had done so with a full knowledge of the law; that during the alleged "reckless attack" upon the trade last year brewery securities on the London Stock Exchange had fallen less than most securities, that the profits of the trade had been exceptionally large upon a very inflated capital, and that men had gone into the trade taking the risk, in order to get a large profit. Those facts constituted a refutation of the Home Secretary's case for the Bill, and not one of them had been disproved. The whole case which the Home Secretary made in introducing the Bill had collapsed, and neither the right hon. Gentleman nor anybody else had made the least attempt to defend it. A Return recently issued to the House showed the whole of that ease to be ludicrous to an extreme that would scarcely be credited. According to that return, the number of licences refused renewal at the brewster sessions of 1904 was greater than in any year during the last twenty years, and what did it amount to? Simply that seventy-three on-licences were refused on the ground of non-requirement. That was the reckless attack which this Bill was required to stop! Three of those cases were pending on appeal; and thirty-five never went to quarter sessions at all. That disposed 129 of the Solicitor-General's statement that every case of refusal on the ground of non-requirement went to appeal. But of the remaining thirty-five cases, on appeal twenty-four were allowed, and the refusal confirmed in eleven only. Therefore, in the whole of England and Wales, of the on-licences to which this Bill would have applied, only eleven that dared face an appeal court had been refused renewal. He was now dealing with the necessity fur the Bill as a protection against the justices. The insecurity was one per thousand. Those who dared to face an appeal numbered only one in 2,000; and those who lost their licences after appeal were only one in every 7,000 licences. Any impartial man would say that those eleven cases ought to have lost their licences.
That was the whole case for this Bill, and it was ludicrous to pretend that a great trade had been placed in jeopardy, that property had been made insecure, and that they could not get men to invest money in the trade simply on account of those cases. And for this the whole licensing system was to be upset, and Parliament was to be dragooned as it had never been dragooned before, in order that the liquor trade should be entrenched in a stronger position, and the whole of the moral forces of the country were to be flouted and ignored. He might be told that if only eleven cases were affected then it was only a small matter. His objection to the Bill was that it destroyed the power of the magistrates. The Government had been entirely misled in this matter, and there had been too many of those consultations to which his hon. friend had referred. He had read a paragraph stating that the Prime Minister had refused to meet a deputation of magistrates from the city of Manchester with the Lord Mayor at their head, although the right hon. Gentleman represented one of the divisions of Manchester. It looked as if the Government had closed their ears entirely to the voice of the magistrates. To this hour they had had no information as to the probable value of licences. Surely that could be obtained. When time Government fixed this levy, surely they had sonic idea of the value of licences, and the figures ought to be put before the House. A good many statistics were being put forward privately, which were not being put for- 130 ward in this House. The Government had been misled by information brought to them privately which they dared not bring under discussion in the House. The value of licences could be magnified enormously by the trade when it suited them. This was nothing more or less than a half-baked Bill. A more abominable, unjust. and cruel suggestion was never made in any Bill, than one of the clauses contained when it was first introduced. it amounted to this, that no tied house tenant would have got a single penny of compensation, while tied house tenants would have had to pay the whole of the levy. He challenged the Home Secretary to deny that. A more unjust proposal than that could not be suggested. But that proposal had been entirely altered and recast now, and it had been recast without discussion. He wished to ask the Home Secretary, did the Government, when they drafted that Bill, know what the result of their proposal would be? Was it their intention that the tied house tenant should get nothing and pay everything? If they did know this, and if that was their intention, then they deliberately made a most un-just proposal. Why did they alter their proposal?
When he was down at the Devonport election he happened to look through the Order Paper, and he found that there were Amendments down by thirty hon. Members to alter that provision, and not a single one of those Amendments came from the Ministerial side of the House. Afterwards the true inwardness of it became known because the publicans came into the Lobby. There was another crack of the trade whip, and the Government altered their proposal at once, when the publicans took the matter up. If it was not the deliberate wish and intention of the Government to make that proposal, how was it that such a clause was put in the Bill? One explanation was that the suggestion came from somebody else. He thought the whole of the Bill came from somebody else. The whole of the compensation was intended for the brewer, and the tenant was to pay the levy. Where did that proposal come from if it did not come from the brewers? If that was not the source, then they put it in without knowing what they were 131 doing, and it showed the incompetency of the Government to deal with the question at all. Either they were hopelessly incompetent, because they put in a proposal which they could not defend or justify, or else they made a most unjust proposal. In either case they were totally unfit to deal with a question like this. They were like children playing with matches in a powder magazine. [An HON. MEMBER: But they do not blow themselves up.] A Canadian who visited the House recently, upon leaving remarked, "Do you call that a Government? I call it a kindergarten." The clerks to the justices of this country had drawn up a memorial showing how complicated the working of this measure was. There were words in the original Bill which laid down that compensation was to he calculated as if this Act had not passed, and now the compensation was to be calculated as though the licence were subject to the same conditions of renewal as were in force immediately before the passing of the Act. In ten or fifteen years time, when a licence came to be refused, what mortal being could tell what would have been the value of the licence at that time if the law had not been altered? It was a preposterous suggestion, and that was one of the clauses which they had not been allowed to discuss.
Take the case of a non-county borough. The local justices were to recommend the refusal of the renewal of licences. A committee of quarter sessions was to consider that renewal, but whether they could give effect to the refusal would depend upon the amount of money at their disposal. It would largely depend upon the value of the licence the renewal of which had been refused. But they would not have the value of that licence before them, and they could only ascertain the value after they had decided, and therefore how could they say whether the amount would fit in? The committee of quarter sessions would not necessarily fix the amount of the levy, but the whole body of quarter sessions would fix it, and they might not agree with the committee. There was a complicated machinery before the publican received his money, and the question arose as to when he would receive it. It had been said that 132 the money could be obtained by borrowing, but what would be the security? If the security was to be the licences, they would have to be kept in force. The fact was that the situation amounted to this, that all licences of the "on" kind would be put in the same position as the 1869 beerhouses, which everybody declared should be got rid of. They could make no substantial reduction of licences without borrowing, and that reduction would be very dearly bought at the price of the loss of control by the justices. They wanted absolute freedom for the justices to deal with these licences, and that was going to be prevented by borrowing. The Solicitor-General said there had been a great increase of power given to local justices under this Bill. He had great respect for the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, and he wished to pay his tribute to him for the manner in which he had assisted in carrying this Bill through the House; but nevertheless he preferred the opinion of the clerks to the justices upon this subject. What did the clerks to the justices say? It was their declared opinion that if the justices were deprived of the power of refusing the renewal of licences on the ground that they were not required, that would have a most serious effect upon their control over licensed houses. The clerks to the justices were men of experience and knowledge, and that was their opinion. Whatever might be the opinion held on this subject in county boroughs, he knew that in the non-county boroughs of this country there was no public body more disliked than quarter sessions, and there was no bode less competent to deal with the question, because they had no knowledge of the wants of the districts which they supervised. Before the Royal Commission plenty of evidence was given as to quarter sessions being the great hindrance to licensing reform, and by this Bill an enormous amount of power was to be put in their hands.
The amount of reduction in the number of licences would be limited to the amount of the levy, so that houses which the local justices would have got rid of would continue in the district against the will of their authorities simply because Parliament would not enable them to provide money enough to buy them up. 133 Why not give them full powers? This Bill was exacted from the Government by the liquor trade and was applauded and supported by that trade; but it was bewailed and denounced by almost every social and temperance reformer in the country, and by ministers of religion, including bishops and clergy of the Church of England. He contended that where a number of houses belonged to the same owner, and the licences were taken away from some of them, full compensation should not be given in respect of the others, because if it were, the owner would get compensation twice over. This Bill practically was only defended by the liquor trade itself and by chairmen of quarter sessions. There was one basis for the contribution and another for compensation. That made the brewer interested in keeping the value down for contributing purposes and up for compensation. Surely a little commercal instinct would have shown that the basis of both ought to have been the same. Take, for an example, a village where every house belonged to the same owner. Supposing they reduced those houses by one-half, they would double the value of the others. Therefore the owner ought not to be compensated for having the value of his property increased. Take the case of six small public-houses yielding £400 a year gross profit. Suppose half of that went in rent, licence fees, and working expenses, and £200 a year was the net profit. The owner of those six houses would get a net profit of £1,200. Supposing they abolished three of those houses, and the trade was reduced by one-fifth, and the remaining trade went to the other three houses. Assuming that the working expenses would be reduced only by 20 per cent., what would be the result? The net profit of the remaining three houses would be £1,440. That was a distinct case where the total profit to the owners would be increased by reducing the number of licences, and yet he was to be compensated for haying his profits increased by 20 per cent. Under the closure they were not allowed to discuss this point. A great deal had been said about these licences being property, and a good deal of confusion of ideas and difficulties had arisen. If he were asked whether a licence was property as against another man he should say "Yes;" but if they asked him if it was property as against 134 the nation he should say "No." Licences were the property of the nation. The nation granted a licence to a privileged person for twelve months, and whilst he held that licence he had the expectation of a renewal, and that was his property as against any other man, but it was not a property as against the original grantor of the licence. The nation had always reserved full power to resume possession of its property in licences, and that was the position which they were really dealing with. This Bill was taking away some of the property of the nation in this respect and handing it over to the trade. If there was any property in a licence as regarded the owner as against the nation, then they had no right to make this levy upon the trade. If this was property as against the nation, then the trade were entitled to be compensated by the nation. It was all very well for the Solicitor-General, as a mere superficial debating point, to say that the trade would pay. That was the contention of the Government.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
What is your contention?
§ MR. WHITTAKER
said his contention was that the trade would pay. What he urged was, that if this were property as against the nation, the proposal that the trade should pay was most inequitable and unjust. Making the trade pay was an admission that this was not property in the ordinary sense. The Solicitor-General had stated that no alternative to the scheme of the Bill had been proposed that would hold water. When that assertion was made one of his friends said that no alternative had been made that would hold beer. He had no objection whatever to compensation from the trade to the trade. He thought it was reasonable and expedient that the loss should be spread over the whole trade, but it was not reasonable to limit the power of the magistrates and tie them up in such a way that they could not deal with the licensing problem in the same way as they had done in the past. If the funds were insufficient they could put a further levy upon beer and spirits. If the Government, in the first instance, had made the 135 levy a national one, they would have got rid of the whole difficulty. The Solicitor-General said that this was a compromise. it was a very curious compromise which give compensation to the trade and deprived the public of their share.
He wished to say a word or two on the time limit. If they gave a public-house a substantial time limit, an opportunity was given to set up a sinking fund to redeem the capital value of the licence. His point was that the additional value they would give to public-houses which remained after the operation of the compensation fund in reducing the number would be more than would enable them to set up a sinking fund. The additional value which would be given to the house by the reduction in the number of his competitors would more than enable him to set up a sinking fund, and supply the levy to the compensation fund. The position was really this. Say that fourteen years time notice were given, and that at the end of that time they resumed absolute possession of the licence; but they wanted to get rid of some licences in the meantime, and, therefore, they called on the licensees to make a contribution to the fund. The House had been told that at the end of the time the licensee would get nothing if the licence should not be renewed. It should be remembered that during the fourteen years he had what he paid for. He had the security that his licence would not be taken away without compensation, and he had the advantage of the improvement in trade by the removal of competitors. The hon. Member had never been able to reconcile the position of the Government on this matter with the proposal made with regard to new licences. If seven years were sufficient as a maximum to give to new licence-holders to enable them to recoup themselves the cost for alteration of buildings, for fittings, and all that kind of thing, and if, as the Bill provided, the new licensees were to pay a very much larger sum for their licences, why in the world was perpetuity required for the old licences, every one of which that would be abolished had had a long way more than seven years existence. Nobody would imagine that the licences taken away by the reduction process 136 would be recent ones. But they were to have perpetuity in the future, though paving a much smaller sum than the new licences. The whole position seemed to him unreasonable, and he submitted that the new proposal of the Government destroyed the logical consistency of their contention against the time limit. While he was one of those who were willing to consent to some form of compensation, he held that there was no right to perpetuity. There was no legal right in the licence of any kind. There was an expectation. but however they might define it, he maintained that it was something less than a perpetual freehold. The fact that there was a levy on the trade proved that it was something less than a perpetual freehold, and, therefore, he thought that could be met by a time limit. The Bill had never been discussed. The Solicitor-General had said that the details were discussed ad nauseam. One important point which had never been discussed was the basis of the amount to be paid for compensation. He defied anybody to give n definition of that phrase. The division of the compensation between owner and tenant, the payment of the levy, and the two schedules were matters that had never been discussed at all. The second schedule was entirely new and not a word of explanation of it had been forthcoming from the Government. This Bill was not a compensation Bill. The object of the Bill was to fetter the action of the magistrates. The hon. Member for Salford. when he described the genesis of the Bill. did not talk of compensation. It was a Bill to deal with benches of prejudiced magistrates.
§ MR. GROVES (Salford. S.)
was understood to say that the action of the magistrates in refusing renewals had reached an acute stage.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
said the acute stage was that eleven licences had been got rid of on the ground that, they were not required. They were told that the Bill would bring about a great reduction in the number of licences. It was not brought, in in response to any pressure of that kind. The pressure that brought in the Bill was the deputation from the brewers for protection against the benches 137 of magistrates. The Government did not believe in reduction. They did not attach any value to it. They did not think any evil resulted from temptation. The Prime Minister poured out the vials of his wrath on criminal self-indulgence. Then why in the world had they any licensing laws at all? Why not let pubic-houses remain open all night? Why interfere with gambling-hells at all to protect anybody from temptation? He thought another Prime Minister in this House adopted a sounder doctrine and took a higher moral tone when he said it was the duty of the Legislature to make it easy to do right and difficult to do wrong. There were some persons concerned beyond the mere victims of intemperance. There were the wives and children who suffered. Had Parliament no duty towards them? This Bill had been forced through the House indecently and needlessly by a majority which was only held together by the fear of a general election. They knew their fate. They knew what was before them when they went to the country. The split in the Party on the fiscal question placed them at the mercy of the brewers. The brewers saw their opportunity and ever since that occurred, as had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, they held their office on a servile tenure, and the wages of ignominy was contempt. They were sacrificing the interests of the people to those of a trade, and it would be as disastrous to them as it would be discreditable.
§ MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)
said the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division had quoted a statement which was made by Mr. Gladstone with reference to the duty of the Legislature. He should like to give a quotation from Mr. Gladstone with reference to compensation to publicans. Mr. Gladstone, speaking in the House of Commons in 1880 on Sir Wilfred Lawson's temperance Motion, used these words—I should have been better pleased with it if it had included some reference to the principle of equitable compensation. I want a frank recognition of the principle that we are not to deny to publicans as a class the benefits of equal treatment. Considering the legislative title they have acquired, and the recognition 138 of their position for a long series of years, they ought not to be placed at a disadvantage on account of the particular impression we may entertain as to the mischiefs caused by the licensing system as now carried on.
§ MR. PIKE PEASE
said an hon. Member who spoke earlier in the debate did not admit that the money which was going to be paid to the insurance fund was coming from the trade. The hon. Member who had just sat down admitted that it did come from the trade. He thought some hon. Members opposite did not realise that many supporters of the Government honestly believed that this measure was a great temperance reform. Many of them had spent a considerable amount of time in dealing with the question of temperance and had very strong feelings in regard to it. One of the greatest evils in connection with drink was the custom of "treating."
§ MR. PIKE PEASE
said three or four men would go into a public-house, and perhaps they did not want more than one drink, but they had three or four before coming out. Mr. Gladstone was not the only great figure in the Liberal political arena who had been in favour of compensation. Mr. Bright was also in favour of it. Speaking at Birmingham in 1880 he said—It would be unjust to close these houses without compensation. I could not agree to the proposition. I should say that if the magistrates close public-houses on other grounds then their infringement of the law, as a matter of course fair compensation should be paid to those so dealt with.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwick said the other day that if this Bill were passed it meant good-bye to temperance reform in England. He thought the right lion. Gentleman had hopes that in the future there might be sunday closing, and other measures which he believed were true temperance reforms. He himself could not see that this Bill, dealing with the question of compensation, was likely to prevent some of those 139 reforms which the right hon. Gentleman thought the nation required. Shortly afterwards the right hon. Gentleman said that on account of the guillotine it would be the duty of the next Liberal Government to put back the clock and alter this measure. Even on his own showing, therefore, if the measure was passed into law there would be a chance of temperance reform. The question of the alteration of the power of the magistrates was of very little importance indeed. It appeared to him that under this measure there would, in the future, be the same power exercised as there had been in the past, the only difference being that the appeal would come from the aggrieved party instead of from the trade. It was stated in a recent letter to The Times that the Government were handing over an enormous amount of money to the trade itself, and giving it a vested interest. He was one of those who at first was inclined to go in for a time limit. He thought if the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division would look at a paragraph which appeared in The Times the other day on Stocks and Shares, he would see that in the vast majority of instances brewery shares, from 2nd January, 1903, to 19th July, this year, had fallen very remarkably.
§ MR. PIKE PEASE
said it was perfectly true that a good many others had fallen, but if the enormous amount were being handed over to the trade that was alleged the shares would have risen. He believed the Bill would do a great deal towards reducing licences, and that the average amount of compensation would not be more than £500. Though hon. Members opposite did not appreciate the measure at the present time he hoped they might be led to do so in years to come.
§ MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)
said he wished to take the opportunity while the Prime Minister was in the House to say a few words on the question of temptation, because the impression left on his mind by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman was that every man who indulged in drink was capable of taking care 140 of himself, and refusing to drink altogether if he were so inclined. He held that there were thousands of our fellow-countrymen and countrywomen who could not resist temptation, and who, when the opportunity was put in their way, were incapable of standing up against it. If everyone had the moral fibre and character of the Prime Minister there would be very little need for a measure of temperance reform at all. Those hon. Members who attended prayers at the opening of the proceedings of the House listened to the words, "Lead us not into temptation." He asked the Prime Minister whether he had thought of the thousands of people in the United Kingdom who were chargeable to the rates because they were in asylums. Were they there because they were capable of looking after themselves? No, it was because temptation was too much for them, and did that not involve an obligation to take temptation out of their way? There was no assurance that by this Bill they would get rid of a single licence. The circumstances under which the measure had been brought in reminded him of one of Æsop's fables. The lion, the fox, and the ass went hunting, and the ass, being asked to divide the spoil, apportioned it in three equal parts. The lion, which was the brewer in this case, was so angry with this distribution that he fell upon the ass and killed him. He then tarried to the fox, which was the Government, and asked him to make the division. The fox put the whole in one heap and placed the donkey on the top. "Where," said the lion "did you learn to make such a just division?" "From the fate of my poor friend on the top," replied the fox. The Government had not the moral courage to stand up against the people with whom they had been associated, people who had brought them nothing but disgrace. To introduce a Bill like this and call it a temperance measure was playing it low down with the intelligence of the British public. The speech made by the Solicitor-General to-day was worthy of a better cause. Fancy exercising his great talent to defend a thing like this Bill, which was called a temperance reform measure! The Bill was designed solely in the brewers' interest. Supposing a man with £500 wished to take the "Pig and Lion." The brewer would say the value was £5,000, and would ask the applicant 141 to sign an agreement to pay 5 per cent. on a loan of £4,500. It was true that for assessment purposes the house was valued at only £1,000, and he maintained that that ought to be the value for compensation purposes. But the chances were that the Inland Revenue, in fixing the amount of compensation, would take half the brewer's valuation, or £2,500. In that case what was to prevent the brewer from Commencing an action for the recovery of the other half, which was covered by the agreement signed by the tenant? This Bill was almost as delightful a Bill for the lawyer as the Workmen's Compensation Act, under which it was thought, when first introduced, that all that was necessary for a workman to do was to put a penny in the slot to get compensation. A better Bill than this could be framed in any workmen's club. This was a Bill for the endowment of the brewers, and to make the men in the public-houses bigger slaves than ever. It was said that if they had one firm supplying all the houses in the district the beer would be of a better quality. In a free house if the beer supplied by the brewer was flat it was returned; but the man in the tied house dared not send it back. He hail to work it off on the public somehow, although the beer was so sharp as to give one the belly-ache to look at it. The public had to suffer in consequence. Really and honestly there were hundreds of houses belonging to brewers which were not worth keeping open, but were run at a positive loss. These houses were used as a confidence trick for taking advantage of a saving man. No matter how bad trade was, the brewers could always get people ready and willing to take these houses. They could always get men who thought that if only they had a licensed house, they would get paradise; but too often, when they did get it, they found it was hell. This Bill did not remove in the slightest degree the temptation of drink from a weak, erring brother or sister's way. He maintained that the time of the House had been wasted on this Bill, when it have been used to better purpose in doing something for the hundreds of thousands of poor people who were living under conditions of which they should be ashamed. He deeply re- 142 gretted that Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench had not devoted their abilty and their energy to doing something which would benefit the poor of the country, instead of passing a measure to make the rich brewer richer, and the poor poorer.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said that the hon. Member who had just sat down had allowed his enthusiasm to run away with him in his arguments about temptation. The hon. Gentleman was associated with those who maintained that this Bill was being passed in the interests of a single trade. That was an assumption which had been audaciously made even by people in high position, and had come to be believed. He had no connection with the brewery trade, nor had his constituents; indeed, the great bulk of them were not on the brewer's side, but on the other side. He deliberately said that this Bill was really the first honest attempt that had ever been made by the House of Commons to move out of the way of the working classes, whom the hon. Gentleman opposite represented in a great measure, a great source of temptation. He insisted that it was the duty of Parliament to remove, as far as it could be done without injustice, any temptation from those who had not the courage to resist it. One of these temptations was the redundancy of public-houses. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had denounced the Bill, but what had his friends ever done to remove this great temptation to drink? This Bill was an honest attempt to diminish the number of public-houses, but what alternative proposal had hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to offer? Whether the Government happened to be at the present moment in high, or low water, he cared not; his contention was that they were doing a great public benefit for the time being. He supported that by the argument of the hon. Member for Spen Valley, who absorbed so much of the time of the House. That hon. Gentleman said that with all their efforts and attacks upon the trade, only seventy licences in the whole of England and Wales had been refused on the ground of non-requirement; and that after appeals had been considered, only eleven licences that dared to face an appeal had 143 been refused. Therefore the hon. Gentleman out of his own mouth admitted that the present system had absolutely failed. The reason why it had failed, and why the discretion of the local justices was to be interfered with, was that these local justices, as a body, had said they would not remove a licence, the removal of which would be an injury to an individual. The hon. Member for Woolwich appeared to think that the magistrates in quarter session, or petty sessions, would not take any advantage of this Bill; but that was an imaginary danger which he was sure would not be realised. He believed that a very determined effort would be made by the magistrates to take full advantage of the powers given them under this Bill. He sympathised with much that had been said as to the unsatisfactory way in which the latter part of the Bill had been considered by the House. The Leader of the Opposition made a sensational remark about its being a farce. They could estimate that remark at its proper valuation. If the Opposition had discussed the Bill in its initial stages in the way in which they had discussed it since the closure was applied, there would have been no closure. Anyone who looked at the Order book would see that the enormous number of irrelevant Amendments put down to the first clauses of the Bill made it clear to the Government that if they wished to deal with this question at all they must deal with it under conditions which he admitted were deplorable. For those deplorable conditions it was the Opposition and not the Government that were responsible.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman has made much of a case for the Government in regard to the guillotine. He says these Amendments were all irrelevant. If they were, Mr. Speaker would not have allowed them, and they would not have occupied a moment of the time of the House. It is a poor compliment to the intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to suggest that they could not distinguish between the good and pertinent Amendments, which were few, and the iterated Amendments which arise from the fact of the same 144 idea occurring to half-a-dozen Members with reference to the same point and therefore the same Amendment occurring in different places with reference to the same point. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government cannot get over the fact stated by my right hon. friend who moved the rejection of the Bill to-day, that as a result of the manner in which the Government have controlled the discussion—if discussion it can be called—that four-fifths of the Bill have never been discussed at all, either in Committee or on Report, and of the part of the Bill which has not been discussed a half consists of Amendments put into the Bill by the Government which there has never been an opportunity even of being fairly considered by the House. I suppose we are now seeing, I hope we are seeing, for this session the last of this remarkable Bill, but we are not hearing the last of it, for I fear that both in visible and audible form we shall have it put before us again year after year until it has been completely altered from its present shape. It will be like what is supposed to happen in actual life—I cannot say I am much of a believer in that respect—that just as the ghost of some misdoer is supposed to haunt the locality in which his misdeeds were committed, I am afraid this Bill will haunt the House for years to come, until an effort has been made by Parliament, with the approval of the country, to modify the vices which it contains and to develop and extend what modicum of good it may be found to have within itself. The Bill makes the most revolutionary changes in the system of licensing which has prevailed in this country for 300 or 400 years. It affects the procedure in licensing and makes other alterations which must deeply affect the welfare of the community.
The Bill making such revolutionary changes was introduced without any semblance of authority from the country, and persisted in against a great movement of resentment and indignation, which has swelled and increased from week to week as the country realised better the true scope and purpose of the Bill. And, lastly, it has been forced through the House by the suppression of discussion. We inquire very naturally what is this 145 Bill which has been so introduced and so dragged through the House? The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General, to whose speech I listened with admiration and a certain degree of amusement—proper and respectful amusement—and who has earned our thanks and admiration throughout the course of these discussions, not only by the manner in which he has treated the House and conducted the case placed in his hands, but also by the skill and completeness with which he had evidently mastered what must evidently have been to him a new language—the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed determined to make out a tremendously strong case for the Bill, and he indulged in the process, which is often very effective, of over-trumping your opponent's cards. He took all the cards in which he found we were attacking the Bill, and he claimed for the Bill every possible excellence in respect of these particular points. It was a temperance Bill! [OPPOSITION ironical laughter and MINISTERIAL, cheers.] Yes, we have heard over and over again that it was a temperance Bill. It has two objects. One is the reduction of licences, the other was for subsidiary purposes which were of comparatively slight consequence. The real object of this legislation, from beginning to end, was the reduction of licences! Compensation was not the essence of the Bill, according to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that another way of dealing with the difficulty would be by fixing a certain time during which the licensee would not be disturbed. There might be, said the right hon. and learned Gentleman, a good deal to be said for that. But the main thing he dwelt upon was that that could not be combined in this Bill, which was a Bill of compensation. A time limit by itself, compensation by itself, or insurance by itself might, according to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, be arguable and defensible methods of dealing with the difficulty, but not all in this Bill. This is a Bill which, according to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's view, is for the reduction of licences, and it was introduced because, in the opinion of the brewers and the Prime Minister, the licences were being reduced faster than necessary. We cannot forget that. Why does the right hon. 146 Gentleman condescend to speak to us in this way? We cannot forget the deputation that came to the Prime Minister last year. We cannot forget what they said to him and what he said to them—the pledges with which he met their demands in redemption of which this Bill has been introduced. We remember the speech of the hon. Member for South Derbyshire at the dinner of the Manchester and Salford Licence Victuallers' Association, in which he congratulated the trade on beingIn a better position to fight their cause than ever before, for they had recently gained a most important ally to their cause. They would remember the deputation which Waited on the Prime Minister during the last session of Parliament to put the ease for compensation before him, and the response of the Prime Minister was in every respect satisfactory, and that the Government of the day were pledged up to the hilt to deal with their case in the coming session.[MINISTERIAL cheers.] Hon. Members opposite endorse that view. I am glad to have them on my side, because I was saying that that was the origin of the Bill, and all the talk about this being a temperance Bill and a Bill for the reduction of licences is an afterthought brought in to cover the original and underlying and essential intentions of the Bill. If the intention and purpose of the Government was really to reduce licences. why did not they set about it in a more direct way? Why did not they lay down a rule by statute prescribing the number of licences that must not be exceeded in different classes of the community? Why did not they bring the licensing authority into closer touch with the people concerned, and give the people a more direct voice even than they have at present in settling a matter so vitally concerning their comfort and wellbeing, instead of removing the licensing authority further and further away from the influence of local opinion? If they had done that, we should have viewed in a very different spirit anything they proposed by way of easing the process by a system of insurance. That is what I said in my election address, which has been quoted to-day. I never advocated anything like this measure. I said—Let us reduce licences; let us have a general system of compensatory reduction broughout the country.147 What I recommended was the main lines of the Minority Report of Lord Peel's Commission. If that implies a favourable view of the Government measure, I would ask is that the opinion of Lord Peel, or of the member of Spen Valley, or any other Member for that minority? The Solicitor-General, not content with showing to his own satisfaction that this was a temperance Bill for the reduction of licences, devoted himself to proving that it was also a Bill for extending and increasing the powers of the local magistrates. He takes the bull by the horns. The Prime Minister associates the claim of the brewers with the principles of eternal justice. But by whom is this Bill demanded? Is it demanded by any of the great bodies who are likely to have an authoritative voice on the subject—by the licensing authorities, temperance workers, or the local councils? I have not heard a single bench of magistrates or of any local authority or temperance society petitioning for this Bill. As far as I have seen the latest returns, petitions against it have been signed by 380,462 signatures, and for it there have, been two petitions with 285 signatures But there have been on the other side strongly-worded remonstrances and trenchant criticisms from magistrates, and an unbroken volume of dissent from all people who are keenly interested in the cause of temperance. Reference has been made to the fact that the Prime Minister, who had a memorable interview with the brewers, has actually declined to receive a deputation representing the Manchester magistrates. He sees the brewers and invokes eternal justice on their behalf, but the magistrates are beyond the pale; the magistrates have been guilty of rash conduct and have offended against justice by seeking to carry out their plain duty.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It is a matter which has been published in the newspapers. I do not know when it is supposed to have happened. I read it in the newspapers. Then the right hon. Gentleman has never been asked by the magistrates of Manchester, headed by the Lord Mayor, to receive them on this subject and has never refused?
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am glad to hear it. I withdraw at once that part of my allegation. It did seem to me rather strange.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Yes. Then the right hon. Gentleman does not dispute it? I admit that the right hon. Gentleman has so many applications of this kind that he may very well forget at the moment, but it was a significant application to be made to him, and I should have thought that it must have remained in his memory. All the claims put forward for the Bill, that its one object and tendency is to promote temperance, is dust thrown in our eyes which shall prevent us from seeing the truth. The principle of this Bill is the conversion of a year-to-year concession into a perpetual freehold. That is at the root of it. It involves the final alienation of the right of the public to control the liquor trade, to define the conditions under which it is to be exercised. For that statement I appeal to the hon. Member for South Derbyshire, who speaks with great candour. He says that the Bill lays down the great principle that a licensed owner's property is his own. Unfortunately it is not his own property; it is the property of the community. The whole point turns upon that; but it is a refreshing acknowledgment on the part of the principal advocates of the measure that this is the main principle of the Bill. That being the main principle of the Bill, there is no question of our attitude. I found it to be my duty when the Bill was introduced to meet it with a maledictory welcome, and now as it is parting from us I have to say that no compromise which involves that principle can be accepted by us. Sooner or later, and probably soon rather than late, as 149 opportunity may offer, we shall not be content until some strong steps have been taken to remedy the evil that is in the Bill and to modify what we believe to be the injury that it will inflict on the people.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman in his last words uttered a statement with perfect accuracy when he said that he received the Bill on its first introduction with a maledictory address. It is true, but I think that not one of the numerous hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House had the smallest conception of what the nature of the Bill was going to be.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Having not the smallest conception of what the Bill was going to be, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends came down admirably armed cap-à-pie to deal with a Bill framed on entirely different lines. Some, including no doubt the right hon. Gentleman, altered their speeches so as to make them decently applicable to the exposition made of it by the Home Secretary. Others were not so fortunate. But the question to which he has recalled my memory is only useful because it shows, that this Bill has been met with prejudice from the first. Through every stage of it hon. Members opposite have been occupied more in finding out what evils it might be supposed to contain than in making any fair acknowledgment of the great merits which, even on their own principles, it can be shown to demonstration to possess. The right hon. Gentleman would have been violating the invariable tradition of every 150 speaker on the other side of the House if he had not dragged in again the old friend the deputation from the trade, not of the brewers, to me last year, and if he had not based upon it, in language which was courteous in form but not complimentary in substance, the accusation that in framing this Bill we were animated solely by the desire of pleasing a particular class at the cost of the public. Wealth in the attribution of motives is a great qualification of some hon. Members opposite, and we have had some most remarkable instances in these debates. There is no principle of this Bill which I have not advocated through the whole of my political life. I have always desired temperance reform. I have always said that a publican dispossessed of his licence through no fault of his own should be compensated. Those are the two principles of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that I was converted to the principle of compensation or solatium or consideration—I forget the wealth of alternative epithets suggested by the deputation from the trade. If this Bill is in accordance with the principle which I held before the deputation came to me, why all this talk about it? if these are not merely the views of my constituents, but the traditional principles of the Party to which. I belong, why is it suddenly supposed that I should be converted by a nefarious electoral interest in the adoption of a Bill which, after all, only carries into effect the opinions which I have long expressed in public and private? I am not the least ashamed either of having received that deputation or to have said what I did say. I refreshed my memory the other day by reading the speech I made. With every word of it I agree this day, and there is not a single syllable that I see any cause 151 to withdraw. For my own part shall always think it a proud moment in my life if I am able to do anything for any interest, be it what it may, to preserve it from unjust attack. I do not share the view of hon. Members opposite that the brewer and the publican are outside the pale of ordinary citizenship, that they are to be subjected to principles which you would not think of applying to any other class of the community. The hon. Member for Spell Valley and the hon. Member for Woolwich have taken up a phrase which let drop in the earlier speeches on the Bill to the effect that in my judgment the principal criminal in connection with the evils of drink was the man who criminally yielded to temptation. Of course I never meant to suggest by that that we should not do what we can to diminish temptation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Ah! yes; but I venture respectfully to repeat my remarks. I think that a great laxity is introduced into our notions of morality if we habitually transfer the gravamen of the crime from the man who commits it to the man who tempts it. It is not sound, it is bad morality; and I have never withdrawn in the smallest degree from the position I have laid down, which I believe to be fundamentally connected with all that is virile in citizenship and sound in private morality. Of course these are deplorable and criminal cases where the publican in attempting to drive a better trade gives deliberate temptations to a man to drink; but the publican as an individual is not responsible for the mere fact that he has a place where alcohol is sold and some man comes in and buys it. It is not fair to charge 152 him with faults of which he is not guilty, unless you hold the view that liquor is so abominable a thing in itself that the man who has anything to do with it is really exercising an illegitimate trade. It is not our view. The hon. Member for Spen Valley would not try to stop the manufacture or the sale of alcohol. He dare not. As long as the manufacture and the sale are legal, put such restrictions as you can upon it which you think will prevent temptation, but will give the legitimate consumer a fair opportunity of exercising what he has a right to do, and do not attack the morals or the property of a man who is carrying on what you must yourself admit to be a legitimate trade. The perverted moral view to which. I have referred is the parent of the fallacy, which crops up again and again through these debates—namely, that nothing can be good for temperance which is not bad for the brewer and the publican, and that everything which is bad for the brewer and the publican must be good for temperance. Hon. Gentleman seem to think that they do the great cause of temperance a service when they are doing something to injure the trade.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member interrupts me in a not very civil way, and he will permit me to say that I have listened in a solute patience to at least ten long speeches from him in which he has accused me individually of being the slave of a particular interest. Let him, then, listen to me with patience when I make this very moderate and modest retort. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has perpetrated for the hundredth time the gross fallacy that 153 this Bill creates a freehold. It does not create a freehold. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman would give his attention to what that statement involves he will see that it cannot be so, and the mere fact that the interest does not come to an end does not constitute a freehold. You can have a permanent interest which is much less than a freehold. All that this Bill does is to recognise the interest in existing licences until that interest is extinguished by fair compensation. As it is the last time that the general principle of this Bill can be discussed in this House, I will make three observations. Can any Gentleman opposite mention a single Bill which has been passed, either by his own Party or by any other Party, winch does provide in a practical fashion, as this Bill does, for the diminution of licences? They cannot. Can they mention a single Bill introduced but not passed which they think would deal more equitably with this situation? At any rate, the name of the Bill is not on the tip of their tongue. [An HON. MEMBER: Sir William Harcourt's Bill.] Oh, that is the equitable method—local veto without even the compensation which the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench think ought to be given in the form either of "a solatium" or "a consideration." I ask another question. The freehold tenure of the beerhouses has been in operation now for more than a generation. Can anyone suggest the name of a Bill which would have dealt with these houses, or a Bill which has even tried to deal with them? Can anyone deny that this Bill does deal with them? This Bill provides the funds for dealing both with the beerhouses and with the ordinary licensed houses. We have had extraordinary divisions of opinion on the other side as to who pays for those funds. The Opposition Front Bench thinks they are 154 paid by the public. The hon. Member for Spen Valley thinks they are paid by the licence-holders. That difference runs to the root of all temperance reform, and it is one they will have to reconcile before they set to work to carry out that Amendment of this Bill which they have promised us. It is truly astonishing to find in one speech, as in that of the right hon. Gentleman, first the statement that we have created a perpetual interest with which Parliament would never meddle, and then the statement that the first thing Gentlemen opposite mean to do when they come in is to remodel this Bill. I do not know which to accept, but I rather think both are false. I am sure the power of Parliament is not checked or throttled in the direction Of legitimate licensing reform by this Bill; and I am tolerably certain that this Bill will not be fundamentally altered by hon. Gentlemen opposite when the responsibility of dealing with it is thrown upon them.
One more question I will put. Has any measure ever been introduced into Parliament within the recollection of living men or within the recollection of history which endeavoured to put future licences upon a reasonable ground? The same mournful silence as when I asked the other questions! If this Bill does, as is admitted, deal with all the four great problems that I have mentioned, is it not folly to say that it is one that should be resisted as they have resisted it, and one which the true temperance reformer ought to regard as other than a great help in the cause to which he has devoted himself? I am aware that great prejudice exists on this subject, and that the debates in this House, or many of the speeches in those debates, have done everything to increase that prejudice; but I am perfectly convinced that when the Bill is working, and 155 when it is seen that by this Bill, and by this Bill alone, you can without gross injustice and discontent really diminish the number of licences in this country, all parties, forgetting the differences which have unhappily divided us for the last three months, will admit that this is the
§ greatest contribution ever made to the cause of temperance reform.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 217; Noes, 129. (Division List No. 289.)157
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cust, Henry John C.||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T.(Denbigh)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Davenport, William Bromley-||Keswick, William|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Eimber, Sir Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dickson, Charles Scott||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Doogan, P. C.||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Doughty, Sir George||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J.(Manch'r||Duke, Henry Edward||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Balfour, Rt. Ron. G. W. (Leeds)||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Faber, Edmund B.(Hants, W.)||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Farrell, James Patrick||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Ferguson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Bigwood, James||Fisher, William Hayes||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Bill, Charles||Fison, Frederick William||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Bingham, Lord||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh,W|
|Bond, Edward||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||M'Kean, John|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Flower Sir Ernest||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Forster, Henry William||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gardner, Ernest||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Garfit, William||Maxwell, RtHn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n|
|Brassey, Albert||Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets)||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Bull, William James||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Butcher, John George||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gretton, John||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Groves. James Grimble||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Bute)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hall, Edward Marshall||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hamilton, Marg. of (L'nd'nderry||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.A (Worc.||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton)||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Chapman, Edward||Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Haslett, Sir James Horner||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hoare, Sir Samuel||O'Dowd, John|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hogg, Lindsay||O'Malley, William|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)|
|Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C.R.||Horner, Frederick William||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Houston, Robert Paterson||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Percy, Earl|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Hunt, Rowland||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cabitt, Hon. Henry||Jeffreys, Rt. Ron. Arthur Fred.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cullinan, J.||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Pym, C. Guy|
|Randles, John S.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford,East)||Welby, Sir Charles G.E. (Notts.)|
|Ridley, Ron. M.W. (Stalybridge||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und.Lyne|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord(Lancs.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Robinson, Brooke||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Stroyan, John||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H.(Yorks.|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Talbot, Rt.Hn.J.G(Oxf'd Univ.||Wortley, Rt.Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Round, Rt. Hon. James||Thornton, Percy M.||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Tuff, Charles||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Tuke, Sir John Batty||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Tully, Jasper|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos.Myles||Valentia, Viscount|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Grant, Corrie||Rea, Russell|
|Asher, Alexander||Griffith, Ellis J.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Bell, Richard||Harwood, George||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Benn, John Williams||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Blake, Edward||Helme, Norval Watson||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Brigg, John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Runciman, Walter|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Higham, John Sharpe||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Horniman, Frederick John||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Burns, John||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Joyce, Michael||Slack, John Bamford|
|Caldwell, James||Kilbride, Denis||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cameron, Robert||Labouchere, Henry||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lambert, George||Sullivan, Donal|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Tomkinson, James|
|Cremer, William Randal||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Crombie, John William||Levy, Maurice||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Crooks, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Ure, Alexander|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lough, Thomas||Wallace, Robert|
|Delany, William||Lundon, W.||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds,S.)|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Lyell, Charles Henry||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||McKenna, Reginald||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||McLaren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Weir, James Galloway|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Ellice, Capt E.C (SAndrw'sBghs||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh,N.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax|
|Emmott, Alfred||Morley, Rt.Hn. John(Montrose||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Evans, Sir Fran. H.(Maidstone)||Moss, Samuel||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W.R.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Norman, Henry||Woodhouse,Sir J.T(Huddersf'd|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Paulton, James Mellor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. William M'Arthur.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Power, Patrick Joseph|
Question put, and agreed to.
Adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock till Monday next.