§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W. R., Spen Valley)
moved an Amendment to insertIn Clause 1, page 1, line 5, after 'licence' the words 'to which Section 19 of the Wine and Beerhouse Act, 1869, extends.The object of the Amendment was, he said, to confine the operation of the Bill to what were known as the 1869 beerhouses. A certain number of beerhouses which were in existence before the year 1869 were only under the control of the justices to a very limited extent. There was only power to refuse renewal on four grounds, and these grounds practically resolved themselves into two. At the present moment there was no necessity to deal with ordinary public-house licences for the purposes of compensation. There was, in fact, no justification whatever for bringing in a measure for compensation in the case of ordinary public-house licences unless some change was about to be made in the law which would give the licensing authorities and the public generally more control over those licences. But under this Bill it was proposed to seriousy curtail the controlling powers of the justices. In his opinion the only justification for dealing with fully licensed public-houses from the point of view of compensation would be the introduction of a considerable measure of temperance reform, which would increase the power of the licensing authority and facilitate the getting rid of licences. In the course of the discussions on the Bill it had been made perfectly clear that the grounds alleged by the Government 1423 for bringing in the measure were, so far as fully licensed houses were concerned, non-existent. The Government contention had been that there was last year an almost reckless reduction of licences. [MINISTERIAL cheers.] Well, if hon. Gentlemen who cheered that statement would only take the trouble to ascertain the facts they would no longer cheer. There were no brewster sessions in 1902 outside London, and consequently the figures for 1903 represented a reduction for two years. The reduction which had taken place in the number of licences owing to refusals had been far fewer on the average during the last ten years than during the preceding twenty years. It was not right, then, to suggest that the justices had exercised their powers unfairly or unreasonably, and what really was wanted was not a limitation but an increase of those powers. But this proposal of the Government was accompanied by no measure of reform—by no special grant of powers of control. He, therefore, suggested that the operation of the Bill should be limited to the 1869 beerhouses, for the reason that the legal position of those houses differed very greatly indeed from that of ordinary fully licensed houses. And in this connection he would like to correct a misapprehension into which the Prime Minister had fallen with regard to the Act of 1869. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Act having been passed by Mr. Gladstone, but if he would only turn to the records he would find that the Bill was introduced by Mr. Selwyn Ibbetson, a Conservative Member considerably identified with the liquor trade. It was not, therefore, what the Prime Minister had suggested it to be, "the last effort of the Liberal Party in licensing reform." A further misapprehension which should be corrected was that the Bill gave special protection to the 1869 beerhouses. It did nothing of the kind. Beerhouses in existence prior to 1869 were not under the control of the justices; any one could get a licence by applying to the Excise and paying the necessary fee, and the Act of 1869 simply took away some of the privileges and put houses of that class more under the control of the justices than before. He did not admit that from either a legal or a moral point of view the 1869 beerhouse had an 1424 absolute right to compensation or absolute fixity of tenure in its licence, but he die admit that there was a good deal more to be said for the 1869 beerhouse than for the ordinary fully licensed house. The legal position was very different indeed Further than that, there was a certain measure of reform so far as the 1869 beer houses were concerned, inasmuch as it was proposed to give greater powers over them to the licensing authorities. They were to have power to refuse the renewal of licences on the ground that they were not required, and compensation was to accompany the refusal.
Another reason why he wished to confine the Bill to the 1869 beerhouses was the well-known fact that this class of houses was the worst in the country, and a class over which the justices had the least control. They had no control over their structure or their sanitary condition. The Royal Commission had a great amount of evidence brought before it to show how extremely unsatisfactory was this class of house. The clerk to the Birmingham justices declared that these beerhouses in Birmingham were the worst class they had in the city; the licences had been granted regardless of structure or means of supervision or anything of that kind; hundreds of them had back doors opening into a common yard, or on to factories or stables, and they were premises such as the magistrates would never have dreamt of licensing. The clerk to the Bradford magistrates declared that many of these beerhouses were simply old cottages never fitted for licensed premises. The clerk to the West Bromwich magistrates said his bench were much troubled by these licences; they had personally visited a large number of them and found some sixty-three cases highly suggestive of illicit drinking practices. There was a lack of control over structural arrangements. The Chairman of the Penzance Watch Committee gave similar evidence, while he chief constable of Manchester said he effect of the 1869 Act was to preserve dirty, ill-constructed, unsuitable licensed louses which no bench of justices in the)resent day would tolerate. This showed the sort of beerhouses the brewers would palm off upon the country if the justices had no power over them. 1425 According to the evidence the beerhouses were structurally unfit. They had a curious instance of that from Lincoln. The corporation there bought up two houses, one of which it was intended to use as a policeman's house, but the borough surveyor promptly condemned it as unfit for habitation. Again, the chairman of the Sunderland bench declared recently, in reference to a beerhouse there, that it was one of the most miserable hovels he had ever seen; the ceilings were low, the whole place was in a bad condition, and there were no sanitary arrangements. One beerhouse had been licensed for fifteen years, and during the whole of the time not a drop of drink had been sold in it. Hon. Members opposite cheered that statement. Well, he could only say he wished the same could be said of all other licensed premises. But why had the licence been kept alive? Its renewal could not be refused; it was an 1869 beerhouse, one of the class which was able to defy benches of magistrates in a way ordinary publicans could not. In the city of Liverpool the justices had done a great deal to control houses by pressure they had been enabled to apply, but these beerhouses could not be subjected to such pressure. Hence the desirability of bringing them under some such law as the ordinary houses.
Another important point was that under the Act of 1869 the justices had no power to protect the tenant, although when dealing with the question of the transfer of ordinary licences they could have before them and examine both the outgoing and the incoming tenant. They exercised this power frequently, and in almost all cases discovered that the cause of the outgoing tenant's leaving was his failure to force the trade and sell enough beer. But with regard to the 1869 beerhouse licences, so long as the applicant was a suitable man of good character they could not refuse to transfer to him. There had been a great demand for a long time from all the recognised authorities that this class of house should be placed under the full control of the justices, but there had been no public demand except from the trade itself for compensation for the non-renewal of a licence of a fully licensed house. Twenty-one quarter sessions had petitioned Parlia- 1426 ment—eighteen of them unanimously—to give them full control over these houses. Fifty-eight cities and boroughs—forty-four of them unanimously—had asked that power should be given them to deal with them at their full discretion; and innumerable petitions had been presented from watch committees, county councils, and other authorities. As there were 28,000 of these houses, it could be seen there would be great opportunities for considerable reform. It would be this class of house the justices would wish to get rid of. The fact was that in some of our large citise and towns the justices had been compelled to resort to bargaining with the brewers, simply because they had not full control over these 1869 beerhouses, and it was these houses in the congested districts which it was most desirable to get rid of. The justices felt it would be a hardship to refuse the renewal of licences to better-class houses, simply in order to reduce the number of the licensed premises when there were worse houses in the immediate vicinity the licences of which could not be refused. He believed that in Birmingham under the reduction scheme 80 per cent, of the licences for which renewal was not asked were beerhouse licences. In Manchester something like two-thirds of the existing licences were beerhouse licences, and it was clear that if the magistrates were granted power to deal with this class of house they would enormously reduce the number and thus effect a very great reform. It was precisely in those districts where the licensed houses were most numerous in proportion to population that these 1869 beerhouses were chiefly found. They were not existent in new growing industrial districts; they were only to be found in the old parts of old towns just where the reduction was most needed.
He submitted that it would be an enormous improvement if the operation of this Bill were limited to this particular class of house. Not only would it enable then to secure a large reduction in the number of licences, but it would get rid of a large proportion of the difficulties which surrounded the Bill. By applying the Bill to fully licensed houses they were conferring on those houses a privilege which they should not have. He suggested that the Government should 1427 not make the proposed revolution in our licensing system universal at present, but should try the experiment upon that limited class of beerhouses which it was most desirable and most necessary to get rid of. It would be justifiable to make the levy for compensation over the whole of the licensed houses in the district, because they would all benefit by the abolition of the beerhouses. The Government could not get through the Bill as it at present stood by any fair Parliamentary means, or without a ruthless application of the closure. The Bill bristled with difficulties, important points, and proposals to revolutionise the licensing system of the country, and ought to be, and must be, fully discussed. He contended that there was no time in the present session adequately to discuss it. Did anybody imagine that this Bill would be a settlement of the difficulty? He was perfectly sure that it would raise a fiercer struggle and controversy than any which had already occurred, and that the time would soon arrive when supporters of the Government would wish that they had never seen the Bill. Tht troubles of the Government might almost disappear if they would only limit the operation of the measure to the ante-1869 beerhouses; and he would mose earnestly and sincerely submit his Amendment to them as well worthy of consideration.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
THB SECRETARY OF STATE FOE THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,), Kent, St. Augustine's
while agreeing with a good deal of what had fallen from the last speaker, reminded the hon. Gentleman that by this Bill, for the first time in the history of licensing legislation, the ante-1869 houses were brought under the discretion of the magistrates. Had it not been for the introduction of this Bill, these houses, admitted to be bad both structurally and sanitarily, could not be dealt with at all. No effort had been made by hon. Members opposite to deal with this question.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
Yes, in 1899 a Bill was introduced for the very purpose of transferring these houses to the jurisdiction of the magistrates.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I have myself year after year introduced a Bill for that purpose.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said the hon. Member for Spen Valley would have the operation of the Bill limited to those houses. He agreed that, as a class, these were the worst houses, and ought to disappear. But it must not be forgotten that they had a Parliamentary title, and, in bringing these licences within the scope of the Bill, the Government had thought they were entitled to extra consideration on that account. The hon. Member hid said that in the Government scheme there was ample money to get rid of the whole of these houses, but he had coupled that with the expression of his opinion that all houses ought to be taxed for that purpose. He ventured to think, on the contrary, that, if they were going to levy the compensation fund over the whole of the on-licences, they could not limit the operations of that fund to one particular class. The houses had, under the Bill, been brought under the discretion of the justices in a manner which they thought was perfectly fair and equitable to all those concerned, and he was sorry they could not make any concession on this point. The question was vital to the Bill, and the Government must stick to their Bill.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
thought everyone would affirm the right hon. Gentleman's statement that these houses, as a class, were, broadly speaking, the worst in the country, and he wished to point the moral of that, viz., that those houses which were the worst were these which had a Parliamentary title. He did not at all deny that these houses were in a different category from the licences which 1429 came under the decision of "Sharpe v. Wakefield" in regard to statutory rights and to their legal position for renewal, but he did hope the right hon. Gentleman would seriously reflect before he conferred on other houses similar permanency of title or freedom from magisterial control. While prepared to admit that these 1869 beerhouses were entitled to some measure of compensation in case of a refusal to renew their licences, he would urge the Government to reserve their judgment for another year in regard to the tremendously difficult question of a new system of licensing for those licences which had no Parliamentary title, and to confine the Bill to the ante-1869 beerhouses. If that were done, he believed the Bill would pass in a couple of days, and a great deal of good would be done, for these ante-1869 licences were the worst in the country. Besides, they would be paying for something in which there was a legal right. He did hope the Home Secretary would accept that suggestion.
§ MR. GROVES (Salford, S.)
said the Amendment was a simple one but it sought to strike a blow at the whole spirit of the Bill. The philanthropic solicitude of hon. Members opposite had during these debates assumed various forms. First it was the poor publican whose interest was being absorbed by the wicked brewer; then it was the tied-house grievance, and now, it seemed, another section of the trade was to be taken under their protection. It could not be denied that those who had financial interest in licensed property of various kinds had a considerable stake at issue under the Bill, but to deal separately with a single section of the licensing interest in the manner proposed would be very unfair. He did not deny that some of the ante-1869 houses were structurally bad, but to stigmatise all these houses as the worst in the country was unjustifiable, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would see fit to qualify to a large extent the expression he had made use of in regard to them. The ante-1869 houses could show examples of comfort, commodiousness, and good order which would compare favourably with any other section of licensed houses. The record of convictions for 1430 drunkenness also showed a favourable state of things in respect of the beerhouses—where only beer was supplied—as compared with houses where more potent beverages were sold. The really heavy drinking took place largely in clubs. Moreover, the magistrates had full control, limited of course to the four grounds, and they were under police supervision in the same way as any other class of licensed houses. The Amendment was an attempt to get a little bit at a time; to-day they were asked to give up their coats, tomorrow it would be their shirts, and before very long it would be their skins. He believed that in this Bill the Government were making an honest attempt to deal with a very difficult question, and he trusted they would not accept this Amendment; in rejecting it they would, he was sure, receive the support of the House.
§ MR. J. H. LEWIS
said that during the past ten years he had frequently introduced Bills to deal with the ante-1869 houses, and these Bills had been backed by Unionist Members. It could not, therefore, be fairly said that this was a Party measure. At least fifty-eight courts of quarter sessions had expressed the opinion, in most cases unanimously, that this was the part of the licensed trade which most urgently needed reform. This was the text of the resolution which had been generally adopted—That this bench of magistrates is of opinion that the very limited discretion vested in justices in regard to the renewal or otherwise of licences of old beerhouses which were in existence in 1869 is anomalous and not conducive to the public interest, and that legislation with a view to removing such anomaly and placing such beerhouses on the same footing as fully licensed houses as regard the licensing and the justices' discretion is urgently needed.At present the discretion of the justices in regard to these licences was very much confined, and to say that the magistrates had anything in the shape of full control over the licences was the reverse of the fact. It was an accepted principle that licensed premises should be conveniently arranged for purposes of police supervision, but in the case of these beerhouses such supervision was almost impossible, and the magistrates had no power to refuse the licences however structurally unfit the premises might be. They could not even bring pressure to 1431 bear on the owners of the premises to put them in a proper sanitary condition. They could exercise that pressure in the case of fully licensed premises which might be much more valuable and better conducted than the old beerhouses. With regard to fully licensed premises the magistrates could lay down conditions for conducting the business, and if the business was conducted in an objectionable manner, and illegitimate inducements for drinking were offered, the magistrates could interfere, whilst beerhouses which might not be required owing to the demolition of a large amount of property could not be touched by the licensing magistrates. All these matters were outside the four grounds to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. The hon. Member for Stretford said that the privileged existence of these particular houses was the greatest evil in connection with the licensed trade. It was most unjust to the public, unfair to the magistrates and the police, and also to the fully licensed houses that this privileged position should continue. He supported the appeal made by his hon. friend. There were 35,000 of these houses and this would be an experiment well worth making. He thought the Government would carry the House of Commons with them if they limited the Bill to this class of property. With regard to compensation these houses were in a different position, and the House of Commons, when it introduced the provision in the Bill of 1869, acted through sheer inadvertence, and they would have to bear a heavy penalty in consequence. If they now limited their efforts to that class of property the Government would carry with them the whole country by adopting a beneficent scheme of licensing reform.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said he had had a great deal of experience in regard to licensing questions but he confessed that he was unable to follow the logic of the hon. Member opposite. If this was a bona-fide Amendment it seemed to him to be based upon an absolute ignorance of the actual condition of things. If it was not a bona-fide Amendment it was not worth discussing. He entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Salford as to the condition of the ante-1889 beerhouses. He was speaking from a 1432 magisterial point of view and his hon. friend spoke from another point of view. [OPPOSITION cries of "Hear, hear," and laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laughed at that and seemed to think it was strange, but if they held shares in brewery companies they also might take another view He agreed that it would be better if the number of 1869 beerhouses could be reduced. He was grateful to the Government for having, in regard to this class of houses, done that which no Government on either side had ever before ventured to do. When they were told that this was an anti-temperance measure and in favour of the brewers he hoped those who made such statements would remember that this was the first time in the history of Parliament that these ante-1869 beerhouses were being dealt with. He was utterly at a loss to understand what the hon. Member for Spen Valley was aiming at when he limited the operation of the Bill to these beerhouses. He agreed with him in wishing to dispense with many of these, but the hon. Member did not wish to do anything more. That was a wholly inadequate conception of the position of things. They all desired as far as they could to remove the temptations to excessive drinking which was generally acknowledged to be largely encouraged by an undue number of licensed houses. Surely they could not stop half-way upon this question. Did hon. Gentlemen opposite think that all but the 1869 beerhouses ought to be maintained in their full vigour and none of them removed? He knew as much of the magisterial mind as most hon. Members, for he had occupied the position of chairman of quarter sessions for many years, and he said deliberately that if the Committee passed this Amendment they would never get rid of any other licensed houses, because the magistrates would take the view that they were doing an injustice and they would not get rid of a single house for which the owner and occupier did not get compensation. That would be the result, and he had come to that conclusion based upon many years experience. He at any rate did not represent the brewers, and in this respect he had a clean slate; he urged hon. Members to pause before they supported this Amendment which would deal 1433 a severe blow at the cause which they all desired to serve.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the right hon. Gentleman had just informed them that he found some difficulty in the logic of the hon. Member on that side. He was not surprised at that, because anyone who had supported the Government like the right hon. Gentleman opposite must have got rather confused in his ideas of logic. The right hon. Gentleman had assumed that they simply wished to deal with beer-houses and that they did not propose to do anything in regard to other licences. All they wanted was that the law should take its course. With regard to ordinary licences the magistrates had full and free discretion, but they had no such discretion in regard to beerhouses. He contended that this was not a case for compensation, but if there was a case at all it was that in which there was a Parliamentary title. The Opposition were opposing the whole Bill, but seeing that the House of Commons had carried the Second Reading of the Bill, and the Government were pressing it through, they were now trying by Amendments to narrow it down to the point where there was a Parliamentary title and to that alone. That was the whole position. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that with regard to beerhouses there was a case for a very drastic reform. Everybody had admitted that except the hon. Member for Manchester whose point of view was rather different from that of the majority of the Members of the House. By adopting this Amendment they would provide a fund for this purpose, and they would be able to get rid of a very considerable number of these small beerhouses, leaving the others to the operation of the ordinary law. The Home Secretary seemed to think it would be unfair to enforce a contribution from houses which would not be entitled to compensation when their licences were taken away, but he did not think that followed at all. If they took away a licence in one particular neighbourhood they must necessarily add something to the trade of the remaining houses. This point had been decided in Birmingham by the brewers themselves. Therefore, there was no unfairness in imposing a 1434 contribution on the houses which did not share in compensation, because they benefited financially by the withdrawal of the licence which had been taken away. He still hoped that the Government would take into consideration the practicability of doing something on these lines. On the Opposition side of the House they could not accept the principle of the Bill, but at any rate let the Government it try to give them something practical in regard to these beerhouses. Both branches of the Licensing Commission were agreed upon this. They were agreed that the beerhouses were far and away the worst features of the licensing system. They were also agreed that there was a distinction with regard to their title. All that his hon. friend was proposing to do now by this Amendment was to proceed on the unanimous opinion of the Commission which sat for years on this subject. He would commend this to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University. The Archbishop of Canterbury was one of those who signed the recommendation that these houses should be deprived of their licences and that full and unfettered discretion should be allowed to the justices, and he went the length of saying that compensation should not be given to them. His hon. friend's proposal was much more moderate. He said that if they were going to give compensation at all, they should get it. He ventured to say that that was a perfectly logical case.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he was sorry the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division had brought forward this proposal in the way he had done. It was perfectly true that up to now these beerhouse licences had been beyond the control of the magistrates. The owners of these houses could set the magistrates at defiance in regard to sanitary matters if the magistrates wanted them put right. His reason for rising was to ask the Home Secretary whether in future, not only in regard to compensation but also in regard to everything else, these beerhouses were to be under the magistrates. The discussion so far had gone on two lines—-one the line taken by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division who desired 1435 to apply the principle of compensation to the beerhouses; and the other was the line taken by the hon. Member for the Flint Boroughs whose speech was directed to the way in which the beerhouses had been carried on for years, and who desired that the preferential position they occupied now should be discontinued. In some respects the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs had followed on the same line, suggesting the need for reform. What he wanted distinctly stated by the Home Secretary, because he thought it was what was meant, was whether it was the intention of the Government to place the beer-houses in exactly the same position as public-houses, in future, in regard to compensation and all the requirements the magistrates might make. To give them compensation was a very small affair, but to put them under the magistrates on exactly the same terms as fully licensed houses was the reform of all others which should be carried out.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said be had ventured to interrupt the Home Secretary because both he and the hon. Member for Oxford University had repeated the statement that this was the first attempt that had been made to bring beerhouses of this kind within the jurisdiction of the magistrates. He happened to have before him a copy of the Bill of 1899, in which there was a proposal to place these beerhouses under the jurisdiction of the magistrates. That was carried on the Second Reading, which was as far as it could be carried, and it was defeated by a considerable majority, in the main Conservative. The Government needed to give a lead to the House on that proposal, for when the hon. Member for King's Lynn asked bow they were going to vote, the Under-Secretary of the day said he must "leave that to the superior judgment of the House, and with regard to this Bill or any other Bill of a similar character, the Government could not express any opinion." He remembered the occasion all the better because he believed he was the only one sitting on the Liberal side who spoke against the Bill, and he incurred the displeasure of some of his hon. friends because he objected to it on the ground that it took away a Parliamentary title 1436 without any proposal to give compensation. He was supporting this Amendment for the reason which male him oppose the Bill of 1899. This Amendment proposed to do what that Bill did, with the difference that it gave compensation. The Bill now before the House was a Bill to recognise a vested interest and to give compensation. He was willing to give compensation where there was a vested interest, but he was not willing to give compensation where there was no vested interest. The distinction he drew between these beerhouse licences and others was that there wan a deal of vested interest, a Parliamentary title, in the one case, and no Parliamentary title in the other. He was certain there was a vested interest in the pre-1869 beerhouses and he was willing to give compensation to them. The value of a licence was due in the first place to the fact that competition was excluded by monopoly, and in the second place to the fact that Parliament, with a fatuous incompetence which could not be too strongly condemned, had refused to look facts in the face, and to ask the licence-holders to yield up their monopoly. In other words, it was the low scale of licence duties which gave the value to licences. That was what they were beginning to see now. He wanted this matter placed on a logical footing by recognising a vested interest only where it existed, and giving compensation only where there was some value to be taken away.
§ MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said the hon. Member for Salford and the right hon. Member for Oxford University, who had taken part in the debate on this Amendment, had spoken from points of view which were diametrically opposed. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that all those who desired to reduce licences must oppose the Amendment, because the justices were so tender in the interest of property that they would refuse to take away licences without compensation. The hon. Member for Salford told them that the justices were so ruthless that if this Amendment were carried out they would take away his coat, his shirt, and even his skin.
§ MR. GROVES
I did not refer to the magistrates at all. I referred to what would be done by the so-called temperance reformers on the other side of the House.
§ MR. CORBETT
said the hon. Member had cast a new light upon the matter. The proposal which the hon. Member wished to defend was that these parties were not to be included because the protection they sought was against future Acts of Parliament, and that he thought was one of the most serious aspects of the proposal. It was not merely to protect against the existing danger, but to checkmate the operations of future Parliaments and future generations. He was glad to hear the Home Secretary state that these beerhouses would be brought under the same full control as ordinary public-house licences. He hoped the Home Secretary would give an assurance that they were correct in understanding that the pre-1869 licences would be under as full control as any others dealt with in the Bill.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid.)
said it had been assumed by all the speakers on this question that the holders of the pre-1869 licences would be entitled to something in respect of what was called Parliamentary title. He, for one, protested against its being supposed that they had a right to have any compensation at all. His hon. and learned friend the Member for Dundee seemed to think that they were destroying these licences at one fell swoop. Whatever occurred in 1869, he submitted that it was subject to this condition, that, if it appeared that the business of the house, in respect of which a Parliamentary title attached, was being carried on injuriously to the public welfare, the licence should not be continued. This Amendment was to confine the operation of the Bill to these houses, and he thought it was a very wise proposal. He was sorry to hear the right hon. Member for Oxford University say that the magistrates might refuse to exercise their right judicially. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he said, in effect, that the magistrates would not do their duty. The fact was 1438 that the magistrates had been recently awakened to their duty, and this Bill fettered their discretion. He did not think that the magistrates would refuse these licences on mere sentimental grounds, but would deal with them, as in the case of other houses, judicially. There was one reason for pressing this Amendment—and that was in the interest of temperance. It was all very well for the hon. Member for Salford to attack the hon. Member for Spen Valley. After all, the hon. Member for Spen Valley had no personal interest in this matter. He felt anxious to protest when he heard the brewers who were personally interested in this matter attack people on that side of the House who had no personal interest to serve, but whose desire was to pass a measure for the benefit of the community. The reason he urged in favour of the Amendment was that a great deal of work would be put on the magistrates in various parts of the country. The scheme was so big that they would not attack it with hearty will. Hitherto the magistrates were not allowed to deal with the ante-1869 beerhouses, although they knew the character of these houses. And the one thing which facilitated the granting of a new licence was that the brewer came to the magistrates and said, "We are prepared to give up one, two, or even three beer licences over which you have no discretion if you will grant this new licence." He thought the magistrates would bend to their work with a will if they were allowed to pay their attention to these beerhouses, and thereby a great temperance reform would be accomplished by abolishing these beerhouses, which were admittedly the worst.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON,) Dublin University
said he thought it was interesting to note the admission made on the other side of the House that the Bill did one good thing—it brought these beerhouses under its purview. He had found great difficulty during the Second Reading of the Bill in getting any admission of that kind. These beerhouses were very nearly one-third of all the licensed houses in England, and it was admitted that they were the worst licensed houses in the country. Therefore if this Bill was not 1439 passed the worst beerhouses could not be touched, and those licensed houses that were of a superior class would suffer. After all, that was some justification for the Bill of the Government. Another unfortunate admission was made by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, whose honesty in the cause of temperance nobody would deny. The hon. Member admitted that under this Bill the levy would be quite sufficient to wipe out the whole of these 30,000 beerhouses. Was it not something that there was to be a levy for the trade, if the Bill passed, that would enable them to put an end to the worst of these 30,000 beerhouses? But the hon. Member went on and said that the Government ought to stop there and leave the Bill alone as regarded the other licensed houses. Now he did hope the House would consider, in coming to a conclusion on this Amendment, the very weighty words that fell from the right hon. Member for Oxford University. The right hon. Gentleman was talking of a matter of which he had had years of experience as a chairman of quarter sessions and he knew what the magistrates were likely to do. But they really did not want the right hon. Gentleman's experience; for it stood to common sense that if this Bill was passed limiting the action to the 1869 beerhouses the magistrates would attack these beerhouses, admittedly the worst, and leave the other houses alone. He should have thought that that would be a most unsatisfactory state of things, when they were told that the magistrates were doing less than before in putting down fully licensed houses. It was perfectly plain that where there was an admitted excess of licensed houses and the magistrates were doing less than before in reducing them, it must be because they did not wish to do an injustice.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
said that his point was that the difficulty of the magistrates was that they did not like to take away the licences from the best class of houses, but if their hands were left free to touch the beerhouses they would attack them.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that if the magistrates were to touch the beerhouses and nothing else that would not be a satisfactory condition of affairs. It 1440 might be perfectly true that in some parts of the country there were too many beerhouses, but in other parts where there were few beerhouses and a large number of ordinary public-houses, some of which it was desirable to get rid of, the Amendment would operate against that. He therefore hoped the Committee would reject the Amendment. A Question had been put to him by the hon. Member for the Newton Division as to the position of the ante-1869 beerhouses under the Bill. At present the renewal of their licences could not be refused except on four statutory grounds which he need not repeat. When this Bill passed the magistrates in quarter sessions would have the light, on the recommendation of the local magistrates upon any ground, to refuse the renewal of these licences.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
On payment of compensation, yes, because they had got a Parliamentary title, and when they were abolishing, in the public interest, what Parliament had previously said they were not to abolish, it was only fair that they should obtain compensation. Something had been said about structural alterations. His own view was that, under the 1902 Act, the magistrates had complete power to order any structural alterations they pleased, and if these were not carried out they had the power of in flicting a very severe fine—he thought 30s. for every day these alterations were not carried out—therefore, there was a power to compel the carrying out of the structural alterations; but if that power was taken away and the man was deprived of his licence he ought to receive compensation. He appealed to the Committee to at once come to a decision.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said they could not accept the position of the Solicitor-General or of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University with regard to the Bill as a whole. The Solicitor-General and the right hon. Gentleman regarded the Bill as a Bill to enable justices to act where they would not otherwise be able to act at all. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University spoke 1441 of human nature; but it was not human nature not to remember the declaration of the Prime Minister, that it was necessary to fetter the discretion of the licensing justices. That was as simple as it could possibly be; and it was impossible not to connect it with the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University said that the Committee ought to bear in mind that there had been a great fuss made over the fact that the justices were acting according to the view of the Government; this was an enabling Bill and a temperance Bill. His hon. friend, in moving his Amendment, pointed out that if the Bill only dealt with ante-1869 beerhouses, it might be fairly regarded as a temperance measure, as it would give the magistrates more discretion as regarded these particular licences than they had before. That was so much to the good. The magistrates were not given full discretion, but they were given more than they had before. If the Bill stopped there, it might be fairly described as a temperance measure to which Amendments as regarded details might be suggested, but which would not be seriously fought. He himself would be prepared to support such a Bill if it stopped there. But the Bill proposed a limited discretion over the ante-1869 beerhouses, while taking away the full discretion which the magistrates now had over all other licensed houses. That was the whole point.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
said he would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the declaration of the Prime Minister, that it was necessary to fetter the discretion of the magistrates. That was the answer to the right hon. Gentleman in point of fact. He did not understand his hon. friend to say that a measure which dealt with the ante-1869 beerhouses would be the final word on temperance reform. He understood his hon. friend to say that it would be a fair measure for the House of Commons to deal with during the present session. They, on that side, had been taunted by the Home 1442 Secretary, who said that they ought to accept the Bill because a Liberal Government had never passed a temperance measure. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have explained his statement in attributing to a Liberal Government legislation which came from his own Party. The taunt came very badly from the Home Secretary, who, having been in the House for twenty years, ought to have remembered that for that period a Liberal Government had only had two complete sessions of Parliament. In that time there was one attempt to deal with the question of temperance. The present Government were now making an attempt; but they had not yet passed their legislation. They had heard again and again from the Government that the many mistakes in temperance legislation occurred because the efforts were too ambitious. His hon. friend, by his Amendment, sought to confine the Bill to the ante-1869 beerhouses. That would be a useful measure, which would be certain to pass, and would avoid the very error which the Liberals had been reproached with, of trying to accomplish too much. While he admitted that the Bill, as far as the ante-1869 beerhouses were concerned, was a temperance measure, the other part entirely changed its character and he would therefore support the Amendment.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said that from an electioneering point of view it would be a great deal better for he Opposition if the Government proceeded with the whole measure and passed it; but he believed they would simplify their task if the Amendment were accepted. A great many of these 1869 licences were held only for purposes of exchange. They were the very worst houses; many of them were not paying; and, therefore, the brewers would not be prejudiced if they were swept away. He had no hesitation in saying that seven-eights of them were owned by the brewers. All the public-houses ought to contribute to the compensation fund, for all the other houses would gain if the 1869 licences were done away with. He was not very much against the Bill when it was first introduced, because he could not conceive that the Government would 1443 adopt it without a time limit; but he was against it now that they had refused a time limit, because it had been quite plainly shewn that if the Government put all the other licences in the same position posterity would be in exactly the same position, and in twenty years time would cast the gravest reflections upon the present Parliament. The present Bill would rivet a monopoly upon posterity. It was said the justices would be disinclined to use their discretion if the 1869 houses were the only ones to be compensated He did not believe that would be the case in the large manufacturing towns. It
§ was well known that before the Prime Minister made his declaration, some time since, the Manchester and Salford brewers had arranged to give up fifty licences without any compensation at all, and that a great many of them were ante-1869 licences. If this Amendment were carried, the justices would in most cases do away with this class of licence because it was the worst class, and they would use their discretion in a proper manner.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 165; Noes, 288. (Division List, No. 180.)1447
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Ffrench, Peter||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Field, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Crae, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Flynn, James Christopher||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Athlerey-Jones, L.||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mappin, Sir Frederick Torpe|
|Barran, Row and Hirst||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh,N.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Furness, Sir Christopher||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Black, Alexander William||Grant, Coirrie||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)|
|Blake, Edward||Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick)||Morley, Rt. Hon. John (Montrose|
|Boland, John||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Moss, Samuel|
|Brigg, John||Hain, Edward||Norman, Henry|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Harcourt, Rt Hn. Sir W (Monm'th||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Burns, John||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Burt, Thomas||Harwood, George||O'Doherty, William|
|Caldwell, James||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cameron, Robert||Helme, Norval Watson||Parrott, William|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Partington, Oswald|
|Cawley, Frederick||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Holland, Sir William Henry||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Perks, Robert William|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Horniman, Frederick John||Price, Robert John|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Priestley, Arthur|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Rea, Russell|
|Crombie, John William||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Reddy, M.|
|Crooks, William||Jacoby, James Alfred||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Joicey, Sir James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Cullinan, J.||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Joyce, Michael||Roche, John|
|Delany, William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Kilbride, Denis||Runciman, Walter|
|Done an, Captain A.||Kitson, Sir James||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Labouchere, Henry||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Lambert, George||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Langley, Batty||Sheehy, David|
|Edwards, Frank||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Elibank, Master of||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Ellice, Capt, E. C (S Andrw's Bghs||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Slack, John Bamford|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Leng, Sir John||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Evans, Sir Fran. H. (Maidstone)||Levy, Maurice||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lewis, John Herbert||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lloyd-George, David||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lough, Thomas||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lundon, W.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.|
|Tennant, Harold John||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||White, George (Norfolk)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Tomkinson, James||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Herbert Gladstone and Mr.|
|Toulmin, George||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer||William M'Arthur.|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Wallace, Robert||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Helder, Augustus|
|Aird, Sir John||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Ambrose, Robert||Davenport, William Bromley||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Denny, Colonel||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Horner, Frederick William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dickson, Charles Scott||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Austin, Sir John||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doogan, P. C.||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Doughty, George||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Duke, Henry Edward||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Kimber, Henry|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N. R.|
|Bigwood, James||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Bond, Edward||Fisher, William Hayes||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Fison, Frederick William||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Brassey Albert||Favin, Michael Joseph||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Brodrick Rt. Hon. St. John||Fower, Sir Ernest||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Forster, Henry William||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.)|
|Butcher, John George||Gardner, Ernest||Lowe, Francis William|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Garfit, William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Graham, Henry Robert||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Greene, Sir E. W (B'ry S E dm'nds||M'Fadden, Edward|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||M'Kean, John|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)|
|Chapman, Edward||Grenfell, William Henry||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gretton, John||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Groves, James Grimble||Malcolm, Ian|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Gunter, Sir Robert||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Maxwell, Rt Hn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.|
|Crean, Eugene||Heath, James (Staffords., N. W.||Milvain, Thomas|
|Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Rankin, Sir James||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Ratcliff, R. F.||Strovan, John|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Reid, James (Greenock)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Moore, William||Remnant, James Farquharson||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Renwick, George||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Richards, Henry Charles||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Tuff, Charles|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Robinson, Brooke||Valentia, Viscount|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Myers, William Henry||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|O'Dowd, John||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|O'Kelly, Jas. (Roseomnion, N.)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H. (Renfrew)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Percy, Earl||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Smith, H. C (North'mb. Tyneside||Young, Samuel|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Younger, William|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Pym, C. Guy||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.)||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Asquith.)—put, and agreed to.
§ MR. COUETENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said the object of the Amendment he had placed on the Paper was not to injure the Bill in any way, but to give to the publican a greater security than was afforded by the words in the clause. The clause as drafted would not in some cases cover the publican's loss. The licensee might have made considerable alterations in his house for the purposes of trade which would have no value whatever for private purposes, but that expenditure would not come in under the words of the Bill. His proposal was very nearly the same as that in the Bill, but it defined the matter in such a way that the publican was more protected, although the contributors to the compensation fund would not have to pay any larger amount. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 6, to leave out from the word 'than' to the word 'shall' in line 9, and insert the words 'that the house or
shop in respect of which a licence is held, or any adjacent house or shop owned or occupied by the person holding the licence is of a disorderly character, or frequented by thieves, prostitutes, or persons of bad character, or that the holder of the licence has failed to comply with an order for structural alterations under Section 11, Sub-section 4, of the Licensing Act of 1902.'"—(Mr. Courtenay Warner.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said it was impossible to accept the Amendment, the wording of which was much more limited and inappropriate than that of the clause.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
thought the words in the Bill would press very hardly in certain cases. It was true that the Amendment imposed a limit, but it was the old limit, and the persons affected knew what would happen under it, whereas they did not know at all what 1449 the magistrates would do under the words of the Bill.
§ MR. MOSS
agreed that they might go into the character of the licensee, but not into the character of the premises. The house, as well as the person conducting the house, might have a bad character, and if the licensee was the owner of adjoining premises which was of a disorderly character, and that was not to be a ground for refusing the licence, they might have cases in which licensed premises would be evading the law.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
was disposed to agree with the Solicitor-General, but he asked whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman considered that the words would enable the magistrates, if they considered the house to be of bad character, to deal with the matter without compensation being paid.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said the publican desired some definition of the word "ill-conducted."A very wide discretion was left to the magistrates, and houses which were considered to be "ill-conducted"in some places would not be so regarded in others.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said he really could not interfere with the discretion of the magistrates in this matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Drafting Amendment agreed to.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS Denbighshire, W.)
(on behalf of the hon. Member for the Spalding Division) moved an Amendment to include, as a ground for refusing the renewal of a licence, 1450 the non-provision of reasonable refreshment. Many witnesses before the Royal Commission complained of the difficulty of obtaining reasonable refreshment at public-houses, and it was only right that in a Bill under which a new system with regard to the magistrates' discretion was laid down, it should be made perfectly clear that this was a ground upon which the justices might act without paying compensation. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 7, after the words 'ill-conducted ' to insert the words "or for not having provided reasonable refreshment.'"—(Mr. Herbert Roberts)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. MANSFIELD (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
said the Amendment aimed at stopping the growing tendency to turn the village inn into a drinking shop. A few years ago it was comparatively easy to obtain tea or coffee and something to eat at most public-houses, but any such demand now was usually met by a stony stare, and the would-be customer had to wait an interminable time. A system had grown up under which the sole object appeared to be the sale of intoxicating liquors, and any person who was not prepared to take beer or spirits had to be content with aerated waters, which were more or less alcoholic and almost as poisonous as some of the intoxicating liquors, or to put up with stale ginger-beer. The object of the Amendment was to enable a large body of the general public, such as cyclists, to obtain the refreshment they needed. It was not likely that any bench of magistrates would refuse the renewal of a licence on the ground that tea or coffee had not been provided, but it was desirable that they should retain the powers they at present possessed, because a suggestion from the magistrates often carried more weight than anything else. This proposal was made in order to prevent village public-houses being turned simply into drinking shops, and to make them places where the public could get the refreshments they required. That was why he was anxious that this Amendment should be carried, and it could not 1451 possibly do the trade any harm. The brewer and the publican in these debates had been regarded as synonymous terms, but that was not so. The Amendment was not aimed against the interest of the publican, because he would get as much profit out of tea as beer. He had another Amendment on the Paper which had to do with the provision of bedroom accommodation, and perhaps he would be allowed to move that a little later on. This Amendment could not possibly do any harm, and it was certain to do a great deal of good. If the Government were anxious for temperance reform, as they professed to be, then they ought to hail with delight an Amendment to encourage the drinking of tea instead of alcoholic liquors.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said that although the Amendment of his hon. friend was drawn in wider terms than the one he himself had given notice of he cordially supported it. Every one of them must have experienced the immense difficulty in getting an ordinary cup of tea or even a glass of water at one of this class of beerhouses or hotels in the country, and even in London. This was one of the most important Amendments which had been moved during the whole of the discussion upon this stage of the Bill, and it would do more to promote temperance than any other suggestion which had been made. Many of these beerhouses existed merely for the purpose of selling so many barrels of beer, and that was the raison d'étre of their existence. They had been established not because the public wanted them, but because the brewer wanted to sell so much beer. They ought to let the country see plainly whether this Bill was moved with the object of promoting temperance, or whether it had been introduced in the interests of brewers. The question was whether those houses were to exist as refreshment houses or whether only intoxicating liquors were to be sold in them. His hon. friend was asking for very little in this Amendment which would do a great amount of good in the direction of temperance reform. There was scarcely 5 per cent, of the hotels in London where a working man could go to and ask for a cup of tea without standing a chance of 1452 being kicked out. The public-houses existed in order to provide refreshment for the public, and not simply for the consumption of intoxicating liquors. He hoped that the Government would accept this Amendment.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOE THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. COCHRANE, Ayrshire, N.)
said the Amendment recalled to his mind a debate last year on a private Member's-Bill to which he was able to give some sympathy and support. That Bill only sought to affect innkeepers, who were, of course, under a different obligation, from that of the ordinary public-house keeper. The law remained that, if the refusal to supply reasonable refreshment was of a gross character, it would constitute misconduct, and in that case the innkeeper would not be entitled under this Bill to receive compensation if his licence were taken away. There was no such obligation in the case of a public-house, and, if the House was unwilling last year to pass a Bill dealing solely with innkeepers, it was unlikely that they would now desire further to extend the obligation in the case of public-houses. He did not think this was a favourable opportunity for promoting an object which in itself was desirable, that innkeepers should more often supply refreshments of a non-intoxicating character. But in all parts of the country shops for the supply of such refreshments were springing up, and if the trade was a paying one he had no doubt that in the course of time it would be extended in the desired direction.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON,
in supporting the Amendment, thought the refusal to serve reasonable refreshments of a non-alcoholic kind ought to be a ground for refusing a licence-There had undoubtedly been too much of this on the part of these public monopolists. They had refused reasonable refreshment to particular classes, and to his mind that was the most serious grievance of all. There had been many complaints that soldiers and sailors in uniform had been unfairly discriminated against, and if he were a magistrate, and found a licensed victualler so treating; anyone who wore His Majesty's uniform, 1453 he should not hesitate to withdraw his licence. But there was another grievance, which, though less common, was even worse. He referred to the attempted discrimination in regard to persons holding certain opinions. They had in the past seen what was a reign of terror in connection with the South African War. No man who held certain opinions about that war could hold his own anywhere. [An HON. MEMBER: He can now.] Yes, the tide of opinion has changed on that subject. Opinions which one could now freely express could only be expressed then to the danger of the persons expressing them, and that with the encouragement, he was sorry to say, of persons in high position. There were within his own knowledge and within a stone's throw of this House two cases of hotels which attempted that discrimination. He should have taken away the licences from those houses with as little hesitation as from those that discriminated in the case of soldiers and sailors. On both these grounds he strongly supported the Amendment.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he was sorry that the Government could not see their way to accept this Amendment. The Solicitor-General, as they had seen once or twice, exercised an independent judgment on these matters, and he would appeal to him to give the Committee a better answer than had been given up to the present on behalf of the Government. Their acceptance of the Amendment would not interfere with the structure of the Bill, and it would enable them to render one little bit of service to temperance. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not be intimidated by the face that he had the hon. Member for Burton-on-Trent sitting behind him. The Under-Secretary had assumed that this was an extension of the obligations of the justices. If this were included in the Bill it would not compel magistrates to refuse a licence simply because refreshments were refused, but it would give them discretionary power to do so.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he was glad that the Solicitor-General assented to that proposition. The proposal in the 1454 clause was depriving the magistrates of that power. A great monopoly was given to them by the public, and the magistrates, on behalf of the public, should be able to bring pressure to bear on them to exercise it fairly towards the public. What was the position at present when a licence-holder was asked for a cup of tea or coffee, or some substantial refreshment? He had known cases where the persons making the request had been rather insolently refused because it meant too much trouble. He was told by a former Member of this House, who was not a teetotaler, that on asking a publican in the country for a cup of tea he was answered in a perfectly insolent fashion. That gentleman wrote to the chairman of the bench of magistrates, and the same thing, he believed, would not occur in that public-house again. But if this Bill were passed what could the publican do? He would know perfectly well that the magistrates could not interfere, and that if they took away the licence because of the refusal to supply a cup of tea they could only do it by giving compensation. The magistrates should have the power to warn the publican not to repeat the offence, and that if it was repeated they would consider next year whether they would renew the licence. That sort of warning was useful without actually depriving a man of his licence. He asked the Solicitor-General whether he could not see his way to include that in the Bill. It would not come within the category of an ill-conducted public-house. He believed that on both sides of the House they wanted to discourage the mere drinking saloon. That was the sort of thing that had been done in America by men who were against prohibition, and in favour of a modified form of drinking saloon. The old inn which provided bedroom accommodation and refreshments for man and beast was disappearing in this country, and it was for the beasts alone that accommodation was provided in a good many of them. He was dwelling on this at the present moment because the Amendment was the first of a series of the same kind. The houses recently set up by the public-house trusts were working on the line of providing something besides intoxicating liquors. They were engaged in providing non-intoxicating refreshments and rather restricting the sale of 1455 drink. He was not suggesting merely the form, of words contained in the Amendment. If the Solicitor-General could suggest any other form to carry out the object in view they would be acceptable to Members on that side of the House. The Government by accepting the Amendment would be able to render substantial assistance to the cause of real temperance. The Government must remember that the state of things had been considerably aggravated of late by the tied-house system, and that was why greater emphasis ought to be placed on Amendments of this character. In this matter no encouragement would come from the brewery company or managers, because they did not wish to develop trade on those lines. Pressure must come from the magistrates who represented the public and they must have the power of insisting on reasonable refreshments being provided for the public.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
said he had hoped that the Solicitor-General would have risen in response to the invitation of his hon. friend, but the right hon. Gentleman had given no indication that he desired to do so. He wished to reinforce what had been said. He looked upon this as a very important Amendment, but the Under-Secretary in the remarks he made had not appreciated the real position. It was not a question as to who was under legal obligation. He quite agreed that the obligation was cast upon innkeepers and innkeepers alone. It was a question of policy, and the position was that in a large number of cases, owing in a considerable degree, as his hon. friend had stated, to the development of the tied-house system, persons who previously carried on these public-houses to all intents and purposes as inns as well as places for the sale of drink had come under the strongest inducement to subordinate that side of the business, and in some cases to stop it altogether, and to become agents for the sale of drink of one particular brewery. Places which were undoubtedly intended, when the law conferred on the occupiers the monopoly in a district of supplying intoxicating liquors, as places to which everybody could resort for reasonable refreshment, had more and more degenerated into mere drinking saloons. He did not think 1456 anybody who was acquainted with the social conditions of the country would say that that was an exaggerated picture. It really was, in many of our rural districts, in particular, a serious provocation to intemperance. How had the magistrates dealt with this? The magistrates at present had absolutely unfettered discretion when a licence-holder came and asked for a renewal of his licence. It was perfectly competent for them to say. "You shall not have this monopoly for the sale of drink unless you will at the same time undertake that the wayfarer and sojourner in this part of the world shall at your premises find reasonable refreshment." A reasonable condition or stipulation to annex when conferring a monopoly. Many magistrates had taken the view that a matter they might fairly take into their consideration was whether a particular applicant should or should not have his licence renewed in these circumstances. That was the state of the law. Let them look at the state of the law that would be created by this Bill. That power was taken away entirely from the magistrates, because this was not one of the grounds enumerated in the Bill in which the magistrates could continue to exercise the unlimited discretion which they at present possessed. What followed? He would suppose a flagrant case where licensed premises which might have been used as a place of refreshment had been turned into nothing more nor less than a drinking shop. The licensing justices would have no jurisdiction in the matter at all. They would have to go to quarter sessions, and quarter sessions would be in this dilemma. Either they must renew the licence, or, if they refused to renew it, compensation must be paid out of the fund. In the majority of cases the licence would be continued to a person who had shown himself unfit to possess it. That was what the effect of the Bill would be unless the Amendment were accepted. They were discussing here a question of principle, and what they wanted was to get from the Government some indication of opinion that they would continue to the magistrates their present discretion to refuse the renewal of licences in cases when tea and coffee were not provided.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that, in considering this Amendment, it was necessary to distinguish between the ordinary inn and the ordinary public-house. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said unless food and tea and coffee were provided in inns, they became nothing but drinking saloons. In the case of the ordinary inn, there was a common-law obligation on the keeper to provide reasonable refreshment, food, and accommodation, and, therefore, as he could be indicted for a refusal to discharge that obligation, his premises would come within the Bill as ill-conducted premises. He thought it was hardly in doubt that if a man was indicted for this particular offence and convicted before a jury and if that conviction were brought before the licensing magistrates they would arrive at the conclusion that he was not a fit person to have a licence. As the hon. Member the Under-Secretary for the Home Department had stated, a Bill was brought in last year to provide an easier method by summary procedure to compel the innkeeper to discharge this obligation. The Bill passed this House by a large majority, but for some reason or other it was dropped in another place and never became law. The main discussion on this Amendment, however, and certainly the opening statement of the hon. Member who moved it, had reference to the owners of public-houses who were not discharging the duty they ought to perform in failing to provide reasonable refreshments. The case of the ordinary public-house was much more difficult than that of the ordinary inn. What the hon. Member who put the Amendment on the paper wanted to do was to turn every public-house into a hotel.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that the Amendment proposed that the keeper of an ordinary public-house should give to everybody who demanded it "reasonable refreshment."He hoped the Committee would not think he was not trying to do what was best in relation to these public-houses. The hon. Member for Carnarvon made an appeal to him to give way on this Amendment. Well, if there could be a 1458 means of putting an obligation on the owner of a public house to give refreshment in certain cases, he could not say that there would be any objection to that, but what he wanted to point out was that the penalty proposed for failure to provide refreshments was far too great. What the hon. Member opposite wanted to enact was that if a public-house keeper did not provide "reasonable refreshment"—whatever that might mean—he could be deprived of his licence without compensation although he had subscribed to the insurance fund. That was a penalty that would be out of proportion to the offence he had committed, in most cases at all events. They all knew that there had been a great increase in the number of those houses which did supply refreshments; but be might mention that he had had several letters since the Bill was brought into the House expressing the hope that the Bill would not, at all events, increase the amount of refreshments that were given in public-houses, on the ground that the providing of tea in public-houses might be a temptation to a man who only wanted a cup of tea to take intoxicating liquor. [OPPOSITION laughter.] He did not say he agreed with that, but that view had been put before him. Take the case of a public-house where month after month refreshments outside drink had not been asked for. Was the owner of that public-house to keep on his premises always "reasonable refreshments" when they might not be inquired for, and would be wasted? He could not say more than that he would consider the matter, and see whether, if the power the magistrate now had was taken away, they could not put pressure in some other way on the publicans to supply these refreshments without subjecting them to a penalty out of all proportion to the offence, of depriving them of their licences without compensation.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said the Amendment did not propose to enact that the magistrates should refuse to renew the licence of a publican who did not supply temperance refreshments. All it proposed to do was to leave in the hands of the magistrates the discretion they at present possessed with regard to the 1459 management of public-houses. The Solicitor-General had not referred to the cases of refusing refreshments to soldiers and sailors in uniform. Did the right hon. Gentleman sympathise with those refusals?
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
said that they could not expect a soldier or a sailor to take action in such cases, although it was a direct insult to the uniform. To meet such cases the magistrates should continue to have the power to refuse the renewal of the licence. The mere threat to do that would put a stop to such practices. There had been many cases where soldiers had been refused refreshment, and the licensee, when he came up for renewal of his licence, had promised it would never occur again. He did not think it would be necessary to take a division if the Home Secretary would give a pledge to reconsider the question, and bring up a clause on Report which would end the grievance of a sailor or a soldier in uniform being refused refreshment, to which he was entitled just as much as any other man in his working clothes.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that while he was in sympathy with the principle of the Amendment, he objected to its form. If it were adopted, it would practically amount to compelling the magistrates to treat a refusal to supply refreshment on the same footing as unfitness or want of character. That would create a new condition of affairs. He thought there were some grounds for a new clause in another part of the Bill to define what reasonable refreshment meant, but to withdraw a licence because a man refused on one occasion to supply a cup of tea would be ridiculous and unreasonable. The Committee ought to be glad that the Solicitor-General had undertaken to consider the Amendment, and to bring forward a new clause.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said that before the Opposition decided not to take a division they should receive something stronger than the promise of the Solicitor-General. When, two or three 1460 years ago, another Licensing Bill was under discussion the feeling of the Grand Committee was strongly in favour of the proposal, and the Amendment was only defeated by the Government declaring that it would not fit in with the general scheme of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Derbyshire, who spoke with great authority on this question, promised to support him if he would give him an independent proposal. On that point he divided the House on the Report stage of the Bill, and was defeated by eighteen votes only. Again the Government expressed full sympathy with the proposal, viz., that the licensed houses should be compelled by law to supply these refreshments. Subsequently he brought in a Bill on the subject. His hon. friend the Member for North-West Norfolk moved the Second Reading, which was carried, and the Bill went to the Grand Committee, where it was defeated in consequence of some proceedings in connection with the Copyright Bill. As the law stood there was no legal remedy whatever. The only satisfaction a complaining party could get, to whom light refreshments were refused, was to make a complaint at the brewster sessions. He knew a case where a gentleman travelled from Lancashire to the Isle of Wight specially for that purpose. The Solicitor-General had said that the number of houses supplying these refreshments was on the increase. He would like to know what authority he had for making that statement. His belief was that these houses were decreasing. As the tied-house system extended the freedom of the tenant was curtailed, and he was prevented by his agreement with the brewer from selling anything in which the brewer had not an interest. He appealed to the Government to make the concession.
§ MR. MIDDLEMORE (Birmingham, N.)
said that he had heard with very great satisfaction that the Government proposed to accept, not this Amendment because it appeared to be impossible, but something in that direction which would not inflict any injury whatever on the trade. This was really a very important proposal in the interests of temperance, and one which was fair and just to the very poor. What was the condition of 1461 a man who lived in the most wretched quarter of his own constituency? He had to live in a dark, ill-lighted street, with a limited view of the sky. Such a man naturally sought light and refreshment, but the only condition on which he could visit a public-house involved his taking alcohol. That was unfair, because if he was a weak man he formed the alcoholic habit, and became a drunkard. That should be prevented. He thought very strongly that the present monopoly should not be continued except conditionally, and one of the conditions should be that a man should be able to have a cup of tea or coffee.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said he hoped the Home Secretary would reconsider the question from the point of view of the immense increase in the demand for refreshment on the part of persons using the roads of the country. The hon. Member who had just spoken said, very truly, that there was often a demand in the lower quarters of the great towns for refreshment which could only be obtained at a public-house. Having recently made extensive excursions through England, he was very much struck by the immense number of people who used the roads, and who sought refreshment at the smaller wayside inns. There was no doubt that in many parts of England there was an insufficent number of places supplying refreshments. This was perhaps not the best form in which an Amendment of this kind should be introduced, but the only answer which the Solicitor-General had made was that the licensing justices had power to deal with the matter. Surely they could trust the magistrates to use this power in a reasonable way. He hoped the Home Secretary would give the Committee a pledge that the Government would deal with this matter.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said the hon. Member who moved this Amendment contended that reasonable refreshments ought to be provided at all licensed houses, and he asked the Committee to repudiate the action of innkeepers who refuse to serve soldiers wearing the King's uniform. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeenshire had alluded to the difficulty of obtaining 1462 reasonable non-alcoholic refreshment in certain districts in the country, which he had illustrated by his own personal experience, and he had also stated that he thought it was desirable that all licensees should be compelled, as a condition of their licence, to supply refreshments of this sort. He agreed that inconvenience did arise from inability to get light refreshments at public-houses; but he could not agree to accept the proposed Amendment, because it would mean that a man's claim to compensation might be refused on the ground that he had not supplied this class of refreshment. He could not consent to accept this Amendment, or agree to any Amendment which would place so great a hardship upon the owners of houses. The Solicitor-General had promised to consider this question, and to see whether it was possible, in another portion of this Bill, to insert a clause to meet the desires of hon. Members who thought this class of refreshments should be provided in all houses. He would confirm the undertaking given by the Solicitor-General to give consideration to the question, and see whether, in some other part of the Bill, the desire of hon. Members could be given effect to. If the Amendment were introduced in the clause as proposed, it would be unfair to the licensee. He agreed with the hon. Member for Sheffield that if this Amendment were passed the justices would look upon it as a direction to refuse compensation if the licensee had not agreed to supply light refreshments of this character. Upon this point he could not go further than the Solicitor-General had gone.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W. R., Elland)
said the Home Secretary took up the position that it would be a hardship to refuse compensation in the case of a public-house which had not performed its obligation. But, after all, the obligation proposed was very small, namely, that a certain amount of non-alcoholic refreshment should be forthcoming. It was not the small out-of-the-way public-houses which failed in that respect. He knew very few places in the out-of-the-way parts of Northumberland where people could not get tea and bread and butter, or eggs and bacon, simply for the 1463 asking. The real grievance was experienced in the case of the big public-house where they had so much custom in alcoholic liquors that there was no inducement to them to supply other kinds of refreshment. Moderate reformers should press for this Amendment because it would tend to improve the character of public-houses and make them places to which respectable people might resort for necessary refreshment, and where, at present, in many instances no respectable person would think of entering. For these reasons he thought this Amendment was an eminently useful one and ought to be pressed to a division.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said the confusion upon this question had arisen owing to the limitation of the discretion of magistrates to the particular grounds specified in the Bill. In the past there had been no limitations of this character, and the magistrates had had an absolute discretion. Consequently, in considering the renewal of any licence, they were able to take into their purview such grounds as were covered by the Amendment which had been moved by the hon. Member opposite, and though, of course, they were not bound to refuse the renewal of the licence they were able to take into consideration offences more or less parallel to that which was the subject of this Amendment. By the terms of this clause they were limited to the specified conditions and, therefore, such matters as were dealt with by this Amendment were ruled out. Consequently they would probably be confronted with a series of attempts to widen the terms and conditions under which a magistrate might refuse the renewal of a licence without compensation. The essence of temperance reform was that the divorce between eating and drinking in the public-house should be removed and an encouragement given to licensed premises to provide for the consumption of food as well as of liquor. The Amendment would not meet the particular grievance it was designed to remove. Drinking was divorced from eating in ordinary public-houses, because the provision of eatables did not pay so well as the provision of drink. That was the real difficulty of the situation, and, so long as it paid him better, the publican 1464 would naturally prefer to supply drink rather than food. He failed to see how the Amendment, if accepted, would operate in favour of temperance. Then were three specified grounds upon which the magistrates could refuse the renewal of a licence without compensation, and the Amendment sought to add a fourth. His own view was that the more the particular grounds on which the renewal of licences could be refused were defined the more would the discretion of the magistrates be limited. The vaguer the terms of the conditions upon which the magistrates were allowed to exercise their discretion the more widely they would be able to utilise their powers for the advancement of temperance. He, therefore, thought the Government were wise in refusing to accept the Amendment at the present stage, though he felt that the Home Secretary had somewhat "watered down "the pledge of the Solicitor-General to deal with the question in a later portion of the Bill. He hoped that when the time came the Government would see that the obligation was imposed upon the tenants of public-houses to supply more solid refreshment and not to rely chiefly upon the supply of alcohol.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said that when publicans were being placed by Parliament in an exceptionally favourable position it was not right that they should be allowed to refuse to serve any class, whether soldiers or anybody else, or to discriminate in any way as to the persons they would supply, so long as the applicants were sober and behaved themselves respectably. The Government had intimated their disposition to remedy or to palliate that state of things. Their task, however, was a very difficult one, because the clause was so drawn as to cover much more than at first met the eye. The idea generally entertained with regard to the clause was that when licences were discontinued in the public interest compensation was to be paid, and the judges of the compensation were to be not the local magistrates, but the quarter sessions. The scope of the clause, however, was much wider. The local justices had power to refuse renewals only upon three grounds, subject to appeal. All other grounds upon which under the existing law the magistrates were able to 1465 discontinue licences vanished at once, because they were remitted to quarter sessions, and, if they were acted upon, compensation became payable. He felt bound to express his admiration of the draftsman of the Bill; a more cunningly devised or deftly constructed measure he had never seen. It was necessary to watch every line closely to see how the Bill went. The measure was so constructed that it went miles beyond compensating the man whose business was taken from him in the public interest. The Amendment afforded an apt illustration. If a soldier in uniform went into a public-house, asked for a glass of beer, and was refused service, the magistrates under the existing law would probably ask for an explanation from the publican and intimate that if there was any recurrence of such conduct the renewal of the licence would be refused. But, under the present Bill that was not one of the specified grounds; there was no obligation to serve any man, and, as the matter would be remitted to quarter sessions, if any action was taken compensation would be payable. That was only one illustration of the consequences that would flow from the Bill as constructed. It meant that local magistrates might, if they chose, upon one of three specified grounds, refuse licences absolutely, but beyond that they had no power whatever. All the pressure they were able to exercise in virtue of their present full discretion disappeared, and the publican was given not merely a right to compensation when his licence was taken away in the public interest, but also immunity from magisterial control except in certain small details. The object of the Bill was understood to be to provide for the payment of compensation when a licence was discontinued on public grounds, but the measure was so drafted that the Opposition would be compelled to enumerate the different offences for which the local justices should be at liberty to discontinue licences.
§ Mr. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said he so fully agreed with the remarks of the hon. and learned Member opposite that he ventured to make an appeal to the Government. Personally he was prepared to give compensation only when a licence was taken 1466 away owing to public requirements. The Committee would get into the most indefinite discussion if they attempted by enumeration to limit the discretion of the magistrates beyond that particular. The discretion of the magistrates would undoubtedly be taken away except in the cases specified in the Bill. He did not think that was right, nor did he believe it was the intention of the Government when they introduced the Bill. It was really a drafting question, and the only way in which it could be properly dealt with was to say that where a licence was taken away on the ground of public requirements the case should go to quarter sessions and the principle of compensation apply. That was the only sound basis for a Bill of this kind, and if it were once departed from the greatest difficulty would ensue. The Amendment was inadmissible at the present stage, but he was not prepared to interfere with the discretion of the local magistrates except in the one case he had mentioned. If the Government would consider the question as a matter of drafting they would be able to make the position clear, and to avoid the difficulty with which they would otherwise be faced.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said this was a very important matter. He assured the Committee that the Government had no intention of going beyond providing compensation for licences taken away in consequence of public requirements. That had been the intention of the Government all through, but the hon. and learned Member opposite appeared to think that this clause had been drawn as if the Government wished in some way or other to cover up something else. He assured hon. Members that this was not so. This matter had been considered by the Law Officers on many occasions, and it was not so easy a question of drafting as seemed to be supposed. If they put in words relating to public requirements they would have to define them. What the Law Officers thought was that the words in the clause covered everything else, but they were prepared to consider other matters which might be suggested. Suppose the magistrates said a house was a tied house. Could they then take the licence away on the ground that it did not meet the public requirements?
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said that when he spoke of public requirements he meant those cases in which houses were taken away because they were not needed in the district.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said suppose the magistrates thought it extremely disadvantageous to have a public-house in the immediate neighbourhood of a chapel or school or workmen's dwellings, might that licence be taken away on the grounds of the public requirements? Some Benches might take that view. He assured the Committee that there was no sinister purpose in the way the clause was framed. That was the sole object of the Government, and if any other cases could be shown which did not come within the scope of the clause, all he could say was that they would be considered. He was perfectly certain that if they wanted any uniformity of practice and not to leave it to some Benches to deal in one way and other Benches in another way with the same question it would be better to lay down the law clearly and leave no loophole as to putting a matter into one category when it ought to be put into another.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said the difficulty, as he understood it, was due to the view of many magistrates that the number of the houses was out of proportion to the needs of the district, and that in discriminating between the houses to be preserved and those to be destroyed there was no principle of equity by which the discrimination could be made. Therefore if they cut down the number they must cut it down upon the footing that the licences which were extinguished should be compensated because their extinction had not been attended by any misconduct, or by reason of their failing to conform to the standard of requirements that the magistrates had imposed upon them. The aim of the Government was to send to quarter sessions only those cases in which the very difficult problem was to be dealt with of limiting the number of houses in a district which was over-supplied. If that was so, the clause might be amended to read in this way—The power to refuse the renewal of an on licence on the ground that the number of licensed houses exceeds the reasonable require- 1468 ments of the district shall be referred to quarter sessions.That would meet the whole case. That was the sort of case they wished to take out of the consideration of the local justices and to leave the county authority to deal with it on the principles of administration applicable to the whole county. They administered the fund connected with the whole county, but where the public-houses in a particular district were to be regulated the discretion of the magistrates ought not to be interfered with.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said they had arrived at a condition of things which was really not uncommon in discussions in Committee. That condition was that practically and substantially they were all agreed as to what they wanted, and the only difficulty was to find the exact expression which would give them what they wanted. It was the duty of everyone to make suggestions for that purpose. The hon. and learned Gentleman had made a suggestion which apparently he thought provided the exact solution required. He thought he could show him that that was not so. Take the case where a public improvement was required—a new street, for instance—and a licence stood in the way—a licence which, if compensated under existing circumstances, would add very materially to the cost of the improvement. Under this Bill, it was quite conceivable that when the licence came up for renewal the magistrates might say, "We are going to take it away because the public interest requires that it shall be removed, and we are going to refer it for compensation to the fund which does not come out of the public pocket but out of the pockets of the trade." Under the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman they could not do that. He thought if they tried to limit the matter as strictly as was suggested they would find that they would arrive at exactly the opposite result to that which they intended, and the number of licences taken away would be less. He thought that the obligation of supplying reasonable refreshments should be imposed upon licence-holders and a definite penalty, which would, no doubt, take the form of a fine, should be provided in the Bill. It would be a 1469 tremendous penalty to take away a man's property and livelihood merely because he had refused or neglected to supply food. He thought that the case of a licence-holder refusing to serve a man because he was wearing His Majesty's uniform would come under the definition of misconduct. If that was not the case, it would be possible on the Report stage so to extend the meaning of "misconduct" as to include cases of that kind. He did not think the object of the Committee would be attained by accepting the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that after the interesting and instructive speech to which they had listened he wished to put one Question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had taken the case of a public improvement and of licensed premises standing in the way of that improvement and he appeared to suggest that under the provisions of the Bill it would be in the power of quarter sessions to take away the licence and give compensation to the ex-licensee out of the fund contributed by the trade. Was he to understand that it was really the view of the right hon. Gentleman that where a licence was withdrawn, because it stood in the way of a public improvement, the compensation would come out of the fund contributed by the trade and not out of the rates.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said that where a licence was withdrawn because it stood in the way of a public improvement the compensation would come out of the rates. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's illustration was an unfortunate one. But they were dealing with the clause as it stood now, and he should be very glad indeed if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stretford, were so strong as to say to the Government that they should recast the clause in such a way as to place an obligation on all licence-holders to provide non-intoxicants and reasonable refreshments. Before the Committee came to a determination on this Amendment, he wanted to know what was the view of the Government upon it. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1470 West Birmingham agreed with those on that side of the House and would like to see an obligation imposed on the licence-holder to supply reasonable refreshments. The Home Secretary, following the Solicitor-General, said that the Government would consider this matter. But what was the matter they were going to consider? Were they agreed to insist that all licence-holders should provide reasonable refreshments?
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
said that what he had stated was that by reason of this Bill certain pressure which the magistrates now put on the licence-holder would be taken away, and that he would consider whether, in lieu of that pressure, the Government might frame a clause which would enable the same object to be carried out by making it compulsory on the licence-holder, where the magistrate? thought fit, to supply these refreshments.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
asked if the Solicitor-General would see that it was put perfectly clearly that the Government were prepared to say that they would put an obligation on the licence-holder to supply reasonable refreshments? That was a very simple, clear, and definite question. If the Government were not in favour of placing any such obligation on the licence-holder, then the Amendment was absolutely necessary. If they were willing, then he thought this was the proper place to deal with it, for they would be dealing with the power which would still remain with the local justices if the licensee did not do his duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that this would be an awful penalty to impose on the licensee if he failed to fulfil this obligation from a mere slip; but the right hon. Gentleman knew that the licensing justices were reasonable men. The licensing justices had been very active in Birmingham, and he was quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman would not say that the licensing justices in that city would not take a reasonable view of this question. At the present moment there was no obligation at all on the licence-holder to supply anything except drink. The Committee would be interested to know that according to decisions there might be an obligation on the part of temperance hotel 1471 keepers to supply reasonable refreshments while these licence-holders were not under obligation to supply soldiers and sailors with food. The substance of the Amendment was of importance. All real temperance reformers wanted to see two things, viz., the improvement of these licensed houses and the moral welfare of the people who went to these houses. Evidence was forthcoming that when a man came to the licensing justices and asked for a licence he made all sorts of promises that he was willing to supply his customers with food, but immediately the licence was granted that was lost sight of, particularly if it was a tied house because all the brewers wanted to make was large profits, and the difficulty was that they did not get as much profit out of food as from intoxicating liquors. When Parliament was giving this monopoly to licence-holders they ought to place them under an obligation to supply food to people who demanded it. It was agreed by everybody, except those on the Front Treasury Bench, that this was a matter which should be left in the discretion of the local justices. The Home Secretary had acquired the excellent power of saying nothing in very many words. He did not say that offensively to the right hon. Gentleman; that was sometimes very necessary when the speaker wished to leave some question indefinite. But nothing could be simpler than the matter with which he and his hon. friends were seeking to deal. He asked finally, was the Government now prepared to say that there should be an obligation on the part of these licensees to supply refreshments, and if there were a breach of that obligation that ought to come within the purview of the licensing magistrates and power be given them to give an absolute refusal of the renewal of the licence without the right of compensation?
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON
said that the Government ought to give their attention to the question about all the licences being granted on exactly the same terms by the local magistrates and by the quarter sessions. If refreshments were systematically refused and only drink supplied, surely that was a case where the licence ought to be taken away. It would be very undesirable to grant new licences without very definite 1472 conditions on this subject; and he thought, therefore, that the Government might undertake to look at the clause again, and see whether it could not be made stronger. He was perfectly certain that a condition of every new licence should be that tea and other refreshments should be supplied; and he did not understand why a provision to that effect should not be put in Clause 1. The Government were taking away the power of the local magistrates, and they ought accordingly to give equal power to the quarter sessions.
§ MR. EDWARDS (Radnor)
said he spoke as one who had suffered in this matter. He had oftentimes found it difficult to get refreshments of a non-alcoholic kind in places which were supposed to be houses of entertainment. These houses were licensed not for the benefit of the publican but for the benefit of the public. It had been said "Oh! If the public-houses will not give you tea, you can go to a tea-house and get it there." But in some country districts with which he was acquainted there was no such thing as a tea-house but there was a public-house. He thought there was a great deal in the remark that had been made that the power of refusing licences on the ground that reasonable refreshment had not been supplied would have the effect of making these houses better conducted than they were now. Exception had been taken by the Solicitor-General that the penalty was too great for such an offence. But he thought the justices might be trusted in this matter. In the past they had done their duty fairly well on the whole. Evidence of that fact was to be found in the Report of the Licensing Commission. They would not outrageously ruin a man's livelihood because a licensee had refused to supply reasonable refreshment on one occasion. It had also been said that it would be hard for a man who had contributed to the compensation fund to receive no part of it. But that point was dealt with in the Bill, because if a man lost his licence through the house being badly conducted, although he contributed to the fund, he would not receive compensation. He cordially supported the Amendment.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
said he thought the hon. Gentleman would be wise if he 1473 withdrew his Amendment. He understood the Government had agreed to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that an obligation should be placed upon licensed victuallers to supply refreshment. The Hone Secretary had stated that the power of magistrates to deal with this question was now taken away, and that the Government proposed to bring in a new clause, under which means would be devised for seeing that reasonable refreshment was provided by licensed holders. He pressed his suggestion still more upon hon. Members opposite, because this was the very thing in the Licensing Bill of 1902 they pressed upon the House. The hon. Member for Leicester spoke to the same effect as the Home Secretary, that the existing power to deal with the question was far too strong and stringent to put into force and he wished the Government to agree to more moderate penalties being placed upon licence-holders if they did not provide reasonable refreshments. He agreed with the Government that the clause they were considering was not a good place to insert the proposal. He trusted they would bring in a clause giving effect to it. If it were Properly drawn it would be one of the greatest temperance reforms ever passed.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he merely wished to ask that a definite answer should be given to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken misapprehended the position because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was not now a member of the Government. That suggestion was that there should he an obligation cast upon the licensed holder to provide reasonable refreshment, and that if he failed to perform the obligation he should be liable to a penalty. He would point out that that suggestion had already been incorporated in the Scottish Act of last year so that there was a precedent which the Government could follow. Section 41 of that Act required the keepers of these houses to provide a sufficient supply of drinking water and eatables as might be laid down by the by-laws. Section 53 laid down that anyone guilty of not providing eatables should be liable to a fine of £5 for the first offence and 1474 £10 for the second offence, with a possible forfeiture of the licence. A very definite suggestion had been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite which was incorporated in the Bill passed last year, and he thought they were entitled to some answer from the Government upon this point, more especially when the suggestion had come from such an influential quarter and when it had been found to work well in another part of the country.
§ SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow,College)
asked whether the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham would be in order if carried out in this Bill, and whether a separate clause could be introduced dealing with this subject.
I do not think it is open in this Bill to amend the Licensing Acts generally because this is a Bill to amend the Licensing Acts only in respect to the extinction of licences and the grant of new licences. Therefore any new clause would have to come within that purview.
§ SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL
Then our only chance of obtaining this clause may be to obtain it at this moment, one, shall feel it my duty to before the Amendment before the House.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
asked if the right hon. Gentleman was correct in his interpretation of the ruling which had just been given.
said that he did not wish to mislead the Committee in any way, but would rather not pronounce an actual opinion until he saw the clause. What he understood was first suggested was that power should be given to the brewster sessions to impose certain conditions upon licensees in respect of the provision of food and drink of a non-alcoholic character. It seemed to him that that might possibly be within the four corners of the Bill, but to put into this Bill proposals for fines and other punishments creating new offences would not come within the four corners of this Bill.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said the Bill was introduced as a temperance measure for the purpose of reducing licences. They were originally told that the magistrates, not having the power to grant compensation, were unwilling to take away licences; now they were told that the magistrates would abuse their power and withdraw licences unreasonably. It should be remembered that in every case there would be the right of appeal to a Court of quarter sessions. There was a contest between the brewers' claims and the public rights, and they asked that the public rights should not be limited. It lay with the Government to define the specific cases in which compensation should be given. The case had been put most admirably by the hon. Member for the Stretford Division. The words which had been suggested by his hon. and learned friend would limit the right of the brewer's claim for compensation, and they appeared to him to meet the exact case of the Bill as originally drawn by the Government. It was not fair to put upon the Opposition, who were defending public rights in this matter, the obligation of singling out every individual infraction of those rights, and it was the duty of the Government to carry out the pledges which they gave when the measure was introduced. Those pledges were that they only proposed to give compensation where the licence was taken away through no fault of the holder. Where the licence would be taken away owing to the default of the owner was not a case in which compensation should be given. If the Government did not respond to the appeal which had been made, with all respect he ventured to say that they were departing from the pledges which were given when the Bill was brought in.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that after the course which the debate had taken it was quite necessary that they should come to a definite understanding as to what the position of the Government was. Numerous appeals had been made to the Government from their own side to deal with this matter in the sense, if not in the terms, of this Amendment. In view of the ruling which had been given, it was clear that it was only in the first clause that the safeguards 1476 which both sides regarded as essential could possibly be introduced. He did not wish in the least to pledge the. Government to the words of his hon friend's Amendment, which were not very artistic in form, although their substance was excellent. It was quite possible that the Amendment ought to come rather later in the clause. He suggested that they should report Progress in order that the Government might have an opportunity between then and tomorrow of considering the best form of Amendment.
said the Government had already stated, in view of the wish of the Committee that any liability which there was on the licensee to supply food and drink of a nonalcoholic character should be enforced if possible, that it would be most satisfactory, and they were quite willing to bring up words to deal with, the question at a later stage of the Bill. But they could not accept this Amendment, because it would place upon the licensee an absolutely intolerable penalty. They agreed with the gist of the Amendment, however; and if, on consideration, they could incorporate words to enable the justices to make such a stipulation in future, they would be prepared to do it. He hoped he had made clear what was the offer of the Government, that they would consider either a clause or an Amendment to carry out the wish which had been expressed on both sides of the House, although they could not accept the present Amendment.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he could not allow to pass without protest the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Amendment of his hon. friend, if carried, would impose a penalty of any kind. It did nothing of the sort. The effect of the Amendment was merely to retain the power which the magistrates already possessed to stipulate, when application was made for a renewal of a licence, that the licensee should provide reasonable refreshment to all persons. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to pledge the Government to bring up a form of words which, in their view, would carry out the wish of the Committee that this 1477 should be regarded in future as one of the obligations which the licensee took upon himself, and that if that obligation was not fulfilled the withdrawal of the licence without any compensation would necessarily follow. He understood that to be the position of the Government [MINISTERIAL cries of "No"]; he was in the recollection of the Committee. As there still seemed so much possibility of misunderstanding he thought the best course would be to report Progress. He therefore moved.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this eveing.