§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [9th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Which Amendment was—
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Burt.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
, continuing his speech, said he understood that the principle was accepted by a majority of the House that something must be done. If, to take an extreme case, the magistrates at brewster sessions decided to reduce the licences throughout the country by one-half, and on appeal to quarter sessions their decisions were confirmed, he believed that even the hon. Member for Carnarvon would admit the a clear case existed either for compensation or for some form of equitable treatment. He was convinced that it was the feeling of an overwhelming majority 966 of the House that equity demanded that where licences were taken away compensation of some kind should be given. Some might favour the scheme embodied in that Bill, others might be in favour of a time limit, and others might prefer a combination of both, but he was convinced that neither the House nor the country was so oblivious to the primary instinct of justice as to desire to take away without compensation the interests of those who had entered into the licensed trade in the belief that they would meet with fair treatment and good faith on the part of the House of Commons. He believed there was substantial agreement on that point. All they had to examine was whether the methods of applying the principle of compensation under this Bill were such as would weaken or strengthen control over the trade.
He was in favour of reduction in the number of licences, believing that it would lead to a diminution of drinking. He believed, also, that the surplus house which had to contend with the keen competition of its neighbours was the worst kind of house that could be kept up, because, owing to that very competition, it was compelled sometimes to minister to drunkenness and debauchery in order to secure a few years of precarious existence. The Colonial Secretary had alluded to the redactions which had already taken place in Liverpool. Liverpool had taken the front rank in that movement, and while the magistrates there might have made mistakes, just as magistrates in other parts of the country might have done, on the whole they had endeavoured to do their duty. The point to be considered was whether this Bill would enable them to pursue their work, and whether it would be facilitated or delayed. In Liverpool during the last twelve years the total reduction from all causes had been 493 licences, an average of about forty per annum. According to a calculation made by the clerk to the Liverpool justices it was estimated that if this Bill passed, the reduction in the first year would be seventy licences. The clerk had, however, only taken the average value of a licence at £500, which seemed ridiculously small. Still he thought that if the Bill passed the work of suppression would go on with 967 greater celerity than it had done in the past. The magistrates being able to grant compensation would not be restrained by a feeling that they were acting unfairly to those whose licences they refused to renew, and they would, he hoped, proceed to put the provisions of the Bill into operation. The Solicitor-General had spoken of the haphazard fashion in which at present licences were taken away as resembling a game of pitch-and-toss or a lottery, but he failed to perceive how this Bill would make a change in their methods in that respect. Under the Bill the compensation cases, the cases of redundant licences, would be heard by the whole Bench of magistrates in county boroughs, and then referred to a committee of the magistrates with the addition of the recorder as chairman. He did not understand that provision. It was said that the addition of the recorder would confer a judicial atmosphere which was needed but he thought that, in taking away redundant licences, what was required was not so much a judicial atmosphere as acquaintance with local conditions. He suggested as an Amendment to the Bill that the provisions in regard to dealing with redundant licences should be reversed, and that those cases should be considered first by the committee, who could make themselves acquainted with the condition prevailing in large centres, and that their decision should go on appeal to the whole body of magistrates.
There had been considerable discussion in regard to a time limit, and the Colonial Secretary had attempted to make out a case against it, and had said that the measure would require remodelling if such a limit were introduced. He felt very strongly that the right hon. Gentleman did not make out his case. It was true that if a time limit were imposed those who had licences would be paving during whatever period might be fixed towards the compensation fund, and those who survived would he paying out of the fund for the extinction of their weaker neighbour; but, on the other hand, they would be receiving automatic compensation in the form of the trade of those houses whose licences were extinguished, unless it were assumed that drinking would diminish in exact ratio to the number of licences extinguished, a 968 point upon which he did not profess to dogmatise. Could it with any satisfaction be considered that the House should convert into an absolutely statutory freehold what was to-day only a precarious tenure with a certain moral claim to equitable treatment? There was another point in the Bill which, looking to the future, required consideration. That was the provision which enabled the magistrates to grant new licences as against the transfer of licences in congested districts. The result of that might be that they would find competition in new districts, and those brewers who happened to be favoured with licences to surrender in the older parts of the town would be in the best position. That might not work altogether for the benefit of the community. It might militate against such a trust as Earl Grey's Trust, which, having no licences to offer, might be unable to bid before the magistrates. Taking the whole circumstances into account, he felt very strongly that this Bill could not receive his support unless something in the nature of a time limit was introduced into it. He felt very strongly that while they desired to act equitably towards the trade and to secure it against anything like ill-treatment, hasty eviction, or partial proceedings of any kind, they had also a duty to the community at large. For his own part he should not feel satisfied that he had performed his duty if no opportunity were offered in the Bill for a review at a future period of the situation as between the community and the trade. Some time might elapse before the full effects of the Bill were realised, and it might be desirable in the interests of the community and of the trade that an opportunity should be given for a complete review of the position at the expiration of a definite term of years. He was most anxious to see something done to facilitate a reduction of licences, and he was most anxious to see magistrates enabled to proceed with that work unhampered by a sense of committing injustice; but at the same time he felt most strongly that whatever they did in that session should not close the book, as this Bill appeared to close it, upon the great cause of temperance reform, but 969 that a definite provision should be inserted in the Bill so that they, or their children at any rate, should have an opportunity of reverting to the status quo.
§ * MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
said that in the short space of time which had elapsed since this Bill was introduced he had received petitions, resolutions, letters, and telegrams from his constituents to an extent unequalled in his experience. His first objection to the Bill was that, as regarded the magisterial attitude and action, it was wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable. They had had statistics given by the hon. Member for Spen Valley, showing what the result of the magisterial action had been, and he asked upon what ground this agitation had been started? It would not be incorrect to say that the total number of licences taken away because they were not required would not exceed 180 out of 130,000. One would think that the magistrates, previous to this, had not been acting in a similiar manner. In Liverpool, however, between 1889 and 1902 the actual reduction in licences was 345. The result was that the annual arrests for drunkenness fell from 15,042 to 4,180, and the number of the police were reduced by one hundred, despite that there was a continuously increasing population. In the case of Blackburn, too, the number of licences had been reduced from 599 in 1883 to 417 in the present year; the number of convictions of licence-holders had fallen from thirty-nine to seven, and the number of prosecutions for drunkenness had decreased from 989 to 624, this despite the fact that within the period named the population had increased in number by 30,000. Could anyone say that the action of the magistrates in those great cities had been anything but beneficial? The Colonial Secretary in his speech on the previous day said that those on the Liberal side of the House opposed compensation, and he dwelt on the grave injury which would be inflicted on the bona-fide owner of a free house who suffered because there were too many public-houses in the district. He did not think that there was any ground for supposing that such a licence would be selected by the magistrates when the 970 time came for a reduction when the great majority of licences would belong to a great brewery company. He did not think anyone would say that such a case would not be a hardship, and that he would not be entitled to compensation out of the funds provided for the extinction of the licence.
It seemed to him that there was one obvious answer in regard to compensation, and that was that the trade should insure for the whole of their property. He should like to give the House an apposite instance of what happened under the Workman's Compensation Act of 1897. It was pointed out with great force that the provisions of the Act might bear very hardly on good employers. In the case of colliery owners, they might spare no pains, trouble, and expense to preserve the lives and limbs of their employees, but it was impossible to prevent a careless and negligent man occasionally taking a match into the mine, striking it, and causing an explosion. It was very hard that the employers who had done their best to prevent it should be mulcted in damages for the act of that man. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham or of Sir Matthew White Ridley was that employers had their remedy in insurance. He could say, as the director of a large colliery, that they insured for every risk and that accidents were hardly known. The insurance came to about a halfpenny per ton on the output. There never was a case in which insurance was so obviously the recourse of a trade as that of the liquor traffic. They had a monopoly and were practically protected from competition from the outside, and, therefore, every licence taken away enhanced the value of the monopoly and enabled them to contribute to the compensation of those who were refused renewals on grounds of public policy. The Colonial Secretary also said that quarter sesssions would be a more just, firm, and able administrative body in the case of reductions than the petty sessional bench because, forsooth, the latter was composed of amiable gentlemen who played cricket or engaged in other sports with the licensees and would, therefore, not be so able or willing to 971 enforce the law as the magistrates of I quarter sessions. It was the first time he had heard that such a state of things existed. His experience was that petty sessions knew the requirements of a neighbourhood and the blemishes of certain public-houses, but when they refused a licence they found that their decision was over-ruled by quarter sessions, the magistrates who sat in the first instance being precluded by usage from sitting on the case in the Court Of quarter seasons. It seemed to him that neither of the positions taken up by the right hon. Gentleman would hold water for a moment. What houses were threatened under magisterial action? Certainly not the large hotels and restaurants. It was the mere drinking shops that did such infinite harm in the country. He opposed this Bill because he believed that it would not promote sobriety or temperance, but rather entrench the trade more firmly than ever, that it would give practically a freehold and make more difficult and costly the reduction of licences.
§ * SIR THOMAS DEWAR (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said he considered this Bill was well conceived and cleverly drafted, and so far as the complications which had been set up through the decisions of the High Court during the past ten years could be met, the Bill would serve that purpose. Although the Bill had not been received with enthusiasm by those in whose favour it had been drafted, they recognised that it established a compulsory mutual insurance to be carried on through the machinery of Somerset House, to recompense within the limits of the fund raised the proprietors of licences which were extinguished to meet local popular ideas. Much had been said about the power being taken away from brewster sessions and given to quarter sessions, but it was obvious that they would still be able to co-operate for the destruction of property without calling on the limited fund at their control, because the continuance of a licence would still depend on the good conduct of a tenant, failing which there was to be no compensation. Although the Bill was not exactly all that could he desired, he recognised that the Home Secretary had done the best he could 972 with a most difficult problem. When this Bill passed into law a licence would be worth something while the proprietor was alive—a very different state of things from what had existed in the past when a licence was worth nothing until his death, when the authorities came to levy death duties on his estate. The question of reduction of licences was not one affecting the brewers and temperance party only. Licences were established for the convenience of the public, and if a greater number were taken away than the public cared about a revulsion of feeling might set in as happened in 1830, when no less than 30,000 licences were established in a short space of time. History might repeat itself, and they might find themselves in the same position. He considered the action of the magistrates in the past was in a great measure responsible for the complicated position to-day. With some Amendments in Committee this Bill should go a long way to alleviate the distress which had existed in the minds of thousands of licence-holders for many years. It should inspire confidence and encourage a better and a more substantial class of men to carry on and continue in the business. Two great principles were embodied in the Bill—security of holding, and compensation, and although the compensation was to come from the compensated, yet for the sake of compromise they were resigned to the position, trusting that the money subscribed would not be handed over for the purpose of technical education, or to enable the London County Council to construct tramways on the Embankment or over Westminster Bridge. He believed if the measure introduced thirteen years ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon and Lord Goschen had passed into law there would have been at least 10,000 less licences in England cow. He supported this Bill because he believed it represented a fair compromise as between the public and the publicans.
§ MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)
said he was delighted to follow the hon. Member for St. George's, because he did not think there was a place in the kingdom that could equal St. George's-in-the-East for poverty and public-houses. He went further. He did not think there was a 973 place in the kingdom where there was so many tied houses. He thought the Bill ought to be re-named. It ought to be called the Brewers' Endowment Bill. They could not make it anything else, because everyone who had spoken had said that there was property in a licence, and that the licence-holder ought to be compensated. But the licence-holder would not get any compensation in 90 per cent. of the cases under this Bill. If the poor publican's measures were short he was summoned and fined, but a brewer might send him a short measure and somehow the law supported him in that. He could do it with impunity. There were gentlemen in this House connected with the business who could corroborate that statement.
He had a few questions to put to the Home Secretary. First of all, if petty sessions could only make a recommendation for the extinction of a licence to quarter sessions, would they have to vote on the question in quarter sessions, and if not why not? They had as much right to go up and vote for the recommendation as Members of this House had to vote for the recommendation of a Committee of which they were members. He wished also to ask who was going to fix the value of these houses. Everyone knew that the question of £1,000,000 a year was a mere blind. It would not close many houses, if any at all. How was the valuation to be arrived at? Would the valuation be arrived at for the purposes of compensation or the purposes of assessment? The law had settled long ago that no portion of a premium paid for goodwill could be rated. He instanced a case in which £3,000 was paid for the goodwill and £3,000 for the ordinary lease. Probably the occupier only put in £500 in actual cash, £5,500 being lent to him by the brewers or distillers. A large number of licence-holders were mere tenants at will, and could be turned out at almost a minute's notice. Would the Home Secretary state for the information of the House the number of licence-holders who were in that position? In connection with transactions of this kind brewers were unwilling to write the capital down, but they had not been unwilling to reduce the interest on the capital. The Bill endowed the brewers beyond all their wildest dreams. 974 It was said that the teetotalers went for the publican as if he were a hunted beast; but when the publican found he could not pay his way, and approached the brewer to tell him so, what did the brewer say? "Get out." "But," said the tenant, "cannot I put this house on the market and sell it?" "What do you mean?" said the brewer. "It is our house; get out as soon as you can, otherwise we shall take steps to recover the £5,500 we lent you." And the man was glad to get out with the total loss of the £500 which he had put into the business. Let it be supposed that it had been decided to shut up this particular house as unnecessary. The publican who had the property in the licence found himself bought out, and he went down to the brewers for his share of the compensation in respect of his original investments of £500. The value of the house for the purpose of compensation would be the assessment value, that was to say, £3,000. The brewer would say to the publican. "You want to share this £3,000, do you? Why, when you went into that house it was worth £6,000. Moreover, we hold your acknowledgment of a debt to us of £5,500. You pay that debt before you get a share of this compensation." He never found a brewer to give anything away, and when the division of the spoil came along, the poor licence-holder would get nothing from it. A man who had a freehold house was quite a different person altogether. He had a letter from a publican who had a free house, in which he stated that a London firm of brewers who owned 1,500 tied houses, had offered to sell him beer at 15s. a barrel less than they charged for the beer supplied to their own tied houses. That was how the brewery companies ran up their big dividends.
The proposal of the surrender of old licences for new ones was like' the tale of selling new lamps for old ones. There were many which were an absolute loss to the brewers and distillers, but they were kept open because they had a licence, and that licence was property, and it had a value. He knew of a case in which three licences were surrendered for one. The brewers had put men in these three houses at a weekly wage, to keep the licences alive. 975 The only customers were the brewers themselves. Then the brewers went before the magistrates and moralised about the virtue of keeping the number of licences down. They said they were anxious to assist the Bench to the fullest extent to reduce the number of licences, and that they were prepared to make a sacrifice. They laid an emphasis on the word "sacrifice." They would sacrifice three licences if the magistrates would grant them one licence for a tavern in a most respectable neighbourhood. The tavern was situated in a working-class district, and when the workman was tired he did not want to travel far for his beer, and, of course, it was in the interest of the working man that the licence should be granted. And the Bench was touched visibly. The emotion of the chairman was as much as he could bear, and he said—We accept with gratitude the broad-minded views expressed by you in the interests of the morality of this poor district, and we are delighted that you should join in this movement for the reduction of licences. I am merely echoing the sentiments of my colleagues on the Bench when I say that your action is a matter for great congratulation.The three licences were surrendered, and one was given in exchange, and they all shook hands and left the court. Aye, but what became of the three poor fellows who had the property in the licence? One obtained a job at a guinea a week, and another got an order for the workhouse. He had not heard what had become of the third, possibly he might be in the river. He had not heard that any of them had received compensation. If they were to have temperance legislation, if they were to have a Licensing Bill, let them have a Bill to deal with the people who were injured, not to compensate those who had already too much. This, indeed, would be a brewers' endowment Bill. If these licences were as valuable as they had been represented to be, it was strange that they changed hands so frequently as they did. It was not the publicans' side of the question that had been put before the House, but only the brewers' side. The brewers were rich, had enormous influence, and could get their case pleaded most eloquently; but the fact was that the man who owned the property in the way of a licence was a mere tool in the hands 976 of the brewers, and under this Bill ha would be in a worse position than ever before. To sum up, if a licensed house had the value that the brewer put upon it, then the House should insist upon his paying rates on that value. There ought also to be a Return showing the number of servants employed on licensed premises. This was a Bill imposed on tired and weary men by clever people, who were going to make much out of it, and safeguard their own interests. The tired and weary men said they should be glad when the Bill was finished, and for goodness sake let it be pushed through the House. He hoped the House would push it out.
§ MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said he thought the House was indebted to the hon. Member for Woolwich for his brilliant and eloquent speech. It contrasted favourably with the speech of the hon. Member who first-spoke from his own side of the House, a Gentleman who was a considerable authority on this question and was largely interested in the trade, and those in whose interests the Bill had been drafted. He did not think that any measure had ever been introduced making a revolutionary change in a system which had prevailed for centuries that had so little justification. For three-and-a-half centuries, licences had been granted for one year, and one year only, so far as the law was concerned, and now it was proposed to convert those licences into a permanent freehold. And what was the ground for that? It was alleged that certain individuals might suffer losses which they could not have anticipated, owing to the action of the magistrates. Examples of eases of hardship had been brought before the licensing magistrates by Sir Ralph Littler, and other cases had been cited by the President of the Licensed Victuallers' National Defence League, when the Prime Minister received a deputation from that body. In not one of the cases, to which he would refer, would the individual licensee have received one farthing compensation under this Bill. One of the cases brought forward was that of a poor widow who was said to have spent £790 in order to meet the requirements of the licensing magistrate s. Now Lord Peel pointed out that this £790 977 had not been spent by the poor widow at all, but by a firm of brewers, so that it was clear that the poor widow could not recover under the Bill money which she had never expended. The only answer that Sir Ralph Littler could give to that statement was, that it did not matter whether the money was paid by the brewers or by the widow; that it would he no consolation to Lord Peel if his house had been broken into by burglars to be told that the money taken by the burglars was not his but his butler's. The loss to the brewers' company had been amply covered by their other gains, and it showed to what straits the defenders of the trade were put when they brought forward this case as if there had been a loss of a large sum by a poor widow. The other case mentioned by Sir Ralph Littler was that of a man who paid £200 on going into the house. But Lord Peel showed that on the man's own evidence he had paid nothing at all for the goodwill, but for furniture and fittings, and in this case the man would receive no compensation under the Bill. So much for Sir Ralph Littler's cases. The first speaker from the deputation to the Prime Minister was Mr. Morrell, President of the Licensed Victuallers' Defence League, who said—I feel justified in demanding protection on behalf of the licence-holders of the country from such iniquitous interference. I would like to show by a few examples the cruel wrong done to licence-holders, whose property is taken away for no misconduct, inasmuch as they have for years conducted their houses properly as law-abiding citizens. (1) F. Beeston, owner and occupier of the 'Swan Inn,' fully licenced, Basingstoke. House left to him by his father thirty years ago, in whose possession it had previously been for about forty years. During the whole of the seventy years, there had been no conviction or complaint from the place. At the brewster sessions the licence was taken away on the ground that it was not required.Now this case as presented had no aspect of the tied house about it, and one would suppose that the licensed premises was a real old-fashioned inn. But the House would be surprised to hear that the man Beeston was not the occupant of the premises. He was a wheelwright at Hook, six miles from Basingstoke. The occupier of the premises for over thirty years was a Mistress Barnes, a widow, and the house, which was very old, was leased to the Farnham 978 United Brewerics Company, Ltd. The lease held by that company had expired on the previous November, and they continued to hold the house on a yearly tenancy. Now what compensation under this Bill would the licensee of that house get when the Breweries Company only held it as a yearly tenant? Another case quoted by Mr. Morrell was—Walter Hill, tenant and owner of the 'Tanners Arms,' Canterbury, over eighty years of age. Licence refused in consequence of the house not being structurally adapted, and because of advanced age of licensee, and on grounds of non-requirement. Mr. Hill had conducted the house without any complaint from the police for upwards of fifty years.What were the facts? The licensee's name was not Hill, but Sutton. He was an old man of over eighty years of age, so infirm and unfit to conduct any business whatever that those who saw him in Court had no doubt as to whether the magistrates could regard him as a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The evidence given by the city surveyor showed that the house was unfit for habitation, that its sanitary condition was very bad, and, as the chairman put it, it was contended that the house could only be made structurally fit by complete rebuilding. The man's age and infirmities were such, that the police said that practically the house was without a responsible head at all, and that if only one tipsy man made a disturbance in it there would be no person there who could deal with it. For a long time there had been practically no trade, and Sutton, who was the owner of the house, apparently wished to end his days in the place, and so was unwilling to hand over the house to anyone else. There were half a dozen houses within 130 yards, but the magistrates did not appear to take special cognisance of this latter fact as they refused the licence on the ground that Sutton's age and infirmities, coupled with the fact that he had no one except himself to deal with the trade at all, rendered him unfit to hold a licence. Could anyone believe that under such conditions any compensation could be received under the Bill? It was a striking proof of the great discretion or moderation of the magistrates, or, as bethought, of the practical universality of insurance, that when Sir Ralph Littler tried to put 979 the case at its best and when a great deputation came before the Prime Minister to give special cases of hardship, hey could not name one instance of such hardship as a measure like the present would meet.
They had been told that the measure had been introduced for the purpose of reducing the number of licences, and after the very important speech by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley he would not deal with the cases of particular districts. He would only say that the eases cited could not be disproved. The hon. Member for Yo k had charged Mr. Arthur Chamberlain with ridiculous exaggeration in the figures he had used as to the value of licences which wore refused renewal at Birmingham, but the hon. Member should have spoken more respectfully of them, because they were the figures of the chairman of a brewery company. That gentleman, the chairman of the Holt Brewery Company, at the annual meeting of the shareholders la t February, said the cost ran from £1,350 per house in one area to £2,050 in another, and if that was the value of such houses in Birmingham it would be difficult to show that it would be less in a city like Liverpool. One Gentleman who always addressed the House with considerable authority upon matters of this sort—the right hon. Member for Ripon—put before them the exact facts with regard to cases which had come before him as chairman of quarter sessions. He gave two illustrations which were calculated to throw some light on the matter, and which bore out the figures quoted by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley. The estimates were based on the idea that town licences were worth £1,000 and country ones £500. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of two cases in which he would have refused renewal had he had the power proposed to be conferred by this Bill. In one case the tenant had spent £300 in putting the premises in order to meet the requirements of the magistrates, and that £300 represented the minimum; there was to be added to it the value of the goodwill. In the other case the tenant had invested £1,000 of his own and had borrowed £1,400, so that the value was £2,400. They had enough evidence of the general character of this Bill to prevent anyone 980 voting for it on the ground that it would reduce the number of licences. If it would reduce licences it would not have been introduced with arguments designed to prove that a reduction of licences did not mean a reduction of intemperance.
One of the most serious aspects of this question was the deliberate offer of the trade to support whichever Party would give it this thing. One of the leaders of the trade, who had been described as the "Lord Roberts" of the campaign, declared he did not think anybody would say that the trade were unreasonable in their demand, but the trade had to be reckoned with, and any Government which treated it fairly might depend on its support. His own opinion was, however, that it was only the Conservative and Unionist Party that was likely to treat the trade fairly. That was a striking illustration of the kind of pressure the trade exercised. The Secretary for India had indulged, too, in a significant criticism. Referring to the pledges given in the past, the right hon. Gentleman coolly declared—according to the Licensing World that—The position of affairs was now wholly altered,and that the alteration consisted of the fact that it had been discovered that, as the law now stood—Licences could be taken away by magistrates without any other cause than that there were too many in a particular district.A more absurd and puerile excuse for backing out of a distinct pledge was never put forward.said the Licensing World—the fact, that magistrates had the power to refuse the renewal of licences on the ground that they were not wanted was known to every intelligent individual long before Mr. Brodrick entered upon his political career.He felt that a measure of this character, brought forward under such conditions, was a discreditable measure. He was very anxious that the intensity of his feeling should not betray him into too strong language, but he did say that if the Government had realised the sin and the sorrow connected with this question, as the ought to have done, such a measure would never have been brought before the House.
§ * MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
said the House had listened to three very remarkable speeches—all of them extremely 981 illuminating. He certainly never heard anything so illuminating as the speech of the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East. He would try not to misinterpret the hon. Member, so he had taken down his words. He told them that the Bill was well conceived and well drafted, although it had not been well received by those in whose favour it had been drawn. He told them, too, that the licenses were worth nothing while the licensees were alive. Could a more convincing argument have been put into the hands of the hon. Member for Camborne when he desired to prove that licences were worth nothing at all. The hon. Member admitted, too, that licences existed for the convenience of the public, and he added that the distrust in the minds of the owners of the licences was alleviated somewhat by the promises offered in the Bill. All these were exactly the kind of statements which the temperance party made most use of. The hon. Member for Woolwich threw a very strong light in his speech on the point of view of the tenants of tied houses. One of the great complaints to be made against the Bill was that no account was taken of, and no attempt was made to remedy, the wretched and abominable system of tied houses which had grown up to so large an extent in this country. Then they Lad had from the hon. Member for the Tradeston Division of Glasgow the first really outspoken temperance speech from the Government side of the House—a speech which had given them great pleasure. He was going to follow the example set by other speakers—although he was not sure it was a good one—of saying what his exact position was. He was not a teetotaler, but he looked at the question from the standpoint of a magistrate, and of a director of a public-house trust. He could not understand why such an enormous amount of time had been wasted in trying to prove that compensation was necessary. He could not conceive that any scheme could not accepted by that House unless there was some measure of compensation, and all this talk about compensation was a mere waste of time except in so far as it was directed to the amount that was to be raised and how it was to be applied.
§ * MR. EMMOTT
said he suffered long ago on the question of compensation. Twenty-five years since he presided at a temperance lecture, and then expressed an opinion that whenever this question was settled compensation would have to given, and subsequently the whole of the lecture was directed against him for having made that remark. Still lie remained of the same opinion. Both sides, he believed, were honestly anxious for reform in this matter. Hon. Member after hon. Member opposite had advocated a time limit. He hoped it might be possible to introduce such a limit. He should support it if it were introduced, but he would point out that in so doing they would be introducing something which was entirely different from the basis on which the Bill was now laid down. The meaning of the Bill was that they were to make a small reduction of licences, but were to leave the monopoly in the hands of those who now possessed it. But the essence of a time limit was that at the expiry of the period the licensing authority should be at liberty to give the licences to whomsoever it pleased, and it would not be likely to give them to those who would again create a monopoly. Therefore, the introduction of a time limit would knock the original idea of the Bill out of time altogether. He was in favour of a time limit, because he did not see how any real temperance reform could take place unless the liquor trade was controlled by the public for the public. Much light had been thrown on this question by the Reports of the Royal Commission, the epoch-making works of Messrs. Sherwell and Rowntree, and the experiments of the Public-house Trust. His conclusions were that local veto could at best he but a partial remedy, and that high licence duties would be a temptation to the publican to push the sale of drink in order to make up the amount of the increased tax. Their ideal should be that no private person should be interested in pushing the sale of drink; that nobody interested in public-houses should feel that he must support one political Party or the other because of his trade. The association of trade with politics had a corrupting influence which both Parties would be glad to get rid of, In the next place the profits ought to go 983 to the Exchequer, or in providing counter attractions; and, lastly, it ought to be clearly laid down that they were not going to allow public-houses for people to sit in solely for the purpose of drinking. Those were the ideals at which they ought to aim; and it was obviously manifest that in order to achieve those ideals they must get rid of the present monopoly. No one would recommend that it should be bought out by public money; and they must either have a time limit or a scheme of rapid reduction with compensation. He did not believe they could achieve any real reform without some scheme of compensation.
At present they had a system of licensing which, with the exception of the ante-1869 beerhouses, made licences renewable at discretion every year; but although they need not be renewed the practice was to renew them with three or four exceptions in every thousand. They also had this most important consideration, that owing to reductions in the number of public-houses the trade had become more valuable; and therefore there was an unearned increment in the trade. This Bill proposed to establish a vested interest. It would put practically all licences in the position of the ante-1869 beerhouses. On the other hand it taxed the trade for a small compensation fund. Estimates had been given as to what that tax would achieve in the way of reduction. The figures given by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain had been called into question; but he proposed to put the matter in the most favourable light he could. Assuming that the £1,200,000 was to be capitalised, he would sk how many public-houses could be extinguished. It would not pay for more than 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. of the existing licences, or, at any rate, not more than 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. of the total value of existing licences; and the result would be that the remaining 75 per cent. or 80 per cent. would have an increased value and their holders would still be interested in pushing the sale of drink, which was a system they ought to try and get rid of, if they could. Further, if the Bill passed, it would be a great many years before Parliament could touch the subject again. Under those circumstances, the 984 tax proposed in the Bill was practically no tax at all, because of the increased value which the licences left would possess. But instead of capitalising the tax, if it were used year by year for buying out licences, what would be the result in ten or fifteen years? How was the system of valuation going to be carried out? How was a house going to be valued as if the Bill had not been passed? He knew of no precedent for that. There was a precedent in Wales where the people were refusing to pay rates for educational purposes, just as if the Bill of 1902 had never been passed; but the Government did not sympathise with their action, and beyond that he knew of no precedent for levying rates or making valuations as if a certain Act had not been passed. He did not believe in the practicability of it. As far as he could see the only way of carrying out such a system was to value the licensed houses here and now and to provide that they could be bought out at any time at the valuation at which they stood at present. Otherwise, he did not see how the Bill would work.
There was also the unearned increment to be considered. The value of the houses would be increased, and that was why they contended, as moderate reformers, that this Bill was really not a reform at all, or, at any rate, was not a reform which would bring about in a reasonable time the abolition of private monopoly of the drink traffic, but that in a sense it rivetted the trade more firmly on the shoulders of the public by making the introduction of a time limit more difficult in the future than in the past. They were told that a time limit would be no use; and that at the end of it the position of things would be just as they were to-day. He maintained that the resources of civilisation were not exhausted; and that it was quite possible to draw up legisation by which the real ownership of licences should, after a stated period, be given into the hands of those who would work them under the general principles of the Publichouse Trust and devote the profits to pubic purposes. It had been said that the limits of the taxation of the trade had by no means been reached in this Bill, 985 and that as regarded the time limit there were other ways of dealing with that question. An hon. Gentleman opposite suggested that the compensation fund might be larger. After all, the trade was a monopoly; and they were all agreed that in regard to a commodity which was of a monopoly character the consumer did pay the tax, and if the consumer paid, the compensation fund ought to be larger than was suggested in the Bill and ought to be raised compulsorily. The whole of the fund need not be used for extinguishing licences and, a part of it might be available at the expiration of a time limit for the then holders of licences, and with regard to its division, if the licence-holders could not agree, they could employ arbitrators to decide for them. What he wished to point out was that if the time limit were really necessary and were the only real remedy, it could be put in this Bill or some other Bill; and if they wished at some future time to get rid of this private monopoly they should work all they could for a time limit. If the Government were going to stick to the Bill as it was, if they were prepared to maintain the present monopoly and merely curtail the number of licences, they would not solve the difficulty.
So far he had appealed to hon. Gentlemen who really desired temperance reform. He now wished to refer to the two Ministers who were chiefly responsible for the Bill, namely, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. Although he could understand the position of hon. Gentlemen who intended to vote for the Bill yet desired a time limit, he could not understand the position of the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary. The Prime Minister, on the First Reading, said that one of the great reasons for the Bill was, that if greater certainty were introduced as regarded the renewal of licences, the tenants would he of a more respectable character. He wished the Prime Minister had been present when his hon. friend the Member for Woolwich was speaking. His hon. friend put his finger on the cause of the non-respectability of many publicans. The tied-house system constituted a state of things which was a menace to public morality and which 986 ought to be forcibly put down. He was quite sure that the Prime Minister did not understand the question at all if he maintained that this Bill would increase the respectability of the tenants, as long as the tied-house system remained untouched. In the borough of Crewe, the magistrates had been making great efforts to deal with the system and had really brought about a great improvement. Again the Prime Minister admitted the other day that he knew nothing of the notorious scandals which had occurred because of a section of the trade in Manchester attempting to corrupt the police. He did not bring it forward as a charge against the Prime Minister, but he did say that the Prime Minister held his ears very wide open to the woes of the brewers, but had not considered the other side of the question—the serious side of the question as displayed by the scandals which had occurred in his own constituency, and which were worthy of the attention of anyone who looked at the question all round. There also appeared to be confusion in the mind of the Prime Minister as to the administrative and judicial functions of the Licensing Bench. The Prime Minister actually invited quarter sessions to refuse to confirm the decisions of brewster sessions in regard to the diminution of public-houses. He entirely agreed with what was said by an hon. Gentleman opposite with reference to the scandalous way in which the Benches at quarter sessions were packed. He received a few years ago a letter asking him to attend at quarter sessions to vote against the renewal of a licence and he replied somewhat angrily that a letter such as that would induce him to vote for the renewal. When he attended quarter sessions he tried to cultivate a judicial frame of mind and to decide all cases on their merits. He thought the Prime Minister took a wrong; view altogether in the advice he gave quarter sessions, became quarter sessions ought to regard those questions in a judicial spirit and not as an administrative matter.
The Home Secretary in introducing the Bill said he saw no relation between the number of licences and drunkenness, and when he was asked why then 987 was the Bill introduced, he replied—with what struck him as a woman's reason—because it was desirable that such a reduction should take place. Surely that was the essence of the matter, and surely there was sufficient information to enable the right hon. Gentleman to give a better answer. What about the first half of the eighteenth century, the time of cheap drink? Again, from 1790 to 1820 there was a great diminution of crime which was directly attributable to a diminution in the liquor traffic, and after 1810 was there not a great increase in drunkenness and crime caused by the free trade in licences? There was ample information to show that there was a direct relationship between careful administration and a diminution of licences and the diminution of drunkenness. If there was not a relation between the number of licensed houses and drunkenness, why was the intelligence of the House insulted, and its time wasted, by bringing in a Bill whose main purpose was said to be the reduction of licences.
There were many details in the Bill which he regarded as very serious, but the most serious criticism he had to offer in regard to it was that the discretion and power of the local justices in petty sessions would be enormously interfered with. It was well known that five years before the Child Messenger Act was passed the Liverpool justices had enforced its principle simply by telling the publicans that if they did not enforce it their licences would be taken away. Publicans now gave promises at brewster sessions, because they knew that the magistrates had the power of enforcing the reforms they desired. That power was now to be taken away; and that was one of the most serious blots on the Bill. 988 It was with regret that he would oppose the Bill. If this were the only way of providing for a reduction of licences he agreed with his hon. friend the Member for Leith Burghs, who made an excellent speech, that he should have felt bound to support it. In a sense the Bill was better than nothing; but he believed that there was a much better way of bringing about the reforms they all desired. The Bill put a barrier in the broad way on which he preferred to travel. It placed no assignable end which any man could foresee to the principle of private monopoly, which they all professed should be got rid of, and, in these circumstances, he was somewhat reluctantly forced to vote against the Second Reading.
§ * MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
said the hon. Gentleman for Oldham had delivered a very carefully reasoned speech against the Bill. The hon. Gentleman's object and his object were not very different; yet he should support the Bill and he would tell the House why. The hon. Gentleman conceded, what had not been generally conceded by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that in dealing with the question of the reduction of licences there must be compensation. He (Mr. Hobhouse) conceived that the principle of the Bill was to establish a compensation fund with a view to reducing the number of licensed houses; and it was on that principle that he would support the Bill. There had been for many years past a strong desire in this country to reduce the number of public-houses; and they all knew how many abortive attempts had been made in this direction by both Parties. If that were so, was it not a little unwise to throw 989 away what might be a favourable opportunity of doing something in this direction. He himself did not approve of many of the clauses of the Bill. He should vote for the Second Reading in the hope that important alterations would be made in Committee. He had long been satisfied that it was impossible to get any ordinary bench of magistrates to suppress any considerable number of public-houses, however desirable in the interests of the neighbourhood that suppression might be unless they had power to grant compensation in some form. But while he favoured the formation of a compensation fund he was opposed to conferring upon every owner of a licence a perpetual vested interest, and to any drastic interference with the discretion of magistrates. The compensation fund should be used as an assistance, not as a hindrance.
He had no rooted objection to the alteration of procedure as proposed in the Bill with regard to quarter sessions. At present, quarter sessions were the authority which ultimately determined whether or not a licence should be renewed. Under the Bill they would still be the authority but they would have very little discretion. They would have either to continue the licence or to refuse it and pay compensation. He thought quarter sessions ought to have more discretion than that; they ought to be enabled to treat the equitable claim of the licence-holder in an equitable manner. There were all degrees of equity; hard cases undoubtedly arose; but under the Bill as at present drawn every claim would have to be treated alike, according to a uniform rule, without any allowance for the equity of the case. It was not necessary to discuss at the present stage the exact basis of compensation, 990 but it was desirable that the House should have some more definite information as to the rule which now prevailed in regard to the valuation of licensed premises for Inland Revenue purposes. He understood they were valued on the assumption that the licence would be renewed indefinitely. Such a basis of compensation might be equitable in some cases, but in others it certainly would not be. A house of a low class ought not to receive compensation on the same scale as a house of a superior character. This was shown by the fact that at present a considerable number of licences were voluntarily abandoned. They were confessedly of little value, and discretion in such cases ought to be given to the quarter sessions in administering the compensation. The Government trusted the quarter sessions in respect of the distribution of compensation between the parties interested and in the important matter of the issue of new licences; they were not a new authority; they were not likely to be composed chiefly or largely of prejudiced teetotalers; they were accustomed to act on judicial lines; and he thought they might fairly be trusted with a certain amount of discretion. Such a discretion, he believed, would be more satisfactory in the end than a time limit. There were great difficulties in connection with a time limit, in whatever form it was proposed. He could not help thinking that by the formation of a compensation fund coupled with a certain discretion in the licensing authority, they would be able to satisfy the equitable claims of those who were likely to suffer, and at the same time to safeguard the interests of the public to a much greater extent than was possible under the Bill.
991 Another essential was that full weight should be given to local knowledge and local information, and for that purpose a proper report from each licencing bench on the general position of licensed houses in their particular district was necessary. It was not sufficient to have a reference as to individual houses, as proposed by the Bill; the quarter sessions would be unable satisfactorily to administer the fund unless they had from time to time a general review of the position through out it the whole county. The fund would be strictly limited, and it was difficult to find out how far in any particular county it would go. It was very misleading to argue that, because the fund represented a certain proportion of the total value of the houses in the country, therefore only that proportion of houses would be abolished. By far the larger number of houses that had to be given up were of comparatively little value; therefore it was necessary to know not only the amount of the fund, but the number of public-houses and their different classes and values. Without such Amendments as he had suggested they would have a limited fund in each county which would be soon exhausted, and an enhanced value would be given to the houses which remained. It was most important that more discretion should be given to the quarter sessions, and that the full resources at the disposal of the local justices should be put at the disposal of the quarter sessions, so that they might deal with the fund in the most satisfactory and complete manner In the hope that some Amendments of this kind would be adopted in Committee, he would support the Second Reading.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
Nearly every speaker who has taken part in this debate has commenced his speech by a denunciation of drunkenness, and an expression of his desire that there should be a reduction in the number of licences. On that point there is no difference of opinion. The object of this Bill is to diminish drunkenness, and to reduce the number of licensed houses, so far as it can be done consistently with public honesty and equity. There is no good in arguing with the people of extreme views on either side. If we wish to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this question it must be by agreement among men of moderate views. The hon. Member for Camborne believes that all intoxicating liquor is poison, whether taken moderately or immoderately. We all respect his views and the great consistency with which he has advocated them; but it is no use arguing this matter with him, as he will not be convinced. Total prohibition is recognised by all reasonable men as being absolutely impracticable in this country. The sale of liquor is a necessity, and what we ought to do is to devote our energies to securing a more efficient control over that sale. The hon. Member for Oldham has said that the Bill ought to be received with suspicion because its authors, the Prime Minister and myself, seem sceptical as to whether the diminution of public-louses alone will reduce intemperance. What I have said is that I had some doubt as to whether a large reduction of licences, or even a large diminution in he consumption of alcoholic liquors, would lead to a corresponding reduction if intemperance. The Report of the 993 Royal Commission appeared to me to justify that view, because it is there stated that in some of the counties where there are fewest licences in proportion to population the greatest amount of drunkenness prevails.
§ MR. EMMOTT
pointed out that in the counties referred to, wages, character of occupation, and conditions generally were different. In fact, it was a most jejune investigation of the question.
§ * MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
At any rate, that is what the Commission pointed out, and it is a view held by a certain number of people in the country. What we desire to see is a general reduction in the number of licences. A reduction in the number of licences has been gradually going on in this country for some years. In 1903 there were about 6,000 fewer licences than there were in 1881. The hon. Member for Oldham has expressed doubt whether more rapid progress would be made under the Bill. The number of licences reducible if the Bill passes will be far greater than anything which has yet been accomplished. The hon. Gentleman doubted the sufficiency of the fund. I deprecate any arithmetic, certainly mental arithmetic, at a late hour in the evening in the House of Commons; but I may mention that some of the figures given in the pamphlet by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain have been corrected by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley, whilst in others, viz., the under-estimate of the sum available for compensation in Birmingham, I think Mr. Arthur Chamberlain's error is probably due to omitting from his calculation the number of beerhouses which have to be taken 994 into account. At any rate, that number would bring the figures to very much the same as those given in the statement which has been laid before the House. I think too high an estimate has been taken in the debate of the compensation likely to be given for licences. But even at £1,000 per licence a million pounds would be sufficient to effect a reduction of 1,000 licences yearly, while if the average value of a licence is taken at £750, about 1,333 licences might be abolished, and if at £500, 2,000 licences might be abolished. That is a very considerable reduction compared with any which has take a place hitherto. In addition there would still be a certain number of licences which would be refused for misconduct and other causes, so that there may be a very considerable reduction over and above the number by which for the last twenty years the licences have been annually reduced. The Parliamentary Committee of the County Council in their report say that whereas the Government estimate the return in London County at £251,000 a year, it will really only amount to £190,000. An explanation of the discrepancy is probably to be found in connection with the beerhouses, and perhaps I may be excused for preferring the former figure; but, taking the latter and adopting the maximum ratio of public-houses to population recommended in the Minority Report of the Commission, the committee estimate the number of abolitions required in London at a figure for which the present Bill will more than suffice.
It has been contended by some hon. Members opposite that the number of licences would be more quickly reduced without the operation of this Bill. 995 That may possibly be so if the principle of confiscation is admitted and if the justices are to take away licences without any regard to the value of the licences or to the interest which has grown up in them and which, although not a legal right, by custom the law has allowed to go on. My right hon. friend the Member for Oxford University, speaking on the First Reading of the Bill, said that as chairman of quarter sessions he often felt very great difficulty in agreeing to the confiscation of a licence on the ground of the hardship such confiscation would inflict on the licensee. I think that if this Bill is passed any fear of that sort may be put aside; because under the new scheme if the licensing justices feel it their duty to take away the licence of a house where no misconduct has taken place, they will know that there will be compensation for the owner of the licence. A case came to my knowledge the other day of a man of eighty years of age who had held a house for forty years. He was assisted by a son in the management of some land attached to the house, and that son, being taken ill, died after an operation, the cost of which exhausted all their savings. No complaint has ever been made against the house, but, on the face of it, it was unnecessary in the district. The chair, man of the brewster sessions said he thought it was to the interest of the district that the licence should be taken away, but he could not face the injustice which that course would inflict on this old man.
One point that has been pressed is the position of the publican as compared with that of the owner of the house in connection with the division of the compensation fund. It has always 996 been the intention of the framers of the Bill that the publican should get his proper share of the compensation which would be given, should the licence of the house be taken away. We can surely trust in every way the quarter sessions to see that the publican gets his fair share; but, as we feel very strongly upon this point, if any words are necessary to make it perfectly clear, the Government will be prepared to consider them. There are cases in which his share will be small, but there are also cases in which it should be very large. The goodwill of the house and the trade done often depend very largely on the character and popularity of the licensee. There is the ca e of a professional cricketer who has come to a particular neighbourhood as the licensee of a public-house. Suppose he has conducted his house carefully and properly and after a certain number of years the house has to go in the public interest after he has brought great prosperity to the house. In such a case, in so far as the value to be assessed for compensation was increased, it would be only right and fair that he should have a very considerable share in the compensation money awarded to the licensee of that house. At all events, my hon. friend may rest assured that we have no intention whatever of allowing the occupant of the house, so far a; we can provide for it in any way, to miss his share of the compensation.
My right hon. friend the Member for East Somersetshire has dealt very fairly with the question of the interference with the discretion of the licensing justices, and he, at all events, does not find that that interference is one of any very great importance. He realises that the brewster sessions will still deal with 997 the whole of the eases of misconduct and that it is solely in the case where a licence is taken away through no fault of the owner that the question is referred to quarter sessions. In those cases, and in those only, is the final power transferred from the licensing justices. After all, as my right hon. friend has said, the change is not a great one. At the present time an appeal lies from the licensing justices to quarter sessions and the ultimate verdict is with them. In almost every case in which a licence is taken away solely on the ground that it is redundant, there is an appeal; and therefore it is with quarter sessions that the ultimate decision lies at present. Under the Bill local experience is retained, because brewster justices must take the initiative, and it is on their report alone that quarter sessions can act. We are told by hon. Members opposite that we are inflicting a severe snub upon a very worthy body of people in this country. For my own part I really cannot see that it is a greater snub for gentlemen to be obliged to refer their recommendations for decision to a body similar to that which ultimately decides the question now than it is to have their decisions reversed by quarter sessions, nor is a greater snub put upon the licensing justices by the Bill than there is upon a Court of the first instance when its decision is varied by a higher Court in this country. My right hon. friend the Member for East Somerset has suggested a time limit.
§ * MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
No, what I said was that we might accept the time limit as a compromise. I preferred more discretion being left to quarter sessions.
§ * MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
I am glad that I misunderstood my right 998 hon. friend. I have always thought that a time limit is open to many objections. I do not quite know what hon. Members mean by it. I can quite understand a time limit, supposing the object of the Bill had been to restrain justices from exercising their powers. Then the licensed trade, within a period of ten or twelve years, could, by insurance or otherwise, have made their arrangements, knowing that after that time they would have no claim with regard to any vested or other interest. Supposing, again, that the compensation money was found by the State, I could see some raison d'être for a time limit. But with regard to this Bill it is practically out of the question. The Member for Oldham, although he would like to see it introduced, has admitted that it is entirely inconsistent with the principle of the Bill. Do they suppose that if a licensee knew that at the end of a given period his licence would be taken away he would be so careful either with regard to the condition of his premises or the way in which his business was conducted? Would not the tendency be to strain the law in order to make money while the sun shone? The imposition of a time limit would only mean that at the end of the period—whether it was seven years, or ten, or fifteen, or twenty—the present controversy would be revived, whereas the object of the Bill is to settle once for all the question by providing a method by which a gradual and ample reduction of licences can be carried out.
One or two other questions have been asked me during the debate. The hon. Member for Spen Valley asked about certain figures which were given upon the introduction of the Bill which appeared somewhat differently in 999 the Bill itself. I pointed out to him that the explanation he gave of the alteration was incorrect, and I am prepared to give him now the reason why the scale has been slightly rearranged. This was done because on the one hand the figures were based in the first instance on a mere estimate as regards beerhouses, and required readjustment when more accurate statistics became available and, on the other, it was found that the new figures allowed, without reducing the sum aimed at, the reduction of the highest rate of charge, which would have borne unfairly on big hotels, more especially those hotels where only a small amount of liquor was consumed in comparison with this "un just value." I shall be willing to give to the hon. Member full details on this point when the House goes into Committee on this Bill. Great stress has been hid upon the existence of so large a number of licences. But that is not the fault of the trade itself. The trade never desired to see a large number of licences, and it has been entirely owing to the action of Parliament in the past and to the free and easy way in which magistrates have granted licences that this difficulty has arisen. But there is no reason on that ground why the magistrates should not faithfully carry out the scheme proposed in the Bill for granting compensation, because they have to remember that a number of the licensed houses have been built on plans which they themselves have proposed, or embraced alterations which they themselves have insisted upon as a condition of granting the licence. It would be quite unreasonable that, in our desire to reduce the number of licences, we should take these licences away with out giving reasonable and equitable com- 1000 pensation. The Government earnestly recommend the Bill to the favourable consideration of the House, in the confidence that the scheme of compensation it proposes is fair and reasonable, and in the belief that after a few years of the operation of the Act the present redundancy of licences will disappear.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said the hon. Member opposite had in formed them that this Bill had been drafted in the interests of the liquor trade and now the House knew some thing which no doubt the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary know before. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Somersetshire, ho had seldom heard a speech containing more arguments against the Bill coupled with the conclusion at the end of it that he was going to vote for the Second Reading. He told them that he was not voting for the Bill as it stood but as he hoped it would be when amended in Committee. He said that there were certain things which were essential to make it a good Bill which were not in the Bill now, and he declared himself against many of the clauses; in fact, he had spoken against si out of the nine clauses which the Bill contained. Perhaps that fact would discount to a great extent the vote which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Somersetshire was going to give upon the Second Reading of this Bill. In considering the principles which underlay this Bill there were as he understood it——
§ And, it being Midnight, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at live minutes after Twelve o'clock.