HC Deb 10 May 1904 vol 134 cc899-965

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."

Debate resumed.

* MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)

, resuming his speech, which was interrupted at midnight on Monday on the adjourned debate on the Amendment to the Second Reading, said he approached the consideration of the subject not as a teetotaler but as a moderate drinker— in fact, a very moderate drinker—as one whose tendency was towards teetotalism rather than towards occasional insobriety. It was possible that under this Bill the publicans, the actual occupiers of licensed houses, might suffer, because in any case they would have to pay one-fourth of the sum that was to be paid by the trade, and it might happen that the whole amount would have to be provided by them. As their interest in the licences was likely to be small he thought some readjustment was needed in the Bill so that no injustice might be done to these smaller members of the trade.

The main argument against the Bill rested with those who were opposed to compensation in any form. They seemed to rely upon the thin edge of one decision —that in "Sharp v. Wakefield"—and to disregard many other legal decisions dealing with the value which attached in various ways to licensed property, and he thought they disregarded also the practice of the Inland Revenue and rating authorities, and went against the conscience of "the man in the street." In regard to compensation there were only two alternatives. There were only two pockets that could be picked, the pocket of the public and the pocket of the publican. With the general acquiescence of both sides of the House the former of these alternatives was ruled out. But as soon as they came to the question of taking compensation out of the licensed trade they fel upon those criticisms, which had been passed upon this Bill. To avoid drawing unfairly upon the pocket of the publican there must be some limitation to the amount that would be available for compensation, and consequently, some limitation upon the discretion of the magistrates in suppressing licences. Some such, limitation already existed, for it had never been contended that magistrates had the right to sweep away all or the greater part of the licences in any given area. Where the assessment of a licensed house was small, small also must be the sum payable for the licence if it were taken away. Where the sum was larger they would not measure mathematically the advantage that would be obtained by the reduction of licences by the amount of compensation that had to be paid. The question of the area of authority raised some important points. Many people would have preferred that the compensation fund should have been raised, if it were possible, on a national basis. It was clear that that point exercised the mind of the Government, because the Home Secretary dealt with it in introducing the Bill, and showed conclusively that the difficulties of administration would have been insuperable. As quarter sessions were to be the authorities to raise the money they must have the right to say what number of public-houses, and which houses, should have their licences taken away. If there were any limitation upon the discretion of magistrates in petty sessions, it was traceable to the fact that power must be in the hands of the body which had to ruse the fund and regulate its distribution over the area affected. It was interesting to find objections to interference with the magistrates raised by the Opposition. He wondered whether the hon. Member for Northampton had turned his coat and joined the body which was standing up in defence, as they suggested, of the magistrates. Historically it was curious to find that attitude taken up by the Liberal Party. Since the days of the old Liberals of sixty or seventy years ago a great many Liberals had turned to other gods and bowed the knee to other formulæ; but in those days, although it was a Conservative Government which gave what was described as free trade in licences, they were strongly supported by the philosophical Radicals on the ground that it was monstrous to place such power in the hands of magistrates and that every man had a right to do as he liked with his own and to invest his money as he pleased.

He valued the introduction of this Bill, subject to the suggestion which he made on the previous night, because he believed it would introduce a regular and progressive system of reduction in the number of licensed houses. He did not think the contention that the number would not be reduced more rapidly than before was well founded; but, even if it were, there was no guarantee that that reduction would have continued, and under the scheme embodied in the Bill reduction would be distributed more fairly over the whole country. He hoped that the Bill would obtain a Second Reading, and that it would not meet with vigorous and continuous obstruction from what he might call the old temperance party. He admired the members of that party, who had done a great deal of pioneer work, of spade work, in the cause of temperance; but, having done that, he thought they ought to yield the constructive work to those who had not been so much engaged in the early strife. He would remind them that it, was David who fought the great struggle, but Solomon who built the Temple. [An HON. MEMBER: Who is the Solomon in this case?] He would not undertake to reply to that question. A great variety of opinions concerning the licensing question had been expressed by Members of the Opposition, and he doubted whether that, Party, if it were in power, could construct a Bill which would satisfy all sections of its adherents. He did not believe the Opposition would be able to attain their ideal, and he asked them, therefore, if they would not be satisfied with something less, and accept this Bill, which would give a steady, continuous, progressive, and, perhaps, a permanent reduction in the number of licensed houses, which he believed they all desired.

* DR. HUTCHINSON (Sussex, Rye)

said hon. Members on the opposite side of the House were divided on nearly every subject. Look at this subject Were they united on it? They might be in their set speeches; but they knew something about them when they were not making set speeches. He approached the subject not as a teetotaler or as a brewer or one interested in breweries, but as one between those extremes, as one belonging to the great body of the public which would have to settle the question and which was neither going to be dictated to by the brewers nor by the teetotalers. They wore all agreed that there were too many public-houses, and as a general principle the vast majority of the House agreed to compensation of some sort or another. Personally, he was certainly in favour of a fair system of compensation. But they did not always understand what they were talking about: and therefore it was necessary to give definitions. He defined compensation as a fair equivalent for what was taken away, but his friends opposite defined it as an endowment. In this there was a great difference. They all agreed, too, that this compensation should come out of the trade; but to get money out of the trade they must take away what might otherwise go into the Exchequer. Therefore, he was not one who raised this objection; he was perfectly content with the way in which the sum was raised, but it was not big enough. He submitted that each party of extremists mast make sacrifices if they were to make progress. They must, he added by way of illustration, have a Good Friday before they could have an Easter Sunday. They had to consider whether this proposal was fair first to the public, secondly to the publican, and thirdly to the brewers; and his objection was that it was not fair to the public, because it was an endowment and not an equivalent; that it was not fair to the publican because he paid and did not receive; and that the only man who had a pull out of it was the brewer, who was old enough and rich enough to take care of himself.

He acknowledged the great work done in this age by the teetotalers. They had altered the whole aspect of the nation; they came in and found it a drunken nation; they entered their protest, and it had borne fruit. Their crusade was just like that of the Quakers, who protested against foppishness and who now, having done their work, dressed like ordinary beings. He belonged to a profession which brought a man face to face with the realities of the world and life, and for twenty years he had sat on a county bench, so that he knew something about licensing from that point of view. There was no man of his profession who could not but be struck with the horrors and degradation produced by excessive drinking. He was so impressed with it that he was willing to make a a great deal of sacrifice of his private opinions in order to make progress in temperance work, and he asked other Members to do the same. They could not, however, alter human nature. Christian nations had always drunk and always would do. They had to acknowledge this fact. From the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee down to the last Academy Banquet there had always been drinking. If it were not for that all this trouble would not have arisen. It was so difficult to tell people that a tablespoon-ful of whisky in a tumbler of Appollinaris would harm them; they could not get people to believe it. Look at gambling. They were all impressed with the horrors of it, but it was difficult to tell a Bishop who played whist at a penny a point with his mother-in-law in the drawing-room that he was imperilling his immortal soul because he was gambling. He would not believe it. Therefore, they had to acknowledge facts as they found them. They could not impress upon the nation that a little drop of drink at meal times did any harm.

What they had to consider was whether the Bill was fair, and he maintained that the compensation clause was not a fair one. Big hotels and restaurants with no earthly chance of ever being closed would have to contribute perpetually thousands a year to a fund out of which they would never get a half-penny. Messrs. Spiers & Pond, for instance, would, he was told, pay some £4,983 a year, and they would get absolutely nothing in exchange. This was not what he considered fair treatment. And what would the publican get out of it? If there was one thing the Bill would do it was that it would drive every publican's vote against the Tory Party at the next general election because they were going to be made to pay, but were not going to be made to receive. The Bill did not make it absolutely certain that the publican would get a single penny. Yet in reality it was more necessary to compensate the publican than it was the brewer, for the latter, having dozens of houses scattered up and down the land, would, when one house was closed, recover the loss oat of the increased trade at the other houses. If they turned the poor publican out of his place he had not another house to go into, and he was left absolutely alone, for there was no compensation to be given under the Bill to the first man who should be thought of, namely, the publican. The life of a publican was a precarious one. The business in which he was engaged shortened his life. When a publican applied for a licence his character was inquired into in a way that the character of no parson applying for a church was ever inquired into. His whole past history was gone into, the police were communicated with, and if there was a single flaw in his character the licence was refused. The hon. Member for Morpeth said he would not go in for such a microscopic inquiry into his past.

There were many anomalies that might have been got rid of by this Bill. What would this Bill do in regard to tied houses? It did absolutely nothing for them except to make them more tied than ever. The Government could have put in a small clause similar to one which he had drafted. He would give it to the Government and make no charge for it— Any house that is tied, on account of its being tied, will forfeit its licence. That would put a stop to the system to-morrow. He wished to see the public can and the public get fair treatment in this matter, but it was only the brewer the Government had taken into consideration. He and his friends were willing to agree to compensation paid by the trade. They wore willing even to allow Parliamentary sanction for it, but it must be compensation which was fair all round, remembering that the value of a new licence belonged to the public. Another objection to the Bill was that the sum calculated was too small. It would not make any appreciable reduction in the number. Of course they all knew that figure; were only used as illustrations. They had yesterday afternoon an interesting example of that. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division told the House that there were only a few hundred pounds for each licensing division. Another Gentleman who was on the Royal Commission made out that there were thousands and tens of thousands. That only showed that they could get figures to do what they liked. He was quite sure that the sum which would be available, would be nothing like adequate to make the reduction required. In his own small village, extending to three quarters of a mile, and having 1,000 inhabitants, there were nine licensed "on" houses. Six of these ought to be reduced. The whole sum of these houses came to £31 a year. That was only one village in a large quarter-sessional district. There were hundreds of villages, and they might multiply the difficulty as many times. How long it would take to shut up these houses on £31 a year he would leave to the Chancellor of the Exchequer or some other gentleman to calculate. If he gave support to this Bill he must have some assurance that there was going to be a time limit, or some system of insurance which would make the thing permanent. He thought compensation should be p lid out in the same proportion as that in which it was paid in, and that the amount issued should be dependent on the number of reductions and not vice versa. He thought that was one of the most important things they would have to consider.

With regard to the question of the magistrates, he had no severe critisms us to make. He thought that in many ways they might come to terms on the question of the magistrates. In the county boroughs, for instance, he did not see that there was any great hardship, and he thought they would get a pull out of this Bill, through not having to appeal to quarter sessions. In regard to the county divisions he could not say that it was a very great hardship on them to go to quarter sessions to sanction the reduction of licences so long as they had the appeal as provided for at the present moment. Every petty sessional division should have one of the magistrates placed on the licensing committee. He thought if the Government would accept that suggestion it would lessen a good deal of the friction. He agreed that difficulty care in when they came to the non-county boroughs. Take the non-county borough of Tunbridge in which he was interested. There they had a very efficient borough bench. They could inquire into the necessities of their borough. The borough was in two counties—one part in Kent and the other part in Sussex—so that they had two quarter-sessional divisions to go to if they wanted any of the licences reduced. He would suggest that under Clause 5 where there was a chance for sub-dividing areas each of the non-county boroughs should be made a little centre of its own, and that each should settle its affairs in its own way without having to go to the county magistrate who knew absolutely nothing about the borough. As to the question whether the lessening of the number of public-houses would decrease drunkenness, he thought there could not be the slightest doubt that it would. Let them look at what had been done in Liverpool and Birmingham. They could not get over the fact that by lessening the number of public-houses they reduced the number of convictions for drunkenness. But they must go further and introduce changes for improving the condition of those who were not comfortably housed, comfortably clothed, and comfortably fed. They must deal with those who lived in the slums by improving the housing accommodation. They must get the people back to the land. Here was this Government in office, and in power, all these years, and they had not gone down to the bottom of these things. They wanted the Government to propose alterations dealing with the land laws, land values, and things of that sort. Then they would be able to make some progress in regard to these great social questions. This Bill which was only giving compensation to the brewers would receive opposition from the impartial men on that side of the House. Hon. Members laughed at the reference to impartial men. There were such things about. They would find then scattered all over the country lf they went outside the House. These were questions which really went to the root of the matter, and unless concessions were made on the lines he had mentioned he would oppose the Bill at every stage.

* MR. WORSLEY-TAYLOR (Lancaster, Blackpool)

said it was only the principle of the Bill with which he proposed to deal. He agreed entirely that there were a number of details of very considerable difficulty and importance, both with regard to the interests in these houses and of the public, which would need very careful scrutiny and examination in Committee. It was his intention to support the Bill on the Second Reading. He had heard with great interest certain criticisms with regard to quarter sessions. He had regularly attended quarter sessions for twenty years, and it was at them that his attention had been called to the licensing laws. He was sure that no one who had sat there, or in petty sessions, could fail to have been impressed, and deeply impressed, with the crime and misery which had undoubtedly followed from excess of drink. His experience there had led him to the hope that some measure such as the present Bill would be passed, because he firmly believed it would facilitate the reduction of licences. Everybody who had spoken had agreed that some reduction was necessary. Such a reduction was necessary in certain places partly in order that there might be less temptation; but it would have an even greater effect than that, because by it they would be able to remove the lowest class of insanitary drinking dens which were the curse of the neighbourhood in which they were situated. The holders of the better houses would not be deterred by undue competition from carrying on an honest trade, and the public would be able to claim from them even greater regard in the due performance of the conditions of their licences. It was his earnest desire that due and reasonable reductions should take place; and the reason he supported the Bill was because he thought it would undoubtedly facilitate that reduction. He did not support it in the interests of the trade, but he thought it did justice to the trade which was a lawful one and therefore entitled to justice. The two great cardinal difficulties at present in regard to the reduction of licences were, first, that there was no compensation where houses were suppressed solely in the public interest; and second, that there was no power over 1869 Act houses. These were two cardinal principles, the two crucial points dealt with in the Bill. He had not formed that opinion, or expressed it, simply for the purposes of this Bill. He ventured to say that many of the regular attendants at quarter sessions had come to the like conclusion. He would like to read a paragraph from a resolution passed unanimously four years ago by the quarter sessions of which he was a member— We wish unanimously to express our sympathy with the licensing committee in their desire to abate the evils of intemperance, and so bring about due and reasonable regulation of the number and class of licensed houses in the borough. We venture, also unanimously, to express the hope that Parliament may be able shortly to deal with the whole question of the licensing laws, and particularly with the crucial points prominently arising in this case, viz:— (1) that of the terms on which the number of licensed houses should be reduced when that is done solely in the public, interest, and (2) that of larger control over the renewal of licences of 1869 beerhouses, as we consider that the present state of matters with regard to these two points places serious difficulties in the way of licensing justices and Courts of quarter Sessions, who desire to deal with a great problem on broad and equitable lines. He thought that that showed that these justices, thus assembled in quarter sessions, and dealing with matters of licensing, were actuated by a desire to procure due and reasonable regulation and reduction of licences; and secondly, that they were actuated by a desire not to find themselves In antagonism with the local justices; but to be able to work with them. He hoped and believed that some of the provisions of the Bill would tend to decrease the friction which had hitherto at times occurred between the quarter sessions and the local justices. In the first place the great difficulty which at present existed was the taking away a licence without compensation because it was felt that to do so would be to do a serious injustice to the individual owner and occupier of the house. The question of compensation was the bone of contention and the Bill removed it. He believed also that the provision which obliged the quarter sessions to deal with this matter through a committee would introduce a more judicial spirit. His belief was, after an experience of twenty years, that those justices who habitually attended quarter sessions attempted honestly to deal with these questions in a judicial spirit. He deprecated and deplored— he did not care from which side of politics those justices came—that some came only occasionally and for a special purpose, that was, when there was a question of licences. He remembered very well a case which had been under consideration for some time by the sessions of which he happened to be chairman. He said to his brother justices that he desired to put before them the crucial points, in order that they might come to a judicial decision, when he was told by one of the gentlemen who came there ad hoc: "We have not come here to argue, but to vote, and no doubt he had come to support the opinion of the local justices." That kind of thing would not happen if there was a committee of quarter sessions to deal with the licences; and therefore one source of friction and heartburning would be avoided. There was another provision of the Bill which would tend in the same direction; and that was that instead of having to overrule, as at present, the formal decision of the local justices, always an unpleasant position, the committee of quarter sessions would have before them a report, equally effective but less in the nature of litigation. He looked forward also to the other provision that in case of difference of opinion there might be consultation between the quarter sessions' committee and the local justices. If, as he hoped, that provision could be harmonised with the position of quarter sessions as a court of appeal, he believed this Bill, preserving, as it did, the initiative of the local justices, would tend to decrease friction and introduce that cordial and sympathetic co-operation between the local justices and the quarter sessions, which could not exist so long as the present state of things continued.

A few words as to compensation. The hon. Member for Morpeth the previous day had said, in plain terms, that he denied that there was any title, legal, moral, or equitable, to any form of compensation. He would deal first with the case of the fully-licensed houses. He agreed that there was in fiat case no legal title. But he would remind hon. Members that in the House of Commons they were not sitting as a Court of law, but as a Court of equity—the highest Court of equity in the kingdom. When they looked at the way in which the State bad dealt with this case, viz., that so long as the licensed premises were well-conducted, there had been, in fact, reasonable expectation that the licence would be renewed; when it rated them not as on a tenancy for one year, but as a going concern from year to year with a reasonable expectation of renewal from year to year; when they looked at the fact that the State levied death duties on these properties, sometimes on a capital value of twenty years purchase, and therefore taking, in the case of a 10 per cent, estate, two full years value—when they looked at all these facts, then he held that the State was estopped from denying that there was a moral and equitable case for compensation. But there was the case of the ante-1869 houses. The hon. Member opposite said that there was no property in these licences and therefore no legal claim to compensation. Surely, that argument implied that if there was property there would be a legal claim to compensation. True, the owners of the ante-1869 beerhouses had to go year by year before the licensing justices for the purpose of bringing themselves and their houses under review as to whether they had complied with the conditions of the law. But if they proved that, then no objection could be taken to them, then the statute said, in plain terms, that the licence should as of right and law be granted one year more and should be renewed from year to year further. The result was that the owners of these ante-1869 licences had a right to renewal of their licences in perpetuity. He had never yet known in thirty years experience before Committees of the House of a case in which property of that kind was taken away by the public in the interest of the public, without full and adequate compensation being granted by Parliament. He ventured to say more, that where property of that kind—for he called it property—was taken by the public for the purposes of the public, the compensation came out of the public funds; and he maintained that if the owners of the ante-1869 licences had elected to put their claim on that basis, hon. Gentlemen opposite would have had no answer to it. But these ante-1869 licences did not drive their case to that extremity. They said, "We are willing to come in as part of a general bargain and take our chance. We are willing to put ourselves absolutely under the control of the licensing justices, and to take our share in this scheme of compulsory insurance for the benefit of the people of our class and of the fully-licensed house owners." He suggested that when that offer was made, it was a fair and liberal offer, and that it should induce a sympathetic treatment in connection with the rest of the bargain. He submitted that with regard to the ante-1869 licences there was a legal claim to compensation; and that with regard to the other houses there was an equitable claim.

He had said that he supported the principle of the Bill, because it would facilitate the reduction of licensed houses which could not take place at present, for the following reasons There were 30,000 ante-1869 licences in existence at present, or more; and everyone who had experience of licensing matters would agree that many of these 30,000 were the first which ought to go, because they were the worst and lowest class of houses, and would make the smallest inroad on the compensation money on account of their small value. He had the strongest illustration in this regard in a scheme I formulated by the justices of a borough in his own quarter sessional area, who had for years taken a keen interest in the licensing question. They proposed to select for extinction a certain number of licences, not exceeding twelve, out of 121 in the borough. It was also stated that the houses would be selected from the ante-1869 beerhouses in the older and less reputable parts of the town in which there were the most cases of drunkenness and disorder. Those justices declared that it was necessary to remove twelve of the ante-1869 beerhouses, but they could not touch one. It was only through the instrumentality of this Bill that they could be taken away. He knew that magistrates had been driven to expedients which were regrettable. He had heard it admitted that opposition had been offered to a fully licensed house, not because there was any objection to that house, but because the owner of the house was also the owner of an ante-1869 beerhouse which the justices wanted to I get rid of; and they objected to the fully licensed house in order to bring pressure on the owner to give up the ante-1869 beerhouse. That was a strong case. No doubt the justices thought that they were justified in the end aimed at; but he regretted the means adopted; and also I the state of the law which induced gentlemen in pursuit of a good end to resort to an expedient of that kind. If this Bill did nothing else than for the first time to bring under full I control the ante-1869 beerhouses it would be the greatest step in the cause of temperance which had been made for many a long year.

With regard to the other houses, he desired to point out that the difficulties were not so great, but they were certainly most serious. Could they get in regard to them a scheme which should be comprehensive, certain, and simple in application? He maintained that they could get more of those conditions. Suppose there were half-a-dozen houses in a limited area, and that the local justices decided to get rid of one. They were not always particular which one it was. They selected one house for extinction, and immediately the argument was put forward. "Why this house? why not one of the others? Very often that argument succeeded, because there was no answer to it; as there was no reason to take one house rather than another. But that argument was got rid of by compensation. Again, everyone might agree that a certain house was superfluous, but then the further point arose that it was a very hard thing to deprive the owner of that house, of his property, when no objection could be taken to him. They might have two cases side by side at the same quarter sessions and on the same day. In one case there might be every possible objection to the house. It might be a bad house, badly conducted, frequented by bad characters, with constant changes of tenants, and a long list of convictions. Neither owner nor tenant had fulfilled the conditions on which he obtained his licence and, therefore, his licence was taken away. Then you might get an absolutely contrary ease in every respect. The house might be suitable in itself, well conducted, might supply food as well as drink, might he frequented by the most respect able people, the superintendent of the police might not have a word to say against the holder of the licence, the house might have been held by the same family for generations. Yet the magistrates were called upon to mete out to the holder of that licence the same ruin and disaster as they had to mete out to the man who had violated every condition on which he had received his licence. That was contrary to human nature, and there was a good deal of human nature about quarter sessions. Want of compensation prevented reduction. At present they were in this dilemma—if they sup pressed a licence solely on the ground of non-requirement they did it with the knowledge that they would be inflicting ruin on the innocent owner—if they renewed it, they refused reduction where might agree in the view of the local justices that some reduction was That was a cruel dilemma and many of them who had sat at quarter sessions had felt it. This Bill would remove that dilemma; and he certainly would record his vote in favour of its principle.

He agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite who said that there was a vast consensus of opinion in favour of the principle of some form of compensation. He submitted also that this was a scheme of compulsory insurance by the trade and for the trade; and, therefore, he ventured to submit with great deference to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that that came within tie definition he had given of the conditions under which he would be willing to see compensation given. The right hon. Gentleman disagreed with this Bill because it was a Bill, and said it ought to be voluntary and administered by the trade. He, however, would submit that it could never be carried out by voluntary arrangement. The only way to proceed was by a Bill of this character. He was under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman would not have taken objection to the proposal on the only or main ground that it was embodied in a Bill before Parliament; because he had been gratified in reading the election address of the right hon. Gentleman before the present Parliament was elected. After referring to local option, the right hon. Gentleman said— Opinion in England may not be prepared for so great a change. He, himself, did not think that opinion in England wanted that kind of home rule in drink any more than it wanted home rule in regard to other matters. Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded— But even then much good might be done by a gradual reduction of licences under improved local authorities, and this salutary reform would be greatly facilitated if it were admitted, perfectly consistently with the denial of any right to public compensation, that the persons injuriously affected should receive reasonable recognition of their loss out of funds to be provided by the trade themselves. That was this Bill. Then he continued— I shall welcome the day when a measure conceived on those lines will take a foremost place among Parliamentary projects. Here was the day, hence the measure, and he respectfully invited the right hon. Gentleman to give it a iess exuberant welcome than he had threatened on the First Reading.

For the reasons he had given he would support the Second Reading of the Bill, which he believed would make for the public interest, having due regard to the rights of individuals.

Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)

I am sure the House has listened with the greatest pleasure to the speech just delivered by my hon. and learned friend. I think he said that this was the first occasion on which he had addressed the House; but perhaps I may refer to the fact that our pleasure is mingled with sorrow because, if what we have read in the newspapers is true, the hon. and learned Member does not intend to continue a Member of this House when the dissolution occurs. His is just the sort of speech to which the House of Commons likes to listen. The hon. and learned Gentleman put with a clearness which almost fascinated the House a statement of his views, and showed us that those views were founded on his own personal knowledge of what he was speaking about. There may have been something of the art of the advocate, but it was pleasantly and ingeniously concealed. The hon. Gentleman at once gained our sympathy by attacking parts of the present system which are interfered with by the Bill, and parts of the present system to which we are as much opposed as he is. For instance, he spoke of the ante-1869 beerhouses. We quite agree with him that the position of those houses is a very unfortunate one for the public, and that great scandals occur amongst them; but what the hon. and learned Gentleman by supporting this Bill is going to do is that he is going to place the ante-1869 beerhouses in the same position as the other houses. The hon. and learned Member spoke quarter sessions and what an advantage it would be to have their authority it this matter administered by a committee rather than by the whole body of magis trates. There again I, at least, agree with him, because nothing could be more absurd and really more subversive of any equitable proceeding in the matter than what he spoke of—not the casual or accidental, but the irregular attendance of the justices who came to vote but not to discuss. The hon. Member for Manchester taunted us with the fact that we have become such fanatical admirers and supporters of petty sessions. The declaration of my creed in the matter, which the hon. and learned Gentleman has done me the honour first of all to dig out and secondly to quote, explains my view on the question. We are in favour of an improved local authority, but above all let the authority he a local authority; that is the point upon which we insist. The hon. and learned Gentleman may be sure that I shall say nothing that in the least contradicts any word of what I may call the admirable definition of my opinions on the subject which he quoted to the House.

Before proceeding to deal with the merits of the Bill I think it would not be out of place, and it might be useful, for us to consider what the real state of things is to which the Bill is applied. What is the case for the Bill? We have heard a great many speeches which seem to imply that this is a Bill whose main and prime object is to facilitate the reduction of public-houses. Why, it is nothing of the sort, by the confession of the Prime Minister himself. It is alleged or assumed that the magistrates have been taking violent and ill-considered action in the exercise of their powers, resulting in the confiscation of private property, in the displacement of a high class of licensed victualler, in the ruin of some individuals, and in loss and shock to the whole body of investors. That is the case, and this Bill is intended to cure it—to prevent magistrates from doing these dreadful things. If the magistrates had not taken action there would have been no Bill. Let us inquire what is it that the magistrates have done? I am not going back into the question of the nature of a licence and the powers in this matter of the magistrates, because I imagine that is conceded on all hands. It is not only conceded to be the law, but to have been known to be the law for the last thirteen there is a very limited fund—but there years. And it is during these thirteen years that the great brewers have been buying up public-houses on all hands and floating companies and putting them upon the public to the extent, I have seen it calculated, of £90,000,000 sterling, with this "Sharpe v. Wakefield" case and all the rest of it staring them in the face. And I can only say as to the investor, that while we do not wish to be hard on anyone who invests his money reasonably, yet it is too much to come forward and say that while they were fully alive to the profits they would make they were somehow strangely blind to the risks they ran.

Last year, as we all remember, a deputation representing the principal bodies connected with the liquor trade came to the Prime Minister, and this is what he told them. He said that "the trade was subjected to a very serious and, as I think, a very unjust strain" in the action of the magistrates. Insecurity was wrought in every branch of the trade; gross injustice had been put on a large number of individuals. "I regret," he said, "that that which was a legitimate investment is regarded as an investment no longer, or seriously worth regarding as an investment"; and lie described the action of the justices as but little short in its practical effect of injustice and confiscation of property. That was the right hon. Gentleman's résumé of the action of the licensing justices in this country for some years back. The right hon. Gentleman sometimes rebukes other people for exaggeration of language, but his language in this matter is surely a little exaggerated. He completed this anthology by declaring in the House of Commons that compensation in the case of superfluous licences "has been a publicly announced part of the creed and belief of those with whom I habitually act in politics." And further, in this House in April last year he said, "Unless you have an unlimited fund it is absolutely necessary to fetter the discretion of the magistrates." Let the House bear this in mind—unless you have an unlimited fund it is absolutely necessary to fetter the discretion of the magistrates. Now in this Bill and in its provisions there is no unlimited fund— there is a very limited fund—but there is unlimited fettering of the discretion of the magistrates is unlimited fettering of the discretion of the magistrates.

What is it that these wicked magistrates have done? What are the reductions that they made last year? Some of the figures have been given to the House before, but it is well to keep them in our minds. There are 991 licensing districts in England and Wales. Of the county divisions in 629 instances there was no case of the renewal of a licence being refused, and that was also true of 169 boroughs. In all there were only 193 divisions in which licences were touched at all, and of these in 103 only a single licence was touched, in thirty-two there were two, in seventeen three, and only in ten throughout the country were there more than three. These figures include non-renewals for all causes, and in the aggregate the amount, on and off-licences together, to 639 nonrenewals. Of course, what the Bill is primarily concerned with, is refusals for non-requirement, as they are called. There were 220 such cases, on and off, confined to 62 out of 991 licensing divisions; 220 cases out of 100,000 licences That is the extent of this terrible inroad upon property, security, and morality of which the magistrates have been guilty, and which is put forward as the excuse for proceeding against them in this Bill. Were the reductions made rashly, cruelly, inconsiderately? No, Sir. In three or four cases where it was done on any great scale, and where there might be a possible presumption of rashness, it was the result of the most patient, personal, conscientious investigation carried on within the letter and spirit of the law, and subject, of course, to the check of quarter sessions. And what, were the circumstances? The most remarkable and conspicuous cases of action were in districts where it was notorious that licences were enormously in excess of what was required; they were known as congested drink districts, neighbourhoods, in fact, soddened with drink. Take as a type the Floodgate Street area in the city of Birmingham. This district has been elaborately examined for some years by philanthropic and disinterested persons. The population is about 7,000; there is a public-house for every 89 adults. The Poor Law guardians issued in six months 227 orders for the workhouse, in addition to medical and out-relief. In 1903 there were 307 cases admitted to the workhouse; 193 children wore sent to the children's hospital: there were eighteen inquests by the coroner. The year before, 625 persons were admitted to the general hospital, 500 required surgical aid; nine persons were sent to the lunatic asylum. It was estimated that out of the 7,000 population 2,500 came on the rates or received charitable help within one year. Now that is the sort of place in which the hands of the local magistrates are to be stayed, while the ratepayers and the charitable people are, I suppose, to help as well as they can the wrecks that are turned out by the drinking shops and to feed and clothe the children of these demoralised parents. The magistrates here were prepared to act quietly and tentatively, but there came a paralyzing blast from above. The Prime Minister made a speech; it was known that the Government was going to move; therefore the magistrates did not think it necessary to interfere. They renewed the whole number of the licences, and, therefore, even if this Bill does not pass, and things remain as they were, a year at least has been added to the full life of this moral and physical Gehenna. In that state of things, and in the attempt of the magistrates to deal with it, and the manner in which they have dealt with it, you must find the origin of the Rill.

We may have different views as to the objects intended by the Government in this Bill, but its effects at least are perfectly clear. Its immediate broad effect is to confirm licence holders in their concessions in perpetuity and to confer a gigantic endowment upon the liquor trade. Its ultimate effect will be to prevent any real serious reform of the licensing system. It is a Bill for conferring a monopoly established for the protection of the public into a private monopoly for the enjoyment of individuals. It accomplishes this by the two-fold method of meddling with the powers and procedure of the magistrates and setting up a system of compensation which, although the hon. and learned Gentleman recommends it as facilitating the reduction of licences, yet I think may have the very opposite effect and be a barrier and a hindrance to it. I take first the changes proposed in the licensing authority. There is no suggestion, if you keep compensation oat of sight for the moment, that the intention is to facilitate the reduction of licences or increase efficiency. The sole effect will be to check reduction. The men who are capable of judging as to local requirements are deposed, and the only method calculated to give effect to their judgment—namely, the administrative method, is abolished. Quarter sessions will sit as a Court. The present licensing justices are confined to reporting; the powers of initiative and of dealing with groups of licences are taken from them. If that is so, it is a strange thing that one body will have the initiative and no power, and the other will have power but no initiative. In practice a vital part of the licensing law is repealed, and action and of judicial discretion. And, as if to emphasise the arbitrary character of this retiograde change, the very persons who are refused this discretion and power are left in the full exercise of their power in all cases of misconduct, of which, surely, they are no more capable than they are in the other case. If the lack of compensation is the bar to the extinction of licences, why, when compensation is forthcoming, do you meddle with magistrates at all?

Let us turn to pensation. It is, and ingenious, and calculated to attract the casual onlooker, but it behoves us to look below the surface, and then we find one or two awkward facts. First of all, this is public money, and not trade money. Yet it is to be called a trade fund, and there is an optional operation which must have an effect in checking the active exercise of the powers of the magistrates. There is the amount of the levy, which circumscribes the power of the magistrates, because it is the measure of the extent of the reduction, and the Bill, in prescribing compensation, limits its application still further by inflating the values of licences. Let us look at this in conjunction with the alteration in procedure, and in the power of the licensing magistrates. Whatever we may think of compensation in the abstract these proposals will be found to be a part of the pinioning process as applied to magistrates in the exercise of what hitherto have been their functions. What is the measure of value on which this levy is to be founded? Supposing a certain public-house is worth £5,000 altogether, and £2,000 is the value of the house without the licence, then £3,000 is what the licensee is to receive. You take this monopoly value as the standard of compensation, and you say when A, the publican, is bought out, the equities of the case are discharged. A is satisfied; the trade is satisfied; the promoters of this Bill are satisfied. Why, then, should any one complain? But look a little ahead. There are others besides A. Supposing in this particular locality there are fifty public-houses, of which nine others besides A's ought to be reduced. You will find out that in buying out A, instead of extinguishing £3,000 monopoly value, you are merely distributing the greater part of it over the others, and when you come to deal with the others, you will have to buy out a proportion of it again when you come to B in his turn, and so on through C, D, and the rest with accumulated increment as you go down or up the scale, until at last the value of the ten extinguished licences, or the great part of it reaches the hands of the residuary legatees—namely, the forty other licensed holders who are left. If we are to believe what is said on behalf of the trade that the volume of drink consumed will not be diminished at all by any reduction of licences, then, of course, the whole would be treated in this way. I put it more moderately. I say that the extinction of licences by compensation, is an endowment to the surving licensees, and that for every one extinguished the next one will be more costly. In a word, the entire scheme of compensation is fallacious, and will operate for the maintenance, and not for the extinction, of licences. You are going to pay the owner of a tied house, wholesale and retail profits, and to indemnify him and the bonâ fide publican at the same rate; You propose to proceed without regard to any saving of maintenance and of cost to those which remain, without regard to the question whether the trade was carried on by legitimate or illegitimate means, and without question also of the quality of the drink supplied. And to crown all, the appeal on values is to be to Somerset House, and it is directed to arrive at the value in the same way as for estate duty—that is to say, the maximum valuation. Here we have the Government in this position, that the law has decided that a licence is for one year only, and not a freehold. Somerset House has taken a view somewhat different. The Government say that the decision of the Supreme Court of the realm is not to settle the matter, but that they will borrow the method of the Department and apply it in this Act of Parliament. I think that is a strong order.

And now having established and endowed the trade in the aggregate, who is to get the compensation? An agreement is to be come to between the parties interested in the premises. But if they do not agree, what happens? The question is to be submitted to quarter sessions. That is a very wise decision in their own interest on the part of the Government. They meet a Gordian knot; they do not untie nor even cut it; they pass it on to quarter sessions. In these days of unification and co-ordination one of the most complicated problems conceivable is to be submitted for solution to each body of magistrates to settle as they please. I suspect the results will be interesting and entertaining. I know a good many magistrates, and, have had experience of some Benches—not in any objectionable way—and it will not be surprising if some of them come to the conclusion that the optional character of this procedure is that which recommends it most to their approval. After all, if they want a quiet life all they have to do is to leave the thing alone, and I am much mistaken if the policy of masterly inactivity will not be that which they will follow. But what then comes of the reduction of licences? And how on earth is that Court which chooses the more strenuous course to adjudicate between the claims of landlord and tenant, the brewer and his agent, the mortgagor and mortgagee, and a dozen other baffling combinations? It is a matter of common belief that there are sometimes strange covenants between the brewer and the tied houses. All these nice little problems and conditions will form a maze into which quarter sessions are to be flung. My theory, on principle, is that the State should have nothing to do with this question of either levy or apportionment. One thing at least is clear, that the publican himself in a tied house will get nothing at all. At present, I understand, he never gets compensation when a licence is transferred behind his back. I am told that there are about 20,000 of these transfers every year promoted by the brewers. If this were generally realised, and it were seen what a slight value—when he is not a politician, but a man in business—the brewer puts on the claim we now hear so much of from the publicans, I think the bottom would be knocked out of the entire agitation. The publican's position under the Bill will be worse, because the magistrates at present have power in making a transfer to impose conditions, and this power goes out under the present Bill.

I have shown why the Bill, its changes in the licensing authority and its scheme of compensation, will have a fatal effect on the diminution of licences which we all sincerely desire. But is this not the oddest thing in this Bill that you may examine it from one corner to the other and you will not find any reference to the interest of the public? Public rights are handed over without any sort of equivalent. In no single case are they asserted or adjusted to the new circumstances. It might almost be supposed that the Government, or the authors of the Bill, whoever they may be, have brought themselves to believe that the licensing system was originally devised in the interest of the trade, and that any encroachments made upon its privileges in the public interest are wrongful and are in the nature of confiscation. But these provisions ought at least to extort the enthusiastic admiration of the Tariff Reform League and the protectionists in this House, if there are any in these days of avoidance without confession. The Bill is the very glorification and apotheosis of monopoly. I could almost imagine the brewers bringing themselves into the habit of identifying His Majesty's Government with one of their own tied houses. There is a strange resemblance. The goodwill of this tied Government is worth a good deal of money to the brewers, and the brewers can make some return for it. The non-renewal of licence of this tied Government, whether on the ground of misconduct or of non-requirement in the public interest, would be a sad loss to the trade. If this Bill were to pass it means the capitulation of the State to the trade.

Let me enumerate one or two points to make good what I have said that there has been an ignoring, in effect a betrayal, of the public interest in the framing of the Bill. The whole Bill, indeed, is a betrayal. Take its financial aspect. Public money is taken and is attached for this purpose which in the ordinary course of things might have gone into the Exchequer, and ought to have gone into the Exchequer, and come back to the localities in relief of their rates. Does the Government think that the localities have no counter-claim at all against this great trade which depreciates property, which demoralises the people, and adds to the burden of the ratepayer and the taxpayer? Do not they see that this Bill is in effect a fresh raid on the rate; in the way I have described in the interest of this burdensome monopoly, and that it takes the ratepayer in fact fore and aft, in front and rear, because it makes him forego a source of revenue to which he was entitled to look forward, and at the same time it quarters upon him a concessionnaire to whom a freehold, not to say a leasehold, is given. But the public does not get a look in under this Bill. Not only is the public direct interest in the local body of magistrates removed, but the public are not represented before quarter sessions. The whole thing is done behind their back, and that is surely a bad consequence of the suppression of local discretion. You take away from the local magistrates the discretionary power they have. The weapon they have is their power of refusing renewal in all cases, not of flagrant misconduct, but of simple abuse in public-houses. The fact that they had the power of taking away a licence and of refusing renewal was a great instrument of public order are decency. But here is an alteration made of a Very important character. Justices are now required, if they take away a licence from a man because of misconduct, to notify specifically to the applicant the grounds for non-renewal. The premises may be ill-conducted, they may he insufficient and unsuitable; there is the character and the fitness of the licensee. Those are the only points to which their notice of the grounds of objection must be confined. I have here recorded a large number of offences not amounting to flagant, positive misconduct which the magistrates have been accustomed to keep in view in dealing with renewal licences. They are defective or lax management as distinguished from ill-conduct, irregular opening, offering attractions to induce custom, selling drink on credit, the encouragement of the slate club, giving the "long pull," giving free drinks at Christmas, failure to supply solid refreshments, allowing the house to be the resort of young girls. In all there are twenty-two offences recorded here from which we are now protected if the justices find them a ground for non-renewal. The powers of the magistrates do enable them to insist on the abandonment of these practices, but now that power is to be taken away. Whatever views we may hold on the subject, whether we are teetotalers or that class whom I heard described as "moderate drunkards," this Bill has nothing to do with temperance or licences. It is an attack on the right of self-protection and self-government of the community; and with such issues it is deplorable that there should be any difference of opinion or judgment in the House. Those issues affect the self-respect and character of every parish in the land, and this should appeal to us as the representatives of the people.

Some persons approve the principle of the Bill. I want to know what is the principle of the Bill? I saw the other day that there was a meeting of the Church of England Temperance Society in one diocese which refused to join in a demonstration because they approved the principle of the Bill and asked for various Amendments. The hon. and learned Member spoke of the principle of the Bill. What is the principle? Is it a reduction of the rate of extinction, because it seems to me to do that? Is it an endowment of the trade? It is a crippling of the magistrates' power? Is it compensation in the abstract? Surely we may distinguish between compensation in any form or degree which would have the effect of facilitating reduction and that by which the compensation so administered will have the opposite effect. The hon. Member for South Derbyshire the other day at a meeting of the Licenced Victuallers' Protection Society thought that it would not be wise to reject the Bill. It required amending, but in it he said they found the great principle that the licensed owner's property was his own, and if it was to be taken away he was to be paid for it; the Bill indeed contained the valuable principle for which they had struggled so long. That was the hon. Member's estimate of the principle. I do not know why the Bill should go any further. We have it on the confession and expressed opinion of the Government and otherwise that the trade has ample resources to indemnify itself. The licensed victualler under the Bill will in nine cases out of ten in the tied houses receive no benefit at all. The tenth man, the free licensed victualler outside, can insure and does insure, and he wants nothing. It is the Government who have stepped forward and said, "Never mind the public, let us look at the interests of the trade." Why should the State entangle itself in this matter at all? Why should we assist this great, powerful, wealthy trade in the country by giving it further millions and large potentialities enabling it to exploit for all time and without restraint a monopoly which belongs to the State? That is the point on which we join issue, and in the interests of the public health, comfort, and welfare we refuse the demand.


I desire to associate myself with the observations of the Leader of the Opposition with reference to the speech of my hon. and learned friend the Member for Blackpool. Those of us who belong to the same profession as the hon. Member have long known of his great ability, and we feel regret that even in the short time he has been a Member of this House he has not often given us the opportunity of hearing him. So far as I am concerned, I would be very well content to leave the statement of the case for the Bill in the speech of the lion, and learned Member for Blackpool, because that speech, which was closely reasoned, and which was based on actual facts and actual experience, has not been answered in any one single detail by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. It has occurred to me as a strange phenomenon in the course of this debate that, while we are attempting to do something to settle a controversy which has now raged for something like thirty years, the only outcome and suggestion of the speeches opposite, and especially that of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to which we have just listened, is that we should leave things exactly as they are. During the last few days in such time as I had at my disposal I took some enjoyment in looking though the history of this question as it is to be found in the records of this House. I found Resolution after Resolution, Bill after Bill, a division this way one time and another way at another time, and I recollected that at almost every election since I can remember we have had the same test questions put to candidates on both sides of the House. Here we are, after all these years, both of us absolutely agreed that something ought to be done to check temperance. [OPPOSITION laughter and cheers.] I am glad that to small a matter can raise a cheer. And what is more, both sides of the House have been all along agreed, and we are now agreed, that the number of licensed houses in almost every district in the country is excessive, and yet we have been unable to make any progress—I say deliberately, any progress— in the legislation of this country for the last thirty years with the view to doing something for amending a state of things which we all deplore.

The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us has, I think, if his argument is sifted, absolutely condemned the existing state of affairs. I mean by that not merely the present existence of too large a number of licensed houses, but the present procedure, and the present action of the magistrates. Why, Sir, what is the fact? It seems to me to be the very strongest argument for the Bill now before the House. During all these past years under the existing system it is claimed for the magistrates that they had absolute discretion, and that they had the power of decreasing these public-houses. I ask, if that is so, why have they not been decreased? Is not that the very strongest argument that there must be something at the back of the system which prevents, not merely isolated benches of magistrates whom you might say were cowardly or were afraid, but the whole magistracy throughout the country, from doing what is said to be their duty? And what is the evidence we have that that is so? I take the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us. He has told us that out of 991 licensing districts last year, only in regard to one licence in each of sixty-two of those districts had there been any interference by the magistrates for the reduction of licensed houses at all on public grounds. That, after all, is the matter we are dealing with. If that is so, I ask, is it because in those 991 districts there are not too many public-houses that the magistrates have not interfered? Of course it must be admitted that that is not so. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monmouthshire, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, introducing his Bill in 1895. I remember him giving an account of an interview he had with some of the magistrates. I think they were from the county of Kent. Here is what he told us— I remember an occasion when the magistrates came as a body to me and asked me to do something to put down the excess of public-houses in the county. I said, 'It is astonishing that you should come to me, because you are the persons who have licensed these houses and who can discontinue doing so.' They replied that such action on their part would be very unpopular, and I said, 'Then what you desire is that I should accept the unpopularity.' Yes, Sir, that is the truth of the matter, that this House is asking the magistrates to do what this House itself dare not, and what this House itself would not venture to do, namely, to lay down that the owners of these licensed premises ought to be evicted from their holding without a single penny of compensation. I say that, so far from blame attaching to the magistrates in reference to this matter, the blame attaches to this House, by reason of the extreme views held on the one side by the extreme temperance party, no doubt from the highest motives, and on the other side by these who have contended that the State has allowed a trade to be built up which ought not to be disturbed without compensation, and that the compensation ought to come out of public money. Because of those extreme views, we have been cowards in not grappling with the question and trying to find a way out of the difficulty for the magistrates.

Now what is the present condition of affairs? I do really ask the attention of the House to what I believe to be an intolerable condition of affairs. I have had the honour of having sent to me a speech made by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain at Birmingham. I have not the pleasure of knowing him, but I should say from the speech—his action generally dictated, I have not the least doubt, by the very highest motives—I should say he has a good deal of the grit of the clan. But what is the complaint Mr. Arthur Chamberlain makes? Birmingham has been active on the question of licensing reform. The magistrates have, I think wrongly, though no doubt conscientiously, been putting in force powers which have for a very long time lain dormant. What has been the result? I ask hon. Members to consider this because in taking Birmingham you take the instance of a place in which the law has been put in force more boldly and more strongly by the magistrates than probably in any other district in the country. What has happened? Why, Sir, the very moment the magistrates began to reduce these houses in any considerable numbers the whole licensing committee were turned off and Mr. Arthur Chamberlain was deposed. What is his own statement in the speech which I have referred to—that, although everybody agrees in Birmingham that there is an excess of public-houses, at the last brewster sessions not one single house has been interfered with, and the question has been allowed to lapse into the state in which it was before the magistrates began to take action. What does that show? It shows that you have a system which is spasmodic—a system which is administered not merely by what we know is generally the exercise of no discretion at all, but a system which is open to the influences of agitation on the one side or the other, and in which the magistrates are unable to pursue the ordinary even tenor of the course of justice because they have not the power of preventing the injustice which is necessarily incurred unless you admit this question of compensation in relation to the extinction of public-houses. How can it be otherwise? The hon. and learned Member for Blackpool gave some experiences of his own as to how some licensed houses were suppressed and others allowed to survive. Why, Sir, the whole question of the administration of justice in reference to the licensing of public-houses is carried on on the principle of a toss-up. And why? Because if you find three houses in a place, any one of which you know has to be suppressed, on what possible principle can you suppress it unless you put the three names into a hat, and tell the man who is drawn out that he has to go away perfectly happy, because this is the proper way to administer justice, and that although he is a ruined man he had an equal chance with the other two of being allowed to survive. Believe me that no law in its administration can be carried on under such circumstances as these, and the very gravest difficulty which those who object to any change in the present system incur, to use a paradox, is the success that they themselves have obtained; because the more it is brought home to the people by administration that the law is in such confusion as I have depicted—the more it is brought home to them that injustice is done—there is, and always must be, such agitation existing against the magistrates, or whoever may be the administering power, that it becomes absolutely impossible to go on and support the plan on which they have acted for the purpose of extinguishing excessive licences.

What further happened as regards licensing last year? The moment the magistrates in the various districts—there were only a few—proceeded to take away a number of these licensed houses a Bill was introduced into this House by my hon. and learned friend the Member for York. How was that Bill received? It was passed by an enormous majority the particular compensation scheme in—two to one—not confined to any particular side of the House, but drawing its numbers from all sides of the House. In the face of a Bill of that kind passing in that way, how can you expect that people will acquiesce in the action of the magistrates? The House of Commons declared by an enormous majority that these licences ought not to be taken away without payment of compensation. Well, surely, if that be so, we ought not o be told by the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House, that the Bill is nothing but a means of interfering with the discretion of the magistrates. Sir, it is exactly the very opposite. The truth in regard to this Bill is that it finds a just and equitable way for the magistrates; and in a few moments when I come to criticise the provisions of the Bill, I think I shall be able to show that every alteration that the Bill proposes in the law is made solely with the view of properly setting up some tribunal for the administration of the compensation fund under the Bill. One matter I noticed in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. That right hon. Gentleman told us a great deal about the compensation provided in the Bill; but he did not tell us whether he was in favour of compensation himself.


The hon. and learned Member for Blackpool told us that.


I say that that is rather a trivial kind of way of treating a serious matter; for, after all, the right hon. Gentleman is necessarily a great authority in the country in relation to this Bill and these debates; and it is not an unfair question to ask whether he is in favour of compensation or whether he is not? That is a vital question, and for this reason. We are, and, as was stated by the hon. Member for Rye, the whole House is, in favour of compensation, and, therefore, what right have we to ask or encourage the magistrates to take away these licences until we have settled that question? Although the right hon. Gentleman has not informed us of his personal opinion on that important point, he said a great deal against this Bill. It is often, perhaps, a wise way to knock down a proposal by criticism, even if you have nothing to set up in its place; but I will show that the right hon. Gentleman's criticism of our scheme is entirely unfounded.

What is his objection to that scheme of compensation? Assume for a moment that you are to have compensation—and I think that he has not denied that—let us see how it ought to be provided. The controversy between the two sides of the House, up to the present moment, has been aggravated by the fact that, on the one side extremists are opposed to compensation or say that the brewers should pay it, and that on the other side it is said that the brewers and others thought that the compensation should be paid out of the public funds. But the right hon. Gentleman asks what is the principle of our Bill? I will tell him that the principle is a compromise between the two extremes. That principle lies in the second main clause of the Bill. First, that you are to have compensation. That is a concession on the one side; the concession on the other side is that the public are not to pay a penny, but that the brewers and the publicans are to find the compensation themselves. What is the objection to the compensation under the Bill which is to be found by the trade? "Oh," says the right hon. Gentleman. "although it is to be found by the trade, it is really public money." That is a startling proposition. That leads a man really to meditate and to argue, "Is any man in the possession of any money at all?" When does the money earned by him in his trade cease to be public money? How much must be given to the State before he has a right to say that any of it is his own? Nobody is more attacked in this House on their salaries than the law officers of the Crown. Yes, but when I am considering the salary I get from the public, can I consider any part of it my own? [An HON. MEMBER: When you get it.] Every part of it is liable to taxation, as I well know, because it is not only taxed, but the amount of the tax is kept back before the salary is paid. If the criterion is to be that the money is money that may at some time form a proper object of taxation, then I cannot see what is the difference between my salary and the money that is earned, not yet the subject of public taxation, by the licensed trade, if that argument had net been used by the right hon. Gentleman, I would have been inclined to apply to it either a schoolboy's phrase or to say it was not worthy of the House of Commons.

What is his next objection? Our Bill provides that the ascertainment of compensation is to be by the Revenue authorities on the same principle that; they ascertain the death duties. Could; anything be fairer? You say to the owner of an estate consisting of a public-house or public-houses, "We value your licensed premises at so much, and therefore you must pay the duty," and we also say, "If we extinguish you for public purposes we shall value your premises at exactly the same rate." The right hon. Gentleman finds fault with that. He says that the Revenue authorities are very grasping and put very high values upon thee premises. Does he see where that argument leads? The high and grasping authority for the State finds nothing in existence and puts an exorbitant valuation upon it. Then the high and grasping authority, when it puts that valuation, comes to the conclusion that it ought to make a valuation in favour of the Revenue. The truth of the matter is, we have put in this provision because we thought that nothing fairer could he devised as a measure by which the owner of the house could get compensation if his house was taken away and extinguished. "But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "you ought to have left a measure of the value to the Courts and not to have taken it away from the Courts." I do not think the light hon. Gentleman is a master of the procedure under this Bill, because if he had been he would have seen that there is an appeal from either of the parties to the High Court from the amount of value that may be assessed by the Inland Revenue Commissioners who make the valuation exactly in the same manner, as there is from the valuation for the death duties. Therefore, I say that, as far as his objection goes to our scheme, if we are to have compensation at all the whole of his argument absolutely fails.

Then the right hon. Gentleman said that nothing is being given to the publican and that everything goes to the brewer. That I deny absolutely. The Bill itself is most explicit on the subject. It says that quarter sessions are to settle the various differences between the publican and the brewer and all other persons interested in the licences. My right, hon. friend asked a question the other day as to whether we could say how much each will get. How can you say how much each will get, having regard to the varied and diverse agreements? [Ironical OPPOSITION cheers.] I recognise the cheer. It is impossible to state that. The only fair way in which that can be ascertained to leave it to the tribunal which knows what it is doing in extinguishing licences in a district or county where the magistrates themselves live, and who, I think, will take care that ample justice is done as well to the publican as to the brewer.

The right hon. Gentleman made a number of criticisms as regards our interference with the magistrates. Sir, I said before, and I repeat, that there has been no interference with the magistrates under the Bill which is not necessitated by the fact that you have to distribute money for compensation. In the first place, as regards new licences the question is left practically as it was before. If there is a refusal of a new licence, and there never has been an appeal to any other tribunal in that case, the matter remains exactly the same under the Bill. If there is a granting of a new licence in a county you have always to get confirmation from quarter sessions, or I think the district licensing committee of the quarter sessions; and practically it is the same in the non-county boroughs. No change has been made because the justices in the borough will confirm and there will be no difference. Therefore as regards new licences nothing whatever can be said, but as regards renewal of existing licences let us see how the matter stands. The whole difficulty in framing the Bill in regard to the renewal of licences has been to find what is the proper compensation area. The Bill has no intention whatever of taking away any power from the magistrates which they already have. It would be impossible to set up each bench of licensing magistrates as a compensation authority. You must have a compensating authority so large that you will be able to raise sufficient revenue for the purpose of extinguishing public-houses, and the only interference with the present tribunal, and the sole reason for it, is that you must have one authority, and we have selected the quarter sessions for the administration of the compensation fund they are to receive. There is no initiative now, nor has there ever been any initiative, in quarter sessions, as to the refusal of renewals. That remains, exactly as it was before, with the local justices, with this alteration that they cannot themselves say that they refuse the licence and let an appeal be to quarter sessions; but they will say: "We recommend quarter sessions to refuse the licence" and quarter sessions will refuse the licence if they are satisfied that circumstances warrant it. That is the whole difference. The great mistake in the argument is to suppose that the local justices ever had unfettered power to refuse a renewal. They had no such power; every case had to go to quarter sessions. So far from wishing to take any power from the licensing justices, our idea was that quarter sessions with the report before them would be a better administrative body. Not only would the licensing justices be heard, but the committee of quarter sessions would be bound to have consultation with the licensing justices who had made the report, and to ascertain from them their views, when they came to the selection of the various houses which ought to be extinguished, and which funds allowed should be extinguished, for the purposes of determining which of the various houses in the different areas within the jurisdiction of the quarter sessions should be removed. This, at all events, is not a scheme for taking away the power of the local justices. You are really giving local justices much greater power, much more dignified power. I ask the House whether it is better that we should stay as we are, carrying on the old struggle and doing nothing, or is it better that we should apply, at the expense of the trade, £1,200,000 a year, for the purpose of extinguishing unnecessary licences. Nay more; is it better that we should leave indefinitely in existence the 35,000 licences which no magistrate can touch, or is it better that in a general scheme, and as part of a compromise between the parties, that they should come in and that magistrates should obtain the same absolute control over them that they have long since had over other licensed houses.

The whole question in this case is, ought there to be compensation, or ought there not? The moment you agree that there ought to be compensation, I say that our Bill will hold the field until you give us a better alternative. In the debate up to the present no such alternative has been given. I have looked back through the debates on this question, and the one matter upon which there has been a unanimity, an almost absolute unanimity, on the part of all responsible Ministers on both sides of the House, through the long series of years which commenced in 1871, has been that you cannot destroy an existing trade such as the licensed trade without paying compensation. Mr. Brace's Bill, which was brought in by a Liberal Government, and which was perhaps the most advanced Bill which was ever attempted to be passed though this House, laid down in the most absolute terms that no Party and no Government could dare to face the extinction of any property or any trade without giving compensation, and at that time compensation meant compensation out of public money. In 1880, coming down a decade, the hon. Baronet who has been such an honourable champion of the cause to which he has devoted a great portion of his life, had a very curious experience in this House. His Motion for local option was at one time defeated, and shortly afterwards a general election occurred and then it was carried by a large majority. I have looked through the debates on those Motions and I have found that every Leader of the Liberal Party and of this Party— one and all said that they could not deal with the question without admitting the principle of compensation. One of the most remarkable speeches in those debates was made by the late Mr. Gladstone, whose speeches are so often appealed to in this House. Although Mr. Gladstone was in complete sympathy with the views of the hon. Baronet, because his Motion did not embody a grant for compensation for the extinction of licences he absolutely refused to vote with the hon. Baronet. He said on that occasion— We ought not to allow our prejudices with regard to this particular trade, or our sense of the enormous mischiefs associated with its working, to cause us to deviate by one hair's breadth from the principle on which Parliament has always acted in analogous circumstances— namely, that where a vested interest has been allowed to grow up the question of compensation should be considered when such vested interests were proposed to be interfered with by Act of Parliament. What I am prepared to say is neither more nor less than this, that the licensed victualler has the same right to fair consideration that is enjoyed by persons following every other trade or calling which is interfered with by Act of Parliament, and to whom compensation is awarded owing to such interference. We must not allow—I need not say that Gentlemen on this side of the House will not allow—any political feeling or prejudice to interfere with the rectitude of our judgment, or to prevent us from giving the same measure of justice or indulgence to licensed victuallers that we should give to any other class in the community. If that be so, I am inclined to think that this Resolution, which is to be regarded as a sort of charter laying down the lines of our future conduct, ought to contain at least an allusion to the question of compensation. When Parliament enacted negro emancipation it was preceded by a preliminary Resolution in which the principle of compensation was recognised. My hon. friend says we must wait till a claim for compensation is made. Parliament does not act on that principle. Where the facts presented the possibility of such a claim the recognition of the policy has, I think, taken place in the original proceedings of Parliament. In the face of these difficulties I am not able to support the Resolution of my hon. friend, while I certainly shall not place myself in the position of appearing to give a constructive sanction to the present law.

SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cornwall, Camborne)

He voted for me afterwards.


But not in the division.


Oh, no! I meant in a later year.


I have no means of knowing how the change was brought about. I take the fact as I find it there. What has happened since? I shall only read one other quotation to the House, and I apologise for so doing, but this is the whole matter and root of the controversy. In 1890 Lord Randolph Churchill, who everybody knows was as keen a reformer of the licensing law as ever sat in this House, made a speech which, as many of his speeches have done, won not only the admiration of those present but of those who have read them since, and having shown his entire acquaintance with the whole question and having won the applause of both sides of the House, he then said— But I hold that compensation for vested interests is an indispensable accompaniment to any scheme of licensing reform. Any such reform not accompanied by compensation for vested interests would be sheer confiscation and robbery. and later on he said— It has been admitted on both sides of the House that the custom of renewing licences has become so prevalent and so strong that the licences so issued have become property, and I think that in the discussion of this question yhe arguments in favour of compensation for vested interests have predominated. Well, Sir, if those have been the opinions of those great authorities—I use them not as trying to influence the House—but if through a long series of years, from 1871, every responsible Minister on both sides of the House has put forward this same idea as regards compensation, was it not natural that the licensed trade, who were investing their money, should look to what was being said in this House as to what were their rights, and how those rights were likely to be dealt with if ever they were to be interfered with by this House?

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

There was the Bill of 1895.


That was not a serious Bill. That was a Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He did admit some claim for compensation with a time limit of a very diminutive character, but I well recollect Sir Edward Clarke stating that it was not a serious Bill and it would never be put down for Second Reading, and it never was. The Government came to an end, but more than that happened — the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was turned out, largely, I expect, by the influence of the licensed trade in that district. Then we come in and we have a Commission appointed. The Commission make two Reports—a Majority Report which everybody, curiously enough, I suppose because it is a Majority Report, seems to neglect—and also a Minority Report. But both Reports were unanimous in recommending compensation. It is true they did not approach the question in exactly the same way—one was in favour of money compensation, and the other was in favour, if I recollect aright, of some time limit compensation.

The question of time limit is one that is likely to give rise to a good deal of confusion, for the simple reason that nearly everybody uses the phrase "time limit" in an absolutely different sense. There are two alternatives. You can give the alternative of a number of years in which the trade will not be disturbed and tell them, "That is your compensation," or you can tell them. "If you are disturbed we will give you money." I do not suppose the trade would care very much which they got if you made the term of years long enough, because in both cases it is a question of insurance, and therefore it would come to the same thing. Let those who think there ought to be a time limit ask themselves if they mean a time limit accompanied by a compulsory insurance which is to have no effect when the time expires. That is as if I was asked to enter into an engagement to make an insurance upon my own life in which the only good fortune that could happen to me would be that I should die within a specified period limited by the insurance. The truth of the matter is that this question of a time limit is a question for Committee, because until we know what it is and the particular Member proposes it, it is impossible to discuss it. What is the number of years you propose?—that must be at the very root if it. Do you propose it concurrently with the compensation scheme under the Bill? If you do, you are at once met by this, that if you make it a short period of years then the money available for the purchase of the excess of licensed houses will at once decrease and the borrowing power will at once become impossible, because you cannot give up your insurance after you have gone beyond the time limit. On the other hand, if you mean it as an alternative you revolutionise the Bill. All I say to those who think there ought to be a time limit, and have some definite proposal in their minds, is that when we come to Committee by all means, if it is necessary, let us discuss it and see whether a time limit can be framed which will not in the least degree militate against the scheme of this Bill which is an insurance scheme for the licensed publican, and let us not talk wildly on the subject until we have the absolute scheme itself before us.

I have trespassed a long time on the patience of the House, and I shall only say in conclusion that I believe we have now come to an arrangement which would have been impossible at any other time. I believe hon. Gentlemen opposite will accept the principle of compensation if on the other hand the trade will accept the principle that the compensation is to be paid by themselves. If that is so I believe we have established a principle of licensing reform which may be invaluable for its future development. But if we neglect the present opportunity and adopt the non possumus attitude adopted by those on the other side of the House at the present time, then, Sir, the old bitter dispute will go on with the same result that has happened for the last thirty years. You will subordinate the interest of temperance to the interest of politics, and at the end of a long number of years you will be no better off than you are now.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

complimented the hon. and learned Gentleman on the able manner in which he had defended a very bad Bill. One or two of the points made had an interest quite beyond the mere discussion of the Bill, particularly in the last few words uttered with regard to the time limit. He was very glad to find that the attitude the hon. and learned Gentleman had adopted in that regard was very different to that adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, and if he might say so was a very much more statesmanlike attitude. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not close his mind to the consideration of possible schemes for a time limit. He had suggested a few considerations, some of which it was of the greatest importance to take into account before the Committee stage. The hon. and learned Member suggested time limit with insurance, time limit without insurance, and insurance without time limit. Those were three things which the House must take into consideration before the Committee stage arrived. It was with the greatest delight that he found the Government had not closed their minds upon that. With regard to the time limit, he would only say it was assumed that the question was entirely a question of whether they were going to close a number of public-houses without giving equitable consideration to the persons whose houses were to be closed through no fault of their own. He did not believe that was the question. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division had made it perfectly clear, so far as he was concerned, that he was prepared to consider any scheme of that kind which would meet with hard cases such as had been suggested during the discussion. Let it not, therefore, be treated as if it was a mere matter of compensation on one side and no sympathetic treatment on the other. In reference to the time limit the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary put the case of a man paying his insurance on a time limit of twenty years, and who, at the end of twenty years, when his licence came to a termination, did not get a penny from his insurance. True, but it was better for him to live that twenty years than that somebody else should have received his insurance at the end of ten years. During the ten years his earnings would probably be considerably move than the highest insurance he would ever contemplate. The same would apply to tin1 publican, he would take a case with a rental of £250 a year. On that the publican would pay possibly £30 per annum; which in twenty years would amount to £600. But his profits would be at least double his rent, or £5 a year; so that at the end of twenty years he would have made £10,000, and paid only £500. If asked which he would prefer, the £600 insurance or the £10,000 profit, there was not the slightest doubt that he would rather go on paying the insurance throughout the period.

Then the power of dividing the compensation was given to the quart sessions. If that power were absolute, or if any principle were laid down it would be exceedingly valuable. Personally, he would go very far in the direction of giving them a discretion in the distribution of the fund. The right hon. Gentleman had been asked how the fund was to be divided between the publican and the owner of the premises, and that was a very important question. The man who suffered the real hardship was the man deprived of his living. After having spent the whole of his life in a single trade he was turned adrift, and if a general reduction of licences was proceeding over the country it must be very difficult to find employment of a similar character. In such a case there was a certain hardship which ought to be met. Whether it should bi met by a time limit or by pecuniary compensation was another matter. This question of compensation was really a more serious blot on the Bill than he hid imagined possible. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that, the division of the money would depend on the agreements. About nine-tenths of the public-houses in the country were practically tied houses, in which the men earning their living as publicans were subject to three, six, or twelve months and in some eases even to a week's notice. If those agreements were taken into account, and the division made on leg d principles of assessment, the publican would be turned adrift with three months salary in his pocket, while the whole of the compensation went to the speculators in the licence. What was the good of talking about principles of justice and equity, and then introducing a Bill under which all the benefit went to the gambler in licences and none to the man who was deprived of his living.

The right hon. Gentleman had entered upon a review of the various attempts which had been made to settle the temperance question. It was a dismal record! No end of Resolutions had been carried and Bills referred to Committees upstairs or passed through their Second Reading, and then had come to naught. But what had that fact to do with this Bill? If this were a real effort to settle the question he could understand an appeal being based on the failures of the past. Instead of that, it was a Bill to add to existing difficulties. No matter what scheme had been suggested —whether municipalisation, companies, new trusts, reduction of licences, high licence duty, Gothenburg system—the present Bill set up a barrier against it. Everybody admitted that a reduction of licences was desirable, that as to drinking habits we compared badly with any other civilised nation in the world, and that great evils were produced by intemperance; and yet the Prime Minister, surveying the situation with the eye of statesmanship, declared that nothing could be done, and that the only reform possible was a further protection of the drink traffic.

Upon what ground was a freehold valuation to be granted for these, licences? If the drink trade came to the House of Commons, admitting they had no legal claim, but asking that equitable consideration should be given to men who had been earning their living under legal sanction, and were now to be deprived of that living, he did not believe any Party in the House would refuse to consider the matter in that light. But if they came declaring they had a legal right, and demanding legal compensation, the country was entitled to treat them on a perfectly legal basis and see how they came out. Every speaker acquainted with the law had admitted that the publican had only an annual licence. It was true he had a legal expectation of renewal, and his chances would probably be 200 or 300 to one, but what the opponents of this Bill complained of was that that expectation was converted into a right. The assessment of the Inland Revenue officials had been quoted as a proof that a licence was a legal property. What other legal property was there with the same attributes—a property of which the holder could be deprived for misconduct or because his neighbours did not wish him to possess it? It was really not a property at all; the highest at which it could be put was that of a reasonable expectation. What the Estates Commissioners said was: "You have a licence for a year, but we admit you have a reasonable expectation that it will be renewed provided you are not guilty of misconduct and it is not proved to be unnecessary." Upon that expectation gamblers speculated. It was a reasonable speculation, but it was a speculation on chances. There were elements of uncertainty in it, and what the Inland Revenue authorities said was: "If those chances are good enough to speculate upon they are good enough to pay duty upon." If this Bill introduced any new element of uncertainty there might be a claim for compensation, but instead of that it added an element of certainty to the granting of the licence by putting difficulties in the way of refusing, by depriving magistrates of the power of withdrawing absolutely, and by depriving the public of the right of appearing before the Court which decided the matter. That being so, what claim was there for compensation? These were annual licences, renewable on consideration at an annual gathering of magistrates. What distinction was there between that, and an annual tenancy? Hundreds of thousands of tenants in the country could say that they occupied property on an annual lease which from time immemorial had been renewed Were the Government prepared to carry this principle to the extent of saying that no man should be evicted from an annual tenancy unless he received freehold valuation for his property?

The Irish Land Act might be taken as an illustration. In Ireland there was an annual tenancy which had been renewed for generations, but when Mr. Gladstone proposed to convert that tenancy into a reasonable certainty, hon. Members opposite cried "Confiscation!" Confiscation of whose right? Of the right of the man who granted the annual lease to the tenant! There were similarities and a difference between the two cases. Both were annual; both might have been renewed from time immemorial; both had reasonable expectations of renewal which could be actuarialy calculated. In one case that expectation was converted into a certainty, and there was this difference In Ireland it was only a great public necessity, that the country was in a state of revolution, that the country was devastated, that there was poverty, misery, and distress, and scores of thousands of the best subjects in Ireland being driven away to America. Therefore nothing would justify that course except the most urgent public necessity which was in the interest of Ireland, and Mr. Gladstone never put it on any other ground. It was a measure of urgency and an exceptional Bill to meet exceptional circumstances. Now the Government said there was a great necessity for converting the publican's annual licence into a freehold. Did anyone contend that it was being done in the interests of the country? Could anyone point out any desolation or distress caused by the 300 evictions of licensed holders, or to any devastation of the country side, as was the case in Ireland, where whole villages were converted into a wilderness, as anyone who had been to Ireland must have seen. In Ireland at that time scores of thousands of healthy, strong peasants crossed the Atlantic, but simply 300 out of 100,000 licences were now deemed sufficient in the interests of the publicans to bring forward these proposals. And yet the Party who denounced the first transaction in the interests of Ireland were now prepared to do the very same thing in this case when it was in the interests of a corporation.

He would put the case from another point of view; they were told to remember the interests of the publican and to remember the interests of the capitalist who had sunk money in public-houses. Was there anyone else who had got any interest in the matter? The freehold now was vested in the public. What was known in law as the reversionary interest was now vested in the public. Were they only going to consider a freehold when it was vested in landlords, and disregard it when it was vested in the public? The magistrates had no right to consider the interest of the 100,000 tenants. They should give them fair conditions, and no more, but it was in the interests of the public that they renewed the licences out of the freehold vested in the public. What was the proposal now? The public interest in the reversion was a financial one; it was represented, if they liked, in cash, Hon. Members had, if he might say so, declined to consider any interest which they could not materialise into capital. They could materialise the reversionary interest of the public, even in cash. What was it? The rates, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, which were the result of the administration of the licensing laws, would be higher, and that was the cash interest. What was more, if they had got an excess of licences, they depreciated the value of property throughout the whole district. That was the financial interest of the people in licensing. Anyone who had watched the thing knew how, if there was an excess of drinking in a neighbourhood, the industry in that neighbourhood was affected. Take any great industrial town like Sheffield or Manchester, or anywhere else: they might take, if they liked, the towns of South Wales in the same way. On Monday mornings they found hundreds of thousands of workmen not in a fit condition to carry on their trade. One result of this was that industry was dislocated. The excess of drinking did produce a dislocation of industry, and what did that mean? It meant that they reduced the prosperity of the town, that they crippled its industry, and everybody suffered because of the man whose profit was largely dependent upon the excess in drinking. What did this Bill do? It said that the pecuniary interest of the men or the corporations who were making the profit out of that very evil which brought trade to a standstill and dislocated industry should be protected and that they would recognise and materialise his interest; but with regard to the financial interest of the vast mass of the public who had an honest interest in the property depreciated the Government said, "We will confiscate that, and this freehold we will transfer to somebody else who is making a profit out of it." What was the use of talking about confiscation? This Bill was the grossest confiscation ever introduced into this House, and it was not justified upon any principle of public interest at all.

The Government talked as if this was the first time a Bill had ever been produced for curtailing licences. Anybody who had read the history of the Licensing Laws knew that a series of laws had been brought in from the days of Henry VII. for the purpose of suppressing licences. He would give a quotation from one Act, namely, the 5th and 6th Edward VI., which was as follows:— For as much as intolerable hurts and troubles to the commonwealth of this realm do grow and increase in common ale-houses, and other houses called tippling-houses, it is, therefore, enacted that the justices of the peace can in every shire, city, borough, or town, within the realm, two of them at least, shall have full power to remove, discharge, or put away the common selling of ale and beer in any alehouses or tippling-houses in such towns. In those days full power was granted to the magistrates to do away with those houses whenever they liked, and there was no power of compensation. Take the Act of George II., when the same thing was done with regard to distilleries, which were suppressed absolutely, without a suggestion of compensation. Then there was the Act of George III., when heaps of licences were suppressed, especially in the City of London, because they were a common danger and created drunkenness. Nobody ever thought of suggesting that there should be compensation to anybody, for it was considered that they were a danger to the public peace, and ought to be suppressed, and that was considered to be quite enough.

What was the present position? Here was a great monopoly and a very valuable one. What was the meaning of a monopoly? They did not want to licence butchers' houses, or grocers', or drapery businesses, and why did they licence the trade? The suggestion was that a publican might break the law. The meaning was that here was a commodity which the public demanded, which was a public necessity, or at least, that was the assumption of the law. But it was also a great public danger; if people got drink in excess it was a danger to the public, to the public health, and to the public welfare. They could not possibly by means of police regulations prevent publicans selling more drink than was good for the public. Therefore, they had to take the best means of examining their character, and they must have men they could trust, who would not take an unfair advantage of the monopoly. That was really what all this licensing monopoly meant. They could not trust everybody. How had the trade conducted that trust? Had they kept faith with the public? In this country they drank twice as much per head as the people of the United States of America, and there was a considerable excess of drinking even in America. In this country there were 160,000 convictions for drunkenness every year, and these were all so many breaches of faith with the public, and everyone of them represented a breach of the trust, upon which the monopoly was granted. The way in which they produced poverty, crime, and misery, showed that somebody or other had broken faith with the public. If the trade had exercised discipline within its own borders, there might have been a case made out for this Bill. This trade was not the only monopoly, for they had the solicitors' monopoly, though not to the same extent, for solicitors would not get thirteen years purchase. Take the case of the medical profession, which, to a certain extent, constituted a monopoly. They got some sort of recognition from the State. Take both the legal and the medical professions. They recognised that they had a monopoly and that they must keep faith with the public who granted it. What was the result? They established bodies for their defence like the Incorporated Law Society and the General Medical Council in order to maintain discipline. Those two bodies exercised disciplinary powers over their respective professions, and they dealt not merely with offences against the law, but exercised a discipline where something was done which they regarded as contrary to the honour of the profession to which they belonged, and which tended to dishonour and degrade it and make the public lose confidence in it. He did not mean to say that that discipline was as effective as it ought to be, but at any rate they were bodies which initiated discipline in their own ranks. Had the trade done that? On the contrary, when there was a prosecution for a breach of the law the Society of Licensed Victuallers placed the whole of the resources of their trade at the disposal of the man who had broken the law and he never heard of the Licensed Victuallers Association acknowledging that they owed a great duty to the public who had given them this monopoly. It should be a point of honour with them to keep faith with the public who had allowed them this monopoly. All these breaches of the law represented increased profits, increased value and increased compensation. The trade had no right to come to the public and claim compensation until they had first kept faith with the public.

It was said that a practice had grown up, but the practice had not gone beyond this—that as long as a publican conducted himself properly and as long as the neighbourhood wanted the public-house the licence would be renewed. The advocates of temperance had never claimed anything more. He regretted that the Government had not taken this opportunity of really attempting a settlement of this question. He remembered an article in the Spectator two or three years ago—before that journal had quarrelled with the Government on other issues—in which it congratulated the Government on having escaped the swing of the pendulum, warned them that they would not escape again, and counselled them to act as if they were going to die and bring in honest Bills. Two of the measures recommended were University education for Ireland and redistribution of seats. A third was, or ought certainly to have been, this temperance question, which was a difficult one for any Party to take up, although it urgently demanded attention in the real interest of this country. Now let him make an appeal to the Prime Minister, if he might do so. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman take this question up and try to effect a real settlement? Let him take the Spectator's advice, especially as it did not very much matter what he did now. His chance would not come again until alter the next general election. Here was a question of enormous importance, and he had a perfectly unique opportunity of settling it. There were extreme men on both sides of the House. He said the same thing in regard to the education question. He had always felt in regard to the education question that if they could close their doors, turn out the reporters, and vote by ballot they would be able to solve their difficulties by the morning. Similarly with the temperance question. He was certain there were men on the Benches opposite who were sincerely desirous of settling this question and who were as fully convinced of the dangers of the drink traffic as any tee- totaler. He was convinced the Prime Minister could bring in a Bill which, while it might perhaps excite animosity on the part of the brewery interests, and he dared say on the part of his hon. friend the Member for Cornwall, would really help to settle the question. But the right hon. Gentleman had introduced a Bill, which made settlement impossible—a pusillanimous Bill, which left a terrific problem for somebody in the future to settle. If the Prime Minister had come down and said that this was a question which must be settled, and that he was going to face unpopular compensation, if he had said that it would cost so much to the country one would have felt symyathy with him, and admired the daring of the scheme, but at the same time one would have felt that he was making a real effort to settle the question. But this Bill was simply putting off the evil day and making that evil day worse when it arrived. If the right hon. Gentleman were to follow the example of a great predecessor in his own Party—Sir Robert Peel—and. not considering the selfish interests of men on his own side, not considering even extreme appeals from the other side, but simply considering that there was a great evil from which his country was suffering, and that the opportunity had arrived for settling it, and boldly faced the problem and insisted on settling it, he would have added lustre to the great renown he had already attained.

* MR. BUTCHER (York)

said the hon. Member had vaguely indicated, but had not explained, some possible solution of this question which would enable the lion and the lamb to lie down together. How lamentable it was that the hon. Member had not taken advantage of the golden opportunity and sketched out this ideal settlement of a difficult problem. He had not even been able to discover from the hon. Member's remarks what his real views were on the main question involved in the Bill, that of compensation. He was not quite sure that the hon. Member knew himself. Although at the beginning of his speech the hon. Member said he was prepared to give a man who was dispossessed of his licence "sympathetic treatment," the greater part of his speech attempted to prove that the owner of the licence belonged to the criminal class.


There are some things I do not mind when they are said by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I really must protest against, the statement, for somebody might believe it somewhere, that I tried to prove that the owner of a licence was a member of the criminal class. I never said anything so preposterous and stupid.


said he was delighted to hear that the hon. Gentleman repudiated that interpretation of his speech, but he must say that that was the impression he had derived from the way in which the hon. Member had spoken of the holders of these licences. But if the hon. Member was vague in his views as to compensation there was nothing vague in the views he expressed as to the demerits of this Bill, which he had described, in language of extravagant exaggeration, as one of the greatest acts of confiscation he had ever known. It was hardly necessary to comment on that language. He wished to examine the question not in the interest of any class or trade, but in the interest of the community at large whom he recognised as deeply interested in the regulation of the liquor trade. He supposed that every man in this House must deeply and earnestly desire to rid the country of the curse of drunkenness. For his own part he sometimes doubted whether by legislation alone they were likely to effect any great diminution in drunkenness. He looked forward to effect that result by the better education of the people, better conditions of housing, and reasonable means of recreation; but he thought that in the meantime they were bound to do the best they could by legislation to diminish this great evil. Some of the proposals that had been made, he confessed, were framed in disregard of the real facts of the situation. What were these facts? The first was that for a very great number of years the State had granted a licence or authority to individuals to carry on the sale of drink. It was true that the State had imposed certain stringent conditions, and it was right that if a person broke those conditions he should tear the penalty. But when a man in that trade observed all the conditions which the State imposed upon him, he was entitled to as fair and reasonable treatment as if he were engaged in selling tea, ginger beer, or any other commodity. That was not such a commonplace as it might seem, because some of the speeches which were heard, and some of the expressions and resolution he had received would lead one to imagine that a man engaged in the trade of drink-selling was a malefactor. In fact, many of the proposals made in the alleged interests of temperance were made, not so much to promote temperance as to injure the publicans. He maintained that they were no more entitled to treat a man who sold drink as a malefactor, than the man who consumed drink in a perfectly moderate manner as a criminal.

The second consideration was this, that while the licence under which a person had been selling drink was in a strictly legal sense renewable only year by year, by a long course of custom it had been renewed almost as a matter of course in the absence of misconduct. The effect of that long usage and custom had been to give the licence a definite value as property. Now, that value had been recognised, not only by the individuals themselves, but over and over again by the State. That property value had been rated, it had paid rates; it had been valued for death duties, and had paid death duties. He had in his hands a paper issued by the Inland Revenue in 1890, showing that when a man who had any interest either as an owner, leaseholder, or mortgagee in licensed premises died, the State exacted duties on the basis that the licence would be continuously renewed, and that the licence had a corresponding value. It was inconceivable for him to understand how it could be gravely urged that property which was rated and which paid death duties to the State was not property at all. He believed the State would never be a party to so gross an injustice as was involved in that assertion. It was desirable to get out of their heads some of the cant sometimes heard about wealthy brewers. If it was not fair to take away a licence from a poor man, it could not be right to take it away from a rich man. In the course of years thousands of small investors had invested their savings in licensed property on the footing that the licence would be renewed, and in that they had only followed the lead of the State itself. Were these men to be told that because they had followed the lead of the State they were to be deprived of their property, because the State had changed its mind? So far, the facts were open and notorious. The State granted this licence, and the licence was regarded as having a definite property value.

But now came the crux of the whole situation. They had on the one hand the fact that there was a general consensus of opinion that there ought to be a large reduction in the number of licensed premises. On the other hand, there was a strong public opinion that it was a gross injustice to deprive a man of what had been recognised as property without compensating him, if he had committed no wrong. It was said, and perfectly truly, that as matters stood, a very small reduction of licences was practically possible. The main reason for that was, that the licensing magistrates acted as fair minded and reasonable men. When they were asked to suppress an unnecessary licence they were put in a most difficult position; if they refused a renewal of the licence to a holder, who had done no wrong, they did an injustice to that man, and if they granted a renewal of the licence, they did an injustice to the public. The conclusion to which they were led was to his mind inevitable, that n they wanted to carry out a great public object, which all agreed was desirable, they must introduce some system of compensation to the men who were wiped out. There they were brought face to face with the first principle of the Bill, namely, that of compensation, as to which the House had expressed its opinion last year. To his mind, when they had settled that there was to be compensation, and that that compensation was to come out of the trade, they had settled the two principles on which the Bill was founded, and the rest was mainly machinery for the purpose of carrying out those principles.

Many of the objections to the Bill were founded on ignorance; others, he was afraid, had o less reputable foundation. He had in his hand a pamphlet sent to him by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, which exhibited the high-water mark of unreasonableness that had been reached by the opponents of the Bill. In that pamphlet Mr. Arthur Chamberlain said that the compensation fund would be wholly insufficient, and he made the assertion that under the Bill it would take 180 years to reduce the licences to a reasonable number. How did he attempt to prove that astounding assertion? He made two entirely inaccurate statements. The first was, that the compensation fund for Birmingham would be £14,000. Unfortunately, it would be exactly double, or more; it would amount to £29,000. The other assertion was, that there would not be more than seven licences reduced in Birmingham in each year under the Bill taking £2,000 as the average estimated value of a licence. He should say that £500 was nearer the mark, and on that basis, instead of seven licences being reduced in each year in Birmingham, there would be something like sixty. If these statements of Mr. Arthur Chamberlain were so inaccurate as regarded Birmingham, which he was supposed to know well, the House might judge how far his statements would be accurate in regard to other parts of the country of which he was ignorant. On page nineteen of the pamphlet. Mr. Arthur Chamberlain said that Clause 9, though very short, and apparently very simple, appeared to him to be as dangerous as any clause in the Bill. Now, what was Clause 9? It ran— This Act may be cited as the Licensing Act, 1904, and may be cited, and shall be construed, as one with the Licensing Act, 1828 to 1902. The Act shall not extend to Scotland or Ireland. Mr. Arthur Chamberlain objected to this clause on the ground that it gave an appeal from the committee of the quarter sessions to the quarter sessions itself. Mr. Arthur Chamberlain might be relieved of his apprehensions, because he was as erroneous in his interpretation of the law as he was in his statement of facts. There would be no such appeal.

With reference to the statement of the hon. Member for Carvarvon Boroughs that the effect of this Bill would be to convert licences into freeholds, be maintained that the Bill would not turn licences into freeholds, but that it recognised that licences had a definite property value, and, if a licence were taken away through no fault of the person holding it, that he should be provided with compensation on the same scale as the State adopted in assessing death duties. They were told that the Bill would destroy the power of the local justices with regard to renewal, but as far as county boroughs were concerned that was an entire and complete misconception, because the powers of the local justices as to refusing the renewal of unnecessary licences were very largely increased. As regard d the change which was proposed with reference to brewster sessions in the counties it was a change more of machinery than of substance. At present, when a licence was taken away on grounds other than the misconduct of the holder, there was inevitably an appeal to quarter sessions; but under the Bill, instead of having one hearing at the brewster sessions and another at quarter sessions, there would only be one hearing before quarter sessions; but the local justices would still retain their power of initiative, and it would be more easy for them to make their wishes known to quarter sessions, and to make quarter sessions act on them under the Bill, than it was at present. At present there could only be a very small reduction in the number of licensed houses; but under the Bill a very much greater reduction would be effected which he believed would meet the legitimate desires of the most sincere and convinced temperance reformers. He supported the Bill because he believed it to be in the interests of temperance, because it brought under the jurisdiction of the magistrates the ante-1869 beerhouses, a class of licensed property which they had long desired to deal with, and enabled the justices, without injustice to any class, to effect a far greater reduction in the number of unnecessary licensed premises than was possible under the present system. He believed that this Bill was a fair solution of this difficult question, which the House of Commons had long and vainly attempted to find—a solution which would at once be fair to the licensed trade and at the same time conduce to the interests of sobriety and to the general advantage of the community.

* MR. ASHTON (Bedfordshire, Luton)

said the hon. Gentleman stated that he would support the Bill because he thought it was a measure which would promote temperance. He himself would oppose it because he believed it would accomplish very little in the direction of temperance. There was no power in the Bill for the compulsory reduction of licences at all; and it made an enormous present to the public-house owner without giving any corresponding advantage to the public. It would take away property which was recognised as belonging to the public, without giving the public anything in return. He was prepared to say that something might be done in fairness and equity for the publican in the way of a compassionate allowance—some might call it compensation—if his licence were taken away because it was unnecessary; but he was not prepared to convert a licence into a freehold. That would not be an act of fairness or of justice. He should vote against the Bill in the first place because it did not contain a time limit. He was glad to observe from speeches of hon. Members opposite that a certain number of them were in favour of a time limit; and he was also glad to notice that the Solicitor-General did not entirely bar out the possibility of a time limit being introduced. He quite understood the objection which was taken to a time limit, namely, that at the end of it Parliament would be faced with the very same difficulty that now existed. But if compensation were given until the time limit expired, and if that compensation were given on a gradually reducing scale, a great deal would be done to bring down licences to their proper value at the end of the time limit. A further safeguard might be introduced under the Bill. Provision was to be made for dealing with new licences, and he would suggest that a clause should be introduced into the Bill practically to the same effect as any clause which dealt with new licences, and that when the time limit expired, the monopoly value of the licences should be used in the same way as it was proposed to use the monopoly value of new licences.

He hoped the Home Secretary would explain the meaning of Clause 2, which provided compensation for licences which were taken away. The first subsection of that clause said that where a quarter sessions refused to renew a licence a sum equal to the difference between the value of the licensed premises, calculated as if the Act had not been passed, and the value which the premises would bear if not licensed, should be paid as compensation to the persons interested in the premises. He sought to obtain information by way of a Question from the Home Secretary as to the meaning of the words "calculated as if this Act had not been passed"; but the right hon. Gentleman said it would not be possible to give a full answer in a reply to a Question. He hoped, however, before the debate finished that an explanation would be given. As far as he understood it, the intention of the Government was a perfectly proper one. They evidently desired to limit the amount of compensation to the value of the licence at the present time. Naturally, after the Bill passed the value of licensed houses would be greater; and the Government recognised that the public had some right in the matter, and, therefore, wished to limit the amount of compensation to the present value. He did not see how that was going to be carried into effect. It was a worthy idea, but, in his opinion, impracticable. The value of these licences before the First Reading of this Bill was very different to their value after the Bill had been read a third time before passing into law. Were the licences to be taken at their value before the Bill became law or at the value they would be after? That was a matter which ought to be cleared up. His main objection, however, was the difficulty there would be in the future of assessing the value of a public-house at a past date. In valuing a public-house the valuer went to the rate-book, to the rent certificate, and to the assessment for income-tax, all of which altered and varied from year to year, and then, having made his calculations from them, he took into consideration the position of the house, and so arrived at the value of that house. But he could not say twenty years hence how much a house was worth in 1904. All the conditions would or might be altered. That was a very serious matter, though that difficulty might have been got over if the way suggested by the Majority Report of the Licencing Commission had been adopted. The suggestion made by that Report was that the owner should value the house by making a declaration of value, at which it should be assessed and at which it should be bought and sold, subject, and of course, to an appeal by the licensing committee against the value declared. In that way this difficulty might have been got rid of.

He considered the transfer of the powers of the brewster sessions to the quarter sessions to be a retrograde step. In fact they were 200 years behind the time in dealing with this matter. In 1729 a Bill was passed by the House which completely reversed the principle of this Bill. At that time the House considered the right persons to deal with this matter were those upon the spot. Our predecessors had discovered, as we should discover in the future, that the persons who best knew the requirements of a neighbourhood were those who lived close to it. The principles of this Bill were a reversal not only of the Act and experience of old times, but also of the policy of everybody interested in temperance reform for the past thirty years. Even the Majority Report of the Commission recommended that persons having local knowledge should be added to the licensing committees to the number of a third of the whole. In this matter they were travelling in the wrong direction. He would have liked to have seen a large measure of local option and those who with himself held that opinion would have to oppose this Bill to the utmost. Up to now the magistrates had felt that they were responsible for the well-being and proper conduct of the public-houses in their neighbourhood, and the result of taking away that responsibility and giving it to persons who knew little about it would be that the magistrates would be averse to make reports to quarter sessions, because they would know less of the doings of public-houses than formerly. If the quarter sessions, on the other hand, did not happen to take great interest in this matter the result might be, if there were an active local bench, to tie the hands of that local bench and prevent anything in the nature of reductions being done, and so the powers of the public-houses would be increased.

It was proposed that the licensing authorities should not only be able to utilise the money derived year by year from taxation, but should be able to borrow upon it. There were two objections to this. In the first place the security would not be a good one to borrow on, and the price paid for the money borrowed would be a high one, and the power of the compensation fund would thereby be reduced. In the second place—and this was the graver objection—having once borrowed money on the fund, the hands of the licensing authorities would be tied, and they might be unable later to buy up a public-house which changed conditions of the neighbourhood might make it desirable to purchase. The incidence of the compensation tax, too, was unfair; the percentage of levy was small on small houses and rose to a higher figure on medium sized houses, but when it came to the biggest and most profitable houses, it ran down the scale in proportion as the value of the house increased, until an infinitesimal percentage was paid by the largest and most profitable houses. Some explanation should be given by the Government with regard to this. The medium sized houses were mostly country houses, in respect to which the chance of the licence being interfered with was very remote, yet they were to bear the largest burden in providing the fund to be used for the reduction of public-houses in towns, whose disappearance would not be to their benefit but to the benefit of the biggest and wealthiest public-houses in those towns, who would reap the whole of the profit. This was not justice, and he hoped before this Bill reached another stage to hear from the Government that at least the same tax which was levied on the medium houses should be levied on the largest and most profitable. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary in speaking of compensation made the following amazing statement— But the hon. Member would not deny that the peril of having these licences dealt with, was infinitesimal in the case of large hotels like the Euston, the Paddington, or the Métropole. Those hotels were asked to contribute very largely to the fund for the mutual insurance of their weaker brethren. That was what the scheme came to. This fund was a mutual insurance fund, and the large hotels paid some thousands a year in come cases to this fund by way of premium, though the risk run by them was very small.' He believed that was an absolutely inaccurate statement of the case. As he read the Bill, no house, however large, would be taxed at more than £100 a year, and the amount of contribution was still further limited in the case of hotels. In the opinion of all fair-minded men these large houses were escaping their fair share of the tax. He submitted that a Bill of so serious a character ought not to have been introduced at the fag-end of a Parliament which was elected for the sole purpose of terminating the war, and not for the purpose of so dealing with a great social question as to transfer an enormous amount of property from the public to private individuals. He hoped the sense of injustice felt in many quarters, and the pressure of public opinion, would cause the Government either to withdraw the Bill or to effect such Amendments in it as would safeguard the rights of the public.

SIR E. DURNING-LA WRENCE (Cornwall, Truro)

said that his constituents took a deep interest in all matters connected with temperance, and he himself had for more than thirty years striven hard to reduce the number of licences. In the year 1890 he wrote a letter in which he stated that fifteen years previously he had advocated the absolute suspension of the granting of new licences, with power to the magistrates to permit the transfer of licences from houses which were scheduled as being in excess of the reasonable wants of the neighbourhood to new localities where licensed houses were desirable or necessary. Under that scheme not a penny of compensation would have been paid by the outside public. When it was considered that London in a single year grew by as much as seventy-six miles of streets, it would be seen that the plan he then suggested (which he proposed should be for ten years certain in the first instance) would in a very few years have caused a considerable diminution in the relative number of licensed houses, and many of the resorts of thieves and bad characters would have disappeared. That having been his view for so many years, he could not bring himself to vote against a measure which so largely provided for the diminution of licences as did the Bill before the House. He did not pledge himself to vote for every clause in Committee, but believing the Hill to be an honest attempt to reduce the number of licences he felt it to be his duty to support the Government on the present occasion.


said the Bill before the House was a short simple measure for the regulation of a legitimate trade which had been, and in all human probability would be, continued in this country. Its provisions were mainly applicable to the licensing authority and to compensation for undue disturbance. By its opponents one of the objections urged against it was that it weakened the influence of the magistrate and interfered with his functions. In his opinion this was one of the perfections of the Bill, but it did not go far enough in that direction. He had always held it to be a mistake to entrust the administration of the licensing laws to the local magistrate. It was to this magisterial licensing tribunal that all the troubles of the trade might fairly be ascribed, and the same body had led to an expensive Royal Licensing Commission and to the production of the Bill now before the House. In regard to the incompetence of the present system, the magistrates for a series of years granted and renewed licences in superabundance without due care. Then came a period when, as the result of some agitation, a desire set in to diminish the number of houses as a supposed means of reducing the consumption of liquor. That was a most fallacious idea in his opinion. These magistrates then set about closing up houses arbitrarily under the pretext that licences were granted for one year only, without recognising the fact that custom and usage created title. In many places in a most cruel manner, under a legal quibble, after structural alterations and much expenditure had been made, owners of property were deprived of their livings and turned out penniless. At Whitby alone, out of twenty-four licences refused at the last brewster sessions, seventeen were lost on appeal, of which no less than eleven belonged to one company, and the renewals were refused solely on the ground of redundancy. In his opinion the common bench of magistrates, composed of drapers, grocers, and men of extreme views holding all sorts of fads, who resided among the people, never should have been constituted the licensing tribunal. Consciously or unconsciously they were liable to be influenced. In the nature of things, being mixed up in business with the trading community, they were unfitted for the work. It appeared to him that well-paid Judges free from surrounding entanglements, as were the Judges of the High Courts, should administer the licensing laws in counties and cities; until this took place he feared there would be always trouble in the trade. Because this Bill was slightly in this direction he should support it. Those members from Ireland who sat with him on the Licensing Commission entertained these views, but the English members stuck to their old prejudices in favour of the control of the local magistrates. And he saw that Lord Peel, who was chairman of that Commission, still adhered to magisterial authority which had proved so disastrous to their whole licensing administration.

Might he say that a licence should be taken away, as asserted, from a well-conducted house after twelve months never was intended. The object in granting licences for only twelve months was for the purpose of being in a safe position to deal with licensees who misconducted their business, but certainly not for well-conducted places of business. He failed to sec what the outside taxpayer had to do with compensation for disturbance. The trade in this respect was a self-contained corporation. It raised the money and did not ask the outside public for one farthing. It seemed to him that all this talk about compensation was not pertinent, and therefore impertinent. He thought the State and the public should be obliged to the trade for consenting to be taxed for the purpose of relieving the Legislature from a disagreeable position into which it had allowed itself to drift by the mismanagement of magisterial authority. It was said compensation created a vested interest, and, therefore, in the absence of a time limit, pointed to the permanent establishment of the drink traffic. Did any sane man believe that the drink traffic would ever cease? Professional agitators and stump orators might supply this sort of food to the ignorant people, but every sensible man knew that the trade would continue. Why should a time limit be asked for, unless it was for the purpose of renewing the troubles at a given time which this Bill sought to permanently end. It was said that a licence was a valuable gift. Might he point out that it only enabled a man to enter upon a trade which was of no value whatever unless he exercised that care and industry which would secure success in any other business. The licensee had to expend large sums of money, to make his place suitable, in furniture, decorations, and often in structural alterations, and he had to pay heavy rates on the premises thus enhanced, and, at death, duties were levied on the amount of trade created not by the possession of a licence but by the industry of the licensee. A licence was rather the symbol of an appointment than a gift which in other departments the State often made. The magistrates had not to pay for their appointments, and so long as they did their duty the appointment was continued. One would think that so long as the licensee did his duty his authority to do business should be continued, especially since he helped materially to raise about £36,000,000 per annum for State expenses. Indeed, one would think a trade so useful to the Exchequer had reason to complain when called upon to impose a tax on itself to compensate those whose licences were taken away. A high dignitary of the Church had argued that because the trade could pay a large tax for compensation that therefore the State should impose this tax for the Exchequer. That was if a man denied himself luxuries to ensure his life, therefore the State should step in to levy that amount on him for the Exchequer. This was the sort of logic they were treated to by those who were opposing a good Bill which would diminish the number of houses and very much add to the respectability of the trade. It appeared to him that the Bill before the House was calculated to do an immense good and settle the question for years. He did not say it would diminish the consumption of liquor, for if they had twelve houses in a street and they closed six of them the remaining six would do the trade. He believed that the whole of this difficulty arose from the fact that they had had at the head of affairs a magisterial authority which had mismanaged the affairs of the trade for years.

* MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)

said that he had a lurking sympathy with fanatics because they were the only people, as a rule, who got anything done. It might rest with others to put the coping-stone on their endeavours and appropriate the fruits of their labours, but, after all, it was with the fanatics that the passing of good social reforms rested. The hon. Member for Carnarvon brought a charge of want of political courage against the Government, but that appeared to be the last charge to which they had laid themselves open. They had bidden their supporters follow them "o'er many a frozen, many a fiery, Alp," and if in the onward march some of them fell into crevasses by the way or went down into the pit of political extinction, that, after all, was a mere detail incidental alike to political as to military operations. They had had considerable discussion as to I what was or was not the principle of this Bill. He took it that this Bill was the outcome of what had been described as an impasse. It had also been described as an ignoble surrender to the brewers. He thought that was not quite an appropriate description of any transaction which might have taken place. The Government had conferred with what was known as "the trade," and in this Bill they had the fruits of that conference, and the measure appeared to bear the sign manual of both its parents. The principle of the Bill was the necessity of getting something done in the circumstances brought about by the action of the magistrates at brewster sessions. The monopoly of the traffic in liquor was described as the property of the community and the licensees were said to be the tenants from year to year of the community. The community through the magistrates had during the last few years endeavoured to re-enter into possession of this monopoly. It had endeavoured to do so without either giving notice to the present tenants of the monopoly or without paving them a penny of compensation, and the result was a revolt in the public mind and in the minds of the magistrates themselves against proceedings which neither gave due notice to the holders of the present licences nor offered them any compensation for summary eviction from their premises. He understood that a majority of the Members of the House accepted the principle that something must be done.

And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned until this Evening's Sitting.