§ MR. SLOAN
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that licensing prosecutions are heard at petty sessions in Belfast on Wednesdays and Thursdays; that, although almost 90 per cent. of the spirit grocers in the city habitually sell for consumption on the premises, contrary to the terms of their licence, and by partitions and utensils adapt their premises for this business, convictions are rarely obtained on the clearest police evidence; and that the police have in consequence almost ceased bringing forward such prosecutions; and whether 417 he will consider the advisability of directing the police authorities to exercise the right of appeal against decisions of the local magistrates.
(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) I am informed that licensing prosecutions are heard in Belfast on Wednesdays and Thursdays. There is no evidence that any number approaching 90 per cent. of the spirit grocers in Belfast habitually sell for consumption on the premises. There were eighty-six prosecutions last year, and the total number of dealers is 442. Even assuming that each prosecution was against a different person, the number prosecuted was less than 20 per cent. It is the fact that in many cases temporary partitions have been erected in spirit grocers' shops, in such a way as to conceal persons who might be drinking on the premises. The police habitually make such matters a ground of objection to the renewal of the licence at the annual licensing sessions, and in every such case the justices have ordered the obstruction to be removed. The police authorities inform me that they have in no degree relaxed their vigilance in supervising these traders and in prosecuting for breaches of the law. The police have no right of appeal under the licensing laws in cases of dismissal.