HC Deb 20 October 1908 vol 194 cc955-1065

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[Mr. EMMOTT (Oldham), in the Chair.]

Clause 3:


was about to propose the Amendment standing in his name, when—

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

said the Prime Minister had just told them the terms in which the Amendment which he foreshadowed would be ultimately couched. Could he not move it in this place?

MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland, Appleby)

asked if they had not by the closure Resolution finished subsection (1) of Clause 3.


said that if the Amendment was a part of subsection (1) it was clear that they could not deal with it now.

MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Central)

said that if the Resolution on the Paper was carried subsection (2) disappeared; would it not then be possible to move a new subsection (2) other than what was on the Paper?

MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)

said the Motion on the Paper was to omit the existing subsection and substitute a new one. Was it not open to the Government to retain the Motion for the omission, and substitute for the new subsection the Amendment which the Prime Minister had read to them?


said he would be very glad indeed to do that, but it was impossible, because his Amendment was a proviso to subsection (1), and could not be introduced as a new subsection.


said he would explain the object of the Amendment on the Paper. It was put down to fulfil a promise made by the Prime Minister a few days ago that he would make two things which were the intention of the Government abundantly clear; first of all, that the local option provided under Clause 2 should continue under the extended circumstances after the reduction period of fourteen years had terminated, that it should extend to new and to old on-licences after the period of fourteen years, and also that where the local option was exercised after that period and under somewhat different circumstances a two-thirds majority of those voting would be necessary for the carrying of that Resolution. He was aware from the Notice Paper that there was some difference of opinion as to the particular fraction which should be adopted for such a majority, but the proposal of the Government showed that on this occasion at all events they had chosen the golden mean. He might be told by some of his hon. friends that three-fifths was a common figure in use in the United States of America and in many of our Colonies; he might even be told that where two-thirds was in use—he believed it was in Queensland—it had never been operative; but he would also ask whether three-fifths would be operative either; he thought it would probably be discovered that it would not. They had thought that it was reasonable that where what a certain number of people regarded as an inconvenience was to be inflicted on the locality it should be done by a sensible and a considerable majority of those who had taken the trouble to express their opinion on the subject. As to the reason for the selection of two-thirds instead of three-fifths, it was always difficult to explain why one fraction should be chosen rather than another, and perhaps it would be as good a reason as another to say that we were at present a duo-decimal rather than a decimal nation and that our people were more accustomed to think in thirds than in fifths; but he would point out to those who disapproved of the two-thirds majority that it was the provision that was maintained in the Liquor Traffic (Local Control) Bill of 1895, and a proposal which was at that time frankly accepted. The two-thirds majority had even appeared in some of the permissive Bills which were introduced into the House by the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, although not in all of them. Therefore he could not believe that that figure was one which would be objected to by any large number of those who were concerned in the discussion of this question. He thought that for the sake of temperance itself they should aim at securing a large majority. As to subsection (b), it had been slightly enlarged or amplified in form from that in which it originally appeared on the Paper. It had been done in order to show that they anticipated in the future that power would be given by this House to localities not only to limit but to reduce the number of licences then in existence. The whole of subsection (b) was suggestive, and it was quite impossible to bind them either to a minimum or to a maximum. They had thought it right here to suggest what seemed to them two obvious and necessary developments of this policy at a future date, but it did not exclude other developments which might be added by Parliament fourteen years hence. His own opinion was that by that time the public view on this matter would have so developed, owing possibly to the success of this Bill in operation, that that public opinion would then carry with it its own amplification. As to subsection (c), that had been put down in order to make it clear that a resolution for the prohibition of the issue of new licences during the period of reduction, if it happened to be in operation at the close of that period of reduction, should not be taken then to mean a total prohibition of all the licences in existence. That would be an obvious injustice, because the vote would not have been taken on that question when it was carried, and it would have been carried, too, by a simple majority; but at the same time it was provided that if such a resolution had been put into effect less than three years before the termination of the reduction period, that Resolution should come to an end then and should not prevent the locality from taking a fresh vote under the different circumstances immediately the reduction period had come to a close. He hoped that these provisions had met the promises which were made by the Prime Minister, and that this elucidation of the policy proposed would meet with a more or less general acceptance from the Committee.

Amendment proposed— In page 3, line 18, to leave out subsection (2), and to insert' (2) On the termination of the reduction period: (a) The foregoing provisions of this Act as to local option shall take effect as if a majority of two-thirds of the votes given were required for the carrying of a resolution instead of a bare majority; and (b) those provisions shall be extended in such manner as Parliament may determine so as to authorise a resolution limiting the number of licences to the number existing at the time, or reducing that number to any less number; and (c) a prohibitory resolution in force at the date of the termination of the reduction period shall cease to have effect, but the provision of this Act as to the interval required between the taking of polls shall not prevent a poll being taken on a further resolution, although three years have not elapsed since the date of the poll on the resolution which has so ceased to take effect.'"—(Mr. L. Harcourt.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'after' in line 18, stand part of the clause."


said he did not propose at that moment to say anything upon the general principle of local option, to which he was unalterably opposed, but he had other observations to make which must be made in order that they might enter on the wider discussion with a freer hand and a more intimate knowledge as to what were the real intentions of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman began his statement by saying that the proposal with regard to a two-thirds majority had always been the intention of the Government, and that his Motion was intended to make that intention perfectly clear. It was a very extraordinary statement to make. They were quite prepared to give the Government a large licence in changing their minds, but it was too great a strain for their credulity to believe that the Government were quite clear that they always wanted this subject determined by a two-thirds majority, and that they happened to forget to give that information to the draughtsman. The truth was that they had found their own plan would not work, and they now found it necessary to alter fundamentally, or at any rate in a very important particular, their original proposals. That was not the only point in this subsection on which the Government had entirely altered their original views. He must remind the Committee that this subsection gave local veto not merely in the question of on-licences but in the question of off-licences.




Certainly. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me quite clearly whether this applies to off-licences or not?


said he was sorry he did not have an opportunity of explaining on Friday the intention of the words added to the Bill. Nobody regretted the absence of the possibility of explanation more than the Minister himself. If he had had that opportunity he would have explained what was the intention of the Government, and what had been the result of the Government's Amendment. The intention of that Amendment was merely to provide that the monopoly value, if any, of old off-licences after the reduction period should be secured. Under Clause 5 of the Bill the monopoly value of all new licences was taken, including off-licences. In taking the monopoly value in future of off-licences they were not taking any property which they had now got—nothing in the nature of an equitable expectation or a sacred right. It was clear that that view was held by the late Government, because in their Bill of 1904 they left the discretion of the justices as regards off-licences what it had always been. He believed it was universally admitted that off-licences had no monopoly value now, but it had perhaps only recently been realised that when this Bill became an Act, under the operation of Clauses 1, 2, and 3, it was quite possible that after the expiration of fourteen years they might create some monopoly value for off-licences which they did not now possess and to which they were not entitled. They had all suffered from the growth of accidental claims of that sort, and they thought it was desirable to take steps now to prevent such growth after the reduction period. Therefore the intention of the words was merely to secure that if any monopoly value between now and then for off-licences came into operation it should be secured to the State, and that notice to that effect should be given now to the holders of off-licences so that no such expectation could arise. That was the intention, and he hoped the effect, of the Amendment.


said the right hon. Gentleman had absolutely mistaken the point of his observations. He thought the question of monopoly value was irrelevant to this subsection, and the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that he was clearing up a difficulty in regard to the monopoly value of off-licences, with which he was not attempting to deal. This point was of a different kind. As he read the language of subsection (1) of Clause 3, the Government extended to off-licences all the provisions applicable to the grant of new licences. One of those provisions was that after a certain period there should be local veto upon them, from which it seemed to him that the inference was absolutely clear that local veto was applicable to off-licences, or would be applicable to them after the reduction period. He was himself quite incapable of reading the words in any other sense, and unless the Government were prepared to get up now and contradict him on that point—


That was not and is not the intention of the Government and I hope it is not the effect of the Amendment. If it is the effect of the Amendment which has been inserted it shall be altered on Report.


said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think he had put a strained and paradoxical interpretation on the language of the Bill as amended. Might he interject the remark that the Opposition had never interfered with the Government in the framing of their Amendment; they were never allowed the opportunity of discussing it. The Government and their draftsmen had been given ample time for considering how to draft their Amendment, being protected from inconvenient criticism after they had drafted it. They then came to the House of Commons and told them two things. In the first place, they said, it carried out the original intention of the Government, though quite obviously it should not. Secondly, the meaning of the Amendment, as far as he could see from its words, and which every single Gentleman with whom he had talked had always held that they carried with them, was that local veto was to be applied to off-licences as well as to on-licences, which he should have thought the Government, in strict logic, would have thought to be the proper course. When he was told that this interpretation of their words burst upon the Government with surprise, that they had never agreed to that policy, and that they were going to correct it on Report, he was really filled with amazement. He was always aware, partly from his own painful experience and partly from his observation of the painful experience of other people, that when there was a small interval given between the arduous work of Parliamentary sessions the Government did not do its work as well us it would have been done if a longer time had been at their disposal. He was bound to say that never was there clearer proof that the Government was utterly overworked and incapable of considering the words of the Bill which they were driving through the House than that which was presented to them that day by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Amendment. In the plain meaning of the words, as interpreted by the right hon. Gentleman's own friends, by hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as by the Opposition, the principle of local veto was to be extended not merely to on-licences, but to off-licences. So clear was the Prime Minister that there could be no mistake as to the effect of the Amendment, that when he suggested that a little more time should be given to the House for discussion, the right hon. Gentleman told them that they had not voted against it, that, therefore, it was clear they had all agreed to it, and that at all events they were precluded from asking the Government to grant an opportunity for discussion. Yet the very first five minutes of this discussion had been the means of eliciting from the Government an inter- pretation of their own policy which no human being who read their Amendment had ever thought it was capable of. However, the right hon. Gentleman now told them that the plain intention of the Government, as it had always been, was that there should be a two-thirds majority after the period of reduction, that off-licences should not be included in the local veto scheme, and that he meant to put down an Amendment making that patent and effective on the Report stage. He would only be wasting time if he were to discuss the very important and interesting question which would be raised if the Government's clause really carried out the Government's policy. But as it did not carry out the Government's policy, and as they were going to re-think their new thoughts, he withheld until the Report stage any criticism upon that subject. Without trespassing upon the broad issue raised by the principle of local veto, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to subsection (b) of the proposed new clause— Those provisions shall be extended in such manner as Parliament may determine so as to authorise a resolution, etc. Had the right hon. Gentleman, or those under whose advice he acted, any precedent for a subsection which contained terms so amazing as those which he had placed upon the Paper? The terms were mandatory to the Parliament of fourteen years hence to carry out the object which this Government wanted carried out, but the machinery for the carrying out of which they were too idle to devise. Parliament fourteen years hence "shall do something"; it might choose its own method of doing it, but this Parliament said it "shall be done." This Parliament ordered them to do it, and they were to find the means of doing it. Was there any precedent in any Act of Parliament for this kind of direction? Some future Parliament was to deal with this, very complicated and difficult question which they, who were the authors of this mandatory provision, had not themselves thought of doing. [An HON. MEMBER: The Water Board.] It was a private Bill to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but he could not imagine their dealing with a great question of public policy by such means as were provided by subsection (b), in which the policy was laid down, while the mode of carrying it out was not prescribed. He did not know how many general elections there might be between the present moment and the fateful period when the fourteen years elapsed. [Cries of "Two" and "Three."] There were to be two general elections according to the prophetic instinct of the Solicitor-General, and the second Parliament elected was ordered by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to carry out their present object, and to devote its best abilities to find out the means. The future Parliament would be allowed to settle its own methods, but not its own policy. He really thought that this subsection was one of those illusory pretences or illusory contributions to the temperance literature which carried with it no effect, which might have some effect on the consciences of hon. Gentlemen who were deeply interested in this particular form of dealing with the problem, but which ought not to be allowed to appear with the authority of the responsible Government upon the Statute-book of the country. They had no right whatever to tell some future Parliament that it was to do something whether it liked it or not, and that it was hoped they would find a convenient and expedient method of doing it. Subsection (b) certainly ought to be excised, and he would only say, in this part of the debate, that even in the short discussion which they had had, it was perfectly clear that the Government had never known their own minds, and they had not been able, with all the advantages they had, to draft their Bill so as to carry out what they now said was their original intention; and when they put a new Amendment on the Paper it appeared to carry with it effects which, however pleasing to hon. Gentlemen behind them, never were part, they were given to understand, of the original scheme of the Government. If the objection to local veto and local prohibition could be strengthened by the mode in which the Government tried to put it into force, then it would certainly be greatly strengthened by this extraordinary proceeding, a proceeding which would have been amazing in any circumstances, and which was little short of a Parliamentary scandal from the way in which it was carried out under the regulations for discussion.

*MR. WHITEHEAD (Essex, S.E.)

said he wanted to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to press this Amendment, but either to withdraw the clause or go back to the former clause as embodied in the Bill and as fully considered by the Government themselves. That clause involved leaving in the hands of future Parliaments the duty of working out all the details of a very complicated question. There were two or three considerations which made the former clause more expedient and more worthy the acceptance of the House. In the first place, there was no adequate time for the discussion of this very important question. The time-table under which they were acting was fixed under very different conditions from those now existing, because the Government Amendment opened up a new discussion. Secondly, there was no need to leg slate hurriedly to-day on an issue which concerned only the future after the lapse of fourteen years. But another reason which weighed with him with equal if not greater force was that he regarded the Amendment of the Government as an absolute stab in the back for the future of temperance reform. He believed that local veto, saddled with the two conditions of absolute local prohibition and of a two-thirds majority, would be fatal to any future ratepayers exercising the popular veto. That was a very grave consideration, and those of them who were ardent supporters of the Bill, and who were anxious to see not only a diminution of licences in the next few years, but a steady and continuous reduction in the years to come afterwards, could not help regarding such a clause as that now proposed as one seriously affecting the interests of temperance reform. There was one assumption underlying the clause which affected the whole principle of local option and local veto, namely, that it was a purely local question. It never was a purely local question. If they went back to the remotest times of licensing there was always a wayfarer or traveller—a man whose business called him from home and who might legitimately expect to have facilities for refreshment in whatever part of the country to which his business might call him. If that was true a hundred years ago, or fifty years ago, it was increasingly true to-day. The whole conditions of modern life were such that the work which men had to do lay far from their homes; and as facilities for locomotion increased, licensing became less and less a purely local question. It was very largely a local question, but not a purely local question, any more than the use of our roads was a purely local question. Roads were maintained at the expense of the localities, but it would be an extraordinary proposition to say that therefore they were not to be free to the public at large. The conditions which rendered the licensing question less a purely local one were increasing in their effect day by day. To take a single illustration of the anomalies that would arise if they had regard solely to local considerations: in the City of London there was an electorate of about 30,000 people, and a population who came there during the day time of, perhaps, something like 1,000,000. He was quite aware that the City would not form a single licensing area under the Bill. But it would suffice to take it as a type and illustration. Yet, as he understood, if the doctrine of local option pure and simple were applied, this 30,000, or it might be a residuum representing so many thousand caretakers and charwomen, would decide absolutely whether a large body of men coming from all parts, and residing at Brighton, Seven-oaks or Southend, should carry on their business under conditions to which they were accustomed, and which were almost necessary to the performance of their work. Therefore, it was not a purely local question, but he felt very strongly indeed that the local view was of very great importance, and in any reform of the licensing system the local view ought to be given full effect to. But when he said the local view he did not mean merely the view of any majority or any minority. As he understood the Government Amendment, if they had 100 electors, and 65 of them were in favour of a prohibition of licences and 35 were against, the view of those 35 would be absolute and binding on the whole community. That was a reductio ad absurdum of the doctrine of popular control. He did not believe in these days that any minority or any majority either in a matter of this kind had any moral right to trample down the views of other people. He believed any sane system would allow due regard to be given to the views of all. Surely his hon. friends who were Nonconformists could not fail to remember how deep-seated had been the feeling throughout the community at the action taken by the Church of England Party with regard to the education question when they were the dominating power in that House. There was the grievance which the Nonconformists felt because their view, whilst they were in a minority, was unduly disregarded in the settlement of that question. In the same way fair treatment of minorities should be accorded in the settlement of the licensing question, as in the settlement of any other question which deeply stirred the interests, the opinions and habits of a large body of the people. He spoke as one most anxious for the carrying into effect of the Bill, and most anxious to support the Government in the immediate but also the future reduction of licences. If it was left in the Bill in the form in which it was proposed by this Amendment they would have a system which, so far as it went, was complete. That was to say they would have a system of local veto with merely two conditions attached to it. If Parliament hereafter added other conditions well and good, but they knew very well that Parliamentary time was constantly taken up by new questions arising, and as there would be no absolute necessity thrown upon the future Parliament to legislate on the matter it might well be that the conditions imposed in this Bill and by the Government Amendment would not merely become law for the next few years, but would remain law for a long period either because they were in the view of the dominant Party of the day sufficient for the purpose, or because there were other questions which Parliament thought more urgent, and felt called upon to deal with. In this matter where they were creating an instrument which was to carry out certain work they must consider the material of which that instrument was going to be made. The instrument in this case was made of the elector—the average man of the country. They must bear in mind who and what the average elector was. They would never get a majority of two-thirds unless they carried with them the moderate man, the man who was neither a publican nor a drunkard, nor one who believed that every form of alcohol was an injury to the system, and to the State. The moderate man had after all merely the instincts of an Englishman. He, as a rule, was not a deep political thinker, but the fundamental instinct, perhaps the guiding principle of English political life was the love of liberty, and that applied, not only to themselves, in so far as they disliked to be interfered with and liked to lead their lives according to their own views, but it affected also the attitude they took towards public questions. Especially did it affect those who belonged to the Liberal Party and believed this love of freedom was peculiarly in their own charge. He believed the average elector, if the issue were put to him: Shall I vote in favour of depriving my neighbour of all right to that form of refreshment which he is accustomed to, and thinks necessary for his system—would say: "No, I have no moralright to deprive him of it absolutely," and the result would be that local option would not in effect have any operation on an extensive scale. That being so, any system of local veto must be one which came into force gradually, and allowed for a reasonable reduction in accordance with the views of the locality. He hoped the Government would see their way to accept at a later stage some Amendments he had on the Paper to effect that purpose. He desired to see a gradual and steady reduction of licences not only to-day but also in years to come, and he wished to have fair consideration of the needs of the travelling public, and those who carried on their life's work away from their homes. He desired to see reasonable treatment of the minority as well as the majority, and he believed he was speaking in the true interests of the Bill and of temperance reform when he asked the Government not to insist upon imposing these two terms only in formulating a scheme of local option, but to leave the whole matter to be carefully sifted at some future date by a Parliament which would have time to deal with the whole question. He made this appeal to the Government of which he was a faithful supporter, in no spirit of hostility to the Bill or to giving effect to local wishes, but with a sincere desire to see the work to which the Government had put their hand carried to a successful conclusion, and that it might really prove beneficial to the State.

EARL WINTERTON (Sussex, Horsham)

said he quite agreed with a good deal of what the hon. Gentleman had said. It would be quite impossible to make local veto or prohibition as contained in this clause anything but unjust and hard upon a large number of people. The Government might have failed to express their intentions, but at any rate, they had succeeded in introducing into their Bill the whole principle of prohibition. Whether or not grocers' licences were included, was a small matter compared with the question as to whether prohibition, as it was known in America and the Colonies, should be introduced into this country. What they had to deal with was prohibition pure and simple. That was the proposal which he was prepared to discuss on general lines. Although several opportunities had been given to the Government, they had not given the House one word of justification for the introduction of prohibition into this country. In every country where prohibition had been enforced, it had proved a total failure. It would be impossible without detaining the Committee at great length to go into the whole question of prohibition, and he would only endeavour to show that where it had been tried it had been such a dismal failure that the majority of people were anxious to go back to the previous state of things. He quoted an extract from an article by the hon. Member for the Woodstock division in the Nineteenth Century, which, he said, only bore out the view of every impartial person, whether Liberal or Conservative, who had been in a prohibition area. He had been in New Brunswick where the Scott Act, passed twenty years ago, was in operation in certain areas, and he was assured by many people, Liberals and Conservatives, holding many different positions in life, that where the Act had been put in operation, though the saloons and the liquor traffic had been injured, and there was less open drinking, there was twice as much secret drinking us there had been before, and so far from inducing temperance it had led to the worst form of intemperance, namely, intoxication from drinking badly-distilled liquor which had never been sold in a properly conducted bar. That had been the effect all over the country. There was hardly a single State in which prohibition was enforced in which there was not some form of selling drink. They had not heard in that debate a single word in justification of the American system. The Prime Minister had told them how the system had worked in other countries, yet he came down to the House with a very badly drafted Amendment of which he could not explain the provisions and expected them to adopt the whole principle of prohibition and local option. It might be urged that they were not likely to have such violation of the law in this country, and so much corruption as had taken place in the United States and in other countries, but he did not see that there was any reason to suppose that that would not happen. They said it was an ill bird that fouled its own nest, but he would be sorry to say that the average man in Maine or New Brunswick was more corrupt than the average voter in this country. What had caused the law to be violated and corruption so prevalent was not the corruption of individual men but the badness of the laws themselves. There was no purer Anglo-Saxon community than in the New England States and Southern Canada, and they were in other respects a most law abiding people, but they expected to carry out things which could never be carried out by laws. Apart from that there was in America, Canada, and Australia at all times far less drinking of alcoholic liquor than in this country, and it was quite a common thing to go into a man's house and find nothing but temperance drinks—tea, coffee, and water. At any rate the temperance advocates and Governments of that country had been consistent. He believed that in many instances in the prohibition States of America and in provinces in Canada where prohibition was in force no kind of alcoholic drink was admitted to the tables of members of the Government.. That was quite true; there were two cases in America where at the Governor's State banquet nothing but temperance drinks was permitted. What he wished to ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite was: were they prepared to go to that length in this country and carry the principle of prohibition to its logical issue. The prohibition areas of the United States and Canada had made the experiment and they admitted that it had failed to make total abstinence universal throughout those areas. No such suggestion of a general prohibition was made in the Bill nor had it been advocated by its promoters. As it stood, the effect of the subsection under discussion would be simply to prevent the poor man obtaining his drink under proper conditions, whilst on the other hand the rich man might have as much as he liked. It was for that reason that he and his friends maintained that the proposal was an undemocratic one and essentially a scheme to set up one law for the poor and another for the rich. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to bring forward any justification for the proposal contained in the clause. They had not been able to prove the success of prohibition in any part of the world; it would simply lead to great inconvenience and even to universal corruption and disregard of the law.

MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)

thought the Committee was by this time convinced that the proposals of the Government were substantive as well as limiting. This was not merely a limiting Amendment—not merely an Amendment limiting the conditions under which local option would take place. It laid down that local option should exist in a very drastic form. A majority without doubt of the voting Liberals of the country, and probably a majority of the population, certainly a free majority of the House, were in favour of the main principle underlying the Bill, that the State should resume control, and that within a comparatively short period, over the liquor traffic. But on to that had been tacked, and this was an example of it, a number of clauses which had nothing whatever to do with that main principle. They had to do with a totally different principle, the principle that fermented liquor was a bad thing for the individual or for the State and in some way to be legislated against. That point of view probably did not carry the majority if it were free, and it most certainly did not carry the majority of the English people. It did not even carry a majority of the drilled Liberal voters. He could not deny that he felt some surprise when he noticed in whose name the Amendment had been put down. Even those who had no very long political memory could remember 1895, and if there was one thing that it was the fixed resolution of the English people to have nothing whatever to do with, it was local option—not the politicians, not the local fairly well-to-do men who arranged elections, but the working people who voted. He could tell two constituencies in which the elections turned mainly on this matter, and one of them was Derby. He had spoken to a very full meeting of the licensed victuallers of his constituency. The House would appreciate what their point of view was likely to be. They treated him very courteously, but there was no enthusiasm. He had also spoken by request to a large and very representative meeting of the temperance people who thought fermented liquor to be a bad thing; he distinctly affirmed his position in the clearest manner, and though of course the meeting could not be unanimous, the Chairman and more than one of those present recognised that if they were to have a right to limit the number of licences by a democratic vote, at least they must also have a right to say whether there should be more or whether there should be any. If they were to have a public vote over small areas in which a two-thirds majority of ratepayers might say to the other third: "You shall not use your local club or public-house," it was a principle to which he was opposed. It was impossible for a man who desired to represent his constituency and voted freely to vote in favour of an Amendment which gave local option. The whole country was definitely against it.

*MR. F. E. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)

said, in reference to the question as to whether off-licences were or were not included in the Bill as it stood, taking into consideration the Amendment and the original draft, he would be interested to hear the opinion of the Solicitor-General, because he could not conceive that there was any doubt at all that, as the Bill was drafted, off-licences must clearly be included. Clause 2 stipulated that, in respect of new licences local option should apply, while Clause 3 provided that on-licences should be treated as new licences at the termination of the reduction period. That provision in Clause 3 with the Amendment of the First Commissioner of Works would apply of course to off-licences. Another point was that if the Government were going to alter what the Bill now said so that local option should apply to off-licences, on what principle were they going to do so? He was opposed to local option and to the interference with off-licences contemplated by the Bill, but if it was the idea of the Government that local option was the proper way to deal with the spread of alcohol, which they were satisfied was at the bottom of very much immorality, and if they were going to leave it to the democratic vote of a constituency, what difference did it make whether it was sold for consumption on or off the premises? If there was anything in the panacea at all, it must apply to both forms of sale, and should not be limited to off-licences alone. There was another point which he hoped the Solicitor-General would explain. On what principle was a distinction drawn between the majority required in regard to local option in the first fourteen years and the majority required afterwards? In the first fourteen years it was to be a bare majority, and afterwards a two-thirds majority. He could not conceive what was the distinction of principle before and after the period of fourteen years. Another point to which he thought more attention should be given at present was the extraordinary proposal that— Those provisions shall be extended in such manner as Parliament may determine so as to authorise a resolution limiting the number of licences to the number existing at the time, or reducing that number to any less number. Of course, that was pure prohibition. It was utterly irrelevant to draw a distinction between a passage in the Report of a Commission which condemned prohibition, and to point out that in other passages local option was not condemned at all. As to the proposal in the subsection, what it came to was this. The Government dared not propose prohibition in the degree to which they contemplated it would be possible to make proposals at a later date in some future Parliament, and, therefore, they laid down an academic instruction to future Parliaments which probably would have the utmost contempt for their policy.

While he thought the methods of the Government were novel and inconvenient, he commended their prudence. The hon. Member for Salford said there was nothing in the election of 1895 which was more responsible for the discomfiture of the Liberal Government of that day than local option, and that statement was received with considerable dissent by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He had there an extract from the Westminster Gazette, a journal which, he thought, would be regarded as representative of Liberal principles. After the election of 1895, that journal applied itself to the melancholy duty of ascertaining from Liberal candidates to what they attributed the uncomfortable experiences they had at the poll. Of the successful ones, who were not particularly numerous, 54 found the Licensing Bill harmful, 14 found it innocuous, and 16 only stated that it was helpful. Out of 157 defeated candidates 134 found the Bill harmful, 16 said that it did no great harm, and 7 said it was helpful. Only 13 out of 231 found it acceptable to the electorate on the Liberal side. The Prime Minister in introducing the concession by which for seven years after the expiration of the reduction period the monopoly value was not to be exacted in the case of licences renewed seemed to indicate that that breathing space would be of considerable value to licensed victuallers. He understood that during those seven years the licensed victualler would be exposed to having his licence taken away under the effect of a local option resolution. He wished to know from the Solicitor-General whether he was right in that. What was the value of a concession of that kind if as the result of one of those popular votes the licence was liable to disappear? The licensed victualler's life would be one long convulsion as to whether or not his licence would be in existence when the next popular vote was taken. On Friday last the Westminster Gazette had a leading article stating that it would be a debt of honour which licensing justices and voters in a locality would be sure to recognise that during those seven years licences should not be interfered with. He would like to ask whether the Westminster Gazette represented the view of the Government on this point. Was I it the view of the Government that during those seven years there would be an honourable understanding that licensed victuallers were not to be dispossessed? If that was the view of the Government, and of the hon. Member for Westmoreland and others who held strong views on the subject, it would considerably clear the air. Was it the view of the Government that during those seven years local option should not work to the prejudice of the security of licensed victuallers? It might not be convenient for the Government to tell the Committee at the moment. If the view expressed by the Westminster Gazette was the view of the Government what was the objection of the Government to accepting the Amendment? If it was the desire of the supporters of the Government that there should be an honourable obligation, why give the voters in a locality who might not share the honourable obligation of the Government, the opportunity of taking away the licence? Another point to which he wished to call attention was the arrangements made by the right hon. Gentleman for ascertaining the opinion of a locality. They were told in the form of an Amendment that was to be determined by three-fourths of the votes given. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought that was the best way of determining the sense of the locality on the point, or whether he thought he was in the least likely to get a really representative vote instead by taking the alternative method and insisting on a certain proportion of votes in a particular area. In regard to that point there was a useful analogy. When the Government brought in the Education Bill of 1906 it was suggested by the present Secretary for Ireland that it was the genuine desire of the Government to give certain special facilities to parents who were not satisfied with the normal instruction. Their opinion was to be ascertained by ballot. He himself and his friends on that side of the House suggested that only the votes of those actually voting should be counted, and the Government utterly declined to consider that proposal; they said a representative ballot could not be got in the way they proposed. Speech after speech was made by his hon. friends and by Irish Members pointing out that it would be an essentially inadequate ballot taken under those circumstances, The Government told them repeatedly that the proper way to get the opinion I of the parents was to take, not the votes given, but the total number of voters qualified to give votes, and to take the majority of them. Surely they were entitled to know why a ballot which represented the sum of political wisdom when dealing with an Education Bill was totally inadequate when dealing with a Licensing Bill. An answer was not necessary, for everyone knew that under the Education Bill the desire was to make the facilities sham facilities, while the desire under this Bill was to make the will of the faddists effective. Therefore, the Government adopted the converse course in this case. The more he examined the provisions for local option in detail, the more he was struck by their inconsistency. The provisions were objectionable, and so far as the north of England was concerned, if the Government chose to go to the country on these local option proposals on the lines of the Bill, the statistician of the Westminster Gazette would have a more extensive field of inquiry than in 1895.

*MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland, Appleby)

said the hon. and learned Gentleman had challenged an appeal to the north of England in regard to the local option proposals. He would find that the opinion of the electors had al- ready been expressed. Those who represented the north of England in this House had more right to sneak for the electors of the north of England than those who did not. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would consult their votes, he would see that a majority were in favour of local option in the form in which it was in the Government Bill. The debate that afternoon had resolved itself into a sort of Second Reading discussion on the principle of local option. He did not resent that, although personally he thought the time would have been better spent in discussing the method in which local option could be applied. If hon. Members would recall the Parliamentary history of this question, they would find that whenever in recent years there had been a majority of Liberals in the House there had been a majority in favour of local option legislation. The hon. Member for Hull, in one of those ejaculations with which he enlivened their proceedings, said on Friday that this was local veto in six hours. It was forty-four years since local veto was first presented to this House.

MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)

And it would be forty-four years more.


It was forty-four years since the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson first introduced his Permissive Bill, and the question had been as fully discussed in the country and the House as any question could be. [An HON. MEMBER on the OPPOSITION Benches: In this Parliament?] Yes. It was perfectly well known at the general election that the result of returning the present Government to power would be the introduction of a local veto or local option measure. [Cries of "No" from the OPPOSITION Benches.] He held in his hand a manifesto put out by the National Trade Defence Association on the eve of the general election, and this was what that Association said to the licensed traders— No general election has ever meant so much to you as this. If you don't exert yourself now, you will have to face local veto. There is no sensationalism about this and no exaggeration. That was the expectation of the trade. The speeches of His Majesty's Ministers were open to Members to read. Every one of them was deeply pledged on this question. Soon after the general election he had the opportunity of taking the opinion of the House on the question, and on a division the House declared in favour of the principle of local option on Colonial lines, by a majority of 227. Therefore, it was rather late in the day to pretend that it was a surprise to the trade to find this proposal in the Government Bill. The pledges of the Government and their supporters and the vote of the House, both led them to expect that local option would be part of the Government scheme for dealing with the licensing problem when they framed their Bill. He was sorry that the Government had not taken the Colonial precedents in regard to the proportion required to put local veto into operation. A two-thirds majority had been chosen. It was quite true that that majority found a place in some private Bills and in the Bill which the late Sir William Harcourt introduced in 1895. But he ventured to say that it was too large a proportion of the electorate to require to endorse any proposal. If a two-thirds majority were required in a Parliamentary election, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would not now be sitting there. Very few Members on the Government Bench received a two-thirds majority at the general election. Very few Members of the House received a two-thirds majority. He himself was elected by a bare majority, and there were many other Members who were in the same case, while some Members even represented a minority of the electors in their constituencies. If a majority vote was counted sufficient to change the Government of this country and Empire and to place in power a set of men holding entirely different ideas and principles from those who preceded them, was it not rather idle to pretend that a two-thirds majority was necessary on the question as to whether in a village there should or should not be the public sale of alcoholic liquor? He thought a majority vote was the logical and reasonable proposal. He had, however, accepted a three-fifths majority in the Amendment he had put down. That would be ample to secure that there should not be the sudden changes of opinion on the matter which might be caused by a majority vote, although the experience of other countries did not point to the fact that a three-fifths vote was a more steadfast vote than that of a majority. The history of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was very instructive. It had had a "no licence" vote for twenty years. It was first carried in 1886 by a bare majority, and it had been maintained by a gradually growing majority since then. It was an annual vote, but it had at no time during twenty years reached more than 65 per cent. He had used the phrase "no licence" rather than "prohibition," because there was a very marked distinction between them. The hon. Member for Horsham rather emphasised that there was no logical distinction to be drawn between them. He believed that the same principle underlay "no licence" and "local option"; but "no licence" was not "prohibition." The noble Lord had insisted that the prohibition law had largely failed in Portland, Maine. His contention was that at its worst, so far as drunkenness was concerned, the Maine area would favourably compare with any licensed area in the world. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh."] If statisticians employed by hon. Members opposite would go into the convictions of people for drunkenness in Portland they would find that they were largely drawn from visitors to that place, and not from residents in the State. But so far as there were breaches of the law in Portland, he thought they might be said to arise as a consequence of the population which was to be found in Portland who were against the prohibition law which was imposed on the State not by their vote but by the vote of people in the rural districts of Maine. That was a possible danger in a prohibition law, but he was not afraid to face the danger, believing as he did that the benefits exceeded the defects. It was a danger arising from a vote over a large area. They might have a rural population desiring prohibition and enforcing it on an urban area which did not want it. It was obvious that such a condition tended to breaches of the law in a way that would not be possible if the vote were taken in areas small enough to make it clear that the public opinion which enacted prohibition would also be behind the enforcement of that policy. The controversy in the United States was not as to popular veto or no popular veto, but as to the area over which it extended. The Member for Sal-ford had declared that the English people would never tolerate this interference with their liberty. But this liberty argument did not really arise in a discussion on a local veto Resolution; it had been settled by the adoption of a licensing system. There was no liberty to sell drink recognised in this country, no liberty on the part of anyone in this country to buy drink when and where he wanted to buy it. It was sold and bought when and where the justices determined it should be sold and bought. There were 3,900 parishes in this country where there was no public-house licensed for the sale of intoxicating drink; and that prohibition, for what it was worth, was enforced by wise and large public-spirited landowners in their own districts. In the county of Northumberland three neighbouring landlords had, of set policy, prevented the establishment of public-houses on their estates; and this was the verdict of Sir George Trevelyan, when Secretary for Scotland, as to the result of that experiment long continued on an extensive scale. And he would like the hon. Member for Salford, if he would extend his researches, to say if he could impugn the testimony of Sir George Trevelyan. Sir George said— Drinking shops are an evil in themselves, and they can be abolished and can be extinguished without any disadvantages to the public which in any degree can be weighed against the enormous disadvantages and evils of their existence. This may be to others a matter of theory, but it is to mo a matter of experience. Forty years ago Sir Walter Trevelyan took the matter into his own hands and suppressed public-houses over a large district of country. Since then a generation had grown up with the tastes and habits which were formed under a new system; with self-respect, frugality and a high standard of comfort for themselves, and what is much more important, for their wives and children. And I will venture to say that the most minute and even the most malevolent scrutiny could never discover in that district any evil whatever which has resulted from the suppression of the public-houses.

MR. YOUNGER (Ayr Burghs)

said that Northumberland was one of the worst counties in England in the way of drunkenness.


asked if the hon. Member suggested that the drunkenness was caused by the absence of public-houses from these districts? Sir George Trevelyan was more interested in the matter than even the hon. Member, though he could recognise how very angry the liquor trade was at their exclusion from so large an area. Sir George continued— On the other hand, the most superficial observer would see signs on the very face of the country of innumerable blessings which have resulted from the change.


said he now found that Northumberland, with the exception of Glamorganshire, was the most drunken of all counties.


said that drunkenness was due to the sale of drink, and where drink was not sold it did not occur. But he was quoting Sir George Trevelyan who said— It has changed the face of the country and the appearance of the people. My neighbours— he invited hon. Members to go and see them. [An HON. MEMBER: Would he give you anything to drink?] He did not know about that, but if that was the only difficulty he thought it could be arranged, but Sir George went on— My neighbours have good health—


So have mine.


Good wages, good honour, good houses full of furniture, and have saved money—


So have mine.


They are neighbours indeed, and are not dependants—there is not a single pauper on the estate.


Nor is there on mine.


quite agreed that the right hon. Gentleman was one of the most enlightened landlords in the country, and he had no criticism to offer in regard to him, but he was quoting this to show the state of things which was only to be found on the estates of the best and most enlightened landowners. That was one result of the enforcement of the provision. What were the results of local option according to the universal testimony of those who had gone into the question—though not, he admitted, by superficial observers? He would like to enter a protest against hon. Members running through the United States or Canada, and on their return posing as authorities on the question. Hon. Members opposite were ready enough to deprecate that sort of thing when it was done by people who went out to India. They should be very cautious of dogmatising in regard to the effects of legislation, and the opinions they had formed as the result of a cursory visit to Canada and the United States. He had been to Canada and the United States and Australia too, and he could only say that in forming the opinion he had come to on this question he had read everything in reason that had been written on the subject, and as far as he could inform himself as to the effects of these laws he had taken pains to do so. If hon. Members would do what had been done by the Liberal Party by degrees—if they would understand the case which the advocates of this legislation tried to put before the House, and realise the effects in other countries as shown by statistics and the observations of persons living many years in those countries, they would reach a very different opinion from that they now held. He claimed first for local option legislation throughout the world, that it diminished drinking. None who studied the figures could deny that the local option countries of the world were those where the people drank least. The effect of local option was to diminish the amount of drink sold, but even more remarkable still was the diminution of drunkenness in the no-licence areas. He had some figures from the town of Waltham in Massachusetts, a manufacturing town of watches and one which in regard to licence "wobbled" from one side to the other. It was alternately under licence and no-licence, and the point brought out in the statistics was that the effect of no-licence was to reduce drunkenness by at least two-thirds. Waltham had a no-licence year in 1899–1900, and the arrests for drunkenness were 221 or 9–4 per 1,000. Waltham went back to licence in 1900, and the instant result was that the convictions for drunkenness jumped up to 634, or 27 per 1,000. The experience of that year drove Waltham back to no-licence in 1901, and convictions for drunkenness dropped to 179, or 7 per 1,000. Taking a period of fourteen years—five years of licence and nine of no-licence, the average arrests for drunkenness in licence years were between two and three times as many as in no-licence years. He could multiply instances of that kind. And when drinking and drunkenness were diminished the prosperity of every industry in the place was increased. Hon. Members might have seen a placard about in the last few months: "Less beer, more boots." That was the pictorial expression of a truth. If there was less consumption of drink and less drunkenness there was more consumption of useful articles, such as furniture, clothes, and better food Every industry benefited, and that was the cause of the steady growth of no-licence vote in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. A previous speaker was mistaken when he said the cause of prohibition was going back in America. It was spreading. In this year three States had gone prohibitionist throughout their whole area, and at the present momen about half the population of the United States was living in no-licence areas. It was not the mere spread of temperance "faddism" which made for the spread of no-licence. It was the vote of the steady level-headed men of business in New Zealand and elsewhere who knew that if they could get the licensed houses closed the share of the wages and the money spent in public-houses would go to other shops. No-licence also had the good enect that, even if workmen drank, at any rate they took their wages home first. They went home and changed. They left with their wives what they thought fit and went and got their drink in a licensed area, if they wished it. At all events the home came first and the public-house second, and not the public-house first and the home second, as was too often the case in this country. Another result of local option was a great education of public opinion. In Cambridge, U.S.A., a University and manufacturing town of 100,000 inhabitants, for instance, for six years there was a majority for licence. In the seventh year no-licence was carried, and since then had been carried year after year. No-licence was originally carried by a very small majority—about 400—but the town was now 65 per cent. for no-licence, such had been the education of the community by the operation of the law. Another good effect was its immense restraint on the operations of the liquor traffic. It had good results in raising the standard of conduct in the public-houses. No greater restraint could be put before the eyes of the licensed traders than the knowledge that if their houses were badly conducted, or if they outraged public opinion in their neighbourhood, public opinion would be able to close the houses which had done violence to the feelings of the neighbourhood. That tended to improve the conduct of the public-houses, even where the vote was not in favour of no-licence. These were the effects to be seen in no-licence territory in other countries. There were a certain number of no-licence districts in this country by the favour of landowners, and he claimed that the same results could be shown there. Under the operation of the veto of the people in the United States they had what the liquor trade called a tidal wave. He had read an article in an American liquor-trade paper headed "What shall we do to be saved?" It went on to say that the liquor trade had outstayed its welcome in the United States, and was being swept away by a tidal wave of public opinion. That opinion did not, perhaps, exist here at present to any great extent, although he believed it was stronger than some supposed; but after this Bill had become law, and had been in operation for fifteen years, for it would be fifteen years before a vote could be taken on this question, he believed those who opposed it now would find that they had made a mistake in resisting this social reform, which would enable the people to protect their homes from the demoralising influence of the open public-house. Hon. Members opposite jeered sometimes when this demoralising influence was spoken of, but he believed no Member of this House lived next to a public-house. The licensing justices placed the public-houses near the poor, but there were no public-houses next where the justices lived. This was, in his opinion, a real piece of democratic legislation, and he believed the country was grateful to the Government for it.


said the speech to which the Committee had just listened showed once more the enormous disadvantage which they had been under in discussing this Bill. Up to within an hour or two ago they were absolutely in the dark as to the Governments proposals with regard to one of the most vital principles of the Bill. He did not know now whether it was quite clear how the matter really stood. A great deal had been said by the hon. Member for the Appleby Division of Westmoreland which made it extremely doubtful from the hon. Member's own point of view whether the First Commissioner had placed a correct interpretation on those proposals. The hon. Member had told the Committee that there was to be no local option, or local veto, for fifteen years, but if his arguments were to have any weight at all that was the first thing that should come into effect. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of what the Government were doing now and reminded the Committee that they were not now settling the question of local option. The Opposition asked the Government to give a single precedent for what the Committee was now asked to do. They were still waiting and would wait long for a precedent. What was the use of the Government asking the House to bind Parliament for fourteen years? The thing was grotesque. They could not bind Parliament two years hence. The hon. Member for the Appleby division appeared to take the view too often taken by his friends. He said that the Opposition jeered at the conclusions he tried to force upon them. That was far from being the case. The hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to show in his arguments the value of sobriety and of moderation in the use of drink. With that they all agreed. Where they differed with him was on an entirely different point. They differed as to methods by which that result should be obtained. For the last half hour the hon. Gentleman had been endeavouring to show that his special specific ought to be adopted. It was perfectly true that for forty-four years, ever since Sir Wilfred Lawson introduced his Permissive Bill, the Liberal Party had been in favour of local veto.


I did not say for the whole of that time. Since 1880.


accepted the correction with pleasure. During the whole of the time the Liberal Party had been in favour of some restriction of this kind, and since 1880 they had been specifically in favour of local veto. What had been the history of those forty-four years? How long had the Liberal Party been in power during that period? If they went from Bruce's. Bill right down to the present time they could not find a single thing that had been done by the Liberal Party in favour of the principles the hon. Gentleman advocated. The hon. Gentleman went into detail as to the consumption of alcohol and the liquor laws of the United States. He had gone rather far afield for his illustrations; he might have come nearer home. He took the United States and told the Committee of the effect of prohibition in certain areas. But side by side with that they found a steady and constant increase in the consumption of alcoholic liquor in the United States. In 1897 the consumption of beer alone was 1,000,000,000 gallons and in 1906 it was 16,000,000,000 gallons. That was to say it had gone up from 14 to 20 per cent. per head of the population. What was the use of quoting these illustrations of what took place in certain parts of the United States side by side with facts of the kind he had just stated? If they abandoned that point of view, they were driven to the conclusion that some good reason must be found for adopting in this particular regard a restriction which was discarded in every other action of their lives. The hon. Member quoted sanitary legislation, which he said was as serious an interference with liberty as local option, which he himself had confessed was local prohibition. But did that help the argument? What was the licence? It was a licence to trade. There were scores of licensed trades, the tobacco trade, the liquor trade, chemists—


When I referred to the licensing system I meant the restrictive system which limits the number of licences.


said he would take that definition and ask what application it had to this case. Had it been the object of licensing up to this time to deprive people of a right which they had hitherto enjoyed? Nobody could suggest that the taking of intoxicating I liquor was an evil in itself. Yet it was suggested that they should give a locality power, by a small majority, to prevent an individual taking intoxicating liquor. There was no precedent for such legislation. To adduce arguments of that kind was to waste the time of the House. On the Continent of Europe everybody drank, but what harm did they do? Were the countries of Europe drunken countries? One part of France was, and it was a great pity; but how was it proposed to remedy that? Not by local option. It was proposed to remedy that in a way that commended itself to every serious thinker in this country who felt strongly on this question. The hon. Member had said that no Member of this House would allow a public-house to grow up side by side with his private house. Why? Because the whole train of this legislation was to make the public-house a place where persons went to stand up before a zinc counter to drink. He happened recently to be in Bremen, and what did he see there? A great public building in the heart of the city, a building of which any city might be proud, and in the basement of that building a great refreshment room to which all classes went, because everything possible had been done to make it a proper place of rest, refreshment, and recreation. As a due result of this local option Resolution he saw publicans being fined by being made to contribute to a compensation fund. That was the very antithesis to what he would like to see. He would like to see the public-house made into what it was in every country in the world but this. He believed that if a little more energy was shown in making these places proper places of rest and refreshment very little would be heard of local veto. There had been no serious argument at all from the Government in favour of this proposal of local veto. It was not local option, though it was called so in the Bill; it was palpable on the face of it, to any man of reason, that it was local veto and not local option. Since the beginning of this debate they had learned a fact which ought to be clearly realised by everyone, namely, that this was prohibition; it meant that, so far as in them lay, they were giving powers to shut up the whole of the supply of any district, under the operation of this Bill. What was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? None. They had not had a single argument except that of the hon Member for the Appleby division of Westmoreland, that if they did introduce this new form of tyranny they would achieve the object desired. They had heard from all quarters of the House arguments based on experiences and research, based indeed on what was much more important, the common sense of those who come and go in the world, that this proposal could not have the effect desired. Under these circumstances it was too much to hope that they could rid themselves of this clause, but it was not too much to hope that by the time, the far off time, when some other Parliament had to deal with this subject, a perhaps very different verdict would be given. Here, as in every other instance, the Government appeared to him to be guilty of the most reprehensible action of putting from their own shoulders the burden which belonged to them. That was what they were doing with the national finance; they were postponing important liabilities which would have to be placed on the shoulders of those who came after them. It was the same with the naval and military services—they were postponing great duties which would have to be performed by those who came after them. And so, in this case concerning morals, they dared not they knew they dared not, and after what had been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton division still less dared they do this thing themselves. They knew that the country would not accept it, and they knew that it would be the ruin of their Party if they attempted it. But they were endeavouring to gain the temporary satisfaction, which he supposed their consciences could feel from the unction which they poured upon themselves, by compelling their followers, willing and unwilling, to vote for this Amendment, and postponing the operation to fourteen years hence.

*MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

said the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had taunted the Party opposite with having done nothing for temperance for forty years—which seemed a very good reason why they should pass this Bill. Reference had been made to the débacle which overtook the Liberal Party in 1895, and the hon. Member for the Walton division of Liverpool had placed the responsibility for it on the Temperance Bill of that year. He was one of the victims at that time, and was therefore in a position to speak with some authority on the point. He endorsed the opinion that the Temperance Bill of Sir William Harcourt largely influenced the election of 1895, and adversely to the Party opposite. He believed the reason was not the introduction of the Bill, but the fact that the Bill was not passed through the House of Commons. The measure raised the fighting instincts of the liquor interest, but the fact that it was not persisted in did not rouse the fighting instincts of the temperance forces of the country. As a consequence the Government suffered. He would like to give it as his own opinion that the Party opposite stood to gain considerably in the opinion of the electorate by persisting strenuously with the measure now before the House. The back of the opposition was now broken. Members on the Labour benches were under no delusion as to the probable effects of the Bill. They wanted to see drunkenness diminished, and believed that one means was to reduce the temptations to drink— The sight of means to do deeds, Makes ill deeds done. The first outcome of the Bill would be to weed out the more disreputable public-houses which existed. At the end of fourteen years a new phase of the question was to be entered upon. He desired to deal with subsection (b) of the Amendment now before the House. As far as he could ascertain, the only effect of subsection (b) was to indicate to the Parliament of fourteen years hence what was the opinion of this House of Commons. He would like to see the indication extended somewhat. It was proposed by the Bill, if it became law, to say that at the end of fourteen years the local option provisions should be extended in such a manner as Parliament might determine so as to authorise a resolution limiting the number of licences to the number existing at the time or reducing that number to any less number. He thought the House would be interpreting the sense of the country and of the bulk of temperance opinion if they enlarged the scope of that indication. He could conceive a position of things at the end of fourteen years in which the people would be willing to reduce the number of licences and might even be willing to abolish licences altogether, but would be afraid to take that step because of certain results which might follow. He was sorry the Government had fixed for this purpose a two-thirds majority. He quite admitted that legislation of this kind could not afford to go ahead of public opinion, and that there might be danger, if a bare majority were sufficient to put the Act into operation, of these provisions being evaded. The other week he was in a part of Nova Scotia where the prohibition law was in force. He lunched at an hotel with some friends, and they had a discussion on temperance and the effect of prohibition. One who was present asked him if he would like to see the "Blind Pig." He confessed his ignorance, and was taken to a room at the back of the office, where there were whisky, brandy, wine, beer and all forms of liquor served to those who called for them. He was sure that the House desired that if legislation of this kind was to be put into operation, it should not be evaded in the manner he had indicated. He did not object at all to a considerable majority being required to put the Act into operation, but he thought two-thirds too large, and that a three-fifths majority would be amply sufficient. To come to the point to which he specially desired to call attention, he suggested that the Government might incorporate in subsection (b) words which would place licences in the hands of the municipality or some other form of public control. Such words would indicate what was the opinion of the House, and if what he suggested were adopted, in those areas which were not prepared altogether to prohibit the issue of licences, the people could have an option as to whether such licences as were granted should be in the form of a private monopoly, as at present, or become a public monopoly. The right hon. Member for Croydon had referred to the fact that public-houses, in that part of England at least, had degenerated into places where men and women stood up to drink. The houses no longer possessed their social qualities, and that was true also of houses in the country districts. He knew that in Scotland persons who went to public-houses were very unwelcome visitors unless they kept continually consuming liquor. That was destructive of the ideal public-house which was present in many minds. Where people desired to have a public-house in their midst, many would desire to see it run as a municipal institution, not necessarily to make a profit, but to which a man could go with his wife and children, and where he could enjoy social converse without being under the temptation and compulsion of consuming liquor, as was the case to-day. He should very much like to see a provision of that kind inserted by the Government in this new subsection. He believed a sober population would be good not only for trade but for the national well-being. A mere prohibitory Bill would not produce a sober population. In New Zealand the tide of opinion was rising steadily in favour of prohibition of the liquor traffic, but that was due as much to the comfort and wellbeing of the people as to the teaching of temperance advocates. They desired, first of all, a measure for reducing the number of public-houses, and secondly a measure for empowering the people to say whether they desired liquor shops to be opened or not. What he suggested was that, since they were taking upon themselves the duty of indicating to Parliament fourteen years hence what the opinion of the House was upon this question, they should also indicate the opinion that the power to municipalise the public-house or place it under some other form of effective control should be entrusted to the people as well as the power to abolish or diminish the number of public-houses.

MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Parkston Ash)

said the hon. Member for Westmoreland had told them that there was a very much stronger feeling in favour of this Bill in the North of England than was generally imagined. He claimed to know something about the North of England, but he ventured to say that if hon. Members opposite gave their vote in the direction indicated it would be the duty of the Opposition to convey that fact to their constituencies, and then he had very little doubt as to what the result would be at the next election. The recent bye-elections had been quoted as evidence of the satisfaction of the people in regard to this Bill, but in his view nothing in the legislation of the present Government stood so much condemned at bye-elections as this Bill. He had taken part in the Newcastle bye-election, and he was told: "It is no use talking here about the Licensing Bill, because it is like a dead horse, for not a single voter will cast his vote in favour of it." They had been invited to protect the homes of the working classes, but he would like to know how they were going to achieve that under this subsection, which would place an enormous premium upon secret drinking in the case of off-licences. There seemed to be some doubt as to the actual meaning of the Bill with the addition made by the Amendment of the First Commissioner of Works. An extraordinary Parliamentary position had been created by this proposal, because on Friday night the whole House voted under the impression that off-licences were to be included in this Bill. That was the opinion of all sections of the House. Now they were told that this was not intended by the Government, but the opinion of the House was distinctly recorded in favour of putting off-licences under this provision. He would like to know whether it was in the power of the Government to reverse the decision of the House at their, own sweet will. The hon. Member for Westmoreland was a great believer in small areas, where he said prohibition would do an enormous amount of good, but he said nothing about the areas outside. If they enforced prohibition in one village they would only drive all the drunkards to the next village. What he desired to point out was the gross tyranny which this proposal might inflict upon certain individuals. Under this subsection there was not only complete prohibition, but also partial prohibition. In the case of an election in a particular village there was nothing to prevent a meeting being got up and a two-thirds majority being obtained to close some particular public-house belonging to some individual who for the moment might have rendered himself unpopular upon some particular question. As the subsection was worded it would be far better to have total prohibition or the present system continued. The hon. Member for Westmoreland had quoted the Resolution of the House in favour of local option. But those who had been long in the House of Commons knew the value of academic Resolutions passed on private Members' nights: they were not worth the paper they were written upon. Nothing would please him better than to see the great majority of hon. Members opposite committed to total prohibition. It was because he believed they had absolutely no mandate to bring forward such a provision as this, and because the people were opposed to the whole principle, that he should vote against this Amendment.

*MR. SHERWELL (Huddersfield)

said his complaint against the Government, as far as the particular provisions of this clause were concerned, was that they were likely to suffer from an excess of generosity. He thought he was expressing a view largely held on the Ministerial benches when he said that the Government had generously enlarged the area of controversy without any compensation in the form of immediate practical benefit. Speaking for himself alone, he regretted that the Government, in dealing with a Bill so complicated in character as this had not seen fit to leave the powers that were to be exercised or might be exercised at the close of the reduction period as the concern of the Parliament whose responsibility it would be to deal with the situation. If, however, the Government desired to give a general indication of the options to be exercised at the end of the time-limit, then he thought their indication should not be framed in such a way as either explicitly or implicitly to exclude other possibilities and other powers. It could hardly be seriously contended that the particular option referred to under this subsection exhausted all the possibilities of Parliamentary action in connection with this great question. He did not think it represented the best method that could be employed in the legislative treatment of this particular question. His own position in the matter was that of one who was deeply conscious not only of the moral but of the social and physical significance of this question. He was specially attracted to a consideration of this subject from its serious economic significance, having regard to the future development of the country. There was no hon. Member of the House who could not but feel that the present expenditure of the people of this country upon alcohol was excessive and ought to be substantially reduced. Therefore, in considering proposals for practical reform, he was bound to ask himself what would be their actual effect in achieving the primary end of legislative reform, namely, a substantial diminution of the expenditure upon drink in this country. The two powers contemplated by the Government were a still further reduction of licences and prohibition by local vote. Personally, he should not be prepared to enlarge the area of controversy for the comparatively unimportant benefits likely to accrue from a still further reduction of licences. He had always held that the value of a reduction of licences as an instrument for reducing drinking had been greatly exaggerated. But if the reduction of licences were the end aimed at why set up such a cumbrous machinery to attain that object? A further reduction of licences could readily be brought about by the application of the economic check of adequate taxation. The present excess in the number of licences was historically due to our failure to apply this economic check. He might be asked how, holding this view, he could support a Bill which included proposals for compulsory reduction by means of monetary payments. His answer was a simple one. The essential feature of this Bill was the settlement of the compensation difficulty by means of a time-limit. But given the enactment of a time-limit no reduction of licences was possible by economic check throughout the whole of the time-limit period. Unless, therefore, he accepted the reduction proposals of the Bill he would be forced to perpetuate an excess of facilities for obtaining drink during the time-limit period. If, however, a further reduction was desired at the end of the time-limit he would accomplish it by adequate taxation. With reference to the second option contemplated in this Bill, namely, local veto by a popular vote, his position could be simply stated. So far as prohibition was likely to be effective in bringing about some diminution in the drink expenditure, he was prepared to welcome it as one amongst other options in a comprehensive scheme. So far as it might achieve that end it should be favourably considered, but as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had pointed out, in the United States of America, where prohibitory legislation on the most extensive scale in the world's history had been applied, since 1880 there had been a progressive increase in drinking. Ten years ago the consumption of alcohol in the United States per head of the population was only half that consumed in this country, but during the last five years it had risen to three quarters. He was not suggesting for one moment that the consumption of alcohol in the United States would not have been greater without prohibition, but the conclusion he drew was that there was not in prohibition that prospect or promise of the panacea that was needed. Allusion had been made by the hon. Member for the Appleby Division to the recent great extension of prohibition in America where, next year, eight States in the American Union would come under prohibition. But how far did those States offer them any illustration or evidence of the possibilities of prohibition in this country? In considering the practical application of a particular system they were bound to ascertain how far the general social and economic conditions obtaining in the two countries were alike. The eight prohibition States in America were extremely sparsely peopled, and had an average density of population of only twenty-five persons to the square mile. England and Wales had a density of population of 558 persons to the square mile. A county like Staffordshire had 1,063, whilst Lancashire had a density of population of 2,346 to the square mile, and the West Riding of Yorkshire of over 2,700. It was only when they came to compare social and economic conditions in the two countries that they understood the limits within which local veto was successful in America and elsewhere. The hon. Member for the Appleby Division had reminded them that there were urban districts under prohibition in the United States and he had particularly referred to Massachusetts. What were the prohibition areas in Massachusetts? They were of a strictly suburban character, and in close proximity to Boston. In fact, they had been described as the bedrooms of Boston. Cambridge, to which his hon. friend had referred, was in the closest proximity to Boston, and was for practical purposes a part of the city of Boston. Even in Cambridge, which was a University suburb, with only a small industrial population, the voters in the industrial ward had constantly given a majority against prohibition. He was aware that there were areas in this country where no licences existed, but he drew a sharp distinction between a prohibition enactment on the part of a landlord and one which might withdraw facilities from a neighbourhood where people had been accustomed to I have those facilities. The people who went to those areas did so knowing the conditions obtaining there, and the veto was modified by the fact that in close proximity to those areas there were facilities which offered an effective safety valve. Therefore, the existence of these prohibition areas did not offer a fair argument as to the probable operation of local veto over large urban areas in this country. He submitted that it was not enmity to the cause of temperance reform to recognise those facts. He mentioned them because after the closest possible observation and investigation of prohibitory laws all over the world for many years, he had concluded that experience did not justify him in looking forward hopefully to local veto as the sole method of temperance reform in great urban communities. Some of his hon. friends might ask if it did not operate what harm would be done. That argument might be valid from a strictly negative point of view, but he was looking for a positive method of obtaining some substantial reform. He did not want to weary the Committee, but he would like to indicate what was a very deep-rooted conviction in his mind, namely, that the attention of Parliament had taken a wrong direction in considering the methods by which this great evil could be solved. He believed that if any statesman, whether Unionist or Liberal, were deliberately to set himself to find out what was the radical defect in our licensing laws; what it was that, for centuries, and notably during the last century, had defeated the efforts of Parliament, and, despite repeated and multiplied restrictions, had left the evil in its present dimensions, he would be forced to admit that the reason lay in the fact, that in their search for remedies they had not gone back to first principles and had not recognised the paradox that lay at the very I heart of their licensing question. Their licensing system in its very structure was based upon the assumption that a dangerous trade, which was peculiarly liable to abuse, and capable when abused of infinite mischief to the community, could be safely entrusted to those whose only interest in it was the commercial interest of gain. He was one of those who held that it was in the highest interests of the community that they should have as little expenditure upon alcohol as they possibly could. But it was in the highest interest of the private trader that he should sell as much alcohol as possible. Sooner or later these two opposing forces were bound to come in collision, and the results which this Committee recognised as deplorable were nothing more than the historic evidence that this inevitable collision had already taken place. He did not blame the publican for that result. It was not his fault, but the fault of the system under which the country had placed him. So long as the publican stood to gain by every glass of beer he sold, so long would he do his best to sell as much as he possibly could. There was not a man in the House who would not do precisely the same thing if he stood in the publican's position. Again, anyone who studied the history of their licensing legislation realised that it was to a large extent a story of baffled effort and repeated failure. Moreover they had never been able to achieve the most moderate instalment of temperance reform without a severe and prolonged struggle with the representatives of the trade. Here again one must not blame the licensed victualler; it was the principle of the system which was at fault. Every licensing reform, whether large or small, even the most moderate of them, was aimed at a diminution of the publican's profits. Therefore they were bound to encounter the organised resistance and opposition of the trade. In this direction lay the fundamental defect of their licensing system. For many years he had pleaded for some Parliamentary recognition of the paradox which lay at the heart of the licensing system and for statutory sanction of the principle of the Gothenburg system, especially as it was carried out in Norway. He did not wish for one moment to be held to suggest that the elimination of private profit from the drink traffic would work as a charm, because he did not think that by itself it would solve the problem. What was the problem? What after all was the explanation of the attraction of the public-house for the average man or woman? Some of his hon. friends would say that it lay in the fascination of the drink. He was not prepared to admit that. Speaking generally they found that a thing fascinated in proportion to some felt deficiency in life. If there was at the bottom of a man's life a deficiency which the community by wise social arrangements did not try to meet, the man himself acting under the compulsion and laws of his own being would try to meet the deficiency in his own way. It was well, perhaps, to disestablish public-houses. It was ill if their efforts were going to stop there. Indeed it might be questioned whether before they abolished the public-house they ought not to seek to put something better in its place. He might be told that the true centre of life was the home. He believed it. But before this Committee gave its sanction to that dictum they should see first of all that the people had homes to stay in. He might be told that the habitué of the public-house would not be drawn by counter attractions if they were provided.


I am sorry to stop the hon. Gentleman, but he is really getting much too wide.


said he would close with an appeal to the Government to consider whether they could see their way to add to the clause some such words as he had indicated in the Amendment that stood in his name.


said the whole Committee had listened with deep interest to the eloquent and earnest speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield. Was it too much to hope that that speech might persuade the Government, even at that late hour, to abandon their present project of inviting the House of Commons to take the unprecedented step of trying to control a Parliament which was to meet in fifteen years time? Some supporters of the Government had explained why they supported or differed from them. The hon. Member for Huddersfield had said that he looked forward to a time when there would be higher licence duties; the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil hoped to see public-houses put on a different footing; and the hon. Member for Salford, speaking as a democrat, said that if there was to be local option, there should be power to increase as well as diminish facilities. The hon. Member for the Appleby Division alone acquiesced in the course which the Government were asking Parliament to take. If he were to conjecture what the object of the Government was in asking them to take this extraordinary step he should say that probably—he hoped he was not uncharitable—it was to withdraw the question of prohibition as a practical issue from general elections during the next fifteen years. Another thing which had been made perfectly clear in the debate was that this House of Commons contained no willing majority prepared to affirm the principle of prohibition, and that was why it was being shelved for fifteen years. The Amendment was a pious opinion in the sense that it would have no binding force on Parliament in fifteen years time. But, although it could have no effect upon the will and liberty of Parliament in the future, it would exercise a very prejudicial effect on the whole licensing question during that interim. To place an opinion of this kind on the Statute-book was to make the licensing trade of the country a speculative and disreputable business. The two main currents of opinion behind the Government were those who thought they had discovered a gold mine, and those who thought that all opportunities for drinking in public should be abolished. Those two distinct opinions were incompatible, and that was why the Government had not seen its way to tell the House which of the two it intended to take. Perhaps their policy was concealed inside Clause 2, subsection 6. If that was not so, they must mean one of three things—a prohibitionist policy, a Gothenburg policy, or a policy of treating the trade fairly in order that it might be conducted decently for the benefit of the people at large. Instead of getting a better class of house and deriving larger revenues from the trade, the effect of the Amendment would be to make the houses worse and to diminish the revenue.


agreed with the statement made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield at the commencement of his interesting speech that the proposal of this Amendment had extended the area of the discussion. If they had succeeded in doing nothing else, they had succeeded in that. They had encouraged the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil to debate the question of municipalisation. It had naturally enabled his hon. friend the Member for Huddersfield to deal with the question of disinterested management, and it had led to a much larger and wider discussion than he should himself have expected. Some reproach had been addressed to him by hon. Members opposite that he did not deliver the whole mind and opinion of the Government on the question of local option or local veto. He did not think it now necessary to undertake to debate again a question which had been fully debated in this House on the First and Second Reading of the Bill, namely, the general question of the control of the liquor traffic. That question had been annually and profusely debated in the House for the last forty-four years. Some observations had been made with which he would shortly deal. The hon. Member for Huddersfield said he would have preferred to deal with the liquor traffic on the basis of adequate taxation. That had not been the method which the Government had thought most desirable for the commencement or at the moment, although it was always open for the Government and the House to deal with the liquor traffic by that alternative. His hon. friend spoke of local veto as it appeared in this Bill, as if it were the only alternative which the Government had in their mind. That was not and never had been the case. They would first of all attain during the fourteen years reduction period what they believed would be an improvement in the condition of the trade. He could not imagine how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover could think that the gradual reduction of licences in that term, when the less reputable and most speculative, houses would be dealt with, could be anything but a real advantage to the State, to temperance, and to the welfare of everybody concerned.


said the right hon. Gentleman was misrepresenting him. What he said was that what would make the trade disreputable was the proposal now before the Committee, namely, that a future Parliament was to expose the survivors to the chances of prohibition.


said he would tell the Committee why there was only prohibition in the Bill. He admitted that after fourteen years local option practically became prohibition, although it was not actually prohibition. During the currency of the fourteen years reduction period power was given to the locality under the Bill to prohibit the issue of any new licence. That was a local option which he hoped would be largely and wisely exercised in many places. But when they came to the end of the reduction period, if this alteration were not made in the Bill a small majority of the electors, operating upon what would then be technically new licences, but which would mean the old and the new, would be able to obtain absolute prohibition. The Government had proposed this Amendment in order to secure that when that power accrued to the people at the end of fourteen years it should be exercised only by a two-thirds majority. The Government were not providing in the Bill the machinery for future limitation and reduction of licences. The right hon. Gentleman had asked him what he thought would happen in fourteen years. He believed that after fourteen years Parliament would be forced by public opinion to give to the people of this country a very much larger number of options in the management of this trade than anybody now contemplated. Some hon. Gentleman had described subsection (b) as a "pious hope." He did not disclaim the words. The subsection was not of a limiting character. It was true that only two methods of dealing with this traffic were mentioned in it; but they were not mentioned as limits.

SIR THOMAS WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R., Spen Valley)

Why mention them at all?


said that the reason for mentioning them was that in the past complaint had been made on behalf of the trade that Parliament had not given those concerned sufficient notice of what was likely to happen. The Government did not wish to allow any expectations or sacred rights to grow up during the fourteen years. Though they had not included every option which might in future be given to the people, they had thought it right to notify the trade that in their opinion these prospects and others were things to which it should look forward.

MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)

said he would not have intervened in the discussion if the right hon. Gentleman had made any effort to cover the ground which his opponents had taken on this question. This was one more illustration of the great difficulties under which the House of Commons laboured when it deliberately bound itself to come to a decision at a particular hour, quite irrespective of what the Government might mean to say or do. He would add to that, that the Government had introduced yet another change in our Parliamentary procedure, apart from their extreme use of closure by compartments, which was a matter of great inconvenience and regret. They had superimposed upon this system of closure by compartments a system of management of Bills by compartment, and different Ministers turned up on different days to deal with the various watertight sections of the Bill, and made speeches that had very little reference to what had gone on in debates that had previously taken place. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not think that he complained of his conduct of the Bill so far as that was a matter personal to himself. What had happened that day? The right hon. Gentleman in one of the very few observations with which he had favoured the House, observed that the right hon. Member for Dover was wrong in supposing that any deleterious effect would accrue to this trade in the next fourteen years by the suppressing during that time of at least one-third of the licences, and said that it would be the least reputable of public-houses that would be closed during that period. But how did that agree with the speeches and action of his colleagues when they selected, to use his own term, the least reputable public-houses to receive compensation for the loss of licences? The houses which had the smallest claim to considerate treatment were to receive this compensation at the hands of the more reputable licence-holders who themselves were to be deprived of any compensation. Really this kind of argument on the question immediately under discussion without any reference to what had gone before, and without any regard to what might come after, led the Government and the House of Commons into positions of intolerable inconsistency and would lead to great hardship in legislation. The right hon. Gentleman had not had a word to say in defence of the proposal which he had advanced, to the surprise of both sides of the House, for excluding off-licences from the proposal under discussion. He at once stated there was a great deal to be said on one side and the other, but the Government said nothing at all. It only put down an Amendment which included these licences one day, and on another day announced an intention of altering the Amendment so as to exclude them on the Report stage of the Bill. That was making Parliamentary procedure a farce.


said he had not gone into this matter because he understood that it was not germane to that day's discussion.


thought it was germane to the discussion. The right hon. Gentleman must know that they had heard that day some of the most interesting speeches delivered during the debates, many of them fruitful of good suggestions, and coming nearest to the heart of this question. He had listened to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen, not only amongst his own friends, but speeches from Gentlemen with whom he did not act, and with whom he did not ordinarily agree. The hon. Member for Huddersfield had made a most remarkable speech drawn from rich stores of knowledge, and he ventured to say that it struck at the whole root of the proposal which the Government had asked them to adopt. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil also made a speech earlier in the evening, which, although there was a great deal in it with which he could not agree, pointed in the same way to the inefficacy of the remedy which the Government had proposed as a cure for the evils of intemperance, and the possibility of making people sober by any measure of prohibition, and the necessity, referred to by the hon. Member for Huddersfield and which the Opposition had tried to press on the House, of devoting attention not to suppressing these evils in isolated districts by small majorities, but by establishing more wholesome businesses throughout the length and breadth of the land wherever these were required by the necessities and convenience of the people. The discussion had turned on the question whether they were to indicate to the country and future Parliaments their opinion that at the expiration of the time-limit licences should be subject to the operation of local veto. He asked the Government why they had selected certain licences as licences which were to be subjected to this local veto, and on what grounds they excluded others, the evils arising from which were admitted on all hands, though they might, just as the ordinary on-licence did in many cases, serve a very useful and a harmless purpose. If the remedy was good in one case it was good in the other; if it was bad in one case, it was bad in the other. The action of the Government was wholly inconsistent in itself, wholly inconsistent with what they had been told the previous day; it was unexplained, he believed, because it was inexplicable to themselves, or by any reason which could be given either in the House or in the country.


said that when the First Commissioner of Works was speaking he had asked him what was the reason for putting Paragraph (b) in his Amendment on the Paper, but he did not feel that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman was at all satisfactory. This was an instruction at least fourteen years ahead to future Parliaments as to what they were to do. Now, he quite agreed that it was essential that there should be no misunderstanding that at the end of the time-limit, fourteen years hence, the nation should be at full liberty to deal in the freest and most extensive manner with all licences, and he was ready to assent to the insertion of such an intimation as might be necessary for that purpose. In subsection (2) of Clause 3 there was an indication that Parliament should be free to enact prohibition, or other methods of reducing licences; but in the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman had now on the Paper nothing was said about prohibition; it was merely a matter of reducing, or retaining licences as they were. It not being necessary to put in prohibition, it was perfectly clear that it was felt that Parliament in the future would have the fullest power, and that there might be prohibition. But the right hon. Gentleman said that he anticipated that at the expiration of the time-limit, when they would have full control and freedom, there would be methods of dealing with the trade of which nobody now dreamed. If that were so, why should they do anything which would limit it in this kind of way? If it were necessity to give this notice of any of these various ways of dealing with the trade to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, surely in this Paragraph (b) they ought to give notice of all of them. If the notice were required at all it ought to be notice of all of them. It ought to have its full scope, and if they only gave notice of some of them surely that was limiting the law. It appeared to him that this Paragraph (b) was not necessary. It was not necessary to intimate to future Parliaments what they ought to do at all. They would have the fullest liberty, and there was no necessity to have anything of the kind. He entered the strongest protest against this Paragraph (b) being left in, as Paragraphs (a) and (c) covered the full ground. No substantial reason whatever had been given for its inclusion, and he thought that even now they ought to insist that the paragraph should be dropped out, as there was no necessity for it.


said he had listened with interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and also to that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Appleby Division of Westmoreland, and he could only say that it appeared to him a very curious thing that these gentlemen who claimed to be the advocates of temperance should be so singularly immoderate in their dealing with other people's property, and other people's liberties. He noticed also, in the speech of the hon. Member for Appleby, that he was desirous of prohibiting hon. Members from travelling abroad, and satisfying themselves as to what went on in localities there. [Cries of "No."] He thought that was what the hon. Member said.


No; I should be very glad if the noble Lord would go abroad.


thanked the hon. Member very much, and said he could assure him that he had been abroad, and on this subject had had as many opportunities of satisfying himself as the hon. Gentleman himself. He had heard no reason of an adequate character that afternoon in favour of this local option or local veto. They had heard various instances of how local veto had been put into operation, and he did not think in one single instance could it be claimed to be successful. They had often discussed the question of local veto in this House. It had been discussed for forty-four years. An academic vote had been given, but the discussion had been of the most unsatisfactory character, and he ventured to join issue with the hon. Gentleman in saying that the people of this country were in any way unanimous in their views as to local veto. The last time it was put before the electors was in 1895, and, notwithstanding all that the late Chairman of the Labour Party had said, he was convinced that the people of the country gave their decision emphatically against it, and he believed that would hold good to-day. Hon. Gentlemen put forward the question of local veto on the grounds of "trust the people," but he ventured to disagree with the suggestion altogether, because it was not a case of trusting the people. If the people would only do what the temperance faddists on the other side of the House desired they could have their way, but if they desired, on the other hand, perhaps to increase the number of licences, then they were not, under any circumstances, to be allowed to do so. He certainly thought that the situation that had arisen to-day was one of the most astounding character. They heard that the licensing trade should have known perfectly well what was in the Bill which the Government was going to bring in, and have made arrangements accordingly, but from what he had seen, it appeared to him that the Government themselves did not know what was in the Bill, nor did they appear to know what was going from day to day to be put into their Bill. There appeared to be certain anomalies with regard to the Bill. One of them was spoken of by his right hon. friend the Member for Dover, and that was with regard to the houses that would have an auxiliary licence. Under the Bill, as it at present stood, licensing justices were allowed to override—if he might use the expression—local wishes in these cases, subject, of course, to the Licensing Commission. He understood that according to the Bill the Licensing Commission came to an end after a period of fourteen years, and what he wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman was, if the Licensing Commission did come to an end at the end of fourteen years, what was the position of those licences which were held as auxiliary? Were they to come under prohibition or were they to be in the jurisdiction of the local licensing justices? He certainly hoped that if the Bill went on the Government would take some steps to instruct themselves with regard to their own measure, and if it was going to become law, as he sincerely hoped it would not, that these anomalies with which the Bill was brimful, would be removed as speedily as possible.

*MR. BENNETT (Oxfordshire, Woodstock)

said he wished to endorse every word which had fallen from the lips of the hon. Members for Spen Valley and Huddersfield, and to make his appeal with them that the Government would recast this objectionable paragraph or leave it out altogether. A long quotation had been given from an article of his in the Nineteenth Century with regard to prohibition, but he would point out that he was referring to State prohibition, which was a very different thing to anything contemplated in the Bill, and to the populous town of Portland. They were taunted with the fate of the Liberal Party when they next faced the electors, but they were prepared to take their chance. ["When?"} When they liked, and he supposed that every thoughtful Member on that side knew perfectly well that any Government which tackled this question ran electoral, risks, but simply because the Government was prepared to take these risks it deserved their warmest support. With regard to this Amendment, he confessed that he joined hands with nearly every speaker that afternoon, and that he was very sceptical indeed as to the utility of legislating in 1908 about the precise methods of local option which were to be applied fourteen years hence in 1923. Temperance sentiment and temperance effort in this country might perhaps develop along different lines and assume a different complexion during so long a period as fourteen years. Nor in any case did he imagine that their successors, or those of themselves who survived with the public-houses would in 1923 feel themselves at all bound by what would probably be then regarded as an almost obsolete section of the Act. But, if the Government insisted on specifying now the methods of popular control which were to be exercised when the temperance millennium was inaugurated in 1923, he ventured to say that in the opinion of many of them the scope of their proposals was too narrow. Why should the broad general principle of local option be narrowed down to the two methods of "limitation" and "prohibition?" Few of them on those benches had any quarrel with the principle of local option, even in the narrower sense contemplated in the Amendment, provided it was carried out on reasonable lines, and with a due regard for the opinions and habits of considerable minorities. But they must remember that by 1923 the number of the licensed premises which survived the process of elimination would ex hypothesi have been reduced to the sensible limits prescribed in the Bill, and in some cases would correspond more or less to the normal and legitimate needs of the people. There would be far less need, so to speak, for local option in 1923 than any which arose now amid all those fatal facilities for securing liquor which unfortunately existed around them that day. Further, many of them who yielded to none in their earnest desire to see effective temperance reform an accomplished fact, believed that the late Mr. Gladstone was right when he described local option as "only a partial and occasional remedy." Local veto would probably tend to be least effective in districts which needed it most; and as to that far-off event, total prohibition, to which the whole cosmos of the United Kingdom Alliance was moving, well, he had seen enough of prohibition in the United States and Norway to lead him to realise the truth of the statement that prohibition might be both practicable and beneficial in sparsely populated districts, but that it was almost impossible to enforce it in larger centres of population. Why, then, as he said, were they to lay down definitely in 1908 that in 1923 local option was to be exercised solely for the reduction or prohibition of licensed premises? Why should other methods of local control be rigidly excluded? Why, for example, should local veto be inserted, while the option of disinterested company management was left out? The advocacy and support of this form of local option had been the definite policy for years past of the Temperance Legislation League, which numbered amongst its members nearly every bishop of the Anglican Church, practically every Nonconformist divine of eminence, 150 Members of Parliament, and a very large number of distinguished and public-spirited men and women of various political parties. In short, he could assure the Committee that in intellect and moral worth, experience and knowledge of affairs, they compared very favourably with some of those gentlemen who, under the banner of Messrs. Kempster, Malins, Hayler, et hoc genus omne, missed no opportunity of hurling abuse at those of their fellow-workers in the field of temperance who refused to bow the knee exclusively to prohibition as the one great panacea of the drink evil. That, of course, was not the time or occasion in which to enter into any description of the option to which he referred, that of disinterested company management. It was not the fault of the Temperance Legislation League if the scheme was not by this time thoroughly understood by the hon. Members of that House. He would only add one note of personal experience. He knew a good deal about Norway, as he had visited it almost every year for the last fifteen years. He had lived in the interior and in the towns on the coast, and for the last six years he had spent some five weeks every year in one of the Lofoden islands. That island was under prohibition. It was a mountainous and sparsely populated island, and it was an earthly paradise. It had no crime, and one small policeman enjoyed a sinecure existence in one of the more remote islands of the group. But let them take some other parts of Norway. He had during the last fifteen years written to and talked with a large number of representative Norwegians—members of the Storthing, clergymen, doctors, farmers, tradesmen, working-men—on the subject of the Samlag or company system. The chorus of approval was practically unanimous. One and all agreed that the Samlag had conferred incalculable blessings upon their nation, and had been a prime agent in rendering Norway one of the two most sober countries in Europe. He had met Good Templars in the islands and elsewhere, and they, like the Good Templars here, regarded prohibition as the ultimate ideal to be attained. At the same time they were willing to recognise the immense benefits conferred by the Samlag, and in any case infinitely preferred it to the mischievous system of private sale and private profit which had previously existed. He did not think the request they made that afternoon was other than a reasonable one. All they asked was that the Government should either by the deletion of some words, or by the addition of some words, give all temperance reformers a fair field and no favour. All they said was that if the trade could not be eradicated it should be regulated. He hoped the Government would see its way to meet the wishes of his friends and himself.


expressed the opinion that no one could have listened to the debate which had taken place without feeling a sense of the absolute futility of the Amendment brought forward by the Government. The discussion that day had been the most severe criticism of the Bill since the debates upon it had been opened in the House. They had listened to speeches from earnest temperance reformers, who, like the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had experience and observation behind them, and who had shown that the one thing that this Bill aimed at—temperance—was not being achieved by any clause in it. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had said that the Amendment which had been moved was inadequate, and gave no opportunity to anyone except those who were for absolute prohibition. But it did not give them a chance. The right hon. Gentleman had said not a word upon the Amendment which he had brought in. If this Amendment was to be moved at all, and if the principle of local option was to be embodied in the Bill, it certainly ought to have been supported by some reason from the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for the Appleby Division attempted to give some reason why local option should be incorporated in principle in the Bill. The hon. Member had been impressed with the effect of local option in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Norway, but the hon. Member for Woodstock had made it perfectly clear that he did not find that prohibition in Norway had been effectual in reducing the number of cases of drunkenness.


I laid stress on the fact that prohibition was effective in sparsely-populated districts.


contended that prohibition applied to the national life of a country would not be effective. The hon. Member had said it was effective in a sparsely-populated district, but here we had a small island, the smallest country in the hemisphere, with a crowded population, and the proposal before the Committee was an attempt to introduce into this small geographical area a system of stopping intemperance by local option. It was not effective in Norway. It had not been effective anywhere where it had been tried. In the areas in Canada where it had been tried drunkenness was greater than in parts where prohibition did not exist. In Prince Edward's Island one person in every 341 was convicted of drunkenness. In Ontario one in every 128. There was no local option in Ontario. Wherever it had been tried in Ontario under the Scott Act it had been a failure. What had been noticed in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, was that the spirit of evasion which had been engendered by the introduction of local option—the desire to evade the law—had deteriorated the moral character of the people in the areas where it had been applied. One of the mayors in New Brunswick, speaking to the City Council in Monkton, said that the law should be better carried out; that it was quite apparent that the consumption of liquor in the city was on the increase and drunkenness was very prevalent, especially among youths; that most bar-rooms remained open night and day, and that no attempt was made to stop that state of affairs. That was in a district where local veto had been applied. As the hon. Member had said, in urban areas local option did not succeed. It was easy to make it succeed in sparsely-populated districts. There was no temptation to drink there. The rules of life in such districts were much healthier. The habit of drinking sprang from a fundamental want in the lives of the people who lived under hard conditions. If a temperance measure was intended by the Government the Bill should have contained a far wider system of local option than was contained in this Amendment—an Amendment which had not been supported by a single argument on the part of the right hon. Gentleman who moved it. He did not believe that local option would be beneficial to this country, but the Government did, and had brought in this Amendment to embody it in the Bill. The national character of a people was not often affected by legislation, but if it was, it would be affected deleteriously by legislation of this character. If any effect was to be produced at all by temperance legislation the effect should be the strengthening and the development of the best qualities of the local life of the people. Where local option had been tried it had resulted in deteriorating and destroying to a considerable extent the quality and efficiency and simplicity which ought to belong to the lives of the people. He thought this Amendment had defeated itself in the opinion of the House, and if it was supported in the lobby it would only be by the assistance of the Government Whips and not because those who sat in the House were convinced of its utility or manliness.

LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said that, as he understood this Amendment, if it were carried it would put into the hands of a locality the power to close the public-houses if they obtained a two-thirds majority, but that if the Licensing Commissioners were willing they might grant licences to hotels. That meant that the rich would vote for the closing

of the public-houses, and the hotels which they used would be kept open.

And, it being half-past Seven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 17th July, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 295; Noes, 135. (Division List No. 270.)

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)
Acland, Francis Dyke Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Grant, Corrie
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Cleland, J. W. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Agnew, George William Clough, William Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Alden, Percy Clynes, J. R. Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Cobbold, Felix Thornley Gulland, John W.
Armstrong, W. C. Heaton Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton
Ashton, Thomas Gair Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W. Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Asquith Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Hall, Frederick
Astbury, John Meir Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E. Cory, Sir Clifford John Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil
Barker, John Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Barlow, Sr. John E. (Somerset Crossley, William J. Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn' ss-sh
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Curran, Peter Francis Hart-Davies, T.
Barnes, G. N. Dalziel, James Henry Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.
Beale, W. P. Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan Haslam, James (Derbyshire)
Beauchamp, E. Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Hazel, Dr. A. E.
Beck, A. Cecil Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S. Helme, Norval Watson
Bell, Richard Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N. Hemmerde, Edward George
Bellairs, Carlyon Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo. Duckworth, James Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Bertram, Julius Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Henry, Charles S.
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Higham, John Sharp
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Hobart, Sir Robert
Black, Arthur W. Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward Hobhouse, Charles E. H.
Boulton, A. C. F. Erskine, David C. Hodge, John
Bowerman, C. W. Essex, R. W. Holland, Sir William Henry
Brace, William Esslemont, George Birnie Holt, Richard Durning
Branch, James Evans, Sir Samuel T. Hooper, A. G.
Brigg, John Everett, R. Lacey Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.
Bright, J. A. Fenwick, Charles Horniman, Emslie John
Brodie, H. C. Ferens, T. R. Horridge, Thomas Gardner
Brooke, Stopford Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Bryce, J. Annan Findlay, Alexander Hudson, Walter
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Hyde, Clarendon
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Freeman-Thomas, Freeman Isaacs, Rufus Daniel
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Fuller, John Michael F. Jackson, R. S.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Fullerton, Hugh Jacoby, Sir James Alfred
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Gibb, James (Harrow) Jardine, Sir J.
Byles, William Pollard Gill, A. H. Johnson, John (Gateshead)
Cameron, Robert Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.) Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)
Cawley, Sir Frederick Glover, Thomas Jones, Leif (Appleby)
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Jowett, F. W.
Kearley, Sir Hudson E. Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)
Kekewick, Sir George Pearce, William (Limehouse) Steadman, W. C.
King, Alfred John (Knutsford Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye) Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Laidlaw, Robert Perks, Sir Robert William Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton) Strachey, Sir Edward
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Stuart, Sames (Sunderland)
Lambert, George Pickersgll, Edward Hare Summerbell, T.
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Pirie, Duncan V. Sutherland, J. E.
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Pollard, Dr. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Lehmann, R. C. Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central) Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Levy, Sir Maurice Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) Thompson, J. W. H. (Somorset, E.
Lewis, John Herbert Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E. Thorne, William (West Ham)
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Radford, G. H. Tomkinson, James
Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Rainy, A. Rolland Torrance, Sir A. M.
Lyell, Charley Henry Raphael, Herbert H. Toulmin, George
Lynch, H. B. Redmond, William (Clare) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Rees, J. D. Ure, Alexander
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs) Rendall, Athelstan Vivian, Henry
Macpherson, J. T. Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
M' Callum, John M. Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Walsh, Stephen
M' Crae, Sir George Richardson, A. Walton, Joseph
M' Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
M' Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n
M' Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs. Wardle, George J.
Maddison, Frederick Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd Waring, Walter
Mallet, Charles E. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan
Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln) Robinson, J. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Markham, Arthur Basil Robson, Sir William Snowdon Waterlow, D. S.
Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Watt, Henry A.
Marnham, F. J. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Massie, J. Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W. White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Menzies, Walter Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Micklem, Nathaniel Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Middlebrook, William Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Wiles, Thomas
Molteno, Percy Alport Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester) Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Money, L. G. Chiozza Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Montagu, Hon. E. S. Sears, J. E. Williamson, A.
Montgomery, H. G. Seaverns, J. H. Wills, Arthur Walters
Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Seddon, J. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Seely, Colonel Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Morse, L. L. Shackleton, David James Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard. Shipman, Dr. John G. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Myer, Horatio Silcock, Thomas Ball Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Napier, T. B. Simon, John Allsebrook Winfrey, R.
Nicholls, George Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Norman, Sir Henry Sloan, Thomas Henry Yoxall, James Henry
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Nuttall, Harry Snowden, P. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
O' Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
O' Grady, J. Soares, Ernest J.
Parker, James (Halifax) Stanger, H. Y.
Arkwright, John Stanhope Brotherton, Edward Allen Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm
Ashley, W. W. Bull, Sir William James Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H. Butcher, Samuel Henry Craik, Sir Henry
Balcarres, Lord Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon
Baldwin, Stanley Carlile, E. Hildred Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.) Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Du Cros, Arthur Philip
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Castlereagh, Viscount Faber, George Denison (York)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Cave, George Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)
Barnard, E. B. Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Fardell, Sir T. George
Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- Fell, Arthur
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey
Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc Fletcher, J. S.
Bignold, Sir Arthur Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Forster, Henry William
Bottomley, Horatio Clive, Percy Archer Gardner, Ernest
Bowles, G. Stewart Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)
Goulding, Edward Alfred M' Calmont, Colonel James Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Gretton, John Magnus, Sir Philip Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston) Marks, H. H. (Kent) Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.) Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)
Haddock, George B. Mason, James F. (Windsor) Stanier, Beville
Hamilton, Marquess of Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Starkey, John R.
Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd Mildmay, Francis Bingham Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.
Harris, Frederick Leverton Moore, William Stone, Sir Benjamin
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Morpeth, Viscount Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hay, Hon. Claude George Morrison-Bell, Captain Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Heaton, John Henniker Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) Thomasson, Franklin
Helmsley, Viscount Nield, Herbert Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Hill, Sir Clement Oddy, John James Thornton, Percy M.
Hills, J. W. O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffi'ld) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Hunt, Rowland Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Percy, Earl Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Kerry, Earl of Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Keswick, William Randles, Sir John Scurrah Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Kimber, Sir Henry Ratcliff, Major R. F. Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Winterton, Earl
Lane-Fox, G. R. Remnant, James Farquharson Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Renwick, George Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E. Ridsdale, E. A. Young, Samuel
Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Younger, George
Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R. Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S) Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Lowe, Sir Francis William Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Salter, Arthur Clavell
M' Arthur, Charles Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Business to be concluded at half-past Sever, of the Clock this day.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 301; Noes, 131. (Division List No. 271.)

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Brace, William Crossley, William J.
Acland, Francis Dyke Branch, James Curran, Peter Francis
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Brigg, John Dalziel, James Henry
Agnew, George William Bright, J. A. Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)
Alden, Percy Brodie, H. C. Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Brooke, Stopford Davies, Timothy (Fulham)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Bryce, J. Annan Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.
Armstrong, W. C. Heaton Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Buckmaster, Stanley O. Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Burns, Rt. Hon. John Duckworth, James
Astbury, John Meir Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)
Barker, John Byles, William Pollard Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Cameron, Robert Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Carr-Gomm, H. W. Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward
Barnes, G. N. Cawley, Sir Frederick Erskine, David C.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N) Channing, Sir Francis Allston Essex, R. W.
Beale, W. P. Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Esslemont, George Birnie
Beauchamp, E. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Evans, Sir Samuel T.
Beck, A. Cecil Cleland, J. W. Everett, R. Lacey
Bell, Richard Clough, William Fenwick, Charles
Bellairs, Carlyon Clynes, J. R. Ferens, T. R.
Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo. Cobbold, Felix Thornley Fiennes, Hon. Eustace
Bertram, Julius Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Findlay, Alexander
Bothell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W. Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Freeman-Thomas, Freeman
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Fuller, John Michael F.
Black, Arthur W. Cory, Sir Clifford John Fullerton, Hugh
Boulton, A. C. F. Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Gibb, James (Harrow)
Bowerman, C. W. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Gill, A. H.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John Macpherson, J. T. Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W) M' Callum, John M. Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne
Glover, Thomas M' Crae, Sir George Sears, J. E.
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford M' Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Seaverns, J. H.
Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) M' Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Seddon, J.
Grant, Corrie M' Laren, H. D. (Stadord, W.) Seely, Colonel
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Maddison, Frederick Shackleton, David James
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Mallet, Charles E. Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Gulland, John W. Markham, Arthur Basil Silcock, Thomas Ball
Gurdon, Rt. Hn Sir W. Brampton Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Simon, John Allsebrook
Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Marnham, F. J. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Hall, Frederick Massie, J. Sloan, Thomas Henry
Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale Menzies, Walter Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Micklem, Nathaniel Snowden, P.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil Middlebrook, William Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Molteno, Percy Alport Soares, Ernest J.
Harmsworth, RL. (Caithn'ss-sh Mond, A. Stanger, H. Y.
Hart-Davies, T. Money, L. G. Chiozza Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh)
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Montagu, Hon. E. S. Steadman, W. C.
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E) Montgomery, H. G. Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Hazel, Dr. A. E. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Strachey, Sir Edward
Helme, Norval Watson Morse, T. L. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Hemmerde, Edward George Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Summerbell, T.
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Murray, Capt. Hn A. C. (Kincard. Sutherland, J. E.
Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Myer, Horatio Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Henry, Charles S. Napier, T. B. Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Nicholls, George Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Norman, Sir Henry Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.
Higham, John Sharp Norton, Capt. Cecil William Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Hobart, Sir Robert Nuttall, Harry Thorne, William (West Ham)
Hobhouse, Charles E. H. O' Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Tomkinson, James
Hodge, John O' Grady, J. Torrance, Sir A. M.
Holland, Sir William Henry Parker, James (Halifax) Toulmin, George
Holt, Richard Durning Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Hooper, A. G. Pearce, William (Limehouse) Ure, Alexander
Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N. Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye) Vivian, Henry
Horniman, Emslie John Perks, Sir Robert William Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Horridge, Thomas Gardner Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton Walsh, Stephen
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Walton, Joseph
Hudson, Walter Pickersgill, Edward Hare Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Hyde, Clarendon Pirie, Duncan V. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Pollard, Dr. Wardle, George J.
Jackson, R. S. Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central) Waring, Walter
Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Wason, Rt Hn. E. (Clackmannan
Jardine, Sir J. Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) Wason, John Catheart (Orkney)
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E. Waterlow, D. S.
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Radford, G. H. Watt, Henry A.
Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Rainy, A. Rolland White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Raphael, Herbert H. White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Jowett, F. W. Rea, Russell (Gloucester) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Kearley, Sir Hudson E. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro') Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Kekewich, Sir George Redmond, William (Clare) Wiles, Thomas
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Rees, J. D. Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Laidlaw, Robert Rendall, Athelstan Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th) Williamson, A.
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Wills, Arthur Walters
Lambert, George Richardson, A. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Lehmann, R. C. Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs.) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'd) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Levy, Sir Maurice Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Lewis, John Herbert Robinson, S. Winfrey, R.
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Robson, Sir William Snowdon Wood, T. M' Kinnon
Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Yoxall, James Henry
Lupton, Arnold Rogers, F. E. Newman
Lyell, Charles Henry Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
Lynch, H. B. Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peekham) O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Ashley, W. W. Goulding, Edward Alfred Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H. Gretton, John Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington
Balcarres, Lord Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston Percy, Earl
Baldwin, Stanley Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond) Haddock, George B. Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Banbury Sir Frederick George Hamilton, Marquess of Ratcliff, Major R. F.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Barnard, E. B. Harris, Frederick Leverton Remnant, James Farquharson
Beach, Hn, Michael Hugh Hicks Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Renwick, George
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hay, Hon. Claude George Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Poter R. Heaton, John Henniker Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Bignold, Sir Arthur Helmsley, Viscount Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Boland, John Hill, Sir Clement Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpol)
Bowles, G. Stewart Hills, J. W. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Brotherton, Edward Allen Hunt, Rowland Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Bull, Sir William James Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. SCOTT, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Kerry, Earl of Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Keswick, William Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Carlile, E. Hildred Kimber, Sir Henry Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Stanier, Beville
Castlereagh, Viscount Lane-Fox, G. R. Starkey, John R.
Cave, George Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R. Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Wore Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Clive, Percy Archer Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.) Thornton, Percy M.
Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham) Lowe, Sir Francis William Tuke, Sir John Batty
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm M' Arthur, Charles Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) M' Calmont, Colonel James Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Craik, Sir Henry Magnus, Sir Philip Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Marks, H. H. (Kent) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Mason, James F. (Windsor) Winterton, Earl
Faber, George Denison (York) Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Faber, Capt, W. V. (Hants, W.) Mildmay, Francis Bingham Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Fardell, Sir T. George Moore, William Young, Samuel
Fell, Arthur Morpeth, Viscount Younger, George
Fotherstonhaugh, Godfrey Morrison-Bell, Captain
Forster, Henry William Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—SirAlexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.
Gardner, Ernest Nield, Herbert
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Oddy, John James

Clause 4:

MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

moved to omit subsection 1. The object of the subsection was to give discretionary power to licensing justices to extinguish licences over and above that required to be compulsorily done by the Bill, subject to the financial provisions. The financial provisions were that before the licensing justices could do this they had to get the consent of the Licensing Commission, and also that the Licensing Commission should not give their consent unless they kept the total of the compensation levy at rates not more than those mentioned in the second schedule. He entirely objected to any com- pulsory reduction at all. The Act of 1904 was acting extremely well, and was fulfilling the purpose for which it was passed, namely, to give discretion to the justices in their own district, subject to Quarter Sessions, to reduce licences where they thought they were redundant, and if they extinguished licences to give due and proper market value. This extra reduction could only be carried out by an extra payment by the Licensing Commission if they had satisfied all the sums they had to pay out to fulfil the statutory reduction. If they made this extra payment they would make it at the expense of other districts in England and Wales, because if the amount was kept up to the total compensation levy in Schedule 2, the only monies which they would have to dispense would be the balances after they had met their statutory obligations. He should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he could give any calculations as to the amount of balances they anticipated. Were they anticipating that the compensation levy would be kept up to this maximum, because the amount of compensation which they would have to pay when the licences were extinguished would be far less than was being paid at present, because there was a reduction period. Every year the payments which they would have to make would be less, because they were only to pay the purchase value of the annuity, and, therefore, the less number of years the less the money which they would have to pay. He expected the Government were anticipating that the Licensing Commission would have large balances to dispose of. How were they going to dispose of them? Were they going to grant the application of some licensing benches to avail themselves of this section and reduce beyond the statutory obligation? Had the Government calculated the amount of compensation which would have to be paid? The estimate was that, taking the average of the reduction period, it would only be about one-fifteenth of that payable under the Act of 1904, and for the first year the calculation was that it would be about one-fifth. He had fourteen actual cases which had been compensated under the Act of 1904, and the average per licence worked out at £1,076. If the principle of the Bill had been in operation the average per licence would have been only £69 10s. The Government were, therefore, going to have large funds in hand. What were they going to do with them? Were they going to keep up the compensation levies? They ought not to do it. The compensation levy ought to be reduced as the period of reduction lapsed, and they ought not, so to speak, to force the pace and allow more money to be spent. There was another way in which they would be able to dispose of these licences. Under Clause 9 a further reduction could be carried out by Resolution for Wales, and it might be that the Government would have demands upon them to meet large payments for Wales. Were these payments to be made out of monies contributed from England? It would be a very great grievance to the licence-holders in this country to have to pay over to the compensation fund to compensate other districts. At the present moment they had not to do that. They knew that the monies they paid every year went to reduce licences in their own districts, and to a certain extent they got compensation, because the trade was supposed to improve in that district by the licences being extinguished; but it would not be so in this case. The compensation levy had to be levied over the whole of England and Wales at the same rate, to be paid into one fund, to be under the absolute discretion of the Star Chamber of Three sitting in London, who knew nothing about the circumstances of the district. That was very different now when Quarter Sessions and the local justices knew what the districts required. The Prime Minister had said he would place on the Paper either on Clause 7 or Clause 24 some Amendments to meet the case of the new licences granted under the Act of 1904. He did not see any such Amendment as that which had been mentioned on the Paper. Clause 7 would be reached on Wednesday, and therefore, the Amendment should be put on the Paper this evening. This clause would apply to the new licences granted under the Act of 1904 which would be included under the regular statute. He wished to remind the Committee what a very strong case these new licences had. A letter from the managing director of a large brewery company had been placed in his hands. The writer said— I should be much obliged if you could tell me how the Government proposes to treat licensees who obtained their licences under the 1904 Act. My company paid £6,000 only last autumn. I have seen the Solicitor-General, and his reply was that the authorities have no right to value on a ninety-nine years' lease, the licence being annual. But they have stuck to the £6,000. There were 164 cases in which capital sums had been paid down and accepted as monopoly value, and all these new licences would be caught by this clause. These sums had been accepted because the licence had been regarded as a continuing property. There could be no stronger argument than the case of the general belief in the continuity of licences in the eyes not only of the magistrates, but also of the trade and the general public. Under the Act of 1904 justices, brewers, and other people had paid these sums for licences because they all regarded them as a continuing property. A man would not have paid £6,000 down last autumn if he thought his property was going to be confiscated. He urged that whatever happened to other on-licences, these new licences granted under the Act of 1904 ought, at all events, to be excepted from reduction under the clause.

Amendment proposed— In page 3, line 23, to leave out subsection 1."—(Mr. Samuel Roberts.)

Question proposed, "That subsection 1 stand part of the clause."

THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir S. EVANS,) Glamorganshire, Mid.

said the hon. Member had referred to cases in which the magistrates had levied a lump sum for monopoly value. That was a matter which was receiving the attention of the Government, but obviously the place to deal with it was on Clause 24, which would not be reached this week. Such cases were not included in this clause for any practical purposes. They were post-1904 licences and were not subject to compensation at all. The whole question raised by the Amendment was whether or not the number of licences to be reduced as fixed by the schedule was the minimum number or ought to be the maximum. The policy of the Government was that it was to be the minimum, and that if in any case the justices came to the conclusion that the circumstances of the locality would justify further reduction, they could reduce further subject to this, that if the reduction was in the number of licences which would be entitled to compensation, the discretion of the justices was fettered by the amount of money in their hands. The policy of the Government was to give discretion, subject to financial considerations, to make further reduc- tions over and above the reduction made compulsory under Section 1.

SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)

complained that whenever the Opposition raised a point which was perfectly germane to the section under consideration they were told they ought to wait until they came to some other clause. If they pointed out that it was impossible to deal with a point without knowing what the intentions of the Government were, they were always told that if they waited for some other clause they would see an Amendment. That was an unreasonable and impossible way to carry on business. It was bad enough for the trade to know that so many thousands of houses were to be taken away every year, but were the Government going to add to the uncertainty by saying there were so many more thousands to be taken away? In every one of these matters the Government were proceeding absolutely in the dark. Whenever they were asked for information on any point they had none to give. They talked glibly about the power of companies to put by sinking funds, but when they asked for the figures the Government refused them. They knew perfectly well that that argument on the figures necessary for the sinking fund was based upon the majority behind the Government. When they asked for some calculation as to what sum would be available under certain circumstances for the extinguishing of those licences the reply of the Government was: "We do not know anything about it, and how can we give the figures?" If the Government compared their methods of compensation with that adopted under the Act of 1904 they could get at an approximate figure. They would not, however, do this, and they referred to leave the House without any information, and anything seemed to be good enough when they had the guillotine. That was the way they argued, and it did not matter whether there were 100 public-houses here or there. When the Government were asked for information about this clause their reply was that they had no information whatsoever to give. How did the financial provisions, as they affected this clause, stand? The compensation levy, as he gathered from the Bill, was not to be in proportion to the number of houses to be statutorily reduced. They could fix the maximum under this Bill, but that might not be required for the purposes of the statutory reduction at all, and it might be put there to accumulate a fund to take away extra houses. Surely before they passed a provision of that kind giving this power of taxation to the licensing justices, and giving these extra powers to the Licensing Commission which was to sit in London and have jurisdiction over the whole country, they ought to know something of the amount that would be required. Purely they ought to have some estimate made by the Government of the amount of money required for that purpose. They were being asked to pass this clause absolutely blindfolded, without knowing a single one of the elements that would enable them to come to any conclusion as to whether they ought to allow the clause to pass. The House had been told earlier by the First Commissioner of Works that he did not know the meaning of his own Amendment; now they learned that the Government had made no attempt to ascertain the financial effects of its scheme. So the matter went on, and the only answer that the Opposition could get from the Government was: "Don't you bother; we have got our majority, and it is only the licensed trade with which we are dealing."

*MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)

said that hitherto the clause had been dealt with as being optional in character, but if it were read in conjunction with Clause 12 it would be seen not to be so. Together the clauses meant that if, after payment had been made for licensed houses abolished under the scheme for statutory reduction, a balance remained in hand, that balance must be applied to a further reduction in the number of houses. The result would be that instead of 30,000 licensed houses being abolished, as calculated by the Prime Minister, the number might be 40,000 or 50,000. The Bill instead of reducing licences by one-third would have the effect of reducing them compulsorily by a very much larger number. That was the effect of the Bill, whatever might be the intention of the Government. That being so, he submitted that the Committee were entitled to know what amount was expected to be available for this purpose. If the balance must be applied to a further reduction, they ought to know what the balance was expected to be and how many more houses were expected to be abolished during the reduction period. The Prime Minister had given an estimate, but he was pointing out that the number would in all probability be greatly increased. The giving of that indication might involve a calculation of what was the average amount to be paid for each house. He submitted that the calculation ought to be made. The scale under the Bill was a reduction on the old scale, the reduced sum amounting, some said, to a fourth, a sixth, a tenth, or a fifteenth of the amount payable under the Act of 1904. Figures had been given in support of that view, and no answer had been given by the other side. It seemed to him to be vital that they should have some material to enable them to judge the average amount of compensation under the Bill, the amount that would be available for compensation, and as a consequence the amount that must be applied under this clause for further reduction. The clause brought under the operation of this unfair scale a large number of houses. If a further reduction were to be made under the old system, it would not be so serious, but the effect was to bring under a grossly unjust scale a very much larger number of houses. The effect of the lower scale would be that a number of the houses suppressed would get nothing at all, or practically nothing in the way of compensation. Therefore, the clause in effect had for its purpose the putting of grave injustice on a number of holders. Another point was that not only under the statutory reduction was one part of the country to pay for another, but that was so also under this scale of optional reduction. In counties where an effort had been made—and there were many such—to keep the number of houses within limits which were thought to be required by the population, a levy would still be made on the remaining houses and a certain amount of that sum would go to compensate houses in another county or perhaps at the other end of the country where licences were abolished because they were not required. Thus, in Northumberland, which had one licenced house to every 500 of its population, practically no reduction would be made under the compulsory clause, but the money taken from that county would go to compensate for the reduction of houses in Cambridgeshire where the proportion was one licensed house to 133 of the population, and that notwithstanding the fact that the convictions for drunkenness in Northumberland averaged one for every sixty-two of the population, while in the county of Cambridge the proportion was one to 333. They were going to take away money from a county where there was a great proportion of drunkenness to compensate for the abolition of houses in a county which had nearly the least proportion of convictions for drunkenness. This clause intensified the injustice done by Clause 1, and its absurdities were even greater than those of the first clause of the Bill. He submitted that the Government ought to stop at the reduction which was outlined in introducing the Bill, and not attempt by this side wind in Clause 12 to introduce this further reduction compulsorily. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not compulsorily."] It was compulsorily. He did not think hon. Gentlemen had noticed the words in Clause 12. Once the justices in any part of the country proposed a further reduction, then if the Commission had money enough to pay compensation, the reduction would be made and it must be passed by the Commission. [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear.] That was his argument. It was compulsory on the Commission. [An HON. MEMBER: Not on the justices.] No; he should be astonished to find that there was not in any part of the country a bench of magistrates which would propose a further optional reduction on the lines of this clause, and, if so, the compulsion was sure to become operative. The effect of the clause was that if in any county or parish, although not being in Wales, the justices desired to introduce total prohibition during the reduction period, and if they put their case before the Licensing Commission and there was money enough, the Commission must pass it, so that indirectly they were introducing popular prohibi- tion. He could not conceive that the proposal in the Bill had been fully considered by those who framed it.

MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Central)

said the Solicitor-General had entirely failed to meet the contention of his hon. colleague. The contention was that under the financial proposals of the Bill there would be a substantial balance in the hands of the Licensing Commission. Did he understand the Solicitor-General to admit that there would be this large balance or not? Had he worked out the proposal? Those who had approached the matter from the Opposition point of view had worked it out to the best of their ability, and they said that there would be. There was a probability that there would be a large balance. Apparently the Solicitor-General was in doubt as to the effect of the proposal. Assuming that there was a large balance, how was the Licensing Commission to deal with it? Apparently under the subsection of Clause 12, to which his hon. and learned friend had referred, they would be obliged under local veto to comply with the demands for further reduction, amounting perhaps to total prohibition, if there were funds in hand. Were the Commissioners to satisfy the demand of each bench of licensing magistrates in the order in which the demand was received, or would they wait until they had reports from every county? On what principle would they act in the financial arrangements between one locality and another? What was the operation of Clause 9? Would Wales have priority? He was not at all sure that they ought. They had heard that the county which the hon. and learned Solicitor-General represented was the most drunken in Wales, that there the proportion of convictions for drunkenness was greatest. Supposing that a proposal for a reduction came from Glamorganshire, would that be binding on the local licensing magistrates? Whether the bench had been sufficiently strengthened under the present Government he had not inquired. At any rate, would it be mandatory on them to put forward a scheme for further reduction? Under this scheme would they have a priority over the other recommendations in England or other parts of Wales which were not supported by local option? He asked the Government on what scheme they could justify the taking of the compensation levy, say in Sussex or Sheffield, for the reduction of licences in this one specially inebriate county of Glamorgan?


thought that the power of optional reduction was an extremely valuable one to retain in the hands of the local licensing justices. For the justices to have an additional power of control would be as valuable as the reduction itself. It was not so much the quantum of the reduction as the power of control that was desirable, and that power should be in the hands of the local justices. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston had told them that in Northumberland there were very few licences in proportion to population, and that yet there was a very high record of drunkenness, and he compared that county with Cambridge. But he thought that any one who looked at the matter would see that there were differences between the two counties. In the one there was a scattered population, engaged in agriculture, drinking beer, and in the other there was a mining community with higher wages drinking spirits. It was said that the fund should not be spent in a district where the compensation levy was not made; but it made no difference to licence-holders whether the levy was spent thirty or forty miles away, or 300 miles away. Even at the present time compensation funds raised in one district were spent in another, and no further injustice would be done under this Bill than under the Act of 1904. He did not admit that it was an injustice, for after all the legislation was for the benefit of the nation as a whole, and the funds should be raised by a national levy.

*MR. G. D. FABER (York)

said it was rather amusing to hear the changes in the cries of the supporters of the Bill. In the afternoon the cry was: "Great is local option and the right of the people to over-ride the justices." That evening it was: "Great are the licensing justices with unfettered discretion." The day after to-morrow it would be: "Great is the Licensing Commission, for they are to over-ride everybody." All that proved the unreality of the Bill. The main purpose of the debate that night was to trot out the licensing justices and belittle Quarter Sessions. It had been said that the clause had been so framed that it would operate in favour of giving elasticity to the discretion of the local licensing justices; but the elasticity worked only in one direction. If they were going to give the justices power optionally to reduce or to increase the licences then there would be something in the argument for elasticity. What the hon. Member imagined to be elasticity was only power of compression. He should regard this clause with the greatest possible concern and alarm were it not for the financial limitation proposed in Clause 12. He admitted that subsection (3) of that clause screwed down the power of the justices to a certain extent. It said that optional reduction could not go on unless the compensation levy was sufficient to meet it. But under Schedule 2 the rate of levy was so high, and under Clause 10 the compensation was so ludicrously low, that there might be a very large surplus after the compensation provided for under this clause was paid.

There was great force in the question of his hon. friend the Member for Sheffield: "Who is going to have the preference?" Perhaps if the Solicitor-General had any say in the matter, gallant little Wales would come in, for Wales under Clause 9 of the Bill was to have the out and out power, not only of statutory reduction, but of doing away with licences altogether. Much money would be wanted for that purpose, and the Solicitor-General would be neither more nor less than himself if he failed to put forward the claims of Wales before those of any other section. He did not know whether the commissioners would contain within themselves all the elements of prescience and wisdom, but they would have a very difficult task to perform.

Whether any of these points had been thought out by the Government he did not know, but he rather doubted it, as they were going on from day to day in a haphazard manner, and what was done one day was undone the next. No doubt the worse the predicament which the Government got into with regard to the Bill the better for those who said it was a bad Bill—badly thought out, a Bill which did not tend to temperance, or anything else worth having by the people of this country. He hoped the Government would give them some serious reason for having brought in this clause at all. He ventured to think it was a mere figure head only intended to enable the Government to say to those who supported the plenary power of the licensing justices: "See what we did for you under Clause 4. We have given you these extraordinary powers." The clause only illustrated the fact that the Bill was a jumble of incongruities and impossibilities in favour of which the Government had not been able to produce any argument.

MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

said there was one point upon which he could heartily agree with the hon. Member for York, and that was that the debate on this point to-night was an absolute farce. That was perfectly true. The method in which the subject had been dealt with and the lackadaisical manner in which he approached the subject plainly showed that the discussion was more for the purpose of sheer obstruction than for elucidating the particular clause under discussion. They were given to understand that hon. Gentlemen were very much interested in the discretion of the magistrates, and they protested that under certain circumstances they would have no option. He was rather afraid that at present that was much the position of affairs. He for the first time attended a private meeting of the Petty Sessions at Wandsworth, and when the Minutes wore read, the first Minute on the book read out by the chairman was to the effect that Petty Sessions had reported some sixteen licences which they thought were redundant and useless. Everybody agreed that the houses ought to be closed, but the Compensation Committee of Justices of the County of London had reported that Petty Sessions must grant eleven of these licences, as there were sufficient funds to deal with only five of them. He had hopes that some day a different power for the reduction of licences would be required, and under those circumstances he could quite understand how all temperance reformers were giving their most united support to this Bill. There might be points upon which they differed with regard to its application, but so far as its general principle was concerned, and the general principle of this main clause, they entirely agreed with it. He hoped they would have power given to the Licensing Commission to borrow money to make loans in order to provide for the rapid extinction of licences by optional reduction, and thus enable the Petty Sessions in many cases to make proposals for reduction far in excess and much more rapidly than was suggested by the schedule of the Bill. He could quite understand those who opposed the Bill saying that everything had been done that could be done by grandmotherly legislation to improve the position of affairs. He could quite understand that it was their business to obstruct this Bill in every way that they could, and if he held their opinions he should do the same; but the way in which they were endeavouring by mock heroics to convince the outside world that they were really debating the subject and wished for information was one of the most grotesque things he had seen for some time. They might convince themselves—he supposed people could convince themselves that they really did believe a thing—but he felt certain that they would not succeed in convincing anyone else that they were honest, especially in the obstructive tactics that had been adopted that evening. He gave the Bill what little support he could as he thought it was a step in the right direction. It was the first opportunity he had had of saying anything during the whole of the discussion, and in reference to this section also he gave it his hearty support.

MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)

said he had sat through most of the debate as a silent spectator, and had had as much opportunity of judging as the hon. Member for Stoke, and he did not think that the charges the hon. Member had made were in any way justified by the facts. The debate of that afternoon was of very great importance, and if arguments were pressed and repeated it was because the Government gave no answers to their pertinent and direct questions. Again, with regard to the debate which had taken place in the last hour, his hon. friend the Member for Sheffield and his hon. friend the Member for York had addressed certain pertinent questions to the Solicitor-General, but they had had no reply to them. He appealed to the two hon. Gentlemen whom he saw opposite to him, both of whom were noted in the House for their courtesy and lucidity of argument, to answer two or three questions which had been addressed to them. His hon. friend especially wanted to know whether the compensation money was to be reduced, and if so, to what amount? He did not know whether it was true that the Government had made no calculation in this respect, but he should imagine that there were certain materials available. But perhaps one of the two hon. Gentlemen would tell them whether they had any figures, or say that they did not think it necessary to make any valuation. Then his hon. friend put another pertinent question, which hon. Gentlemen opposite might think it worth while to answer. For his part he thought it would be an interesting answer if they could get it. It was why, if the compensation money was to be reduced, ought not the levy to be reduced at the same time? Then, again, they would like to know what was the estimated amount available for compensation. That was a point of principle which was extremely ably put by his hon. friend the Member for Sheffield. They had no time In which unduly to prolong the debate, and though they could not blame the Government for taking means so that their divisions should be taken with great regularity at certain hours, it was for them to say which point they preferred to discuss, and if they discussed it at greater length than some hon. Members thought reasonable he could honestly assure them it was because they were not satisfied with the answers they had received. The hon. Member for Lincoln said he valued this optional reduction, and that they having complained in the past that under this Bill they were to be governed by absolutely cast-iron rules as to the number of licences, he should have thought they would have welcomed this optional power which was given to the licensing justices. But this optional power was very much like the so-called local option which the Government proposed under this Bill. They trusted the magistrates in so far as there was local veto or local prohibition, but they did not give the absolute, fair, and open option to the magistrates to say whether there were sufficient licences in the district or whether it was necessary to bring them to a higher level. For himself he thought this clause was quite unnecessary. The Act of 1904 in his opinion was working extremely well, a satisfactory reduction of licences was being made all over the country, and this was being done without any hardship falling upon those who had an interest in the licences. So far as he was concerned, therefore, he objected even to the statutory reduction laid down in the other part of the Bill, and they looked upon this clause as an extra hardship seeing that a further reduction beyond that laid down by the Act might be made, and it was not in the power of the justices to say whether the reductions already made were not too great. He agreed with his hon. friend and therefore differed from the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the justice of taking money levied in one district for the purpose of paying compensation in another. It was certainly regarded as a hardship by the trade. He would not labour the point, as neither he nor his hon. friends desired unduly to protract these proceedings. He thought, therefore, if the hon. and learned Gentleman could reassure the Committee upon the three or four points that had been put to him the progress of the debate would be much accelerated.


said he could not complain of the progress of the debate so far as it had gone, but he had thought it more convenient to speak immediately after the mover of the Amendment, at which time these points were not before him. He held that the words "compulsory reduction" were a misuse of the phrase in the sub-clause. The reduction was not compulsory, but purely discretionary in the local justices. What was compulsory, no doubt, was that after that discretion had been exercised by the justices, and they had determined what was called in the sub-clause "optional reduction," then, if there was a sufficient amount of money in the hands of the Licensing Commission—having regard not only to the claims made upon them, but to claims in the future—they were to give the necessary money towards carrying out the reduction. Surely it was better, after they had made a right rule to some extent, to be able to say that that rule in certain cases could be relaxed. If that were so, what better could they do than allow the local justices to determine the matter themselves? As to the question whether Wales was specially favoured, that could be discussed at the proper time. Of course, there would be nothing in the nature of priority. The Licensing Commission would have to take the general view all over the country, and although it was impossible to state the amount they hoped and believed that the Commission would have at their disposal some funds which would enable the optional reduction spoken of in this clause to be effected. As to the injustice of taking money out of one county and compensating in another, the fund under this Bill was a national fund. Under the Act of 1904 it was a county fund, and had to be so administered; but, although they had been long accustomed to the division into counties there was no particular charm in the division into counties for this purpose. It made very little difference whether money taken from one corner of a large county like Glamorganshire or some of the divisions of Yorkshire was used for compensating a licence-holder in the opposite corner, or whether it was used for compensation in another county. The position of the Government was that this was not the money of the publican at all. It was in the nature of taxation, and everybody knew that the trade had been able to stand the levy made under the Act of 1904, and would be able to stand the levy ma do upon it after this Bill became law. It was money in the nature of taxation, and was properly regarded as national money, and it would have to go into the national Exchequer. It had been said in the course of debate that the number of convictions for drunkenness in Glamorganshire was very large. That was true. But it must be remembered that the population of Glamorganshire was of a most varied character. There were men there from all parts of the world, and in the great industrial centres no doubt a good deal more drinking took place than one liked to see. But the number of convictions for drunkenness was not necessarily a test of the amount of drink consumed. He knew that in Glamorgan it was due not to the drunken habits of the people, but to the vigilance and activity of both police and magistrates.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)

said everybody was quite certain that the hon. and learned Gentleman would treat them with every courtesy and consideration, and the Committee were always glad to listen to him, because he always put his case in a clear and lucid manner. The reason why the hon. and learned Gentleman's answers were not satisfactory was not the want of clearness or lucidity, but because he had a bad case, in consequence of which even a gentleman of the hon. and learned Gentleman's great powers was unable to give satisfactory answers to questions put to him. When the hon. Member for Sheffield brought forward his Amendment, he referred to Clause 24, and the hon. and learned Gentleman remarked that the proper occasion to discuss Clause 24 was when that clause was arrived at. He noticed from the table of time allotted to the discussion of this Bill that the clause was to be discussed on the fifteenth allotted day, and that on that day there were fifteen clauses to be discussed. There were, no doubt, persons who desired to create some alteration in a trade which had been carried on for many years in this country under the auspices of the State. They desired to make a great reduction in the number of licences. The Prime Minister had said that one-third of the licences were going to be taken away in fourteen years. Supposing the hon. Member for Lincoln was the owner of a public-house. He would naturally be interested in this Bill, and having read the speech of the Prime Minister and found that the licences were to be reduced by one-third in fourteen years, he would read the speeches of great advocates of temperance, like the right hon. Member for the Spen Valley, and find that according to them in those fourteen years he would be able, by good business like discretion, to put by a sufficient sum to recoup him for the loss of his licence at the end of fourteen years. He would further read the speech of the hon. Member for Crewe, and would find that owing to the one-third reduction the remaining licensed houses would do considerably more trade, and that he would also be recouped in that way. He was at a loss to comprehend why hon. Gentlemen, whose pretension was that the Bill was going to promote temperance, cheered the sentiment that it would not promote temperance, but would allow the same amount of drinking to continue as in the past. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln would, of course, respectably conduct his house. He would read the debate and find to his horror—


Order, order. The hon. Member is not addressing himself to the Amendment.


said he would like most respectfully to point out that the subsection provided for an increase on the statutory number of reductions. It had been generally understood in the country that the reductions amounted to one-third, and it was only by reading the debates and going through the Bill carefully that one came across this subsection, which went further than the statement of the Prime Minister.


said the impression made on the country was not the matter under discussion. The Amendment dealt with the optional reduction as contained in the clause and not with what the country believed to be the reduction.


said that he was pointing out that, unless the Amendment stood, the statement of the Prime Minister would be incorrect, though, of course, he would not say he intended it to be so, and the number of reductions would not be one-third but a very much larger number, because optional power would be given to the magistrates to increase the reductions beyond that amount. The Solicitor-General had instanced his own county of Glamorgan, where, he said, the justices were an efficient body of people to whom this optional power could be well entrusted. That would have been all very well if it had not been for the enforced reduction of one-third. If that were not in the Bill, he should have no objection to giving the justices discretion to reduce licences where they were not required, subject, of course, to certain restrictions. He quite agreed that in the majority of cases magistrates were to be trusted; but they had to look at every circumstance, and there were benches composed of gentlemen who were of advanced temperance opinion, and if they saw in the Bill a clause to this effect, they must ask why the optional power was given. The House of Commons, they would say, was a sensible body which legislated reasonably and did not put a clause into an Act unless it was desired that that clause should have some effect. If this optional clause, therefore, was put into the Bill, many would say that Parliament desired that they should reduce the number of licences far beyond the statutory reductions. Hon. Members said there was no harm in that, because compensation would be granted. It had, however, to be remembered that it was always held out to people who owned licences that they would be able to compensate themselves because they would have an extended time. There would not be the extended time to the extent that the optional clause was put into operation. The question had arisen as to whether there would or would not be sufficient money to compensate for licences extinguished under the optional clause, and it had been pointed out that there was the safeguard that the justices could not extinguish licences unless the new Commissioners, the Star Chamber, had the money for compensation. It had been asked where they were to get the money, and it had been said that there ought to be an abundance of it. That, however, could only be so if the compensation given to the one-third were less than it ought to be. There was an incentive to the Government to put in a clause of this kind, because then, if they reduced the compensation far beyond the proper amount, they would have more money available to provide for the optional reduction of licences. The Solicitor-General at the close of his speech made a remark which he did not understand. He said there was no hardship in this, because it was not their own money. He alluded to a statement made by the hon. Member for Sheffield and said it was not the publican's money. Might he ask the hon. and learned Gentleman this question: With whose money did he pay his taxes? His right hon. friend suggested his clients'. He did not agree. Although it was once his clients', he had earned it, and it was his property. It was the same with the publican. He had earned the money and earned it in a business authorised by Parliament for generations. He failed, therefore, to see how the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks were relevant. The hon. Gentleman had not a good case and was unable to sustain the attack. He was therefore obliged to commit himself to a statement scarcely worthy of his great reputation. He hoped the Government before refusing the Amendment, would pause and consider whether they had not gone far enough in providing for a reduction of one-third without giving this additional power to the licensing justices.

MR. RICHARDSON (Nottingham, S.)

said that, as one who took a living interest in local life and who moved in and out among the people in his own city, he believed that this Bill would do as much good in the interests of real social reform and temperance as any measure that had been passed by this very progressive Parliament. He was specially delighted with this particular clause, and he hoped the Government would stand by it. He had the unenviable reputation of having lived in the famous Market Ward, Nottingham, which was mentioned by the Prime Minister, during the whole of his working life. If the universal and uni- form principle of the reduction of licences was applied there—it was a ward with 1,400 voters and seventy-nine licensed houses—sixty-nine out of the seventy-nine would be closed during the reduction period of fourteen years. He had found out how often the greatest number of licensed houses in proportion to population were to be found in the most congested areas of a town where the poorest people lived. He had in his city a singular exemplification of that where this optional principle should be applied. They had one ward, which was in the most ancient part of the city, and where the poorest people lived. He would not mention it. They had immediately running side by side with that ward a new ward, part of the city where building operations had been going on for the last fifteen years at a very rapid rate. In that new ward the temperance sentiment was very strong, and the result was that they had prevented many licensed houses being planted there. That was a ward in which they could afford to leave a good proportion of the licensed houses remaining during the next fourteen years, but the other ward where the number of licensed houses was greatest in proportion to population was the one which he should like to be dealt with, to have the number of houses reduced in proportion to population. For this reason, he hoped the optional principle would be applied. What about the case he mentioned last week in which they had a village just outside Nottingham with a population of 11,000 people and only one licensed house? That was the "Trent Bridge Inn" connected with the cricket ground. How were they going to apply the universal rule there? Would they do away with that house altogether? He supported the clause.


said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had, although he did not intend it, given strong evidence in support of the contention that the clause should not be passed. The hon. Member began by referring to the famous Market Ward of Nottingham. His observations regarding that ward should have been made on the clause dealing with statutory reductions. He also went on to speak of some other ward near the Trent Bridge Cricket-ground, where he said there was only one public-house. He asked what would happen under the Bill. He would tell him. The magistrates could take that public-house away, and Trent Bridge would be worse off than it was now. He had, however, risen for the purpose of referring to the statements contained in the speeches of the Solicitor-General and the hon. Member for Lincoln, who had been the only serious supporters of the clause. Both the Solicitor-General and the hon. Member for Lincoln seemed chiefly to base their support of the clause and their belief in its value upon this principle of elasticity which was said to exist. But he failed to see that there was any elasticity in the clause at all; if so, it was elasticity of only one kind, or in other words the string would only pull one way. It enabled magistrates to reduce the number of licences, but not to increase it, and he felt that he must protest against these statements which were so constantly repeated that the people who used them themselves believed in them, that if they allowed option of one kind it was therefore giving some kind of elasticity. They heard the same argument on the local option clause, and he hoped the Committee would realise that in preventing other people, or magistrates, from giving more licences, there was no principle of elasticity at all. He based his opposition to the clause largely on the words which were used by the hon. Member for Hudders-field when speaking on the last Amendment. No one would deny that the hon. Gentleman had given much time and thought to these temperance questions, and might be regarded as an expert on them, and he said that he did not think the mere reduction of licences of very great value in reducing intemperance.


said the words quoted were used in reference to the general question of statutory reduction, raised by a previous Amendment, and were not relevant to the Amendment under discussion. Besides, it would be re-opening a discussion which had been closed by the decision of the Committee.


said he believed that mere reduction, whether statutory or optional, would not do anything to solve the problem of intemperance. Really they had had from no one any real justification of this clause beyond the belief that it was a clause which allowed considerable elasticity to the magistrates, and he maintained that really no further reduction was required. Another evil effect of the subsection was that it further increased the instability and the risks which the licensing trade was compelled to run. He considered that by piling up the opportunities which various authorities had for injuring the licensing trade by taking away licences they were increasing the instability and risks of that trade, and although that argument might not appeal very much to some hon. Gentlemen opposite, because one constantly heard from them that it did not matter if the trade was unstable, yet the Committee should consider that by increasing the risks and the sense of insecurity and instability which licence-holders must have if this proposal was adopted, they would make it every year harder and harder for the trade to be carried on in a decent and proper fashion. On that ground, as much as on the ground that the clause was not really required, because they had already provided for statutory reductions in the Bill, he should support the Amendment of his hon. friend. He hoped the Committee would think twice before adding this proposal to the Bill. Some hon. Gentlemen might not think that a little more mattered, for after all their awowed object was to make it as hard as possible to sell drink, but this constant piling up of the risks under which a legitimate trade was to be carried on made it harder and harder for a decent class of men to go into the trade. If they contemplated abolition they were perfectly consistent in supporting this clause, but he appealed to those hon. Gentlemen opposite who believed, as many of them did, that the licensing trade should be carried on in a decent fashion, and that members of it should not be subjected to unnecessary risks, not to support the Government in bringing forward this proposal.

*MR. CLAVELL SALTER (Hants, Basingstoke)

said the hon. Member for Stoke had intervened just now for the purpose mainly, as far as he could gather, of informing the Committee that the debate had degenerated into a farce and that obstruction was being practised, although the Solicitor-General expressly repudiated any such charge against the Opposition. The hon. Member, as he was good enough to tell them, had not previously given them the benefit of his assistance in those debates, but no sooner did the discussion degenerate into a farce than he considered it the proper moment to speak. Although not in the sense in which the hon. Member used the word, there was a good deal of farce about the prolonged debate in which they wore now engaged and in which they were doomed to be engaged for so many more days. There was an air of unreality about the whole debate, which he believed was profoundly impressing the people. He opposed the sub-section against which the Amendment was directed, on the short and single ground that it was a crying example of that inconsistency and irresolution which had marked the whole structure and conduct of the Bill. Someone must decide how many licensed-houses there should be in a district. They might leave that to various authorities, they might enact it themselves, or they might leave it to the locality and allow the justices or Quarter Sessions or the general body of the people themselves to represent the public opinion. Again, they might lay down their rule in Parliament and allow local modifications. But, in the name of all that was consistent, if they had local modifications and if they trusted the locality at all, they ought to trust it altogether. Parliament began by laying down a certain ratio to density of population as being the proper number of public-houses within the area. Either that was right or it was wrong. If it was right, if they were confident in their opinion, why did they allow any local interference with the ratio they had laid down. If they thought it right to allow a great voice to local opinion and local discretion, then they must in consistency, so far as that local voice was allowed to interfere, allow it to interfere freely in any direction it desired To his mind it was a matter of comparative unimportance whether it was the justices, or Quarter Sessions, or the people who were to revise and modify the ratio which was laid down. But the Government did not trust the justices except in one direction; they did not trust Quarter Sessions, because they were to be deprived of the power the last Act gave them; and they did not trust the people, for in England the people might forbid, but might not demand; while in Wales they were allowed to accelerate but not to retard the process of reduction. What the Bill did in this subsection, was to give power to those local people whose views agreed with those of the promoters of this Bill, while they deprived of power those woh differed from them. They gave power to a temperance bench, while giving no such power to the bench which had an opposite view. It had fallen to his lot to appear before a bench of licensing justices, and a fairly numerous bench, every member of which sat on the bench with the blue ribbon of pronounced temperance in his button-hole. That was the kind of bench which was given carte blanche, but a bench of a somewhat different view was not trusted and was given no discretion at all. And there was no safeguard in regard to expense, because by the simple expedient of giving to dispossessed persons, roughly speaking, one-eighth of that which justice and equity required they hoped to have a good surplus for optional reduction. Nor was there the safeguard of the Act of 1904 that those who desired to be virtuous should pay for it themselves. This Bill invited cheap virtue and cheap temperance; it invited areas to be exceedingly virtuous at the expense of the publicans among their neighbours. If they were going to allow any local interference with the ratio which Parliament had laid down, whatever authority they might choose to represent the people, they ought, in justice and consistency to allow that authority to exercise that discretion in one direction as well as in the other.

MR. GRETTON (Rutland)

said the Government had not given the slightest indication to the Committee as to how they expected the financial proposals to work out. He could not confess that he was ignorant of that subject, because he had discussed it with many persons who were used to discussing Bills produced by teetotal enthusiasts and Radical Governments. They had tried to extract information as to how these financial proposals would work out in relation to optional reduction. The compensation to be paid under the compensation clauses would be very much lower than the compensation paid under the Act of 1904. That compensation, as years went on, would be paid upon a diminishing scale. What did the Government expect would be done by the Licensing Commission and the magistrates in relation to the compensation levy? This was germane to the whole subject of the surplus which would be available for optional reduction. There was nothing to fix the exact scale of charges which was to be determined by the Licensing Commission and graduated according to the schedule. What were the Government going to do? Were they going to accelerate the rate of reduction and carry out their statutory scale at an earlier period? There was nothing to prevent them doing that. At the end of the period they could go on charging their scale of levies, and so accumulate considerable surplus funds. There was nothing in the Bill to prevent the scale of charges and the powers under this clause being so worked that a very much larger number

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Black, Arthur W. Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Boulton, A. C. F. Clough, William
Armitage, R. Brace, William Clynes, J. R.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Bramsdon, T. A. Cobbold, Felix Thornley
Astbury, John Meir Branch, James Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Bright, J. A. Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd
Barker, John Brodie, H. C. Cory, Sir Clifford John
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Brooke, Stopford Crooks, William
Barnes, G. N. Bryce, J. Annan Crosfield, A. H.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Crossley, William J.
Beale, W. P. Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Curran, Peter Francis
Beauchamp, E. Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Dalziel, James Henry
Beck, A. Cecil Byles, William Pollard Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)
Bell, Richard Cameron, Robert Davies, Timothy (Fulham)
Bellairs, Carlyon Carr-Gomm, H. W. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.
Belloe, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.
Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo. Cawley, Sir Frederick Dobson, Thomas W.
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd Channing, Sir Francis Allston Duckworth, James
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Cheetham, John Frederick Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness

of licences might be got rid of in the fourteen years. If the compensation was as low as many hon. Gentlemen opposite desired, and the levy was kept at a sufficiently high point, they might get rid of the whole of the licences during the reduction period. Was that the intention of the Government? There was no appeal under the terms of this clause to Quarter Sessions.


I do not think that question arises on this clause.


said this was a very important question—


It is not a question of its importance, but whether it arises on subsection 1.


said this subsection in regard to optional reduction was most vague. They had been placed under the greatest difficulty in discussing it, and no hon. Member opposite could explain what it meant, or how it would work out. The only conclusion it was possible to come to was that this clause had been drawn up on the advice of some right hon. Gentleman not present, and in his absence there was no one to explain it.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Aves, 249; Noes, 109. (Division List No. 272.)

Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford
Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Lehmann, R. C. Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland
Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich Scarisbrick, T. T. L.
Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward Levy, Sir Maurice Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Erskine, David C. Lewis, John Herbert Sears, J. E.
Essex, R. W. Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Seaverns, J. H.
Esslemont, George Birnie Lupton, Arnold Seddon, J.
Evans, Sir Samuel T. Lyell, Charles Henry Shackleton, David James
Everett, R. Lacey Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Fenwick, Charles Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs Sherwell, Arthur James
Ferens, T. R. Maclean, Donald Shipman, Dr. John G.
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace M' Callum, John M. Silcock, Thomas Ball
Findlay, Alexander M' Crae, Sir George Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Fuller, John Michael F. M' Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Snowden, P.
Fullerton, Hugh Maddison, Frederick Soares, Ernest J.
Gibb, James (Harrow) Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln) Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)
Gill, A. H. Markham, Arthur Basil Steadman, W. C.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W. Marnham, F. J. Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Glover, Thomas Massie, J. Strachey, Sir Edward
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Menzies, Walter. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Micklem, Nathaniel Summerbell, T.
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Middlebrook, William Sutherland, J. E.
Gulland, John W. Molteno, Percy Alport Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton Mond, A. Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Hall, Frederick Montagu, Hon. E. S. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale Montgomery, H. G. Thomasson, Franklin
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Morse, L. L. Tomkinson, James
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Toulmin, George
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Myer, Horatio Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. Napier, T. B. Ure, Alexander
Harwood, George Nicholls, George Verney, F. W.
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r Vivian, Henry
Hazel, Dr. A. E. Norman, Sir Henry Walsh, Stephen
Helme, Norval Watson Norton, Capt. Cecil William Walton, Joseph
Hemmerde, Edward George Nuttall, Harry Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Parker, James (Halifax) Wardle, George J.
Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Partington, Oswald Waring, Walter
Henry, Charles S. Paulton, James Mellor Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan
Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Waterlow, D. S.
Higham, John Sharp Pirie, Duncan V. Watt, Henry A.
Hobart, Sir Robert Pollard, Dr. White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Hobhouse, Charles E. H. Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central) White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Hodge, John Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Holt, Richard Durning Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Whitehead, Rowland
Hooper, A. G. Radford, G. H. Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N. Raphael, Herbert H. Wiles, Thomas
Horniman, Emslie John Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Horridge, Thomas Gardner Rees, J. D. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Rendall, Athelstan Wills, Arthur Walters
Hudson, Walter Richards, Thomas (W. M'nmu'th Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Hyde, Clarendon Richardson, A. Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Ridsdale, E. A. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)
Johnson, John (Gateshcad) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs.) Winfrey, R.
Jowett, F. W. Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Kearley, Sir Hudson E. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Kekewich, Sir George Robinson, S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
Laidlaw, Robert Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Roe, Sir Thomas
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Rogers, F. E. Newman
Lambert, George Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Balcarres, Lord Banbury, Sir Frederick George
Ashley, W. W. Baldwin, Stanley Banner, John S. Harmood-
Baring, Capt, Hn. G. (Winchester Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks Guinness, W. E. (Bury, S. Edm.)) Ratcliff, Major R. F.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Haddock, George B. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Bignold, Sir Arthur Hamilton, Marquess of Remnant, James Farquharson
Bowles, G. Stewart Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Renwick, George
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hay, Hon. Claude George Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Brotherton, Edward Allen Helmsley, Viscount Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Bull, Sir William James Hill, Sir Clement Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hills, J. W. Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Carlile, E. Hildred Keswick, William Salter, Arthur Clavell
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Castlereagh, Viscount Lane-Fox, G. R. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Cave, George Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Paneras, E. Stanier, Beville
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham Starkey, John R.
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E. Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc. Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham) Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lonsdale, John Brownlee Valentia, Viscount
Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm Lowe, Sir Francis William Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E. M' Arthur, Charles Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Craik, Sir Henry M' Calmont, Colonel James Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Magnus, Sir Philip Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Marks, H. H. (Kent) Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Faber, George Denison (York) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Winterton, Earl
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W. Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Fardell, Sir T. George Mildmay, Francis Bingham Young, Samuel
Fell, Arthur Morpeth, Viscount Younger, George
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Morrison-Bell, Captain
Gardner, Ernest Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Forster.
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Oddy, John James
Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Parkes, Ebenezer
Gretton, John Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington

moved to insert, before the word "extinguish" the words "refer or," with the object of retaining the system created by the Act of 1904, under which licences, instead of being refused or dealt with by petty sessions were referred to Quarter Sessions to be dealt with. Nobody who was familiar with the operation of the Act of 1904 would deny that it had worked extremely well. Under that Act each bench in a county considered the requirements of its own district, and having decided that certain licences were unnecessary, they were referred to Quarter Sessions to be dealt with. Quarter Sessions reviewed the whole county, and they dealt with the Licences, taking into consideration those which could be dispensed with and the means at their disposal. The Act had been fully used. Speaking with some years experience of the operation of that Act and as chairman of the licensing committee in his county and of Quarter Sessions, he said most emphatically that all the licences which were really unnecessary or harmful could be dealt with under the Act within a very moderate period, without dislocating the trade of the country or reducing the present scale of compensation. He did not know whether hon. Members had seen the report presented to the Quarter Sessional divisions of Lancashire by the clerk of the peace for that county. The county licensing committees obtained from all the Petty Sessions returns of the licences which they thought ought to be suppressed, and made an estimate of the amount required fully to compensate the owners of those licences. They estimated that, in a period of fifteen years, with the use of the Act of 1904, they would be able to deal with all the needless licences on the footing of compensating every person interested. He deeply regretted that within so short a period an Act which had been shown to be a useful and beneficial Act and productive of temperance should, in effect, be repealed by this Bill. Those who had taken a practical and active interest in the question of temperance, chairmen of Quarter Sessions, justices, and others, would all say that by the simple operation of the Act of 1904 every real grievance and danger in the matter of an excess of public-houses could be dealt with without any real loss to, or deprivation of the rights of, persons interested. The effect of the Amendment, if accepted, would be to keep alive that statute. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were rather disposed to deal with the question of the reduction of houses as if the Act of 1904 had not been passed. No doubt there was a minority in the; last Parliament who objected to that Act and rightly fought it to the end, but once passed, it was an Act of Parliament, and he did not remember a case of an Act of first class importance which had created substantial interests being reversed by a subsequent Act without provision being made for the protection of those interests. Vested interests in the right to compansation were created by the Act of 1904, and according to the traditions of Parliament, whatever new legislation was passed on the subject, they ought to protect these interests. He could not make that statement more clearly than it was made by the present Lord Chancellor. During the passage through this House of the Bill of 1904 the Lord Chancellor, then Sir Robert Reid, said:— Parliament could repeal this Act (1904) in case it became law. But … there would be a legal fixity of tenure recognised in the eyes of the law in every public-house in the country, and they could not try the experiment of local option without buying out every single one of the public-houses in the local option district at an inflated price enhanced by the fixity of tenure created by this Bill. … This Bill was for all time, if anything in human affairs could be for all time. This fixity of tenure would be as fixed and certain and protracted a tenure as any of them might have in land. Now, on that principle, to every interest created by the Act of 1904, fair protection ought to be given. The clause which they were now discussing was more drastic than the Act of 1904, because it enabled justices to suppress licences by the grant of very inadequate compensation. He maintained that the matter was of so great importance to individuals that it ought not to be dealt with by the justices upon the local benches of small districts, but by the Court of Quarter Sessions of the whole county. The Bill proposed, however, to abolish all reference or right of appeal to Quarter Sessions; except that in so far as optional reduction beyond the statutory limit was concerned a right of appeal was reserved. It was on these grounds, and because of the great importance of the question that he begged to move his Amendment.

Amendment proposed— In page 3, line 25, after the word 'to,' to insert the words 'refer or.'"—(Mr. Cave.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said that the hon. and learned Gentleman under what appeared to be a very simple Amendment had delivered to the Committee an elaborate argument on the Act of 1904 and the interests created by it. He was not going to be tempted by the hon. and learned Gentleman into any discussion on that subject. The Committee were engaged in altering the Act of 1904 in some particulars; and were following some of the principles established under that Act for the first time. With regard to the hon. and learned Gentleman's particular Amendment he would like to call the attention of the Committee to what would be the operation of it if carried. The hon. and learned Gentleman told the Committee that he proposed to retain the old practice and procedure established under the Act of 1904, merely in regard to statutory reduction. Now, the Committee had dealt with the statutory reduction in the first part of the Bill, and they had imposed upon the local justices the duty of carrying out that statutory reduction; or, in other words, to reduce the number of licences by about 30,000 within fourteen years. What the hon. and learned Gentleman desired to do was to have a different procedure adopted in regard to any further optional reduction. He was certain that the Committee would come to the conclusion that if the local justices were the proper tribunal to deal with statutory reductions under Clause 1, there should be the same procedure under the same authority in dealing with optional reductions under Clause 4. It was sometimes forgotten that the local benches and the Court of Quarter Sessions were different bodies of men. There was a reason for giving Courts of Quarter Sessions a right to deal with the cases in which compensation was refused under the Act of 1904. The fund from which the compensation was to be given was a county fund, to be administered by the Court of Quarter Sessions, and it was right to give the county some control over the licences which were to be taken away. That reason would no longer exist under this clause, for the fund would be a central fund for the whole of England and Wales, and there was no reason arising out of the character of the fund for dispossessing the local justices of the power of dealing with the matter, and compelling the reference to Quarter Sessions of optional reductions of licences. The Committee had already determined the body which should deal with statutory reductions, and it would not be prudent to have a separate tribunal and a separate procedure in dealing with optional reductions of licences. The Government could not accept the Amendment.


said there was one thing that could not be denied, viz., that the point raised by his hon. and learned friend was of very great importance and interest, and he could not but regret that a Cabinet Council was now going on which entirely prevented the Committee from having the assistance of any Cabinet Minister at all, or indeed of any Member of the Government concerned with the construction and drafting of the Bill. The speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General was a speech of ability. He had not a word to say against him, or against the courtesy he had displayed on this and on other occasions. But that was not the question. On this occasion he maintained there ought to be some Cabinet Minister present, perhaps not during the dinner hour, which he admitted was a painful necessity, but they had long passed that hour, they had been for some time in the full swing of the debate, and he did say that it would be proper for some Member of the Cabinet to be present during the discussion. Very much slighter omissions were severely noticed in the last Parliament. He admitted the enormous strain of legislation and administration for ten months in the year on Ministers, but he thought that was not an adequate excuse for leaving the front bench utterly unadorned by the presence of any right hon. Gentleman belonging to the higher grade in the Ministerial hierarchy. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down resisted what he called the temptation of replying to the arguments of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Kingston, backed up as these arguments were by the authority of the present Lord Chancellor. He thought that that was one of those exhibitions of virtue which were extremely easy to display. There were certain temptations which the weakest amongst them must sometimes resist. The temptation to answer an argument to which you can see no reply was one of those temptations resistance to which made virtue easy, and that virtue the hon. and learned Gentleman had been able to practise that night in a manner which would excite the admiration of and satisfy the Nonconformist conscience. Passing from that, he thought that the argument of the Solicitor-General was singularly weak. It amounted to this: that one system had been already established under Clause 1 for dealing with statutory licences and that it would be exceedingly inconvenient and undesirable to have a parallel and contemporaneous system for dealing with licences which were outside the legal limit, and which under the Bill might be also diminished. But the Government loved these duplications, the whole Bill was full of them. They had two systems of local option; they had magistrates and the parish both dealing with the question of new licences; and he could not conceive whence this horror of doubling the machinery arose in the hon. and learned Gentleman's breast. The truth was that although his hon. friend's Amendment would be a much better Amendment if the rules of the House enabled them to give it a large extension, there was no reason whatever against their giving it such extension as they could on the present occasion. Evidently the Government were not content with destroying what the present Lord Chancellor said were sacred, viz., such rights as were created by the Act of 1904, but they went further and went beyond those substantial interests. Their aversion to that Act was so great that they desired to pull down those portions of it which, so far as he could discover, it would have done them no harm to keep. His hon. friend had a large acquaintance with the actual working of the Act of 1904. He was himself a chairman of Quarter Sessions, and had the minutest and most constant knowledge of what went on in regard to the machinery, especially of the Act of 1904, and when he came down and told the House that the machinery had worked perfectly during the three years in which it had been tried, that it had given contentment both to the magistrates who constituted what might be called the Court of First Instance, and also to the Court of Quarter Sessions, who might be described as a Court of Review, it was perfectly unintelligible why the Government should come forward and destroy a mechanism which had, unlike the mechanism which they proposed in this Bill, been shown by the test of experience to be a good working machine. There could be no reason for destroying it. On the contrary, by the arbitrary, cast-iron and extremely foolish rule which they had chosen to establish in Clause 1, they had made it quite certain that there would be an immense reduction of licences, whether that reduction was desirable in the interests of the locality or not. Under this clause they made it possible to have still further reductions. Those reductions might inflict great hardship upon the locality in which they occurred. Why should there not be some reference to the Court of Quarter Sessions, that had done its duty so well in the past as a Court of Appeal? The argument seemed to be conclusive, but, conclusive or not, it had not been replied to by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. Under those circumstances, if his hon. friend went to a division he should certainly support him.


said that he could not for a moment pretend that an Under-Secretary was to be regarded either as useful or ornamental. But he protested against the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that that bench had been left untenanted by any member of the Government who was concerned with the preparation and drafting of the Bill, for both his hon. and learned friend the Solicitor-General and himself had had that privilege. He could not assent to the assertion that this Amendment raised a question of large or grave importance. It by no means concerned the virtues or vices in general of the Act of 1904, but raised a question of very minute importance. There were three conditions under which a licence might be refused by the licensing justices. In the first place, there were the cases of misconduct or structural insufficiency. In that case the licences were not referred to Quarter Sessions, and they would not be referred to Quarter Sessions under this Bill. There was an appeal to Quarter Sessions at the present time, and there would be an appeal to Quarter Sessions under this Bill. In the second place, a licensee might be refused a renewal as part of the statutory reduction. That point was not raised by this Amendment, which only dealt with the part of the clause now under discussion, which was optional and additional reduction. Obviously, the powers of Quarter Sessions, under the Act of 1904 did not arise on this Amendment, so far as the refusal of the licence was part of the scheme of statutory reduction. This Amendment only touched the class of cases where licences were refused in the discretion of the justices over and above licences which they were to refuse under Clause 1, and all this clause did was to say that these licences should no longer go before Quarter Sessions as an administrative body by reference, but might come before Quarter Sessions as a judicial body on appeal. That was the whole difference between the law as it would stand and the law as it stood under the Act of 1904. It was not necessary to refer every licence to Quarter Sessions. Quarter Sessions were no longer concerned in the fund from which these licensees were to be compensated, but the Government agreed that there was a case for Quarter Sessions having a right to review if persons chose to come to them on appeal, and that was provided for in the second subsection of this clause by the words "subject to the foregoing provision." That said that— The licensing justices shall have the same powers and discretion (subject to the like appeal) as to refusing the renewal or transfer of an old 'on-licence' as they have for the time being with respect to other on-licences. That was to say, they had the same power as to the renewal or transfer of the pre-1904 licence as they had in regard to the post-1904 licence.


wished to point out in regard to the words "subject to the foregoing provision," that the foregoing provision was that the licensing justices had to do this and not Quarter Sessions.


said the "foregoing provision" was that they had to obtain the consent of the Licensing Commission. Obviously that was so, and if hon. Members would look through the clause carefully, they would see that it was. They could not effect these additional reductions save in accordance with the "financial pro- visions of this Act," and it was subject to that "foregoing provision" that they were to take action, and the appeal was preserved. It was clearly stated in the subsection: "Subject to the like appeal." The right hon. Gentleman might interpret the words "subject to the like appeal" to be not subject to the like appeal, and he would have displayed the most remarkable ingenuity, but it was the intention of the subsection to preserve the same appeal as existed before 1904 as to the renewal of the licence. He thought that intention was carried out.


said he had not the least desire to enter into a legal argument with the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary, though he wished to state his views. It was not the first time that the hon. Gentleman had laid down emphatic law which had been proved, upon reference to previous Acts, to have been entirely erroneous, and if he might be so audacious as to give the hon. Member a little advice, he would counsel him in the construction of an Act of Parliament to be not always so absolutely certain as he appeared to be.


I was, of course, not acting upon my own opinion, but upon advice.


said the hon. Member must not think for a moment that by merely raising a laugh on the wording of a clause he could construe an Act of Parliament. He dared say hon. Members thought his opinion was not worth much, and he did not quarrel with them in regard to the manner in which they appraised his legal opinion, but he never stated a legal opinion in this House which he did not conscientiously believe was the true construction of the particular matter which he was putting before the House. After all, the hon. Gentleman said they intended a certain thing. Well, he hoped they would put their intentions down, and that when they did so and they came to ask them about the matter they would be able to explain them. He also hoped hon. Gentleman would understand them, though it was not their experience during the Bill that they did, but it might be so, as the Bill went on. The hon. Gentleman said that this appeal was preserved. What did the section say? The obligation under this Act to carry out the statutory reduction shall not affect the power of the licensing justices to extinguish licences in any rural parish or urban area in excess of the number for the time being required to be extinguished under this scheme for statutory reduction, subject, in the case of the proposed extinction of an old on-licence involving the payment of compensation, to the financial provisions of this Act; and that power is in this Act referred to as 'the power of optional reduction.' In the case of statutory reduction was there any appeal? ["No."] And except under this Bill the licensing justices had no power to extinguish, while Quarter Sessions would have the power to extinguish under the Act of 1904. Where did the hon. Gentleman get the appeal? The hon. Member said it was in the second subsection in the words "subject to the like appeal" Yes, but that was subject to the foregoing provision, which said that the licensing justices should have the same power with regard to excess licences, and those which the statutory provision applied to. To his mind, as a lawyer, the matter was absolutely plain, but the Solicitor-General would probably give them some reason for dissenting. If he and the Solicitor-General disagreed they made it plain, and his challenge to the Government was to make it plain, and that would put an end to the whole matter. Might he also remind the Committee that the argument put forward by the Under-Secretary was entirely different from that put forward by the Solicitor-General, who argued that no appeal was necessary, because there was no appeal under the Act of 1904. [The Solicitor-General dissented.] That was the way he took it.


said he certainly did not intend to say that, and he did not think he did say it.


said he certainly took down the words: "There is no appeal under the Act of 1904." Of course there was not, because the matter went to Quarter Sessions on a reference. Why did the hon. and learned Gentleman enter into a learned disquisition as to the reasons why, under the Act of 1904, it went to Quarter Sessions? What was the necessity for that if they were not taking away the jurisdiction? He said the reason was because the fund was distributed by Quarter Sessions. What was the necessity of this if they were not taking away the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions? The truth of the matter was that there was an attempt in this section and in the next subsection to get rid of Quarter Sessions. That was the object of the Government. The Government were prepared to maintain the appeal in the case of a licence extinguished on account of misconduct, but would give no appeal where the licence had been taken away and the man had conducted his house well. The reason for that was that they did not trust Quarter Sessions, and because they knew that the Quarter Sessions who were removed from local prejudice of a particular district had refused to lend themselves to the practices that had prevailed in certain Petty Sessions. The Under-Secretary for the Home Department had said that this matter had no relation to the Act of 1904. Was that so? Was there no argument to be found in the fact that they were bringing in extra provisions, outside altogether the statutory reduction, to compel further reductions, although the Opposition were able to point out that the Act of 1904 had been working admirably, and had been getting rid by degrees of every licence that could be possibly objected to in any district. The one fault of the Act of 1904 was that it was successful. It was a second fault in the eyes of hon. Members opposite that it did not do an injustice. That was a fault that hon. Members opposite never could forgive. What answer did the Under-Secretary give to the quotation made by the hon. Member for Kingston from the present Lord Chancellor that if they interfered with the interests created under the Act of 1904 they would have to compensate for them? He gave no answer at all. They gave the go-by to their own Lord Chancellor. What did they care about the Lord Chancellor when they had got a Solicitor-General? At the time the Act of 1904 was passing they used to say they would pay no attention to it, because the by-elections were going against it. The Opposition would pay no attention to the Act of 1908, because the bye-elections were going against it. Was that the kind of argument to be used from one Parliament to another? The truth was that neither this section nor any other section of the Bill had been thought out by the Government. They had remained satisfied with this—that they were going to do the maximum of injustice at the cheapest possible price. No answer had been given to the Member for Kingston, and if the Amendment went to a division he would be prepared to support it in the Division Lobby.


said he did not propose to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman's

rhetoric, but merely to answer quickly and plainly a point of law. The second sub-clause provided that— Subject to the foregoing provision the licensing justices shall have the same powers and discretion, subject to the like appeal as to refussing the renewal or transfer of an old on-licence as they have for the time being with repect to other on-licences. Sub-clause 4 provided that the right of appeal was taken away in the case of the refusal of the licensing justices to renew an on-licence where the licensing justices declared that the licence was extinguished in pursuance of a scheme for statutory reduction under the Act. The right of appeal was, therefore, only taken away in that case. In every other case it still continued.


said his opinion remained the same as before the hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation. However, there was very little use in pursuing a discussion of this character, seeing that the hon. and learned Gentleman had said, in a quite fair way, that he would make the matter perfectly clear. He would suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman should consult with the draftsman, one of the most experienced gentlemen in the employment of the Government.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 110; Noes, 270. (Division List No. 273.)

Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.) Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Faber, George Denison (York) Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Fardell, Sir T. George Lonsdale, John Brownlee Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Fell, Arthur M' Arthur, Charles Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey M' Calmont, Colonel James Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)
Forster, Henry William Marks, H. H. (Kent) Stanier, Beville
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Starkey, John R.
Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham) Mildmay, Francis Bingham Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Morpeth, Viscount Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Gretton, John Morrison-Bell, Captain Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ
Guinness, Hn. R. (Haggerston) Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.) Nield, Herbert Valentia, Viscount
Haddock, George B. Oddy, John James Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Hamilton, Marquess of Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Parkes, Ebenezer Whitbread, Howard)
Hay, Hon. Claude George Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Helmsley, Viscount Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Hill, Sir Clement Ratcliff, Major R. F. Winterton, Earl
Hills, J. W. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Remnant, James Farquharson Young, Samuel
Hunt, Rowland Renton, Leslie Younger, George
Kerry, Earl of Renwick, George
Keswick, William Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Cave and Mr. Meysey-Thompson.
King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Lane-Fox, G. R. Rothschild, Hon, Lionel Walter
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Channing, Sir Francis Allston Gill, A. H.
Acland, Francis Dyke Cheetham, John Frederick Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John
Agnew, George William Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.
Allen, Charcles P. (Stroud) Clough, William Glover, Thomas
Armitage, R. Clynes, J. R. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford
Ashton, Thomas Gair Cobbold, Felix Thornley Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Greenwood, G. (Pererborough)
Astbury, John Meir Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W. Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Gulland, John W.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Cory, Sir Clifford John Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton
Barker, John Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Cox, Harold Hall, Frederick
Barnes, G. N. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossend'le
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N) Crooks, William Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Beale, W. P. Crosfield, A. H. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil
Beauchamp, E. Crossley, William J. Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Bell, Richard Curran, Peter Francis Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)
Bellairs, Carlyon Dalziel, James Henry Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh
Belloe, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)
Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo. Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.
Black, Arthur W. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S. Haslam, James (Derbyshire)
Bottomley, Horatio Duckworth, James Hazel, Dr. A. E.
Bowerman, C. W. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Helme, Norval Watson
Brace, William Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Hemmerde, Edward George
Bramsdon, T. A. Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Branch, James Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Henry, Charles S.
Brigg, John Erskine, David C. Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)
Bright, J. A. Essex, R. W. Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)
Brodie, H. C. Esslemont, George Birnie Higham, John Sharp
Brooke, Stopford Evans, Sir Samuel T. Hobart, Sir Robert
Bryce, J. Annan Everett, R. Lacey Hobhouse, Charles E. H.
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Fenwick, Charles Hodge, John
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ferens, T. R. Holt, Richard Durning
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Hooper, A. G.
Byles, William Pollard Findlay, Alexander Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.
Cameron, Robert Freeman-Thomas, Freeman Horniman, Emslie John
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Fuller, John Michael F. Horridge, Thomas Gardner
Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Fullerton, Hugh Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Cawley, Sir Frederick Gibb, James (Harrow) Hudson, Walter
Hyde, Clarendon O' Grady, J. Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Jardine, Sir J. Parker, James (Halifax) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Partington, Oswald Strachey, Sir Edward
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Paulton, James Mellor Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Summerbell, T.
Jowett, F. W. Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye) Sutherland, J. E.
Kearley, Sir Hudson E. Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Kekewich, Sir George Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Pirie, Duncan V. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Laidlaw, Robert Pollard, Dr. Thomasson, Franklin
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central) Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.
Lambert, George Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) Tomkinson, James
Lehmann, R. C. Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E. Toulmin, George
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich Radford, G. H. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Levy, Sir Maurice Rainy, A. Rolland Ure, Alexander
Lewis, John Herbert Raphael, Herbert H. Verney, F. W.
Lupton, Arnold Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Vivian, Henry
Lyell, Charles Henry Rendall, Athelstan Walsh, Stephen
Lynch, H. B. Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th Walton, Joseph
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Maclean, Donald Richardson, A. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton
Macpherson, J. T. Ridsdale, E. A. Wardle, George J.
M' Callum, John M. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Waring, Walter
M' Crae, Sir George Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan
M' Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs. Waterlow, D. S.
M' Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd Watt, Henry A.
M' Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Maddison, Frederick Robinson, S. White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln) Robson, Sir William Snowdon White, Luke, (York, E. R.)
Markham, Arthur Basil Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Whitehead, Rowland
Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston Roe, Sir Thomas Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Marnham, F. J. Rogers, F. E. Newman Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.
Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Wiles, Thomas
Massie, J. Russell, Rt. Hon, T. W. Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Menzies, Walter Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Micklem, Nathaniel Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Williamson, A.
Middlebrook, William Scarisbrick, T. T. L. Wills, Arthur Walters
Molteno, Percy Alport Seaverns, J. H. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Mond, A. Seddon, J. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Montagu, Hon. E. S. Shackleton, David James Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Montgomery, H. G. Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Sherwell, Arthur James Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.
Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Shipman, Dr. John G. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Morrell, Philip Silcock, Thomas Ball Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Morse, L. L. Simon, John Allsebrook Winfrey, R.
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Wood, T. M' Kinnon
Myer, Horatio Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Nicholls, George Snowden, P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Soares, Ernest J.
Nussey, Thomas Willans Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)
Nuttall, Harry Steadman, W. C.

And, it being after Eleven of the Clock the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.