HC Deb 27 October 1909 vol 12 cc1099-106

In this Part of this Act—

The expression "beer" includes ale, porter, spruce beer, black beer, and any other description of beer, and any liquor which is made or sold as a description of beer or as a substitute for beer, and which on analysis of a sample thereof at any time is found to contain more than two per cent. of proof spirit;

The expression "wine" means foreign wine;

The expression "sweets" means any liquor which is made from fruit and sugar, or from fruit or sugar mixed with any other material, and which has undergone a process of fermentation in the manufacture thereof, and includes British wines, made wines, mead, and metheglin;

Any reference to cider shall include a reference to perry;

The expression "registered club" means a club for the time being registered under the Licensing Act, 1902, and in Scotland and Ireland a registered club within the meaning of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, and the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904, respectively;

The expression "passenger vessel" means a vessel of any description employed for the carriage and conveyance of persons going as passengers from any place in the United Kingdom to any other place in the United Kingdom, or going from and returning to the same place on the same day;

The expression "publican's licence" means the on-licence to be taken out by a retailer of spirits, and the expression "beerhouse licence" means the on-licence to be taken out by a retailer of beer;

The expression "fully licensed premises" means premises to which a publican's licence is attached, and the expression "beerhouse" means premises to which a beerhouse licence is attached;

The expression "premises" in relation to the value of licensed premises includes any offices, courts, yards, and gardens occupied together with the house in which the liquor is sold;

The expression "full duty" means the duty which would be charged under the First Schedule to this Act without taking into consideration any reduction or allowance or, in cases where duty may be charged under that Schedule by reference to annual value, any alternative mode of charging the duty.

Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL moved to leave out the words "foreign wine" ["The expression 'wine' means foreign wine"], and to insert instead thereof the words "wine imported into Great Britain or Ireland."

This Amendment is to meet a purely sentimental, but proper, objection raised in Committee. It is unnecessary to amend it, as hon. Members opposite propose, in order to deal with wine made in Great Britain and imported into Ireland and wine made in Ireland and imported into Great Britain, because the term "imported" is a term of art, and means imported from parts beyond the seas, and parts beyond the seas do not include any part of the United Kingdom. The words hon. Members propose to move are therefore unnecessary, and they would also be objectionable as implying a meaning to the word "imported," which under the Customs Acts it does not possess.


The real point of substance which was raised in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield has been hardly met, but there is something gained, and I do not propose to move my Amendment.

Question, "That the words 'foreign wine' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Words proposed there inserted in the Bill.

Mr HERBERT SAMUEL moved, in the paragraph "The expression 'passenger vessel,'" to leave out the words "persons going as" ["passenger for any place"].


This is something more than a drafting Amendment, and we are bound, I think, to spend a certain amount of time upon it. At the request of the Solicitor-General the question of international law which is involved here was postponed until this stage. I should like to know what is the intention of the Government with regard to the case of cross-Channel steamers—vessels which ply from a place in the United Kingdom and return on the same day. Among them are cross-Channel steamers which fly the flags of other Governments. Is it the intention of the framers of the Bill to apply the provisions of this Act to these steamers, or not? Take the case of the steamers running between Dover and Calais, crossing and re-crossing every day, the "Nord" and the "Pas de Calais." When this point was raised in Committee there was a certain amount of hesitation on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman as to whether the Government had or had not jurisdiction over these vessels. Admittedly this is one of the most complicated points of international law which it is possible to raise. It is not easy of solution, and it does not become any the more easy when you look at Schedule 1, Sub-schedule D, because there it is provided that "for the purpose of giving jurisdiction any sale of liquor on a passenger vessel shall be deemed to have taken place either where it has actually taken place, or in any place in which the vessel may be found." I want to know if it is proposed to apply these provisions to cross-Channel steamers. I do not think the point will arise in the case of the Belgian steamers, as they are in a sense State vessels, but I want to know the position of cross-Channel steamers not flying the British flag. Apparently the Solicitor-General does not appear to know whether or not they will come under the Bill.


I know perfectly well.


Then perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will tell us at once.


Perhaps I may be allowed to reply. Since the discussion in Committee on this point, and, indeed, in consequence of it, careful inquiry has been made, and it appears to us clear that there would be jurisdiction over vessels flying a foreign flag if they came within the provisions of this Clause. But, so far as we know, there are no cases which do come within the provisions of this Clause. There are English vessels which cross and re-cross between Dover and Calais on the same day, but there are no foreign vessels which ply from the United Kingdom to a foreign country and return here on the same day. They may come from a foreign country and return to it on the same day, but that does not bring them within the purview of this Clause. I am informed, in fact, that there are no cases which can be brought within it. If there were cases, there would, of course, be jurisdiction, but whether it would be wise to exercise it is another question. Our vessels are not charged foreign licence duties abroad, and it would be a matter for careful consideration before the Government could decide to apply the provisions of this Bill to foreign ships plying between our ports and a foreign country.


I think the position the Government have taken up is perfectly correct, but I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is not reckoning on possibilities which may happen. It is quite possible a case may arise where, in consequence of stress of weather or some ether cause, a French vessel may actually leave the coasts of England and return to them the same day. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has recognised that there is a difficulty in the way, and I am gratified at the decision at which the Government have arrived. Under the circumstances I shall not press my Amendment.


Although I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has made careful inquiry, I rather question the correctness of his facts, because it was only the other day I had occasion to go abroad for a week during the temporary holiday this House was allowed. I crossed the Channel in the steamer "Nord" at half-past one in the morning, and to the best of my knowledge the same steamer returned here in the afternoon. Therefore, I would like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that his facts are somewhat precarious.

Question, "That those words stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Drafting Amendments made.

Sir SAMUEL EVANS moved, after the word "sold," at the end of the paragraph beginning "The expression 'premises,'" to insert the words "except any such offices, courts, yards, or gardens as are proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners to be used for any trade or business distinct from any trade or business carried on upon the premises by the licence holder."

Mr. G. D. FABER moved as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment after the word "courts" to insert the word "stables."

I think a point of material importance is involved in this, as the stables may have nothing whatever to do with the licensed premises.


I second the Amendment, and as a matter of fact the case which gave rise to the Debate was the case of livery stables.


The hon. Member is perfectly right in saying that the case of stables was raised as an illustration in the course of the Debate, but the word "stables" would be included in the word "offices." The reason why it has not been specially put in this is this: The House will see that the expression "premises" is defined as including "any offices, courts, yards, and gardens occupied together with the house in which the liquor is sold," and we could not put "except any such stables, offices, courts, yards, or gardens" without inserting it the other way. Under the Act of 1830 which fixes the Licence Duty under a scale it is enacted that in the annual value of the dwelling-house the offices, courts, yards, and garden occupied with the premises would be included, and we have followed these words both in the definition which we here give of premises and in the exceptions. I think, in substance, the point has been met.

Amendment to proposed Amendment negatived.

Mr. GRETTON moved to add at the end of the proposed Amendment ["carried on upon the premises by the licence-holder"] the words "by virtue of his licence."

This is very much a drafting Amendment, and does not alter the substance of the Government Amendment. The words make it quite clear that this exception should extend to any trade which is carried on on the licensed premises, but not as part of the licensed business. It is no uncommon thing for a licence holder to have two businesses, and the premises may adjoin. It would certainly be unfair and unreasonable, and I believe it is not the intention of the Government, to tax the licence holder in respect to any business which he carries on on premises adjoining the licensed premises because they are contiguous. What they want to tax is the licensed premises in which he carries on his business.

Mr. G. D. FABER seconded the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.


This is more than a drafting Amendment, and it is one which I am afraid the Government cannot accept, because a business might be carried on upon the licensed premises. For instance, a person who is the proprietor of an hotel business, and who carries on a livery stable business does not carry it on by virtue of his licence, but he occupies his stabes and so forth in connection with his premises, and it would not be at all right to exclude any such case as that, although the business carried on is not carried on strictly by virtue of his licence.


I hope the hon. Gentleman will reconsider this. We must have some such words added. The words proposed by the Solicitor-General exempt premises which are carried on by someone else than the licensee, but as to him this Amendment will have no effect. This Amendment is not going to give the licence holder any relief at all. Surely it cannot be suggested that in the case of a man who has a licence and carries on a business which does not require a licence in an office, court, yard, or garden adjoining the licensed premises, that the value of the premises in which it is carried on are to be included.

9.0 P.M.


The case which I put in reply to the Amendment now proposed is unanswerable. At any rate, we never intended, and I never held out any hope, that we would change the law to such an extent as to say that any part of the licensed premises occupied by the licence holder, and used in the business of the licence holder, would be excluded because it was not a business carried on under the licence.


I do not think the Government went so far as that, but supposing a man who is a licensee has also livery stables, and carries on in those stables a business totally distinct from his business as a publican, he does some part of his business as a livery stable keeper upon the licensed premises, but not under his licence.


In connection with his business?


I am putting it entirely without any connection with his business, and that is the case we want met. We do not want, because a man has two businesses, one as a publican and the other as a livery stable keeper, and carries on part of that business in his own home on his licensed premises, he is to have the whole of his premises, whether public-house or livery stable, rated as a public-house. I think this is a distinct and substantial point which would be covered by the words of the Amendment, and in accordance with the words of the original Amendment, "distinct from any trade or business carried on upon the premises by the licence holder." I think the words now suggested make the proposed Amendment clear.


Supposing a man who is a licence holder is also an undertaker. That would be a perfectly distinct business, but we cannot go further than we have. We have carefully and anxiously considered the Amendment and the question of giving relief under the Act of 1880, and this is the utmost extent to which we can go.

Amendment to proposed Amendment negatived.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.