HC Deb 29 May 1911 vol 26 cc831-4

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I only desire to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the definition is in some respects rather wide, and would be glad if he would give the matter his consideration.


Yes, I will look into that.


This Bill is rather a complicated measure. Before we read a Bill of this kind a Second time we are entitled to have a reasonable amount of explanation from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. Section 1 of the Bill refers to Sub-section (1) and Sub-section (3) of Section 82 of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1903, and it purports to make a number of amendments in that particular Section. Then Sub-section (2) of the Bill also purports to make a number of alterations in some other Act. It goes on in the same way: Sub-section (3) amends Sub-section (5) in another Act of Parliament; Sub-section (4) amends Section 82, and so on. I admit it is extremely possible that this Bill is a very desirable one, and that it is intended to amend various difficulties that have arisen in connection with existing legislation.

I suggest before we pass this Bill sub silentio, as appears to be suggested, we should have some reasonable explanation as to why it is brought forward and what its intention is. Sub-section(6) of Section 2 refers in detail to Section 82 of the existing Act, and applies to various cases of supplying refreshments in connection with licensed premises in Scotland, which appears to me to make a distinct difference between the law upon the other side of the border and the law in this country as we understand it. This particular sub-section is very complicated, and I very respectfully ask what it means? Section 3 also purports to make a number of alterations with regard to premises certificated or registered under one Act, and it is not to apply to premises certificated or registered under another. I think we are all entitled to know what all this is about. If these alterations in the licensing laws of Scotland are demanded we only want to know on what grounds they are demanded, and I have no doubt the House will be prepared to give the matter full consideration and to deal with the subject on its merits.


This Bill, like all amending Bills, does not tell its full story upon the face of it. If the hon. Member had turned to page 4 he would have found the Appendix, and in that he would have found the Clause of the 1903 Act proposed to be amended by this Bill, and on reading that this Clause of this Bill would have become perfectly plain. It strikes out of the 1903 Act the expression "aerated-water shops" and "ice-cream shops" and substitutes for that "places of public refreshment," and then we give the local authorities the right to regulate the hours of opening and closing.


Have they not got that power already?


No; we propose to give them that power, the reason being that when we tried our hands three years ago at licensing shops we were checkmated by decisions of the Courts to the effect that ice-cream shops were shops which substantially sold nothing but ice-cream, [...] ereas most of us know ice-cream shops[...] a good many other things besides ice-cream.


We do n[...] know.


I should rather have said Scotch Members know, and we propose to give the local authorities power to close these places altogether, or for such specified hours as they think fit. I should inform the House I struck this particular class of shops out of the Shops Hours Bill altogether so far as Sunday closing is concerned. Further, we propose to give the local authorities power to regulate the internal structure of these ice-cream shops, which is a very important and almost vital provision; and, lastly, we propose any by-laws made by the local authorities should have the confirmation of the Secretary for Scotland before they become law. Sub-section (6) says this Bill does not interfere with licensing legislation or with alcoholic liquors; and with regard to what hon. Members said about Sub-section (6) I only need to state that this Bill does not interfere with them in any way.


I think hon. Members on both sides will agree that this Bill is one which ought to pass. It is, however, in my opinion a bad example of legislation by reference. In the case of this measure, I think it was all the more necessary that it should have been so drafted and prepared that on its own face we might have seen its character and what it meant. I dare say there were difficulties in the way, but I am sure we all wish to see this Bill passed.