HC Deb 08 October 1912 vol 42 cc315-22

(1) For the period during which a no-licence resolution remains in force in any area, no certificate shall be granted therein; except that the licensing court may, on being satisfied that under the special circumstances of the case any certificate is reasonably required notwithstanding the fact that a no-licence resolution is in force in the area, grant a certificate for an inn and hotel: Provided that any such certificate shall be deemed to include the condition that there shall be on the certificated premises no drinking-bar or other part of the premises mainly or exclusively used for the sale or consumption of exciseable liquors, and that such liquors shall be sold therein by retail only and to none but persons lodging or residing in the inn and hotel, or taking a meal on the premises, for consumption with such meal.

(2) For the period during which a limiting resolution remains in force in any area, without prejudice to the other powers or discretion of the licensing court, it shall not be lawful for the licensing court to grant a greater number of certificates in such area than the nearest integral number which shall not exceed 75 per cent, of the number of certificates granted at the date at which such resolution is carried.

(3) If a limiting resolution is carried the licensing court shall, before the first day of February following the poll, meet, for the purpose of preparing a scheme for carrying out in the area the requirements of the resolution, which scheme shall give the particulars of any premises the withdrawal of whose certificates is proposed for consideration as hereinafter mentioned, and every scheme prepared as aforesaid shall be advertised by the clerk to the licensing court in a newspaper circulating in the area, and shall be open to the inspection of the public for three weeks before the first day of March following the poll, at a place to be stated in the advertisement.

(4) Before the general half-yearly meeting of the licensing court held in April, the licensing court shall meet for the purpose of hearing the parties interested in the said scheme and adjusting the said scheme for consideration at the said April meeting, at which the parties interested in the scheme so adjusted shall be entitled to be heard.

(5) The decision of the licensing court in refusing or reducing certificates in pursuance of a no-licencc resolution or of a limiting resolution shall not be subject to appeal.

(6) It shall not be competent for a member of a licensing court to sign a requisition for a poll under this Act.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1) after the word "hotel" ["grant a certificate for an inn and hotel"], to insert the words "or a restaurant as hereinafter defined." I find from the Notice Paper that the Secretary for Scotland is going to move an Amendment on this Sub-section, but I move this Amendment because it appears to meet the case better. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has a definition by implication in the Finance Act of 1909–10, but I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for the Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) considers that there is a hard case to be met which will render it somewhat difficult for him to accept the Amendment of the Secretary for Scotland in the form in which it is to be moved. I may indicate what the case is. You might easily have a sale of liquor which in relation to the drawings from the sale of provisions exceeded by a single pound the limit allowed without the man knowing it. In that case the restaurant ceases to be a restaurant. That is a hard case which will have to be argued.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I cannot accept these words because they refer to a restaurant of a particular kind. I have reason to believe that this Amendment would not be nearly so acceptable as my own Amendment. I hope the hon. Member will not press it under the circumstances. My Amendment is similar to that put down by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) who has been rather happy to-day in obtaining concessions from the Government.


The difficulty to my mind is in regard to the definition later on. This week I had brought to my notice a very hard case as to a hotel licence. The man has always paid the hotel licence, and this year he finds that his drawings for the sale of liquor are £1 over the limit allowed by the definition. It would be hard if for that reason he should be prevented from getting a renewal of his licence.


indicated dissent.


There is no use of the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. It seems to me that it would be a difficult thing to restrict it in the way proposed, and therefore it would not be satisfactory to anybody.


I desire to support what the hon. Baronet has said in reference to this matter. The definition of "restaurant" is laid down by law. Does the Secretary for Scotland propose to set up something new, or is he going to deal with the law as it stands as regards this definition? If he is going to set up a new definition, then I submit we ought to know what that definition is, so that those Members who have knowledge and experience of the matter can state their opinions and help the House to come to a right decision. It is quite useless when in these discussions the right hon. Gentleman gets up without special knowledge and denies what has been said by the right hon. Baronet, who speaks with knowledge in matters of this kind.


We have made our protest in regard to the matter, and in view of the lateness of the hour, I shall not press my Amendment to a division. I beg leave, therefore, to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: In Sub-section (1), leave out the word "hotel" ["a certificate for an inn and hotel"], and insert instead thereof the words "or for premises structurally adapted for use and bonâ fide used or to be used as a restaurant."

Leave out the word "such" ["Provided that any such certificate."].

After the word "certificate" ["certificate shall be deemed to include "J insert the words "so granted."

Leave out the word "condition" ["include the condition that there shall be"] and insert instead thereof the word "conditions."

After the word "premises" ["taking a meal on the premises"] insert the words "of the restaurant or (if the court so sanction) of the inn and hotel."—[Mr. McKinnon Wood.]


I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1) to add the words "and provided further that it shall be a condition of the renewal of any such certificate that the applicant shall satisfy the court that he is entitled to a reduction of duty in terms of Section 45 of The Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910."

Perhaps I ought to say a word or two on this Amendment, as it deals with a point made by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir G. Younger) a few minutes ago. Of course, the contention that is likely to be raised is that this Clause, while closing public-houses on the one hand, permits the opening of another kind of drinking house on the other; but the proviso which I am now moving will go far, I think, to meet anything that is legitimate in that objection. Although, of course, there may be exceptional cases where the limit is nearly reached, still, I think we are entitled to provide that a restaurant should be bonâ fide a place for the provision of meals, and not a place in which the provision of meals is a small matter in the business as compared with the supplying of intoxicating drink. Therefore T think I must ask hon. Members opposite to take the Clause and to rest content with the objection they have raised against it. There may be cases on the margin; there almost must be where you have an arrangement of this sort. I do not think the provisions of the Finance Act are unreasonable in themselves. The matter has been fairly provided for, and I do not think, after giving the matter careful consideration, that you can improve the Clause by making an alteration in it. It meets the views of the restaurant keepers and is approved, I believe, by those interested in temperance.


On behalf of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, may I say that we are quite willing to accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he has given the matter consideration, but we do not know that he has provided a complete solution of the difficulty. Under the circumstances we shall take his proposal subject to the reservation that it must be reconsidered if necessary elsewhere, because we shall not have another opportunity of dealing with the matter in this House.


I beg to move, after the Amendment last made, to insert the words,

"Nothing in this Act shall preclude the grant in any area of a certificate for the sale of exciseable liquors under an Excise licence to the occupier of a railway refreshment room, provided that if such certificate be granted for a refreshment room situate within a 'no-licence' area there shall be contained therein a condition that exciseable liquors shall not be sold except to persons arriving or departing by train."

I think a great many hon. Members will agree that railway station refreshment rooms come under quite a different category from the ordinary establishments where drink may be sold. Railway refreshment rooms cater for the general public rather than for the people who reside in the actual district in which they are situated. Moreover the refreshment rooms in railway stations are exceedingly well managed. It is to the interest of railway companies to see that these places are thoroughly well looked after, and it is very rarely indeed that a case of drunkenness can be traced to drink supplied at a railway refreshment room. I would also point out that if in a "no-licence" area it is imposible to obtain drink in a refreshment room on a railway station a very great hardship will be inflicted on working men.

This will be the case particularly where men have been working on a night shift and come back by an early train in the morning. They take their meals at different times from other people. What is their dinner time is very often our breakfast time and what is their breakfast time is our dinner time. Certainly it would be a hardship if those men were not able to obtain a drink when coming off work. Moreover, I do not think the adoption of any Amendment would in any way tend in the direction of promoting intemperance. On the contrary I think it would have the opposite tendency, because people travelling by railway and going on a long journey would be perfectly well aware that they could get refreshment before starting, and therefore would buy liquor in large quantities to take with them on the journey. It it all very well to say that nowadays we have restaurant cars on most long-distance-trains; the fact is the majority of people who travel are not able to afford to use the restaurant cars. They have to depend either on refreshments which they carry with them and on those which they can obtain at refreshment rooms. Taking all these circumstances into account, I think the House will agree that this is a very fair Amendment, and I hope the Government will see their way to accept it.


I beg to second the Amendment.


The Government cannot accept this Amendment, because it would lead to evasion—in fact, I do not think it would be possible to provide against evasion taking place. Another objection to the Amendment, as far as I undestand it, is that it would take the question of licensing these refreshment bars out of the licensing court. Those are two very strong objections. It is exactly the same case as was dealt with when Sunday closing in Scotland was under consideration, and the House of Commons of the day exempted railway refreshment bars; but in the House of Lords the Secretary for Scotland said he could not see his way to accept that, and put in a provision which made Sunday closing applicable to railway bars, on the very ground I am putting forward—that it is perfectly possible to make these drinking bars.


What Secretary for Scotland?


Lord Balfour of Burleigh.


It was passed long before his day.


This was in the year 1903. I believe the House will see that it is perfectly impossible to let people in crowded places like Glasgow or Dundee have access to drinking bars in the manner proposed. Of course the restaurant provisions will meet the case to some extent, though I admit they will not meet the case of drinking bars at railway stations; but I do not see how it is possible to meet that in a prohibition area without giving away the effect of the option.


Will the Secretary for Scotland look at Sub-section 1 of Clause 3, in which permission is given to supply alcoholic liquor to persons taking a meal on the premises of hotels in "no-licence" areas? What would happen in the case of a person taking a meal in a restaurant in a "no-licence" area? Would he be entitled to have liquor with his meal?


If the refreshment really came within the definition provided by this Clause, there would be no objection to it.

Amendment negatived.

Further Amendments made: In Subsection (2) leave out the word "granted" ["the number of certificates granted"], and insert instead thereof the words "in force."

In Sub-section (3) leave out the words "withdrawal of whose certificates is proposed for consideration as hereinafter mentioned," and insert instead thereof the words "certificates of which the court propose to withdraw."

After the word "shall" ["every scheme prepared as aforesaid shall"] insert the word "forthwith."

In Sub-section (4) leave out the words "at which the parties interested in the scheme so adjusted shall be entitled to be heard," and insert instead thereof the words "and the licensing court shall at that meeting or at any adjournment thereof take the scheme so adjusted into consideration, and after hearing parties interested therein, so far as not already heard, and, if they modify the scheme, after hearing parties interested in any modification, shall decide upon the certificates to be withdrawn."—[Mr. McKinnon Wood.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered tomorrow (Wednesday).

And, it being after half-past Eleven of the clock upon Tuesday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Thirteen minutes before One a.m., Wednesday, 9th October, 1912.