HC Deb 06 February 1913 vol 48 cc163-9

Lords Amendment agreed to: In Subsection (1) leave out "a certificate" ["grant a certificate for an inn and hotel"], and insert "one or more certificates."]

Lords Amendment: After Sub-section (4) insert the following new Sub-section:—

"(5) For the period during which a disinterested management resolution remains in force in any area no certificate shall be granted therein except to an authorised public company: Provided that a certificate shall not be so granted unless the company has given such security, either by way of deposit or otherwise as the Licensing Court requires, for the payment by the company, by way of annual or other periodical instalments to the Scottish Licence Holders Central Insurance Board established under this Act, of one-half of the total declared value of the certificates in the area, as insured in accordance with the Third Schedule to this Act, which have been withdrawn in pursuance of the disinterested management resolution; or where applications for certificates within the area are entertained from more than one authorised public company, security for the payment of such proportion of half the total declared value aforesaid as may be fixed by the Licensing Court. The liability imposed upon any authorised public company in pursuance of the foregoing provision shall cease and determine if and when the disinterested management resolution, in pursuance of which the liability was imposed, ceases to be in force.

(6) The Scottish Licence Holders Central Insurance Board shall apply the sums received in pursuance of the provisions of the immediately preceding Sub-section towards the payment of the claims of the licence holders in the area in respect of the withdrawal of whose certificates such sums are payable.

(7) An authorised public company means a company registered under the Companies (Consolidated) Act, 1908, one of whose objects shall be the sale of exciseable liquors and whose memorandum and articles of association shall have been approved by the Secretary for Scotland. The memorandum and articles of association shall make provisions for such matters as the Secretary for Scotland may prescribe either generally or with reference to any particular authorised public company and shall provide, among other things—

  1. (a) that, subject to the payment of all sums required in pursuance of this section to be paid by the company to the Scottish Licence Holders Central Insurance Board, the whole of the profits, after payment of interest at not more than four per centum on the paid-up capital, and after making provision for the formation of a reserve fund equal in amount to the paid-up capital upon such terms as may be fixed by the memorandum and articles of association, shall be paid to the Secretary for Scotland, and shall be applied by him in making grants to local authorities to be expended upon such works of public utility as he may in each case prescribe;
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  3. (b) that no profit or advantage from the sale of exciseable liquors shall accrue to the shareholders or directors of the said company, beyond the aforesaid dividend, and the salary or remuneration of the managers or employees of the company shall not be dependent on, and shall not be subject to increase or decrease in proportion to, the sale of intoxicating liquors in any licensed house under the control of the company;
  4. (c) that the accounts of the company shall be submitted to an annual audit by an auditor to be approved by the Secretary for Scotland, and that the report of such auditor, with an abstract of the accounts, shall be published in a newspaper circulating in each area in which the company holds a certificate. The auditor so appointed shall disallow and surcharge upon the interest on capital all unreasonable payments for rent, salaries and liquor, and any use of the profits otherwise than as herein-before provided. The Licensing Court shall also have power to appoint an auditor who shall have the right to inspect the books of the company at any reasonable time;
  5. (d) that no person who, under Section nine of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, is debarred from acting as a member of a Licensing Court shall be eligible to be a member or director or shareholder of an authorised public company within the meaning of this Act, and every person who shall knowingly or wilfully offend against any of the provisions aforesaid shall forfeit and pay the sum of fifty pounds, to be recovered before the sheriff within six calendar months next after the offence has been committed; and
  6. (e) that it shall be competent for such authorised company to apply to the Licensing Court for the provisional grant of one or more such certificates without stating in the statutory application where the premises are severally situated or the proprietor's or factor's name and designation, and the Licensing Court shall make such provisional grants accordingly, but such provisional grants shall not be valid until declared to be final by the order of the Licensing Court to be made whenever the court is satisfied that the 166 premises selected by the authorised company are suitable.

(8) Nothing in this Act shall entitle an authorised public company to apply for or to obtain a greater number of such certificates in any area than the number of certificates in force in such area at the date on which this Act came into operation; but it shall be competent for such authorised public company to apply for and to obtain a smaller number of such certificates than the number in force as aforesaid.

(9) Before any grant is made by the Secretary for Scotland to a local authority under this Section, a draft scheme shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament during the Session of Parliament specifying the local authority to whom the grant is proposed to be made, the amount of the grant and the works of public utility upon which the grant is to be expended, and if within the next thirty days upon which that House has sat either House passes a resolution against the scheme or any part thereof, no further proceedings shall be taken thereon, without prejudice to the making of any new draft scheme.

(10) The Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, as amended by this Act, shall apply to any application by an authorised public company for the grant or renewal of a certificate and in addition to any terms or conditions imposed under the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, as amended by this Act, a certificate granted to an authorised public company shall be granted and held subject to the conditions specified in this Section, and to such provisions in the memorandum and articles of association of the company as may have been required by the Secretary for Scotland to have been inserted therein and those conditions and provisions shall be taken to be within the terms and provisions of the Licensing (Scotland) Act., 1903, and any breach of those conditions or provisions shall be an offence within the meaning of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, against the terms and conditions contained in the said certificate.

(11) Unless within three months after a disinterested management resolution is carried an authorised public company has made an application in writing to the Licensing Court of the area stating that the company is desirous of carrying on business in the area in accordance with the provisions of this Section, and has satisfied the Licensing Court that the company is able and willing to undertake the liability for payments to the Scottish Licence Holders' Central Insurance Board imposed by this Section, the disinterested management resolution and the poll at which the resolution was carried shall be void."

Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (5), leave out the words "or reducing."

Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (5), leave out the words "or of a limiting resolution," and insert instead thereof the words "or except where the grant of a certificate is refused to an authorised public company in pursuance of a disinterested management resolution."

Lords Amendment: After Sub-section (5), insert the words "but where any certificate has been withdrawn to give effect to a limiting resolution an appeal shall lie from such decision as in the case of the refusal of the renewal of a certificate under the provisions of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903: Provided always that if the result of any appeal or appeals under this provision is to render the certificates in existence in the area in excess of the number allowed by the limiting resolution, the Licensing Court shall, before the next general half-yearly meeting of the Licensing Court, prepare a scheme for the reduction of the certificates to the aforesaid number, and shall notify the same in manner similar to that prescribed in respect of the original scheme and shall proceed to give effect thereto."


I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a matter of some substance on which I think I should say something. This is a proposal that, if there is a limiting resolution and if the Licensing Court decides that licences are not to be renewed for the purpose of giving effect to the resolution reducing the total number of licences, there should be the right of appeal. On the face of it that looks reasonable, but I do not think I exaggerate when I say that it would give rise to insuperable practical difficulties, and it has been thought better that the Licensing Court, being better acquainted with the local circumstances, should be the Court to deal with this matter. The point is this: Suppose the Licensing Court has to take away five licences, they decide which five licences they are to take away. Of course, when they decided, not only have they to advertise which licences they take away and the persons interested are advised to appear before the Court, and everybody is heard, but suppose there is an appeal, the Court of Appeal might decide that some of the five licences should not be taken away. If that was decided, the whole matter would be thrown into a state of chaos. The licences would go on, the decision of the vote would not be carried out, and they might decide later on that three other licences should be taken away. This process might go on ad infinitum. It would be very disadvantageous to the Licensing Court. It would be better for them to have a decision than be kept in a state of uncertainty perhaps for a very long period of a year or two. If the thing is decided on the whole, it is better, and will cause less anxiety and expense and trouble not to have this appeal. If you had this appeal you would have the whole trade in a state of turmoil for a long time, and I do not think it would benefit either the licence holder or anybody else.


The speech which we have just heard is absolutely unconvincing. The licence committee decide that a certain number of licences can be taken away. They take out, we will say, five particular licences. When you are before committees of that kind big brewers have very great power and very often small people go to the wall. The effect of this Amendment. is to give one of these men the right of appeal so that he may be able to say, "I am not the person who should be taken. One of the big brewers' houses should be taken and not my small house." It is a right of appeal which invariably exists. No license can be taken away at present without a right of appeal, and in common justice such a right should be given to any particular license-holder who is picked out. The House of Lords Amendment seems to me most reasonable and necessary for the protection of interests which might be very severely injured by a mistake committed under this Bill.


The difficulty arises here from the absurdity of the Bill itself which specifies that 25 per cent. of the licenses of the district under all circumstances must be taken away if a resolution is carried, although there may be only two in the district. The Secretary for Scotland is in this case dealing with a matter which everyone saw during the Committee would be a difficulty and which we all felt would be very difficult to deal with. I may tell my hon. and learned Friend that we have not brewers' houses in Scotland. The licensing system in Scotland is quite different from that with which he is accustomed to deal and all licences are the property of individuals. There may be a small loan here and there from some brewery, but there is no system such as exists in England, nor are there any breweries owning houses. My firm is a very considerable firm and does not own a house. There might, however, be favouritism or unfairness in dealing with this very important question and responsibility would be thrown upon the Licensing Court which I should not like to have to discharge and which, as the right hon. Gentleman would find, there would be very great objection to discharging unless you very largely extend your time limit and give some reasonable notice to those interested in the decision.

The House disagreed with further Lords (consequential) Amendments.