The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. McKinnon Wood)
I beg to move, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."
Before considering the Amendments seriatim, which the Government propose to do, I think it would be convenient to make a few very brief, practical, uncontroversial remarks on the Bill as amended, and to suggest to the House what I think would be the most convenient form in which to discuss the new proposals now contained in the Bill. I will refrain from entering into any discussion of the merits of these proposals, because I think the House will see that it would be most convenient to raise those points when we reach the first Amendment on each subject. The Amendments lend themselves to this process. For instance, on Clause 1, the question of time limit will arise. On Clause 2 the question of disinterested management will naturally suggest a discussion of the whole scheme. The new Clause to insert a scheme of compulsory insurance will naturally suggest a discussion of that scheme. I think the House will see that it will be for everybody's convenience that we should discuss the whole of each' scheme on the first Amendment on that subject, because obviously the House of Commons could not decide to insert a disinterested Management Resolution or a proposal for compulsory insurance without considering the scheme as a whole. The Bill has been altered in nearly every particular. The time limit has been doubled. The majority required to carry a No-licence Resolution has also been doubled. In the Bill as it left this House the majority was three-fifths, which means that you require a majority of 50 per cent. The Bill, as amended, requires a two-thirds majority, which means 100 per cent. The method 69 of voting on the options is altered; the areas where voting is to take place are altered, and there have been other great alterations in the Bill. As the Bill left the House it consisted of 468 lines; 403 lines have been added.
The Bill, therefore, has been doubled in magnitude. In fact it has all been a sort of doubling process. There are two new proposals of very great importance and of a very controversial character which were not in the Bill when it was introduced into this House or was sent from this House to another place. First, there is a novel scheme of compulsory insurance, which was inserted in another place on Third Reading, it having been rejected in Committee; and in the second place, there is the proposal to give facilities for disinterested management to a disinterested management company which would obtain the monopoly of control of the licences in the district on conditions which it will be necessary to discuss as a complete scheme. To deal with the matter in that way is what I propose to the House. These two additions transform the Bill into a very different Bill from that which left the House or from that which was introduced and passed its Second Reading, and went to a Grand Committee. This is a Bill double in bulk, with two entirely new principles inserted in it. It is not too much to say that substantially it is a new Bill. On the question of areas in which the vote shall be exercised I think there is a great deal to be said for small areas. At the same time I am prepared to meet the wishes of those who desire larger areas by accepting the Amendment inserted in another place to raise the limit in urban areas, which are not to be divided into wards, from 10,000 to 25,000 of a population. The proposal, however, to create ad hoc areas is open to serious objections from an administrative point of view. Certain other Amendments have been introduced in another place, to increase the control of the Licence Boards over clubs and to discourage drinking clubs, which are certainly within the intention and scope of the Bill, and I propose to accept them on behalf of the Government. I have made this short general statement before the House considers the Amendments seriatim, because I thought it would be for the convenience of the House and save time, which I think is desired oa both sides of the House, and because the matters to which I have referred are likely to be the main topics of discussion. 70 I hope the House will now consider the. Lords Amendments.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
May I ask whether, in your view, Sir, it will be desirable to have a general discussion now on the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, or to confine the discussion to each Amendment?
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The suggestion is that each Amendment should be discussed separately. The first Lords Amendment is to leave out the word "five" and to insert the word "ten." That will give an opportunity for discussing the general extension of the time limit, and then, when we reach the fourth Amendment, the "disinterested management" resolution, that, of course, will give an opportunity for discussing the whole of that Question, and, whatever decision the House comes to upon it, will be followed on all the other Amendments which depend upon it.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
It is quite understood that we are to have a general discussion upon each point that arises.
§ Mr. BARNES
Would it be in order, in discussing the question of "five," and "ten" years, to ascertain the view of the Government, because it seems to me that would determine other matters?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think I can only use the words of the Prime Minister that "every relevant consideration" will betaken into account.
§ Question, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," put, and agreed to.