§ This Act shall not apply to Scotland.
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ Mr. PRATT
I am moving this Clause because I am anxious to draw attention to one or two considerations which are peculiar to Scotland, as distinct from the southern side of the border. Further, I should like to say that nothing, I think, has done more mischief amongst the workers on the Clyde than the issue of the White Paper or, perhaps, not perhaps so much the issue of the White Paper, as the concentration in the discussions here and there upon one element that is contained in that Paper. I want just now to refer to one sentence that appears in the report of Mr. Harry Wilson which, I think, is the most excellent report in the White Paper. Mr. Wilson is a very experienced man who looks at the problem with a very experienced eye. He says in his report:—There does not appear to be a noticeable increase in drinking since the War began.I think it is quite right and proper that that part of Mr. Wilson's report should be underlined, because while there is a 1577 drink problem in Scotland I must protest against the doctrine that there is any special problem of drunkenness amongst the workers on the Clyde. The present conditions, of course, only emphasise the results in the case of the minority who drink. But public opinion in Scotland, so far as I know it—and I speak as knowing it very well—has never asked for any special legislation for the workers or for the shipyard munition areas. What public opinion in Scotland has demanded, I think, is that there should be measures taken that would have restricted drinking throughout the whole of Scotland. The question of the drinking habits of certain sections came under discussion a month or two ago, and there was a constant expression of opinion amongst all sorts and conditions of people that whatever steps were taken should be taken in such a way as to apply to the whole community. I must express my own deep regret—regret, I think, that is shared by most in Scotland—that the Government have not been able to present us with some measure which would not apply to any section, but to the whole of Scotland.
In regard to the report before us as to the Government canteens, it is amazing to think that that provision has not been made much earlier. In Scotland, for instances, most works are in private hands, and it is amazing that those employers of labour did not see the advantage of these long ago, and in the making of proper, adequate, and liberal provision in this connection for the workers in their yards and factories. There is one other point, and it weighs with me most at this present time. We in Scotland are not in the same position in regard to the licensing laws as is the case on the south of the border. The right hon. Gentleman confessed with, I think, some sadness and not without regret, that during the last twenty-five years nothing had been done in England towards temperance reform. That is true in regard to England. It is not true in regard to Scotland. We have fought our battles and we have won our victories, and while we are willing to give the Government everything that is necessary for the exigencies of the War we do feel that we must do everything possible to safeguard the principles for which the citizens of Scotland have fought so long and so earnestly. We are willing to give everything that as necessary, if it is proved to be necessary, but I do not think even the right hon. Gentleman should call upon us to make a bonfire of our principles, 1578 unless it is absolutely necessary for carrying on the War and for the provision of munitions of war. A suspicion which is very widespread in Scotland is that though the right hon. Gentleman has not presented us with a scheme of nationalisation as he would have desired, yet he has that ideal still before him. There is a widespread feeling that this measure that we are discussing to-day may conceivably be used to bring him nearer to that goal.
The hon. Member is not entitled to rediscuss the proposals of the Bill on the question of a Clause excluding Scotland from its application. He must confine himself to some special point and not go over the whole ground.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
On a point of Order. The position of Scotland in this matter is very exceptional, inasmuch as this particular point was discussed on the Scotland Temperance Act which has been alluded to. Therefore, I submit it is very revelant to the Scottish case, and to the pecularity of the law.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
On a further point of Order. Cannot the hon. Member give reasons why he thinks this Bill should not be applied to Scotland, one of which reasons is that in Scotland there is a strong feeling against nationalisation?
The hon. Member was stating arguments dealing with the whole Bill or the object of the Bill. Those, of course, could be stated on the Second or Third Reading of the Bill, but not on a limiting Clause.
§ Mr. PRATT
I was taking the application of the Bill for Scotland. I did not say whether or not the principle of naturalisation would or would not be bad as applied to Scotland. I am not concerned in that for a moment, but I am advocating that it would be bad as applied to Scotland after public opinion in Scotland is very resolutely opposed to it. I will try to get my point in another way. This Bill, when it is put into operation in Scotland may, and likely will, apply to fully a third of the licensed property in Scotland, and certainly to more than one-third of the value of licensed property in Scotland. In the White Paper one of the Admiralty officials suggests that if an area is scheduled on the Clyde it should be an area which should come up on the north of the Clyde from Gourock and on the south from Dumbarton, right up to Glasgow. What is felt very strongly in 1579 Scotland is that such a proposal, if it is carried out, as there is every reason to think it will be—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, for instance, said to-day that in these districts you would have to take over and to close a large number of public-houses and manage all the rest in the area—will mean a great scheme of partial nationalisation.
I do not wonder that the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) is giving this measure a warm welcome, as he has done to-day. He has asked that, in the carrying out of this arrangement, ample compensation shall be given to the interests involved. He has pleaded that the Government or the authority concerned should deal in a generous spirit with the interests involved, and, after hearing yesterday the names of the members of the Board who will have the Scottish part of the problem in hand, the hon. Baronet said that the authority suggested for Scotland would be found to be very satisfactory and one in which perfect confidence might be reposed. That is all very well from the point of view of the hon. Baronet, but what we dread in Scotland is that we should travel along the road of ample and liberal compensation to the goal of complete nationalisation. I am glad that we have had some assurances from the right hon. Gentleman already on that point to-day, but I do assure him that we who have followed him for years in Scotland are anxious about the possibilities of the situation. We do not feel that the measure, as it is before us to-day, will do much to improve the situation on the Clyde.
We believe that a measure of general prohibition would have done far more, in addition to all those changes in the industrial conditions on the Clyde which are mentioned in the White Paper—that there should be a six and not a seven days' week, and that men should have ample food provided for them inside the works. If all these and other things are done, we believe that a great part of the mischief will be remedied, and we are anxious to do everything to help the Government during this period of stress while the War lasts. But we are concerned lest we should find ourselves at the end of the War in a position in which our principles have been compromised, because, after all, we have to live after the War. We shall have to tackle the enemies within our gates after we have defeated the enemy 1580 without, and we in Scotland are resolutely of opinion that by the working of the Scottish Temperance Act unencumbered by any new measure of disinterested management or nationalisation—that along that line salvation can be brought to Scotland in regard to the question of drink. I feel, after the solemn appeal which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to-day, that my resolution is certainly shaken in regard to the moving of the new Clause. But I do ask him, on behalf of the great section of Scottish people who are really anxious in regard to the point I have ventured to lay before him, to give us some assurance that when we get to the end of this War, and the period after, we shall, as far as possible, be left without any of our principles compromised in the work that lies before us.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My hon. Friend is very anxious that his opinions in regard to the nationalisation of the liquor trade should not be compromised by this Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am not going to enter into a controversy on that subject, because my hon. Friend knows Scotland very well.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It shows how very dangerous it is to accept from any Member from Scotland the views of Scotland as a whole. Naturally, Scotsmen, like others, have their different opinions. However, it is not necessary to decide that question now. Whether my hon. Friend is right or wrong, this Bill is purely a temporary one, and it cannot be made permanent unless the House of Commons chooses to make it so, and the House of Commons, we may depend upon it, will not touch the question unless forced to do so—at least I can give him a guarantee that, until I have been driven to it, I will not. The House of Commons, my hon. Friend may depend upon it, will not undertake anything in the nature of a permanent extension unless convinced by overwhelming experience that it is desirable. After all, it is only a question of facts. If the Bill is a complete failure, as he anticipates it will be, then of course he will be able to say, "What a very good thing it was that this experiment was tried, because it has shown how completely right I was two or three years ago when 1581 I took that view." If, on the other hand, it turns out a success, my hon. Friend will be able to say, "Now that I see the facts in front of me I must say that I was wrong." That would require a great courage in my hon. Friend. I am sure he has it, and I am looking forward to my hon. Friend having that pleasant experience. If the Bill fails he will have one of the greatest satisfactions in life, and that is to be able to say, "Didn't I tell you so? Didn't I warn you?" If, on the other hand, it succeeds, he will be able to enjoy one of the highest spiritual experiences in life, and that is to be able to say, "I was wrong, and am prepared to admit it." He wins either way. He ought not to deprive himself of such an opportunity. There is no suggestion of nationalisation in the scheme. This is purely a temporary controlling of the liquor traffic in these areas. It could not be nationalised without another Act of Parliament.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I am extremely surprised to hear the facility with which hon. Members pretend to speak for Scotland. As I have only risen once in this Debate obviously my remark does not apply to myself. It has been said that Scotland is against this and against that. I represent one of the divisions of Edinburgh—a Radical division—and one of my constituents is the Chief Patronage Secretary. He is an important member of the Liberal Administration which controls the affairs of this House. I have had no complaints from him against this Bill. He has not asked me as his Member to get up and put his objections to this Bill, and surely nobody in this House will deny that the Chief Patronage Secretary in a very special sense represents Scotland; so that hon. Members behind who say that they represent the view of Scotland are up against my hon. Friend, who ought to be a right hon. Friend, on the Front Bench, who agrees that this Bill ought to be applied to Scotland. The only person I can recollect who approached me on the subject was a man in my Constituency, who I have not the pleasure of knowing, but who wrote me a postcard, saying, "I object to Lloyd George's taxes." That is not unusual; I do myself, but I do it more politely when I tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer about it. Then I got a resolution from the Good Templars in Glasgow, who say they represent Scotland on this temperance question. All I have to say about the Good Templars is that my recollection of them is that they tried to keep 1582 me out of the House of Commons by addressing meetings in my Constituency to prevent my election, so that I do not value their opinion very much as Scottish opinion. That is all that has reached me as a Member of a fairly important constituency in Scotland. I do say it is preposterous of men to get up in this House and say that they represent Scotland on this question—that Scotland is against this and Scotland is against that. Why, in the city of Edinburgh, where the Lord Advocate resides, in addition to the Patronage Secretary, we had a plebiscite as to whether people should pledge themselves to abstain from the use of alcohol during the War. They did not get 40,000 pledges out of a population of 400,000. What is the use of saying they represent Scotland or that they represent Edinburgh? The House remembers possibly the fact that I fought the Bill with regard to Scottish temperance which deprived the people of Scotland of that very facility which they are going to get by tin's measure. The Scottish Secretary at that time, and the Lord Advocate and the Patronage Secretary, were all against any form of disinterested management. I remember that the Patronage Secretary wrote a pamphlet in favour of disinterested management, and that pamphlet can be produced. In that pamphlet, to his credit, the hon. Gentleman wrote in favour of an option which ought to be given to the people of Scotland. Really he prophesied this day, because the Government have promised that Scotland shall have the same opportunity in this matter as the rest of the Kingdom. I could have said a great deal more about this Bill, but I do not do so, because I believe if the Government come down here and say, "We want this thing," they ought to get it. Certain compromises have been made with regard to this measure, but I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been "had" by the trade over the question of the maturity of spirits, and when the opportunity comes I shall be ready to show the right hon. Gentleman where he has been "had," because he has been got at by the spirit trade. The main fact that emerges from this discussion on the drink traffic in the House of Commons is that at last we have a Government who are willing to give the localities throughout the country the opportunity of experimenting on the conditions in which they themselves are placed. That is the great merit of this particular Bill.
The hon. Member seems to be making a Second Reading speech, and I would remind him that the whole Bill cannot be rediscussed now.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I was arguing that if this Bill did not apply to Scotland, you would deprive Scotland of an opportunity which is being afforded to other parts of the United Kingdom of making those local experiments. I think that would be a great misfortune and would be against Scottish opinion, so far as I know it. I really rose to protest against hon. Members saying they represented this and that in Scotland, because, as a matter of fact at the present moment, we do not represent anything.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
The hon. Member who has just spoken has expressed somewhat clearly the real reason he and others are supporting this Bill. They are supporting it in order that there may be an experiment made in regard to a scheme of social reform which may lead, no doubt, to certain results which they think will be worthy of consideration in the future, but which will not directly attain the object which we have understood this Bill was intended to attain in dealing immediately with the serious position which has arisen in munition areas. The longer I have listened to these Debates the more convinced I am that this purpose is less likely to be attained, and that there is in the minds of hon. Members who are pressing forward this measure a different purpose in view. I am glad this question has been raised, because the circumstances are different in Scotland from what they are in England in regard to the application of this measure. I think we are entitled to some very definite assurance from the Government that in regard to this measure Scottish law, Scottish feeling, and Scottish conditions will be specially regarded. The hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) has continually informed us that we have no problem of tied houses in Scotland. We have a separate law for Scotland with regard to compensation, and we have never recognised the same claim of the licence holders as in England. In Scotland the problem to be tackled by this Bill is a very large one, as the areas which are likely to be affected, if you are going to include all the munition areas, are very large ones. This is a serious problem for the Government to tackle, and I think we are entitled to know what are the powers of 1584 this Central Committee and who they are going to be.
We were told at first that this Committee was to consist of Army and Navy representatives, and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it is going to consist of representatives of the War Office, the Admiralty, the Home, Office, representatives of labour and employers of labour, and a few other well-intentioned persons are to be added to the Committee. Where does Scotland come in? Is the Central Committee which is to be appointed to have any regard to the special conditions of Scotland, and is the Scottish Office to be represented upon it? Are any Scottish employers of labour or Scottish representatives of labour to be associated with it, or is it to be a separate Committee for Scotland? We have never been told that yet, and we have been left entirely in the dark as regards Scotland. I think that is a fair question to put to the right hon. Gentleman. What about the local committees? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us yesterday—I confess I was rather surprised when I considered his statement afterwards—that these local committees would be acting for the Government and that he proposed to set up a Central Committee, and that that Committee was to set op local committees in each district. Surely we are entitled to know what are the powers of these local committees. Are they to control the sale of liquor in each district? They are to do so according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because in reply to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Leif Jones) the right hon. Gentleman stated that the whole control of the supply would be in the hands of the Government, and the clubs would only be able to get their intoxicating liquor through the local committee. I think we are entitled to know what these local committees are to be, and what their powers are to be. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to let us know what is really in the mind of the Government on this matter. How are they going to work out this scheme? Can it be applied to Scotland, and how, and are the local conditions and local opinion to be taken into account?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I do not want to give a formal reply to the hon. Member's speech, because I admit that the questions he has raised are of first rate importance, and I should be very sorry to give a perfunctory answer which did not deal in detail with 1585 these matters. I suggest that the right coarse to pursue would be that a question should be put down to-day, and then a proper answer would have to be prepared that would give the hon. Member the information which he seeks. Meantime, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we recognise that the Scottish case in some respects is a different one from the English case, and no doubt special consideration will have to be given to it in the constitution of these Committees.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
I am much obliged for the assurance which the right hon. Gentleman has given, because I feel that in this matter in Scotland we stand upon an entirely different footing. We have been told throughout that this is an emergency measure, and that at the end of twelve months after the War we shall revert to the status quo. If that is so no one can have any objection to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement. But at the end of the twelve months' period we are not necessarily to revert to the status quo, for the Government may find itself in possession of a large number of houses in the country which have been used for the sale of liquor. I respectfully submit, if that is so, the taking of the powers under the Bill may raise a very serious question with regard to the alteration of the Scottish Temperance Act. Under Clause 1, Sub-section (2), paragraph (e), power is given to modify as far as necessary or expedient the provisions of the Act relating to licensing and the sale of intoxicating liquor in their application to a particular area. In other words, yon can do anything you like with these Acts of Parliament. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me a further assurance that nothing is to be done or is contemplated which will in any way alter or affect the provisions of the Temperance (Scotland) Act. I think it would be a great breach of faith with the people of Scotland if that were done, and we ought to be assured that in the exercise of the powers under this Bill nothing will be done to alter in any way the provisions of a Statute which has been passed with the assent of the great majority of the people of Scotland. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh has challenged the claim of some hon. Members to represent Scotland on this matter. What I claim is that Scotland spoke on this matter when the Scottish Temperance Act was passed, and the great majority of Scottish Members then refused to accept the principle 1586 of private management, much less of nationalisation. I urge upon the Government that we should not be placed in any position of doubt at the end of the twelve months' period, and that the views of the people of Scotland should be considered in regard to this question.
§ Mr. C. E. PRICE
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) questioned the right of my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Pratt) to speak for Scotland—
§ Mr. PRICE
My hon. Friend has been a magistrate for a good many years in one of the leading cities of Scotland which has to deal with this matter, and he can therefore speak with great experience. This Bill has raised a very important point in connection with the Scottish Temperance Act, and I am sure the Government does not realise how a great many districts in Scotland will be affected. In this matter I think I am expressing the opinion of a great majority of the people of Scotland, and I know a great deal more about Scotland than the hon. Member for East Edinburgh.
§ Mr. PRICE
What I wish to bring out is that this Bill contains principles which we fought out in the Committee Room upstairs, which were fought for by the Secretary for Scotland, and he represented the people of Scotland. Therefore, I say, inasmuch as this does interfere with some of the principles which we fought then, and which we thought would not be introduced again, that I am extremely sorry these Clauses are in the Bill. The great object in introducing it so far as Scotland is concerned is to apply it to the district of the Clyde. It is a great pity that this matter should have been allowed to remain so long before it was brought before the House.
The proposal is that the Bill should not apply to Scotland, and the Debate must be kept to that point.
§ Mr. PRICE
There is no doubt that this Bill is largely intended to apply to the Clyde. Some time ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer received a deputation from the shipbuilders on the Clyde pointing out the conditions under which they were suffering, but none of them approached the licensing authorities, or any of the sheriffs, and they did not do anything to induce the authorities to put into operation any of the powers which they at present possess. I therefore very much regret that they should have waited so long before raising this question. This Bill raises a great many questions, and I am quite sure that the great mass of people who take an interest in temperance in Scotland will be very much hurt by its passage.
§ Mr. COWAN
The hon. Member, like one or two other Members representing Scottish constituencies, in criticising the application of this Bill to Scotland, laid special emphasis on the objection of Scottish people to disinterested management, and referred to the Debate on the Scottish Temperance Bill. I say emphatically, as a supporter of disinterested management then and now, that the hon. Member, and those who have spoken in the same sense, have no right to say that Scotland has ever made any declaration on the subject. Scotland has never been consulted, and, if it were, I believe that its answer would be a very different one from that suggested.
§ Mr. WATT
I am very glad that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Pratt) has proposed this Clause, and I hope that he will persist in it at all stages of the proceedings. The fact is his Motion was not treated seriously by the Front Bench; it was treated with derision. Scotland has a grievance in having this measure applied to it, because it strikes Scotland in a different manner from what it strikes England and Wales. The munition areas in Scotland are much larger, proportionately, than in any of the other three countries—England, Wales and Ireland. The munition areas in Scotland cover at least 50 per cent., if not up to 75 per cent., of the whole of Scotland so far as population is concerned. The City of Glasgow has over one million inhabitants, and there are two or three very populous districts coterminous with Glasgow. It is impossible to tell when one passes out of one area into any of the others. Therefore, at least 50 per cent. of the people of Scotland are living in the Clyde area, and the 1588 Cldye area is practically entirely devoted to the manufacture of the munitions of war, so that this Bill will be more severe upon Scotland than upon any of the other nations of the United Kingdom. I hope that the Secretary for Scotland realises that fact, and that he is taking a serious step in allowing the measure to be passed practically without discussion so far as Scotland is concerned, because if he closes the public-houses of 75 per cent. of the people of Scotland he may realise sooner than he anticipates that he has "caught a tartar," that he has tackled a very difficult problem with a very light heart, and that the consequences to himself, as well as to us all, will be serious indeed.
§ Mr. ANNAN BRYCE
Feeling in Scotland, notwithstanding what the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) has said, is generally very much against disinterested management.
§ Mr. BRYCE
In my own Constituency the feeling is very strongly against it. There was a very remarkable plebiscite in Inverness, at which over 80,000 people voted for total prohibition, and only thirty-nine against it. It is a great pity that in Scotland the experiment of total prohibition with compensation is not to be tried. There has been numerous telegrams, as hon. Members doubtless know, from very powerful organisatins in Scotland to the effect that this is not merely a local question. It applies to the whole of Scotland, and the feeling is universal that total prohibition would have a better chance of working properly than this limited scheme which the Government propose.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The fact that so many Members from Scotland have spoken in the sense of the hon. Member who spoke last is, of course, a circumstance we should all bear in mind in considering how far this measure should apply to Scotland. This is not a Bill which applies these proposals anywhere. It is only a Bill for taking powers and for giving the opportunty of exercising those powers in cases where it is needed. From most of what has been said it seems to be clear that whatever may be done in Scotland there are only certain areas—I am not attempting to say what areas, or how many—where any question could arise, but, if the general sense was that 1589 for the purpose of the War and in connection with the War it was necessary to exercise these powers in Scotland, then I am sure that the general feeling in Scotland, as elsewhere, would be that they would like to have the matter considered. The question was put as to whether the inclusion of Scotland within this Bill—that is to say, within the areas in which we may exercise the powers under this Bill—would in any way prejudice the provisions of the Scottish Temperance Act? I can give a very direct answer to that question. I do not see how it would. The Scottish Temperance Act is on the Statute Book. This Bill does not in the least affect it. I have communicated with my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland and we neither of us can see how, having power to extend this Act in case of need to Scotland, will in any way prejudice the Scottish Temperance Act.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill reported.
§ As amended, considered.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I beg to move, in Clause 1, at the end of Section (1), to leave out the words "be proved to be necessary," and to insert instead thereof the words "be declared by Order in Council to be necessary in view of conditions connected with the termination of the present War."
This is an alteration of the words inserted at the end of the Sub-section at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman did not wish us to make the Bill apply for a period of twelve months after the War. He wanted it to apply during the period of the War and for such further period not exceeding twelve months as "shall be proved to be necessary." But I have pointed out that in such circumstances someone must be the judge. So long as we make it plain that the extension must be justified solely by conditions that arise when the War has come to an end, that, I think, would meet the right hon. Gentleman's point, and I therefore propose these amended words, which I have taken an opportunity to show to the right hon. Gentleman, who approves them.
§ Question, "That the words 'proved to be necessary' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Proposed words there inserted.1590
§ Sir J. SIMON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (b), after the word "premises" ["licensed or other premises"], to insert the words "or business."
I move this Amendment in accordance with the suggestion thrown out by more than one hon. Gentleman on the other side. I do not think it will affect the Clause in any way.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to be read the third time to-morrow (Wednesday).