HC Deb 16 July 1920 vol 131 cc2838-42

Where in any year the hours of sale of excisable liquor have been restricted in any area by an order made under the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) by virtue of regulations made in pursuance of The Defence of the Realm (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1915 (5 and 6 Geo. V., c. 42), the holder of any retailer's licence for the sale of excisable liquor for premises within the area shall be entitled to repayment of one-fourth part of the whole duty payable by the licence holder in respect of his licence.

Provided that when the suspension in respect of which the repayment is made ceases owing to the expiration of the Act or regulations or the withdrawal otherwise of the restriction on hours of sale during the currency of the year for which the licence is in force, the repayment to be made for the year shall be such proportion of one-fourth of the whole duty as the expired part. of the year bears to the whole year.

(a) Where hours of sale of excisable liquor are curtailed by Section seven of The Temperance (Scotland) Act, 1913, (3 and 4 Geo. V., c. 33), the holder of a retailer's on-licence in Scotland shall be entitled to a rebate of two-fifteenths of the duty payable by him in respect of his licence.

Provided that the holder of a retailer's on-licence in Scotland shall not be entitled to the rebate of two-fifteenths under this Sub-section as well as repayment of one-fourth part of his duty under the preceding Sub-section, but nothing shall prevent the allowance of a rebate of two-fifteenths after the repayment under the preceding Sub-section ceases owing to the discontinuance of the suspension.

(b) The holder of any retailer's licence and the holder of any retailer's on-licence in Scotland to which the preceding Section and this Section apply shall, in respect of the period from the thirtieth day of November, nineteen hundred and nineteen. to the end of the year for which the licence then current is in force, be respectively entitled to a repayment of such proportion of one-fourth or two-fifteenths as the case may be, and under the said provisions, as that period bears to the whole year, and that in addition and without prejudice to his right to a rebate for the period from the commencement of the said current year up to the said thirtieth day of November, under Section seven of The Finance Act, 1917, in respect of restriction on output and delivery.—[Col. Gretton.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The object of this new Clause is to preserve a rebate which is given under certain conditions. In the first place, a rebate was given in respect of the restricted hours imposed upon license-holders. Subsequently, a larger rebate up to one-fourth of the whole of the Licence Duty was given to license-holders whose supply was restricted by various orders of the Minister of Food. Those restrictions on supply have now ceased, but, owing to the working of the Finance Act, 1915, it appears that the rebate on account of the restriction of hours will be also lost. It is a very well established principle that if the ordinary hours during which licensed premises may be open are for any reason restricted, such as in the case of a six days' licence instead of a seven days' licence, a corresponding reduction should be made in the Licence Duty. The purpose of this new Clause is to carry on the rebate for restricted hours imposed by the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic), notwithstanding that the concurrent and larger rebate on account of restricted supplies has ceased, owing to the lapsing of the orders of the Minister of Food. The case of Scotland is a particularly hard one—


The hon. and gallant Member is now talking about Scotland. I presume that he has passed over the first Clause ("Repayment of part of Licence Duty") and is moving the second one ("Rebate of Licence Duty in Scotland").


I propose to take them together.


The hon. and gallant Member has put them down as two Clauses.


That is a mistake. The Clause is drawn as one. I am not quite sure that my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, understands the real meaning of this very complicated matter. I do not think it right to the Committee that I should endeavour to argue the case. I could read out many Sections of Acts of Parliament, but it would weary the Committee to a great extent, and if my right hon. Friend will tell me he will look into the matter I have every confidence he will see that I have a real case here.


I am naturally anxious to do what my hon. and gallant Friend has asked. I do understand this Clause and it. would not be quite frank for me to say that if I reconsidered it I might very likely come to a different conclusion on the Report stage. During the War when restrictions were first imposed certain abatements were made, and when the restrictions were removed those abatements automatically came to an end. My hon. and gallant Friend says that although the general restrictions were removed others are still imposed for which abatement ought to be made. I think it has been shown that the legitimate habits of the people have suited themselves to the new hours—the shorter hours which have proved not only salutary to the community but profitable to the trade which has been enabled to do practically the same business within a lesser time, thereby saving a considerable amount of expense. I cannot find from the facts of the case or from the Income Tax returns there is any justification for the continuation of these abatements. In the case of Scotland at the time the restrictions were first imposed—it was before the War—any such abatements of Duty were refused, and the abatements were only given when the restrictions became general at the outbreak of war. It was not intended, however, there any more than it was in the case of England that the abatements should be permanent. I see no reason for more favourable treatment of Scotland than of England. I think the time has come to bring these rebates to an end, and, much as I could wish to respond to my hon. and gallant Friend's request, I cannot honestly say that I could alter my opinion after having already gone fully into the subject.


I do not think I should be right in trying to proceed further with this matter. I would only say that I cannot agree that my right hon. Friend is correctly informed as to the result of the curtailment of hours, although there may be a certain convenience in certain cases. The taxes, however, are a very heavy burden, and I cannot agree that this concession is not due even at the present time. However, the matter is a highly technical one, and, in order to make my case clear, I should have to take a great deal of time and go into many technical points. Accordingly, I shall probably be consulting my right hon. Friend's convenience and that of the Committee if I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Colonel GREIG

The Temperance Act (Scotland), 1913, was passed as a compromise between the supporters of that Act and its opponents at that time. A time was put into the Act postponing its operation as regards a great many of its Clauses, and that time is running out and will come to an end this year. The Clause, however, relating to the opening at 10 o'clock of premises for the sale of liquor, was a Clause which was meant to come into operation, and did come into operation, immediately the Act was passed It has been in operation ever since, and any infringement upon that would be an infringement upon the policy embodied in the Act, and would he going back upon the arrangement made at that time. I enter a protest here against any such alteration being made, either now or later.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.