HC Deb 17 June 1920 vol 130 cc1441-3
38. Mr. LANE-FOX

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received many resolutions from working men's clubs throughout the country complaining of the maintenance of war-time restrictions on the sale of alcoholic liquor, which is stated to be contrary to pledges given by the Government; and whether, in view of the fact recently announced that legislation dealing with this matter cannot be undertaken this Session, he will consider the further relaxing of such restrictions pending introduction of promised legislation?


I can add nothing to what I have already said in reply to similar questions.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a good many of his supporters have given pledges that they would support a modification of these restrictions, and could not some of these restrictions be removed, at any rate until legislation has been brought in?


I agree with my hon. Friend that a good many pledges have been given in respect to the whole of this subject, but it is very difficult to deal with it partially and it has to be dealt with as a whole. In some respects relaxation may be necessary, and in other respects it may be found necessary to take further powers. We have to review the question as a whole.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take the opinion of the House as to whether they are anxious to deal with this question as a whole or continue these restrictions meanwhile?


Have not many supporters of the Government given pledges that the whole of these restrictions were imposed simply for the War, and would be removed immediately the War was over?


I have no recollection of pledges of that kind. The pledges were not confined to this particular aspect of the question. There were other pledges which we are anxious to redeem, and if they are not redeemed now it is not because we do not regard them as urgent, but because of the great Parliamentary pressure which makes it quite impossible for us to deal with all these questions.


Is it not possible to adjust the hours by opening in a way which corresponds to the habits of the people in longer evenings in summer as distinguished from those which may be quite proper in the winter? If this is in the power of the Central Control Board, will my right hon. Friend see that they do adjust the hours in an ordinary common-sense way?


As my hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, that is within the powers of the Central Control Board, and they can act without legislation. I will call their attention to this matter.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that these regulations are looked upon with mistrust, and they are believed very largely to be inspired by the licensed trade themselves, who find that they can make larger profits with shorter hours?


That point will no doubt find a place in a speech.