§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. R. H. MORRIS
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill is one to enable the owners and occupiers in Wales and Monmouthshire effectively to control the liquor traffic in their country. The fortune of the Ballot has placed the duty of moving its Second Reading in my keeping, and I can only wish that the task, responsible as it is, of moving the Second Reading of this highly important Measure had been placed in abler and more experienced hands. It is not necessary that I should detain the House at any great length for the principle embodied in ibis Bill is not new to the House. It has been affirmed by this House on numerous occasions, and affirmed by substantial majorities. It was affirmed in 1880 by a majority of 43; it was affirmed again in 1881 by a majority of 26, and further affirmed in 1883 by a majority of 87.has been given statutory sanction in the Temperance (Scotland) Act, 1913, and what Wales is doing to-day is asking this House to concede to Wales what was 11 years ago conceded in the case of Scotland.
The demand on the part of Wales itself is no new one. No fewer than 17 previous local option Measures have been before the House prior to this Bill, and on at least three of those 17 occasions the House has given the Bill a Second Reading. It is, at any rate to me, a matter of interest that, on the first of those occasions, in 1891, the Second Reading of the Bill was moved by the then Member for Cardiganshire, Mr. Bowen Rowlands, and I hope that those members who may say that I have no mandate from my constituency on this subject will bear that fact in mind. On each of those three occasions the overwhelming majority of the Welsh members voted in favour of the Bill. On the first occasion, in 1891, 22 Welsh Members voted in favour of the Bill, and not a single Welsh representative voted against it. On the second occasion, in 1893, 28 Welsh Members voted in favour 1196 of the Bill and one against; and on the third occasion, in 1920, 21 voted for the Bill and four voted against it. There is no question at this date that the overwhelming majority of Welsh opinion is in favour of the principle of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), in introducing his Licensing Bill in 1908, stated that opinion in Wales upon licensing matters was far in advance of and more ripe than that in England; and no one who is conversant with Wales and with the aspirations of its people can, at any rate effectively, dispute that they are in favour of the principle of this Measure, and that there is a real demand that the concession made to Scotland 11 years ago should now be made in favour of Wales.
I am not to-day concerned with the question whether the drink traffic is a physiological evil or not, nor am I concerned with the further question whether the drink traffic is or is not a moral and a social evil. That the drink traffic is responsible for both of these classes of evils has long ago been admitted by this House. It. has been admitted for centuries by the principle of our licensing law. The only question before the House to-day is the political question whether the drink traffic in Wales and Monmouth shire shall be controlled by the voice of the people directly or in its present indirect form—whether the people of Wales are going to be conceded the right which is at present exercised, and exercised very often with approval, by the landlords at the present time, of controlling the number of licences on their estates, whether the matter is going to be entrusted to the hands of the people, or whether it is going to be said that, while the landlord can be trusted to refuse permission to grant a licence upon his estate, the people are not sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with that right. The existing licensing system in this country is virtually based upon the principle that obtained more than a century ago, and I venture to say that the licensing laws of this country can be described much in the same way as Cromwell described the whole of the laws of England—namely, as "an ungodly and a tortuous jumble."
The principle which obtains in the licensing system to-day is virtually the same as that which obtained at the passing of the Alehouse Act, 1828. That. Act passed four years before the 1197 first Reform Act. It was passed at a time when the democratic principle was practically unrecognised in this country. Since then you have had the Reform Acts of 1932, 1867, 1884 and 1918. The democratic principle has been all but absolutely recognised in the sphere of government, and yet this traffic which is admittedly one which should be controlled has not been handed over to the care of the people. If the people are fitted to control the affairs of the Empire, if the democratic principle has been progressively recognised as it has been during the whole of the legislation of the last century, why should it not be recognised in the control of the liquor traffic? The principle of this Bill is that that princple, which has been universally recognised, should now be recognised in the licensing system. All that the people of Wales are asking and all that the Clauses of the Bill dealing with local option provide for is that the right of controlling their own destiny with regard to the liquor traffic should be placed in their hands. At this stage all I can invite the House to do is to record their view upon the principle of the Bill. It may very well be that at a later stage there will be Clauses, or details in the Clauses, about which there may be different views. At the moment I am not inviting the House to consider the Clauses in detail, but merely asking them to exercise their judgment upon the general principle of the Bill—whether or not it is right that the people of Wales, making this appeal, should be granted the right to determine their destiny with regard to the matter.
How does the Bill propose to deal with the question? Part 1 provides for the taking of the poll. The first poll will be taken in October, 1929, and a poll shall be taken in every third year thereafter. The area which shall be taken is every licensing district or petty sessional division, and the local authorities shall be the county and borough councils. The options are the same as those contained in the Scottish Act of 1913. They are no change, a limitation resolution and a no-licence resolution. No resolution shall be deemed to be carried unless the majority of the voters recording their votes at the poll shall be in favour of that resolution. This Bill deviates from the Scottish Act in that there is no requisiton necessary in order to obtain a poll. It will be an automatic poll to be held every third year 1198 from the original date, October, 1929, and it further differs from the Scottish Act in that there is no provision for the 35 per cent. necessary to poll and no provision for a 55 per cent. majority. The Bill has deviated from the Scottish Act for this reason, that at this time, in the 20th century, when the democratic principle has been recognised in every other sphere, there is no reason why these safeguarding majorities should be put into the Bill. If a majority of a constituency can return a Member to this House, the majority of a constituency can determine the question of the drink traffic as well. Let the same principle apply.
Part II of the Bill deals with the effect of the resolutions. A no-change resolution, if carried, will mean that the general law shall apply. In case of a limiting resolution the magistrates shall meet and make provision for a reduction of the number of licences in their area by 25 per cent. That resolution affects clubs as well as licensed houses in this way— that during the time when a no-licence resolution has been carried, no club can be granted a certificate for the sale of intoxicating liquor within that area during the time in which the resolution obtains—no new club. A no-licence resolution cannot be carried unless there is a majority in its favour of all the votes recorded at the poll. During the time a no-licence resolution is in force no liquor can be supplied in that area, no licence can be granted, and no certificate can be granted to a club for the sale of intoxicating liquor.
There is no provision at all, in the case of licences being withdrawn, for the payment of compensation in money. As an alternative to that, we have followed the precedent of the Scottish Act, and we say "we shall not pay compensation in money, but we give you notice of five years before the Act comes into operation." [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, but the principle of compensation was never admitted in the whole of the licensing law until 1904, when through the kindness of hon. Members opposite, as the result of the action taken by the Farnham Justices in the abolition of licences in carrying out their duties according to law—probably the trade interest brought considerable pressure to bear on the Government of the day, and as a result the concession of compensation was made for the first time in licensing history. Of that compensation there is this to be said, 1199 that it was provided by the trade itself. If the trade cares to provide compensation under this Bill, here is a notice of five years during which they can provide their own compensation. Not only that, the Bill further provides that if there is no compensation to be paid during those five years, the trade shall be free from the necessity of paying a compensation levy. What does that mean? It means that if the contention of the opponents of the Bill is true—that the people of Wales do not want it—they will vote for no change, that is what I may call the "five-point group"—the House will remember the 16th Century poet who said:Upon my theme I rightly think, There are five reasons why men drink, Good wine, a friend, because I'm dry, Or lest I should be by and by, Or any other reason why.If the five-point group, or the five-pint group, are in a majority, as the opponents of the Bill contend, what is the position? They can put the maximum levy, which stands now at 265,000 a year, for five years aside for the purpose of compensation. That will provide a fund of £325,000 before the first poll is taken, and if, when the first poll is taken, this contention proves true, they have a further sum of £65,000 annually to meet the compensation. If their contention be true, we are putting money into their pockets. Why should they object? It must be that they object because they know full well that there is a very strong and growing demand by the people of Wales for this Bill, and they know quite well what use will be made of it if it be passed into law.
Now I come to Part III of the Bill which, I understand, is as contentious as the compensation Clause. Part III deals with the question of clubs. Clubs will be affected in two ways—by the limitation Clause, no club can be granted a certificate where the limitation Clause applies, and by the "no-licence" Clause, under which no certificate can be granted. What is the position in regard to clubs? We know perfectly well, and every bench of magistrates knows perfectly well, that the result of the reduction of licences has been a growth in the number of clubs. In Glamorganshire and Monmouth and in Wales as a whole there has been a considerable reduction in licences since 1905, although not nearly enough according to the scales that have been laid down 1200 What has been the result in regard to clubs during that period? The number of clubs has more than doubled. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Hon. Members ask me "Why not?" I have seen the objection stated that if we bring the clubs under this Bill in the way we do the result will be that a bench of magistrates can suppress a political club which does not share its views. That is ridiculous, and for this reason, that a club is either, first of all, a political club, or its main object is to obtain a certificate. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am not singling out working men's clubs, apart from the Carlton Club or the National Liberal Club; I mean all clubs.
If the main object of the club is that it is a political club, why should it be suppressed because it cannot get a certificate to supply liquor? There are a good number of clubs, as every bench of magistrates knows, which are not bona-fide clubs. I am not caviling or railing against clubs in general. We are attempting in this Bill to grapple with what is a very serious evil—the drinking club, the club that does not exist in good faith. Let me give an instance of what happened in South Wales some time ago. The University of Wales provides lectures in various centres by means of the University Extension Board. The Secretary of that Board some time ago had an application for a lecture. The fee of the University Extension Board for its lectures for a term, I believe, was four guineas. They charge the same fee for a single lecture as they do for a course of lectures. An application came for a single lecture, and the Secretary of the Extension Board went to one of the Professors of History in the University, and asked him if he would go down to deliver a lecture. He agreed and went.
When he arrived at the place, he was met by the Secretary of the club and taken to the club. He was very courteously received and was invited to have a drink, which he declined. He went into the lecture hall, and was confronted by a scene such as he had never seen before. The room was full of smoke. During the lecture, he could hear the remark being whispered, "Another whisky and soda for the chairman." The whisky and soda was duly brought and placed upon the table, and this went on periodically during the lecture. The 1201 Professor noticed that during the course of the lecture, which was perhaps not remarkable, a number of the people listening to the lecture left. What was remarkable was that they came back. They left again, and came back again. It was a most remarkable lecture. Sonic time afterwards, the Professor was asked by the Secretary of the Extension Board, "Do you remember the lecture which you gave at such and such a club?" "Yes" said the Professor, "Well, do you know the explanation of the matter?" said the secretary to the Board. "That club had come under the attention of the police, and in order to show that they were doing something intellectual they obtained a single lecture."
What does this Bill provide in regard to clubs? It makes a sharp differentiation between existing clubs and new clubs. All that an existing club has to do is to make application for a certificate to the magistrate. The secretary to the club has to supply certain information now, under the existing law, to the clerk of the justices. All that he would have to do under the Bill would be to apply for a certificate, and it will be granted, unless an objection or a duly served notice of objection has been given. If the magistrates refused in the case of an existing club to grant a certificate, the club has the right of appeal to Quarter Sessions. In the case of a new club, the procedure is different. A new club has to apply for a certificate much as a man applies for a new licence, the same procedure, roughly, is followed. That is the position in regard to clubs. Of the two evils—dealing with them for the moment as evils—there can be no question that the drinking club, over which the magistrate has no control and over which the community has no control, is a far greater evil than the licensing system. These briefly, are the provisions of the Bill.
The hon. and gallant Member for the Llandaff and Barry Division (Major Cope) has made a speech, and in the report which appeared in the newspapers his name appeared in the headline, followed by another headlineWill not make Wales dry.He gives his reason. He declares,What you want is not a Bill like this; what you want is to educate the people.1202 I am in thorough agreement with that. This Bill does not propose to make the people go a step further than they wish I agree that the first step is the education of the people. You cannot educate the people by Act of Parliament, but you pass Education Acts for the purpose. Let me ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether there could be a better means of educating the people upon this question than having an election on it, and making it the single issue? This is the opportunity.
The late Lord Morley, speaking in this House some years ago on this question, said that the greatest and deepest moral issue in this country since the antislavery agitation has been the temperance cause. I am making my appeal to hon. Members without regard to party. This is not a partizan question. It concerns every man, to whatever party he belong, who cares for the welfare of the community. All I ask is that you should grant this appeal of Wales made for the eighteenth time in this House, and in the name of Wales and on her behalf I ask you to trust her with this right, that she shall have this power and shall exercise it as a right. Why should not you? If rich men or people in middle-class society cannot be forced to live near a public-house, why should the poor be doomed to do so? Why should not they be given the same right as ourselves?
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
In rising to second the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill, I desire to congratulate my hon. Friend on the very able speech which he has delivered, and to explain that, as far as we are concerned, we are more anxious about the principle of the right of control by the public than about the details of the Bill. I have received a postcard this morning, the writer of which objects to this Bill as an endeavour to limit the liberty of the subject, and because it is going to interfere with his personal tastes and habits. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this House exists to guard the rights of the subject, and to see that they are not interfered with, and we, who may disagree with the drink traffic, have the right to claim that we should not be interfered with prejudicially through it in our homes and our social surroundings. The present position is that public control is exercised through magistrates. I do not know 1203 whether hon. Members on the other side will agree, but the charge used to be that the magistrates' bench was packed. I have seen the magistrates' bench packed on both sides. There was a time when I could have said what would be the fate of a licence from seeing who were the magistrates as they filed into court. I cannot conceive a worse system of control than that.
Take another matter to which my hon. and learned Friend referred, the restrictions on the right to have licensed premises on building estates, there are large residential districts in London where, I am assured, there is not a single public house. They are prohibited by the owners of the estate. Why should not the same power be given to the local authority which is now exercised by the landowner? I was born in a parish ten miles long and three miles wide in which there is not a single licensed house to-day. The licensed houses were closed by the landowner. On the other side of the river another parish contains the largest slate quarry in the world, employing several thousand workmen. Every single licensed house in that parish has been closed by the landlord, and they have been closed in the interests of the efficiency of the workmen. The right which is now vested in and exercised by the landowner should in future be vested in and exercised by the people themselves. That is the principle for which we are contending.
I understand that there may be objections, particularly with regard to compensation. According to the Bill as it is at present drawn exemption is given for five years, but during those five years there will be no levy on the trade. That means the accumulation of a certain fund if necessary. Not only that, but during that period no licence can be abolished on acount of redundancy but only on account of misconduct, which means for a period of five years absolute security of tenure for the licence holder. On the question of compensation, I am authorised by my hon. Friend to say that he is prepared to consider amendments in Committee [Laughter]. Hon. Members laugh. I can assure those who have not had experience that a great many Bills can be made acceptable in Committee even to those who were originally opposed 1204 to them. Under the Scottish Bill the period was made eight years and I think that I am right in saying that my hon. Friend would be prepared to consider an amendment to that effect. I suggest that an arrangement on money matters which was acceptable to Scottish Members might well be accepted as a settlement even by English Members. I understand that our Scottish Friends are notorious for driving hard bargains in money matters.
Another question to which reference must be made is clubs. The chief objection which we have to clubs in Wales is the existence of Sunday drinking. For over 40 years we have had Sunday closing in Wales, and I think that it is unfair, not only to the licensees, but still more to the people themselves that the restriction on the sale of drink on Sundays should be done away with by the side method of drinking in clubs. Let there be no misunderstanding on the point. It is as well known to opponents of this Bill as it is to me that there is an enormous amount of Sunday drinking going on in Wales at present, notwithstanding the Sunday closing Act, and that an enormous increase has taken place in these clubs. I do not see why my hon. Friend should not be prepared to consider amendments in Committee with regard to clubs, but I think that I am right in saying that we shall insist, so far as this Bill is concerned, that Sunday drinking in these clubs shall cease. There are at present no fewer than 495 of these clubs, and I see no reason in principle why the licensee should be controlled and subject to police supervision, and the club, on the other hand, should be subject to no control at all.
The position as far as we are concerned is this: The present system, which may be and is applicable, and may be acceptable to England, is not acceptable to us in Wales. It does not respond to public opinion. The Levy is too small for us to reduce the number of licences as we would wish. The inevitable result of that is that in the smaller towns and some of the rural districts, where the religious and temperance sentiment of the people is strongest, there is the largest number of licensed houses. In Cardigan there is one to every 250 of the population, in Brecknock one to 241, in Cardigan Borough one to 271, in Carmarthen one to 253. According to the Peel Commission Report, there should be only one in 400. The Bill, as 1205 has been said, has already been before this House 18 times. On one occasion it passed Second Reading, and that was when the Unionist Government was in power. The fate of the Bill rests with the Labour party, and I ask them whether this Bill of the Welsh democracy, framed in the interests of the social order of their own country, is to have worse treatment at Labour's hands than it received at the hands of a Unionist Government 20 years ago.
I understand that some hon. Members on the Labour benches say that they had in the Election to face the opposition of some of the temperance associations, and that they should not support the Bill to-day. I put it to hon. Members very respectfully that if that principle is to be applied by us on these Benches and we are going to vote against Government Measures, because we were opposed in our constituencies, the life of the Government then would not be worth 24 hours' purchase. Even as a matter of worldly wisdom and of bargaining it is better for hon. Members to vote to-day for the democratic control of the liquor trade in Wales, and give us the right to decide under what conditions we are to live, and under what conditions the poor of the country are to bring up and educate their children.
§ Mr. J. C. GOULD
I beg to move to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
I wish first of all to congratulate the hon. Member who moved the Second reading of the Bill upon the excellence of his speech. I am sorry that I cannot congratulate him upon the arguments which he brought forward in support of the Bill. The feeling that has been forced upon a large section of the people of Wales is that those of us who oppose this Bill oppose it on the ground that we are not in any way in sympathy with the objects of the church and chapel. I wish to say most clearly that I oppose this Bill for the reason that it is not in any way a fair measure, that it is not calculated or designed with the object of attaining true local option. It is a Bill which, of necessity, even with considerable amendment, must ultimately tend to total prohibition in Wales. I do not think for one moment that the people 1206 of Wales are ready for this Measure. I am quite willing to say that if a plebiscite were taken, there would be a great deal more sympathy for the Measure than there is now. The issue has never been before the electorate as a distinct issue. Even if all the Members for Wales were supporting the Bill, and had been advocates of local option during the last Election, it cannot be said that the atmosphere was not clouded by other considerations at the same time. For instance, there may have been the Protection question in Cardiff or Newport or Swansea, and particularly in places where the bulk of the population of Wales resides.
There is another great objection to the Bill and to the use of the term "democratic." It confines the vote to the municipal voters, which would deprive a considerable section of the community of the right of registering their opinions. There are one or two other points on which the House has been misled. My hon. Friend quite forgets the fact that the vast bulk of the people of Wales reside in two counties, Glamorgan and Monmouth, and by no means in those two counties is the desire general for local option, especially under the terms and conditions of this Bill. The Bill is described as a local option Bill. It is nothing of the kind. Other speakers will deal with that point more effectively. The Mover of the Bill said that a poll would not be taken until 1929, because five years were to be allowed, during which time the sum of £320,000 would be set aside for compensation, if "No licence" was to come into effect. Assume that the whole of the Principality voted for a change and "No licence." What a ridiculous sum to set aside! The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) summarised the position most ably and better than anyone else, when on 22nd October, 1920, he addresed a deputation of the Welsh Calvanistic Methodists. The right hon. Gentleman said:Rightly or wrongly, a property has been conferred in England and Wales in respect of licences. You cannot go behind that, because, if yon do, you may depend upon it that, especially in the present atmosphere, there are people who will quote that as a precedent for other property. You may say that property ought not to have been conferred. There are people who will say the same thing about all sorts of property, and therefore it is a very dangerous atmosphere in which to challenge legal property.1207 I could also quote from the right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. H. Fisher). On 26th March, 1920, in a debate on a similar but more moderate Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said:There is, however, a difference between the position of Wales and the position of Scotland and it is this: the Licensing Act of 1904, which establishes property in a licence, does not apply to Scotland, but it does apply to Wales … After all, facts are facts, and we must accept them. This Act of 1904 was applied to Wales, and on the strength of that Act licences have been bought and sold, properties has changed hands, and a fabric of legitimate expectations has been built up. Therefore, to come down to the House now and to propose, as this Bill does, that licences should be extinguished without any compensation at all, after an interval of six years, would be to inflict a manifest injustice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March, 1920; cols. 825 and 826, Vol. 127.]These are statements made by two right hon. Gentlemen. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs knows more intimately than any Member of this House the attitude of the Welsh people on this matter. He recognises that there is a capital interest which you cannot destroy without compensation. This Bill is more iniquitous and more unfair than its predecessor. I am not going to argue for the trade. I have no interest and no concern one way or the other, but I ask the House to consider the position of the man who has put all his life savings into a public house. Such a man has probably been working 30 or 40 years. He then retires to some country area, and puts his savings into a public house. He manages to eke out out a bare living. Certainly I do not see many individuals of his type amassing great sums of money. Yet it is proposed to give this man the bare alternative of seeing the whole of his savings disappear in the course of six years, during which time he can hardly do more than earn his living. It is not fair; it is not just, and these people will not be compensated to the extent that the other people will who are connected with tied houses. Even in the case of the tied house the same remark applies in some degree, and I feel that the whole principle is one which is not desirable, which is not fair and which is a repetition of the methods applied by the Liberal Party in dealing with the Church of Wales—stealing and confiscating property without compensation.
1208 The Bill is full of anomalies. Suggestions have been made that, in order to obtain the support of the Government, clubs might be dropped out of it. Look at the position which would then be created. Assume that clubs are dropped, and that the Bill applies to public houses only. You reduce the number of public houses, and immediately increase the number of clubs. I am not certain in my own mind that this is desirable. The contention, on the one hand, is that drinking has increased because of the number of public houses. If you decrease the number of public houses, do you think for one moment that by using force you are going to compel people to refrain from taking that which they intend to have and which they will have? You cannot do it. You will increase the number of clubs and the intention is—we know it and we feel it—that if the Bill only could be applied to public houses and the number of public houses reduced and the number of clubs correspondingly increased, public feeling would be roused against the clubs with the ultimate result that you would he able to get total prohibition and close the clubs as well. There is no doubt that behind this Bill there is a concerted and definite move to attain that end, and that is borne out by the representations sent out from time to time by the United Kingdom Alliance as to the method of packing meetings and arranging meetings, documentary evidence of which is in the possession of many hon. Members.
§ 12 N.
§ Mr. GOULD
They are documents sent out by the Alliance itself, containing full instructions as to how meetings are to be packed. Let us consider the Clauses of the Bill. Clause 9, Sub-section (2) says:No person shall either by himself or by any servant or agent sell by retail any intoxicating liquor in any premises in the area, whether for consumption on or off the premises, any enactment to the contrary notwithstanding.Sub-section (3) is as follows:If any person infringes or counsels, procures, aids or abets any infringement of this Section he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and shall, on summary conviction thereof, be liable in the case of a first offence to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds, and for a second or subsequent offence, to be imprisoned, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding six months.1209 Supposing in any area it is determined that there shall be "no license." Let us suppose that in that area there is a golf club or other institution of a similar nature. I as a Member have a bottle of whisky, and when my opponent and I come to the 19th hole, I invite him to have a drink. For the first offence of that nature I am liable to a fine of £100, and for the second, I may get six months' imprisonment. I am afraid that if that provision be put into effect, the gaols of Wales will not be sufficient to hold all the erring golfers. The Bill is full of anomalies and contradictions, and the claim of its advocates that it will promote true temperance—which is a most desirable thing and one to which no Christian could object—is not borne out when one considers the principle contained in it. Quite apart from the merits or demerits of the general question, the Bill is not worthy of the high principles which presumably are to be found behind a desire to better the conditions of the people. I contend and believe there is no great desire for the Bill. While I fully believe that in Wales we take this matter in a very serious manner, the record of the people and the small number of convictions for drunkenness prove conclusively that there is no real desire for the Measure. I cannot in any circumstances believe that the whole of the resolutions which I have received from scores of chapels and churches throughout Wales are any indication of the real position. In the first place these resolutions are put to the congregations in an atmosphere where the impression is made upon most of the people that they are indulging in an ungodly practice by taking liquor. In the second place, the church or chapel is not a place where those people can put up their hands and object to a resolution. They accept it in silence. There is no heckling of the pastor—no answering back.
In the third place, where you get unanimity of that kind it is obvious there must be insincerity and, if there be insincerity, what is the value of the resolutions? On the other hand, if there be perfect sincerity, then you have the full assent of the people, and why ask for this Bill? If, as the resolutions which I have received claim, the majority of the people of Wales demand this measure—and I do not believe it—you had then got 1210 what you want because your people naturally will not want the liquor and will not consume it. That is not the case however. The argument which has been advanced as to giving the Bill a Second Reading and amending it in Committee will not appeal to this House. The liberty of the subject, to which reference has been made, is very dear to the House. To claim or maintain that this Bill gives the subject liberty of choice or action is impossible. There is no provision as to the number of people who must go to poll. Only too well do we know the apathy of the people on most questions, and, by the time it comes to the poll, as was the ease in Scotland, but a relatively few will vote. What will happen in scattered agricultural areas in Wales where there is difficulty in getting to the poll? You may have only 15, 20 or 30 per cent. of the electors voting, and a bare majority of 15 or 16 per cent. of the voters may be sufficient to bring about a change in that area. That certainly is not democratic. There should be a provision as to the total number of persons who are to vote at the poll and as to the size of the majority carrying any change. Again, there is no provision for a requisition. The hon. Member says the reason for omitting the provision for a requisition is that the people of Wales already want this system. He has no proof of that. It is a bald statement, made without any proof or substantiation.
I do not propose to go into the figures dealing with the matter, but I feel—and it is a most important point, and I have had opportunities of observing it at first hand—that if such a measure as this were, through any act of carelessness on the part of the electors, conferred on the people of South Wales, I should not like to be responsible for the unrest which would follow. There is no doubt about it. I can assure the House that at Cardiff, and Newport, and Swansea, to speak of the seaports only, there has been considerable dissatisfaction even with the present hours, and if these people were to be put in a position where they could not get what they want, we should have considerable disturbance and industrial unrest. It is said that this is liberty, but I say it is neither more nor less than trying to foist on the majority of the people the will of the few. It is an organised attempt to induce us to accept something which we do not believe is for 1211 the benefit of the people, and which we do not believe the people want. I think the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading will, on reflection, realise that this Bill is one which, prepared, as I believe it has been, without the full consent of the Welsh Members, some of whom only saw it two or three days ago, a Bill which is being opposed by a far larger number of Welsh Members than ever before, a Bill which I believe will have the opposition of at least 12 of the Welsh Members, is one which should not be given a Second Reading.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
I beg to second the Amendment.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris) on his maiden effort, and I trust we shall maintain the tone and temper which he introduced throughout this debate. I also congratulate him upon his luck in drawing the first ballot for a private Member's Bill in the first Labour Parliament. He has thus realised the ambition of every true-born politician — widespread notoriety. Most of the Members of this House admit that the curse of drink is but a part of the larger curse of the social system under which we live, the social system under which we send the profiteer to the House of Lords and his victim to the workhouse. Strong drink is both a cause and an effect of social poverty. This capitalist system of ours creates drunkenness, immorality, and irreligion. It is the social system which is at the root of the evils of the drink trade and of all the other social evils of our country. This social system is bolstered up on the three pillars, the unholy trinity, of strong drink, fast women, and slow horses. These evils go hand in hand. I wish to treat the drink problem as merely incidental to the social problems with which we are faced. In my opinion, the best temperance reform is social reform, and so long as we allow the drink traffic to remain in private hands, we cannot by any legislation effect any substantial reduction in the consumption of drink.
The United Kingdom Alliance has been in existence now for more than 60 years, and all its proposals have failed up to now, because its policy of prohibition is at the wrong end of the programme. It should be the ultimate and not the immediate object of temperance reform in this country. I recognise and face the fact 1212 that beer, at any rate, is the national beverage of the large majority of the British people, and has been for centuries, and the bulk of the British people, who like it, are entitled to get it within moderation. It is the vested interests of the trade that are the chief menace to that moderation, and during the War period we had, not a theoretical case, but the remarkable success of the Carlisle experiments to point the way to the right road in the ultimate solution of this problem. I object to this Bill, because it violates the inalienable right given by immemorial usage to the British subject to take alcoholic beverages under conditions of sobriety and decency. The Bill overrides that liberty by a bare majority, and seeks to do so every three years, if it fail in the first.
This Bill is brought in in the name of Wales and Monmouthshire, but the promoters took no steps to consult the Welsh Parliamentary party as to its provisions. It has been the custom for years in this House that when any Bill is introduced of any character that directly and solely concerns Wales, all the Welsh Members should be consulted as to its provisions, with a view to co-operation, if possible, and with a view to minimum opposition failing absolute co-operation. That step has not been taken, and I say, with the Mover of the rejection, that the provisions of the Bill secured no mandate from the electors at the last General Election. That election was fought solely upon Protection and Free Trade—[An HON. MEMBER: "Capital Levy!"]—upon Capital Levy and Socialism versus Capitalism, and I am very happy in my position at any rate to-day, whatever many Members may feel about it, that I can oppose this Bill in the united name of all the political parties in my division. I was opposed in the last General Election by a Liberal candidate, who secured the official and active support of the Conservatives to try and turn me out. They failed, in spite of their unanimity on that occasion, and the Liberal candidate, I assume, was pledged to the item of Local Option in the Liberal manifesto, but he, like myself—and he is a typical Liberal candidate for Wales, for he is a Nonconformist and a big chapel man—pledged himself that during the life of this Parliament he would, if re-elected, oppose any Measure of local option for Wales that would interfere with the liberties of the clubs. He 1213 also met the publicans and the brewers of the district, and satisfied them, at least to a certain degree. That is Liberal Nonconformity in Wales when it is a question of getting a seat in Parliament.
I oppose this Bill, because it treats the clubs on the same basis as public houses. Clubs are not run for profit. It is the bona fide clubs of which we are speaking, and which are the large majority. They are associations of members gathered together for social purposes, and with facilities similar to those at the National Liberal Club. I believe there are thousands of Liberal club members in the provinces who get great draughts of inspiration when they survey the genial countenance of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when it is hung on the club wall, and I have yet to learn that any of those provincial Liberal clubs have taken down his portrait, and put it in the cellar. This Bill is merely a prospectus for the Liberal Limited Liability Company, that is to say, for the Liberal ideals of limited democracy. The Bill proposes to restrict the poll of electors to the local government electors. It would prevent between 5,000 and 12,000 Parliamentary voters in every Parliamentary Division in Wales from taking part. I have ascertained that the total number of Parliamentary voters for Wales and Monmouthshire at the last Election was, approximately, 1,250,000. The local government electors are about 1,000,000. The Bill proposes to disfranchise a quarter of a million electors of Wales from a voice in this question, the ages of the men ranging from 21 upwards, and therefore comprising 20 per cent. of the electors in Wales.
I suggest that this is typical of Liberal politics. They prate a great deal about trusting the people, but they are afraid to trust all the people who are fit to send them to this House. A further point made in the debate is that they are entitled to get the will of the people by a bare majority. That is a dangerous precedent for them to take up, in face of the industrial troubles that lie ahead. The Miners' Federation of Great Britain and most of the large trade unions of our country have often been twitted by our friends below the Gangway—our friends the enemy—with being very revolutionary in their action. There is trouble ahead in the British coal industry, and it would be a very useful argument for the miners when 1214 they next have a ballot on strike action, or no strike action, to be able to say that the Liberal Party approves of the democratic principle that a bare majority shall be the deciding factor. The miners of Great Britain are far wiser and saner in their attitude in any grave revolutionary step that is to be taken, and they do not undertake strike action unless there is a two-thirds vote in favour of such action. I suggest that this Bill would be very strongly resented, particularly throughout the South Wales coal-field, unless there is to be a majority on those lines put into the Bill.
Another strong objection I have to the Bill is with regard to the polling areas, which are to be coterminous with the licensing district or the Petty Sessional area. In the Scottish Act the unit for polling is the locality, the ward or parish. That is truly local; but this proposal is revolutionary, and undermines the principle of localities. The Petty Sessional area in the Bill is not a locality; it is a territory. Let me give one example. The Pontypridd Petty Sessional area comprises Pontypridd Urban District with 53,000 population, a Rural District with 25,000, and another Urban District with a population of 185,000. Here is a locality of over a quarter of a million people who are to decide local option. The area is 18 miles long, 12 miles broad and includes the town of Pontypridd, two smaller towns, 20 towns of between 5,000 and 10,000 population, and spread about in a wide area are mining villages. The whole thing is absurd on the face of it, because it is not locality opinion, but territorial opinion. If the promoters of the Bill can depart so fundamentally from the principle of locality opinion, why cannot they take their courage in both hands, widen it still further, make the whole of Wales and Monmouthshire one polling unit, and let the entire nation, as a nation, decide on the principle of local option?
If this Bill be right for Wales, it is right for England. If it is opportune to introduce it for Wales, it is opportune to apply it to England. If the temperance extremists in this House are so anxious to cool the warm blood of the Welsh people, why do they not provide some of the rare and refreshing fruit for the cold-blooded Saxons? I object to Wales being made a smoke-screen for the 1215 long range of the United Kingdom Alliance, to be trained for future action against England. Let them come out into the open. Let them play a manly part, and show that they have the courage of their convictions that local option, and ultimate prohibition, is the best thing in this nation's interest. We want to remove the vices of the drink traffic, but we want to remove them by one great national movement for the whole of Great Britain, and not for any sections. My alternative to the present Bill, and to the existing system of private trading, is public ownership. I am profoundly convinced that the only way to solve the temperance question is to remove private profit, the root cause of the present abuses in the drink traffic. If that can be done, and we can secure co-operation along those lines, we are with those who seek it. I shall oppose the Bill on Second Reading, because I am not prepared to trust to the promises of the Mover and Seconder. I have had other experience of assurances in this House. I venture to say that throughout the South Wales coalfield, there is a far stronger feeling against this Bill than for the Bill. For these reasons, I beg to Second the rejection of the Bill.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Rhys Davies)
I am rather fortunately placed in saying a word or two on this matter, because I represent an English Constituency and was born in Wales. This is a very important measure, and before I conclude what I have to say it will devolve upon me to declare what is the intention of the Government in regard to it. Before doing so, may I say that I was very interested to see the combination just now against the Bill. The Mover of the rejection of the Bill comes from Cardiff and is a Conservative, while the Seconder, a Labour representative from Pontypridd. The combination is not very often found in that way, and I do not anticipate that such a combination will last very long—[An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right!"] I think it will be well if I just give to the House certain figures as to how matters at present stand, so that hon. Members may better understand the problem of the Principality in this connection.
1216 In 1912 there were 5,591 licensed premises in Wales. By 1919 these had been reduced to 5,163, and in 1922 they had been further reduced to 4,987. For the purpose of these figures Monmouthshire is in England. Monmouthshire is in England for all criminal purposes! Now as to the number of clubs. In 1912 there were in Wales 298 clubs. In 1919 there were 258, while in 1922 the figure was 305. It is interesting to know what during this period has happened in England.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Will the hon. Member allow me to proceed in my own way. There has been a growth in the number of clubs in England too. In 1912 the figure stood at 7,911. In 1922 that figure had increased to 10,358. Another interesting fact about the Principality is the number of convictions for drunkenness. In this connection I think it would be well to state that the number of convictions, or lack of convictions, in each locality is not always a precise indication of the sobriety of the people. Figures, however, are some indication of what has happened. In 1913 there were 10,906 convictions for drunkenness in Wales. In 1918 they had dropped to 1,290. The strange thing is that in 1920 they had increased to 5,284. In 1922 they numbered 3,485, and in 1923, so far as figures are available, there was an increase to 4,400. The proportion of convictions as between Wales and England is very interesting, too. In 1913 the number of convictions per 10,000 inhabitants in Wales was 53.85; in England it was 52.27. That is not an exact indication that the English people were more sober than the Welsh, but that the scrutiny of the police may have been greater in England than in Wales. By 1922 the convictions per 10,000 inhabitants in Wales was 17.2, while in England the percentage stood at 21.4.
These figures, if they are understood properly, will give at any rate, some indication that there had been a general decline of drunkenness amongst the people of this country. I do not know that there is any hon. Member here who will disagree with that statement or who will be otherwise than delighted with that important fact. During my own lifetime great progress has been made, for we all 1217 remember when it was not considered at all degrading to see a man drunk. Now it is considered a tragedy. I might tell hon. Members another thing: that so far as I know Wales, Wales has a culture of its own in this matter. But there is one thing I wish our friends from Wales would aim at; it has been mentioned already. I do not like the anomaly of the clubs being opened on Sunday, and the public-houses closed. On the general question of the reduction in the consumption of beer, I think the whole country ought to congratulate itself upon what has happened. The figures are as follow: In 1877 the consumption of beer was 32 gallons per head of the population per annum—
§ Mr. DAVIES
Yes, I believe so. That figure in 1921 had been reduced to 19 gallons; an excellent decrease.
§ Mr. DAVIES
As I have never tasted it, I cannot say.
I am authorised by the Government to state that this Bill combines in one Measure what are really two distinct matters. It is, in the first place, a Measure purporting to enable the people of Wales to assume control of the liquor traffic by what is called local option. In this respect the principle of the Bill would be regarded with favour by the Government. Part III of the Bill seeks, quite apart from local option, to place under the control, not of the people of Wales, but of the Justices of the Peace, the large number of clubs of a co-operative character in which the members combine to provide refreshments for themselves. The case for such a drastic treatment of all clubs of this kind does not appear to be made out, and the Government cannot hold out any hope that it can view with favour this important part of the Bill. Accordingly, the Government cannot afford the Bill in its present form any support, but it will be left to the House itself to decide without any intervention by the Government, whether or not it should receivie a Second Reading. If this Bill is read a Second time the Government will give such assistance to its consideration as may be necessary by the Committee, but the attitude of the Government toward the Bill when it emerges from the 1218 Committee stage will depend upon the form it may then take.
Might I be allowed to add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Cardigan upon his speech? No person will dispute that whether the hon. Member represents a majority of the people of Wales or not on this issue, that he voices the opinions of the majority of the people of the county he represents in this House. Many hon. Members are under the impression that the only people in favour of temperance reform are those who do not touch intoxicating drink, but I should like to point out that I know many persons in Wales, and outside, who sometimes drink more than is good for them, and yet they would be delighted to vote in favour of total prohibition in order to remove the temptation to drink. In conclusion, I hope hon. Members will bear in mind the facts and figures which I have given because they speak for themselves. The Government, as I stated, leaves this Measure entirely to the free vote of the House.
This is one of the most enlightening Debates I have ever heard in my life on the subject of drink, and it bears out what I have always said, that no party in the country is sound when it comes to deal with the question of drink, and they all appear to be afraid of something. The hon. Member who has just sit down has certainly made out a very weak case for the Government, who, I would remind hon. Members, put local option in their party programme. I have always known that the Government would take this course, and I am glad to know that now the country will know it as well. My own party may be reactionary, but at least they are honest. I have always maintained that, and you had better try to convert an honest party than one that is not honest on the question of drink. I paid due respect to my Liberal Friends on this question because they have always been perfectly consistent about local option. Now we are asked to vote on the principle of local option, the members of the Labour party opposite have joined with the trade forces because they are afraid of the clubs. [An HON MEMBER: "That is not true."] It is quite true because 1219 you are afraid of the clubs, and you know it, and the country will know it now.
Thousands of women at the last Election voted for the Labour party, thinking that when they put temperance in their programme they had it in their hearts. I have frequently had to stand up against my own party on this question. I have not been frightened by those who support the trade; in fact, I am afraid of nothing when I consider that I am dealing with a social, moral, and democratic question. If hon. Members really believe in these things, then let them come out and have the courage to say so, and do not join with their enemies. This is a Welsh Bill which is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Welsh people. I believe this is the eighteenth time a Local Option Bill has come before the House of Commons dealing with Wales. As a believer in freedom, I think the people must be governed by the majority and not by the minority, because minority government is autocracy. Political freedom is giving people what they want. The Welsh people evidently want Local Option. I believe that if you were to put this question before the men and women of Wales to-morrow by means of a referendum, you would get an overwhelming majority in favour of Local Option. I do not say that you would get Prohibition, but that is not the issue. Those who are afraid of Prohibition are also afraid of Local Option, but I am not afraid of either of them, because I believe in all these methods the will of the people should prevail. Parliament gave Scotland Local Option when she asked for it, and what right has this Parliament to refuse Local Option in Wales when we have given it to Scotland? I know it is said that Local Option in Scotland has failed, but the Scotch are a pretty shrewd race, and if that were true surely we should find Scottish representatives demanding that the Act should be repealed. The Scottish people may want the Act improved, but we do not find that there is a majority of Scottish Members asking for a reversal of the policy of Local Option, and when a majority of the Scottish Members come down to this House and ask for a repeal of the Scottish Act then, and not until then, shall I believe that Local Option has failed in Scotland.
1220 I want to say frankly that if we were dealing with an English Bill we should want to include an option on disinterested management like the Bishop of Oxford's Bill. Personally, I am also in favour of greater compensation for the trade, because I want to be fair to those individuals whose livelihood is concerned. I wish, however, to make it quite clear that I am fighting simply for the principle of this Bill. In many respects it is a bad Bill, but it is the principle we are now being asked to vote on. I do not agree with a great many people in the temperance party who hold varying shades of opinion. On these matters the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) and myself vary, but I think everybody interested in temperance is agreed on Local Option. I am backing this Bill as a Conservative. I cannot say that I have the whole of my party behind me, but I would like to say that I have the best of them. If not, I have to get them or they will never win in this country. I want to explain to them why. We are always talking about our great Imperial leanings. You do not care about the Empire; you do not understand the Empire. But we, the Conservative party, realise that the future of the world lies in a united Empire. What unites people? It is thinking alike that unites people. There is nothing that unites persons unless they are thinking alike. May I remind the Imperial party that New Zealand, Canada and Australia all have Local Option, and they are not going back on it. You say that it is not democratic, and that we are robbing the people of the country of their freedom. Do you mean to tell me that the Colonies are not democratic? Have we noticed any lack of freedom in our Colonies?
All that we are asking is that the people of England should have freedom to vote as they want. Why cannot we get it? You can see why. The same thing that has been ruining the Conservative party has now gone over to the Labour party. The pressure that used to come from the public-houses now comes from the clubs, and the pressure from the clubs has given cold feet and weak hearts to hon. Members opposite. There is one more thing that I should like to say to my party. We often ask the religious forces of this country to fight against Bolshevism. We are constantly asking organised religion to resist the forces of Bolshevism and 1221 the attacks which are threatened against Society, against property, and against morality. The same Conservatives cannot consistently encourage the drink trade to attack these same leaders of organised religion when they are standing up for what they consider to be the interests of the weak and of the children. Conservatives cannot support Christian leaders when they defend the rights of property and then help to down those leaders when they stand up for what they consider to be the spiritual and moral rights of the children of this country. We must be consistent. The heads of every single denomination support local option. I could understand some of them being wrong, but I refuse to believe that they are all wrong on social and moral questions, and I like to follow the people who are interested in social and moral questions. If our party refuses to realise that throughout this country there is a social and moral consciousness growing up, if our party refuses to listen to that and listens instead to the drink section, I warn them here in the House of Commons, as I have done in the country, that they are fathering a losing cause, a cause which anybody except a mole could see is a losing one.
I despair of some hon. Members opposite. I have hopes of the Liberal party, and I can say quite truly that there are hundreds of people in the Unionist party who are waking up on this question of temperance. I may seem like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, but I want to tell you, as the Leader of the Opposition said the other day, that there is a new electorate in the country. You get your pressure from the clubs. You have not heard from the clubmen's wives. You have got to think of them when it comes to this question of drink. I have said and I say once more that if mine were the casting vote to-morrow I would not give it for prohibition, because the people of the country are not ready for it. I am a democrat. I believe in the will of the people of the country, and I beg Members of the House of Commons to give the people a chance to vote for what they want. You cannot stem the tide of the people of the country. Do not try. The women of the country are going to legislate not for the immediate moment, but for the future, because they are thinking of their children. Hon. Members opposite know that what the mover in his most 1222 brilliant, and convincing speech said is true. We who live in what you call the better quarters of the town would refuse to have six public-houses in one square. Why should not the women have a chance? As long as their children have to grow up under these conditions they have hardly a dog's chance of getting away from those public-houses. I do appeal to the members of my party. You have seen how the opposite party have exposed themselves. Do be democratic and progressive and support the principle of this Bill.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I was prepared, as a Scottish representative, not to have taken part either by speech or by vote in this discussion, because this primarily is a Welsh Bill, and in my opinion it ought to have been decided entirely by the representatives from Wales. But as things are, the representatives from England and Scotland are compelled to take part in such a discussion, and, as I have had some considerable personal and direct experience of the working of the Scottish Temperance Act, perhaps what I have to say may be of soma value to the discussion this afternoon. I was born and have always lived in a town near Glasgow, which went dry in 1920 as the result of a vote under the Scottish Temperance Act. Last November, despite a frantic effort on the part of the liquor interest and the expenditure of money which ought to have been brought to the notice of those responsible for the operation of the Corrupt Practices Act, despite an intensive and unscrupulous propaganda, the like of which I had never seen before, we retained our "no licence" by a large majority after three years' experience. When I joined this House I was senior magistrate of that town, and, after we got "no licence," despite the fact that there are wet areas around us, our police courts were sometimes held only once in 10 weeks, and even now they are not held oftener than once a month. Crimes due to drunkenness have practically been wiped out. That is the evidence of the police, of the magistracy, and of the local councils, all of whom are unanimous on that point. Everyone knows the economic circumstances of a mining town. While in every town or village round about us the poor rate has increased, in our town it has fallen. I do not say that the poor rate is operated as it ought to have been, 1223 but still it has fallen. Again, in the midst of poverty we have over £20,000 deposited in the Municipal Savings Bank started since No Licence. There is less poverty, less destitution, less hunger in that town under No Licence than in any other wet town in Scotland.
The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) branded us with being afraid of the club vote. I have fought this question for many years, and I remember that while we were able to carry No-licence under this silly Temperance Act, the sheriff, 50 miles away, granted a club licence over our heads despite the unanimous protest of the town council, of the bench of magistrates, of every public body, of great public meetings of protest. He not only granted a club licence but he refused to hear the lawyer whom the town council sent to oppose it. For three years that club operated. This year, two months ago, they could not get any Justice of the Peace or any magistrate in our area, belonging to any political party, to sign their application form. They had to go 50 miles away and appeal to two Justices to sign it. Fortunately, one of the signatures was illegal. We appealed against the regranting of the certificate, and the sheriff had no option but to withdraw the licence. We are bone dry now. No one has attempted to dispute the figures and arguments with which the senior magistrate, Baillie Wilson, the manager of the Kilsyth Co-operative Society, has flooded the Press, showing the increased loan capital and the increase in purchasing power of that town in the midst of a tremendous economic depression. I hope the Noble Lady will not go about the country declaring that the Labour movement in Scotland, or that the Independent Labour party in Scotland, or even that in England are, because of what has been read out from the Front Bench with regard to the considered attitude of the Government on this Bill, afraid of the club vote. So far as most of us on these benches are concerned, we are going into the Lobby to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill because of the principle which it embodies. We are going to vote that the people themselves shall have the right to decide. I would give them every option. If one believes in democracy, 1224 why not act upon it? Why not allow the people to decide these matters for themselves? I do not believe in having a compulsory vote every three years. I think it is a stupid provision. I should be in favour of the insertion of a proviso that there should be no fresh vote unless the electors requisition for one. There are quite a number of changes one would recommend in this Bill. After all, the overwhelming support of public opinion is required before you can interfere with the habits and traditions of the people. I certainly would be prepared to wipe out the bare majority provision in this Bill. I think, further, you will require to make provision whereby chemists shall be compelled to sell spirits for medicinal purposes. Under the Scottish Act that is not made clear, and there has been considerable controversy in regard to it. I should also be in favour, as one result of our experience, of lengthening the period between the votes. Three years is not enough. If you carry No-licence in November, the licences run until the following May, and thus six months of that period are lost. Then the last six months of the period is spent in the struggle preparing for the next vote, so that really there are only two years in which it is possible to give the system a fair trial. In so short a period there is no possible chance of proving the full benefits of No-licence. I would ask the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to consider carefully whether or not he cannot extend the period between the votes, as I believe such extension would tend to weaken the intensity of the opposition to the Bill.
But, when all that is said and done, what is it that is being asked for to-day? It is the right of the people, the right of the common folk. Do not let us fiddle about now with committee points; what we are going to vote upon to-day is whether or not the people of Wales are to have the right to settle for themselves whether or not this traffic shall continue at their doors. That is democracy, and anyone who goes into the Lobby against democracy to-day upon some fiddling pretext about clubs, or about a period of three years or five years, or anything else, will sooner or later be compelled to justify, before the women and children of this country, the casting of a vote which means the physical, mental, moral and spiritual damnation of the people of this country. I know that what was said 1225 by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Mardy Jones) is perfectly correct, namely, that the roots of this drink traffic lie in our social system. That is perfectly true, and it is probably also perfectly true, although I am not so certain of it, that, if you abolished private interests in the liquor traffic, you would do something to mitigate its worst effects; but I do not think that merely changing the label on a beer bottle is going to affect the character of the contents of that bottle. Whether the stuff is sold over a municipal counter by a municipal employé, in a tankard stamped with the King's arms, or whether it is sold over a private-enterprise counter for profit, does not, I think, matter twopence. It is the stuff that is wrong. That is where I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) and disagree with the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). The Noble Lady would not go into the Lobby a year ago and vote with the hon. Member for Dundee for complete stoppage—
The hon. Member is now contradicting himself. He said that you have to educate the majority of the people before you can force anything upon them, and that is exactly what I said and always have said.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
A year ago, when the Bill of the hon. Member for Dundee was before the House, I said that I did not agree with any attempt to impose prohibition upon the people—
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Wait a minute—but that I regarded the introduction of his Measure as a direct challenge to the alcohol traffic, and so it was. If the Noble Lady believes to-day that we should not worry about the details of a Bill, but should merely vote upon the principle, she ought to have done it 12 months ago.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I have no doubt that the Noble Lady will be glad of a few red herrings to distract attention from the conclusions to which I am asking the House to direct its attention, but what is being fought for to-day is a big principle, namely, shall the people decide or shall they not? Although I, for one, am very 1226 desirous that this Bill should be radically amended, I trust that, in spite of the timorous and hesitant attitude adopted by my Front Bench, or by the majority of my Front Bench, the majority of the Labour Members of this House will walk into the Lobby and vote for the principle of democratic control, and that we shall have a large majority for the principle, leaving us all free, when we go upstairs. radically to alter some of the provisions of the Bill.
§ Mr. CLARRY
I rise to oppose this unwanted and unasked-for Measure. The hon. Member who has just sat down referred to the Scottish Act, but I am by no means convinced from what he said that it is successful. From the information available to me, I understand that there are 18 no-licence areas out of 257, and what we have been told about clubs would not appeal to anyone in favour of a Welsh Measure on similar lines. I am glad to hear that the Government are going to leave this matter to the free vote of the House. I think they are very wise in doing so. It would have done their party very considerable harm if they had gone for local option. The workers of this country have no desire for that when they really understand what it means. All my life I have worked amongst the workers of this country, and I claim that I understand what they require. They have a distinct leaning to moderation, and I, personally, detest excesses and drunkenness as much as any total abstainer in this House or in the country. I am happy to have the honour to represent the most important industrial area in Monmouthshire, namely, the borough of Newport. It so happens that Monmouthshire has been a sort of cockpit as regards this question for very many years. In 1921 the Sunday closing of public-houses was forced on the County of Monmouth. The privilege of opening on Sunday was unscrupulously taken from them without any mandate, and, if there had been any fairness about the present Measure, there would have been an endeavour to repeal that at least. But why should Monmouthshire be tacked on to Wales for purposes of licensing? Why not Shropshire, Cheshire or Herefordshire? Why limit it? I claim that they are frightened of the issue on the larger scale. It has been 1227 proved, I believe, through the working of the Scottish Act, that it is not successful in the smaller ward areas, and in this new Bill the areas have been enlarged, as one of the previous speakers has said, into territorial areas embracing towns and villages of various characters.
Let us for a moment examine the Bill, which I notice has not been done in any sort of detail by previous speakers. In Clause 9, which refers to the No-licence resolution and its operation, we find—I will only read the material words—… so long as a No-licence resolution is in force in any area, no person shall either by himself or by any servant or agent sell by retail … and the holder of a wholesale or manufacturer's licence shall not by virtue of his licence be entitled to sell any intoxicating liquor in the area except to a trader for the purpose of his trade or unless the liquor is to be delivered at an address outside the area, and it shall not be lawful to supply any intoxicating liquor in any club the premises whereof are situate in the area.I do not know whether this is a mistake in drafting, or merely an oversight of another character, but it will operate in this way. In two contiguous territories we will take an example of one dry and the other wet. Any householder in the dry area would be able to obtain from the neighbouring area, or a neighbouring dry area for that matter, delivered at his door all the liquor he wanted, so that the very person you wish to protect by this Bill, by keeping from him the operation of licences in that area, is not protected in the slightest from getting it immediately outside the area. In fact the ridiculous situation might be presented of persons in a dry area in Wales able to get all the liquor they wanted from a dry area in Scotland and vice versa. That is a sheer absurdity in the working of the Bill.
With regard to Clause 18, licences are only going to be granted annually, which depreciates the value of the premises very materially. No one can say it is a fair way of dealing with them. Clause 19 says:No compensation shall be payable in the event of the licensing justices refusing the renewal or a transfer of an old justices' on-licence.Then we come to Clause 20, with regard to the levy fund which has been accumulated by the licensees themselves for the 1228 purpose of compensation amongst themselves when licences are refused, and we find this extraordinary position. It says that after the passing of the Bill no charges shall be imposed, provided "as may be necessary," so that a licensee, while he has to look forward to no compensation whatever if his licence is taken away, has during that period to contribute through the levy for someone else whose licence was withdrawn prior to the passing of the Act. The next Sub-section says if there are any funds they shall be paid into the county or borough fund. Surely that is not a fair way. If there is a shortage the man who is going to lose his business is going to contribute. If there is a surplus it is taken by the borough fund. The licensing trade is a legitimate and a very necessary trade. Is that the way to treat a trade of that description, to brutally confiscate their assets in that manner? I claim that it is entirely unEnglish. There seems to be in this Measure also a vicious attack on clubs, which includes sports and athletics. In Newport I claim that I have the authority to represent, excluding the Sport Clubs, 9,000 members who desire to enter the strongest possible protest against this Bill. In addition to that, I think few hon. Members will dispute with me the number of communications I have received on the subject. I have received individual personal communications, for the Bill, 48; resolutions, in which no numbers are given, 20; against the Bill up to now 12,300 cards and letters from my own constituency, and I believe the Post Office are still struggling with half a sackful.
The question of democracy has arisen during the Debate. I do not in any way hirk the question of consulting the people. This question of local option and Sunday closing in Monmouthshire has been a live issue at the three elections which I have successfully contested during the last 14 months, and the issue has never been barked. I am prepared to trust the people. Are the total abstainers prepared to trust the people? If they mean what they say I understand local option is merely the forerunner to prohibition and after the obvious proofs of the past working of local option that it cannot be worked in localities, will they trust the people to the extent of dealing with it nationally on the major question of prohibition or not? I would support any 1229 Measure that came before the House that undertook to provide by referendum or other suitable means to consult the people as to whether the whole country should have prohibition or not, which is a proper, democratic way of dealing with the subject. Why is it that total abstainers, and people who are not themselves total abstainers when they desire to compulsorily make their fellow-citizens total abstainers, should misname anything in that direction by the word "temperance"? Temperance, if it means anything, means moderation. There is very little moderation in this Bill. If we in this country admit, which I do not, and I do not think the majority of the House does, that we are not a sober and temperate nation and admit that the moral and religious influence in this country has failed in its endeavours to make us sober and temperate, surely no Act of Parliament would make us so.
§ Mr. FOOT
I congratulate the hon. Member who has just spoken on a very strong argument in our favour. He has received an overwhelming appeal from people in his constituency declaring against the proposal. If there is anything whatever in his contention he has nothing in the Bill to fear. If, as I understand, his constituency, the men and women, almost the children, judging from the number of representations he has received are opposed to the Bill, the mere fact that they will have the power to express their opinion democratically and formally later on would surely make no difficulty for the licence holders.
§ Mr. CLARRY
I made the point that it was quite unworkable in the locality, but I am prepared to trust the people on a national basis.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am always interested in those Members who say, "I am strongly in favour of temperance, but not thus and not now." There are several speakers who appear on the platform and say, "I am in favour of temperance, but"—and that "but" is generally a barrel. I can only suggest that in this instance the speeches which have been made against the Bill have not been directed to the main issue, and I ask hon. Members on the Second Reading to have regard to the very powerful argument made just now by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. T. Johnston) which I believe will 1230 carry very great influence when we come to vote, that there is one vital issue in the Bill and all the other issues are secondary. I myself do not approve of several Clauses of the Bill, and I think in many respects the Amendments that he has suggested might very well be adopted. But directly when the decision is taken there will be a clear division between those who believe in the people themselves controlling this traffic and those who think it should still be under the control of the magistrates. The Mover of the Bill, in a speech on which we shall all congratulate him—a speech which should augur well for his future in this House—spoke of the Second Reading and the decision which will then be taken. I think the main issue is whether we shall have indirect control as it exists to-day or direct control. I ask the House to take the illustration of a community of 10,000 people. The whole of our licensing law is built up on a prohibitory basis. If you have a community of 10,000 people and in that community there are 20 licences, it means that under the existing law, which has existed for many generations, 9,980 people are prohibited from selling any liquor. Twenty people are given a special privilege or licence. That special privilege or licence is given to them not for their sakes, but in the supposed interest of the community. Who, therefore, ought to decide the number of those special licences but the community themselves? At present the licences are under the control of the magistrates, and magistrates, as we heard yesterday, are very often appointed for very doubtful reasons. Sometimes the magistrates are qualified to judge and sometimes they are not qualified to judge. Sometimes the magistrates who decide upon the number of licences in a locality have no personal knowledge of the locality. Generally speaking, they are not the persons who use the public-house. It is an unanswerable contention that what so closely affects the interests of the community should be decided by the community themselves. That is the Gibraltar of the situation.
I hope that hon. Members will not give their attention to the subsidiary Clauses of the Bill and forget the main issue. As there are many Members who wish to speak, I will confine my remarks to the clubs. Criticism has been 1231 directed against the Mover of the Bill, because he has included clubs. Having regard to the circumstances, he would have been guilty of political cowardice if he had failed to include them. I do not live in Scotland, but I have heard something of the Scottish experience, and something of the bitter feelings of the people there when, after the fight has been finished, and after the sweat and labour of the struggle, they thought that they would be able to declare a district dry, a club was established in their midst, contrary to their intentions. That is a very valid criticism, and having regard to that experience, the hon. Member would have been acting unwisely had he failed to tackle clubs on this occasion. I have no quarrel with the well-conducted club; but it is time that the Members of this House took their courage in both hands and tackled the club which is not a bonâ fide club but a disguised drinking shop. I have had sent to me the "Club and Institute Journal," which contains a number of arguments which are supposed to influence Members of this House. I think it is unfortunate that this paper was sent to us. If hon. Members will look at the paper they will see that it is quite clear that the paper is dependent upon the big liquor interests for a very large number of advertisements, without which, I suppose, the paper could not be made to pay.
§ Mr. FOOT
You say I know nothing about them. I have the opportunity of studying the newspapers from day to day, and I would refer my hon. Friend, with whom I have no personal quarrel, to the newspapers that have appeared in the last day or two. Yesterday in the "Morning Advertiser," a paper which is not prejudiced in favour of temperance reform, there were a large number of complaints against this Bill. The paper also contained an account of certain Brewster Sessions. Here is a quotation from yesterday's "Morning Advertiser" with respect to licensing matters at Wolverhampton:The Chief Constable again called attention to the difference between the control of clubs and licensed premises, saying that the main objects of both were in so many respects alike that it was impossible to reconcile the great dissimilarity that existed in the law relating to them. Before clubs were registered, more stringent conditions should be made than at present. The number of clubs throughout the country had so greatly increased that the matter called for urgency legislation and he suggested that Wolverhampton might take a lead in the matter. The Chairman said that they agreed with the Chief Constable's observations as to the control of clubs.In the same paper, in the next paragraph, there is a reference to the Licensing Sessions of Liverpool, where the chairman of the licensing committee, Mr. J. Harrison Jones, referred particularly to clubs, and said that the justices had no control over the licensing of clubs. An application was made on behalf of a club to the clerk to the Justices, and the chairman said that he had no option but to place the club on the register; not only that, but the police had very limited powers. He said:The police could not do what they could do in regard to ordinary licensed premises, namely, visit the premises regularly. There were in Liverpool 119 clubs, and now that the number of public houses was being consider- 1233 ably reduced, there was a danger that these clubs might become a serious source of danger.That followed upon a very striking declaration made only a few days ago. I quote from a Yorkshire newspaper, referring to the licensing Session at Leeds. There, the Chairman, Sir George Cockburn, made some very strong remarks on clubs. Referring to the increased drunkenness figures in Leeds shown by the Chief Constable's report, Sir George saidthat a large part of this increase was attributable to the registered clubs, although to some extent it might also be due to the reduction in prices. He wished it to be understood that there were not a few clubs to which no exception could be taken, but there were many which existed for no other purpose than the supplying of drink. 'The conduct of some clubs during the year has been highly reprehensible. The law as to permitted hours in clubs is practically a dead letter. Whilst refusals of licences on compensation grounds have accounted for a decrease of 13 per cent. in the number of licensed houses throughout the country, there has been a concurrent increase of 61 per cent. in the number of registered clubs. In effect, this amounts to a substitution of uncontrolled clubs for regulated public-houses. Last year we were made to pay £3,500 compensation for the licence of a small and most undesirable beerhouse. I am creditably informed that negotiations are now in progress to re-open those very premises as a club, and, as the law stands, nothing is easier.'I submit that upon the evidence not merely of the Justices, whom I have named, but magistrates who sit in many other parts of the country also, there is a recognition of the growing danger, and I think the most ominous part of it is that there has arisen a most formidable political power. The dictorial methods which they adopt at the time of an election is something to which this House will have to give attention later on. There is a real danger—I am not speaking of the bona fide club, but the club that is simply a drinking house—that if their power increases they will, before long, be able to make and unmake Governments, and there will be a large number of Members in this House who will depend upon that servile tenure. I know something of this, because I have seen something of the operation of these clubs.
§ Mr. FOOT
I have seen something of the operation of these clubs in Plymouth 1234 and the West of England. I am glad to think that I come from a part of the country where we have live Members representing one county, and every one of the five Members is sent here pledged to the policy contained in this Bili—a very excellent example from the Western Counties, and if the hon. and gallant Member will go through the pages of English history, he will see that all great movements started in the West of England. There is, in my opinion, often more danger of young men going wrong owing to association with a club than by visits to public-houses. I am aware of the figures quoted to-day about drunkenness. I listened with great interest to what was said by the representative of the Government about drunkenness. Those of us who think that this Bill will bring about immediate reform do not measure this evil in terms of drunkenness. Searching my memory, I can recall many cases of homes which were made bankrupt and children who were robbed of what was due to them concerning which there was never a paragraph in any newspaper, never any appearance before a police court and never any entry in the record of a chief constable.
It is because this Bill not only asserts that main principle, but because it is the first really effective step to deal with what I regard as a growing evil that I shall give it my hearty support. I can only hope that my friends of the Labour party will realise that the essential question is whether we shall have, as now, an indirect undemocratic control or a direct and democratic control. I may take an illustration which came within my personal knowledge in the county which was referred to just now. In a parish in Cornwall there was one licensed house up to a year or two ago. That house has been closed down because three or four people formed themselves into a private syndicate, bought the property, and closed the licensed house against the protest of many people in the parish. I want to know why if those people should have this power why the people in the parish should not be able to exercise a similar power?
I cannot understand the professions of support of democracy by those who deny support to this Bill which gives democratic power. So far as those on the other side of the House are concerned I can 1235 make no appeal, but in reference to those who sit with me on these benches I should not have very much belief in the party with which I am associated if we were prepared to cut this proposal or some proposal like it out of this Bill, because in this House we are associated with a manifesto which puts this as one of the essential parts of our policy. Standing in the Lobby is a statue of Sir William Harcourt, and I would like to refer hon. Members to the life of Sir William Harcourt which was written not long ago by Mr. Gardiner. Sir William Harcourt was a man who, in spite of all his predilections and early training, came to support this Bill because of the result of his own experience at the Home Office, where he found that this problem was so associated with the evils which afflicted the people that he was bound to give support to this Measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Mardy Jones) admitted that drink was connected with every social evil. There is not a Member on those benches concerned with the social condition of the people who will not agree that every social problem which we have got will be made easier of solution when we have tackled the liquor question. Such problems are the campaign against tuberculosis, the campaign against venereal disease, and the provision of housing. It is impossible to speak of any one of our social problems which is not locked and interlocked with the problem of drink. When Sir William Harcourt was defeated on the Local Option Bill in 1895, he went down with flying colours, but just before his defeat he said:The Liberal Government stand firm by the Bill which I had the honour to introduce, and I had then and I have now their undivided support. I believe from the bottom of my heart that of all the social reforms it is the most necessary, the most urgent, and the most beneficial, and, if I suspected that the Liberal party or Government intended to play false to the cause of temperance I should indeed believe that the Liberal faith had been betrayed.It is not a cause which has been casually taken up by the party on these benches. I think that it is an essential part of our policy, and I think that if anyone upon these benches goes against the principle of this Measure then, though he may be concerned about his constituents, he has forgotten the history of his party. It is 1236 a good Bill, and I shall support it not only on the Second Reading but on subsequent stages. It has behind it, I believe, not only the majority of this House, but also the great majority of the women of this country who are so vitally concerned with the home conditions on which the permanent welfare of the country must be based.
Mr. A. HENDERSON, junior
I must crave the indulgence of the House which is always extended to a New Member when he addresses it for the first time. Unlike the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs, I am an Englishman by birth, though I represent a Welsh constituency. But, having regard to the wide interest displayed in this Bill throughout Wales, I feel it my duty to take part in this Debate and to define my position. I must confess that during the past few days this matter has given me cause for serious consideration. No one can deny that what is known as the drink problem has important if not endless consequences, and is a matter which must be faced not only by our country but by this House. I have not been assisted in this matter by the amount and variety of the advice which I have received. I have received on the one hand, I think, over 7,000 letters or postcards calling upon me to oppose this Bill. I think that 99 per cent. of them were printed, and it would be very interesting to know how they were distributed. On the other hand, the temperance people of this country might realise that there is something to be said for propaganda. That is demonstrated by the fact that I personally have not received more than about 20 or 30 communications from Cardiff in support of this vital Measure. But as a supporter of a wise Measure of temperance reform, I am going to support this Bill.
It is a Bill which embodies the principle of local option which is a democratic principle. It will allow the inhabitants of a particular district or locality to determine what drinking facilities are to exist in the district, and I believe that it will impose on the people of the particular localities a greater measure of responsibility in respect of the moral and social conditions which exist there. I would also suggest that this Measure is an essential step in the development of that public opinion which must be educated, not only from one point of view, but from 1237 all points of view, when we come to decide such questions as we are concerned with to-day. This Bill offers local choice between different proposals for dealing with the drink traffic, and therefore, in my opinion, it is entitled to the support of those who are concerned with the welfare of our community.
Local Option may be said to be an extension of the principle of local self-government. In all matters of social policy it should be permissible, and it is desirable, that social improvements should be advanced by a progressive municipal authority when it may be that from the national point of view little progress can be made. Of course, I am quite prepared to admit that if this Bill contains any repressive measures it might be a matter not for local but rather for national determination; but in my opinion this Bill does not contain any repressive measures whatever. It certainly has a restricted number of options, and personally I would have been much more in favour of the proposals contained in the Liquor (Popular Control) Bill which the Bishop of Oxford introduced in another place and which the Noble Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) made herself responsible for in this House. At the same time we have to realise that the particular option in respect of limitation, at any rate, so far as we can gather in relation to Scotland, has not been a success. Judging from the figures which represent the number of votes cast in favour of limitation, it would appear that it has not been of great consequence in Scotland. I support what was said by the Noble Member for Sutton, that it would have been far better for this Bill if there had been a greater number of options, and of options such as would provide for the re-organisation of the liquor traffic. However, I shall support this Bill, because I believe it embodies a democratic principle which cannot be opposed by anyone who believes in democracy.
I do not say that I agree entirely with the Bill. I am going to risk incurring the wrath of the Noble Member for Sutton by saying that I do not agree with the provisions of Part III as they now stand. I think there is a distinction between the bona fide club 1238 and the drinking club. The bona fide club, whether it be the National Liberal Club or a working men's club, exists for the development of the recreational, social and educational side of its members' life. We should be shutting our eyes to actual facts if we were to deny that state of affairs. On the other hand there are very few members of this House who would be prepared for one moment to lengthen the existence of what are known as drinking clubs. At the same time the question might be approached from another angle. We shall have to face this question sooner or later. I disagree with putting all clubs under the magistrates. In the Bill there is no distinction made between clubs, and all have to come under the control of magistrates. The vast percentage of clubs are working men's clubs, but nearly all benches of magistrates have a majority of gentlemen who do not belong to the working classes, and the working men of this country, rightly or wrongly, suspect the impartiality of those benches of magistrates. So long as the magistracy is predominantly composed of gentlemen from other classes we must realise that members of the working-class clubs will always suspect any proposals which will put them and their clubs under such benches of magistrates.
I am very anxious that this Bill should pass its Second Reading to-day. I would like to suggest to those who are responsible for the Bill that they should withdraw Part III. That may seem a very sweeping statement to make, but I am sure that if that course were taken the Bill would be passed. Many hon. Members who intend to oppose the Bill on this or that ground would find it very difficult to go into the Lobby against the Bill if Part III were eliminated. If the promoters of the Bill are not prepared to take that course I shall still vote for the Second Reading, but I want to make it quite clear that I reserve for myself the right in Committee to bring forward Amendments which, I believe, will have the effect of securing full and equitable treatment for all bona fide clubs. Having said that, I would call upon all hon. Members who take the view that Local Option is a democratic principle which will work to the benefit of the community in tackling this great problem to support the Bill to-day.
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
Intemperance is unquestionably one of the greatest vices from which the human race suffers, and anything that we can do to get rid of it ought to be done. This Bill, which is said to promote temperance in Wales, does not help to do it, and I cannot help feeling that it is both immoral and unfair. We allow the manufacture of liquor. We levy high taxes on it for the benefit of the people and so reduce our other taxes. We allow that liquor to be sold. If the liquor is bad for our people we ought not to allow it to be sold. We certainly ought not to allow 51 per cent. of the people to inflict the drinking of it on the remainder. If drink is bad stop the making of it. My belief is that you will reduce intemperance by education, by teaching the young, by means of Bills like that which was introduced by the hon. Member for Sutton last year. You will get temperance in that way, but you will not get it by allowing the liquor to be made and then restricting the hours during which and the places where it is to be consumed. As long as liquor is legal, as long as we allow it to be made and consumed in certain places, it is not right to do away with the licensed premises or the clubs that are used by people who cannot have well stocked sideboards and cellars; it is not fair to the man who cannot afford to buy his liquor and stock it and drink it when he likes. I feel strongly about the need for temperance and that is one of the reasons why I am an ardent supporter of better housing schemes. If you will give the people better education and better houses they will not want to be flocking to public houses where they cannot even sit down to make themselves comfortable. If the people had decent homes to go to there would be a great deal less intemperance in this country.
§ Mrs. WINTRINGHAM
I should like to offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for South Cardiff (Mr. A. Henderson, junior) upon his very excellent speech to-day on the subject of temperance. The principles of the Bill before the House have been very carefully explained. Its provisions have been gone into in detail, and I think there is overwhelming evidence that history shows this Measure to be long overdue for Wales. The history of granting licences for the sale of alcohol is rather interesting. Up to 1870 there 1240 was a kind of free trade in the granting of licences. Any person could obtain a licence by merely making an application and paying the sum of £2 2s. When 1870 came so many convictions for drunkenness were shown that it was decided to put the granting of licences under the control of the Justices, and the question now arises in this Bill: Are the magistrates the best people to grant licences, or should it be left to the electors themselves? We have had a great many arguments for and against. Local Option today. The objection has been raised that it curtails the liberty of the individual. I am a great individualist. I do not believe anyone has any right to interfere with the individual unless it can be proved that the interference is going to be good for the individual or that it is going to be in the interests of the community.
We can fairly say that the interference proposed in this Bill would be good for the individual. It would raise the standard of life without imposing any taxation on the people. It would allow of more money for things such as social reform, better clothing, better housing, better food, and better conditions for the individual generally. As a rule, the more alcohol is consumed the less food is consumed. The Bill also provides for the better health of the individual, because alcohol has a very serious effect upon health. It would also tend to secure better offspring, for there is no doubt about the fact that the money spent in drink is often given to that purpose at the expense of the children. Wages are small enough, and it is very difficult for the wife of the working man to make the money go as far as she wants it to go at the present time, but if a proportion is spent in drink it has a very serious effect, and, generally, it is the children who suffer. In short, a Measure of Local Option and a lessening of licences would improve the spending capacity, the mental capacity and the physical capacity of the people. Then a limitation of licences would also be a benefit to the community. It would save the money and improve the efficiency of the community. The money which the community has to spend on police, prisons and asylums would be considerably reduced. In my own constituency, in one town where a licence was applied for, it was stated by the licensing justices that the licence would be granted on 1241 condition that the applicant paid an amount equal to a policeman's wages. That showed that the justices felt sure the police costs were bound to go up where licences were granted. In Wales alone in 1922, £20,000,000 was spent on drink, and I think the women of Wales would have preferred it if that £20,000,000 had been spent in constructive measures rather than wasted on drink. Expenditure on drink does not provide capital for trade, improve the efficiency of labour or improve the status of the people. As regards the efficiency of the community, the present time is one when we need all our reserve forces, and the efficiency of our industrial population in the future is all important if we are to compete against other countries. The principle of local option is not new. All laws are interferences with something or other and are therefore curtailments of individual liberty or restrictions of individual freedom. It does not matter whether they are dealing with conditions of labour or with sanitation or the making of education compulsory. These are all laws, which to some extent, interfere with the individual. Legislation is the making of laws to deal with evils and all legislation is legitimate if you can prove that the evil against which it is directed is a real one, that the public has a right to deal with it, that the remedy is democratic and that the remedy is likely to be effective. The evil in this case has certainly been proved to be a real one by the number of convictions and crimes each year. The remedy proposed is democratic because it will be in the hands of the people.
I am amazed at members of the Labour party who state they do not feel they can support a Measure of this kind. I was interested to read the report of the Labour committee on temperance sent up a little time ago. That committee reported that it was a very serious thing that there should be a diversion of labour which could be applied in directions much more valuable to the community, and it pointed out that three-quarters of the quantity and half the cost of the alcohol consumed was consumed by four-fifths of the workers. It pointed out that a large proportion of the expenditure of the country is directly due to alcoholic excess, such as expenditure on poor houses, 1242 prisons, asylums and so forth. It referred to the very serious physiological effect of alcohol on the people, on their physical strength and their mental capacity, and it said that alcohol was unnecessary for hard labour. At present we are faced with this Bill for Wales, and no doubt Members of the House have been inundated with postcards and circulars against it. I think it would be very interesting to analyse them, and to show that while they have come from clubs and ether institutions, as the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Lady Astor) says, it is very difficult to find a single petition against the Bill that has come from the wife of a clubman. I am all for clubs. I think they play a very important part in the life of our country, particularly in the rural districts. They can develop the social instinct, but I think it is a great pity that drink should be allowed to enter into that development of the social instinct. I have been connected with the women's institutes, which represent a movement for the bringing together of women in rural districts for social purposes. I have never yet heard of a women's institute applying for a licence, and I think if women's institutes can be run for the uplifting of the rural community in this way, it is quite possible that men's institutes could be run in the same way. One hears of 97 clubs in Wales, in 1922, spending a sum of £416,000, which is £13 per head per member. I think the 498,000 women electors in Wales are well able to give their opinion in this matter and should be allowed to have their say whether they will have drink in their midst or not. When we think of one licensed house to every 90 families, I think we must recognise that the time has come for the women to express an opinion. One is reminded of a picture in "Punch" showing a little child, who has stumbled against a stone, turning to his mother and saying, "Why don't you look where I am going." I think that represents the attitude which the women of this country should take up to the children. The responsibility of this House is very great. Parliament exists for the happiness, well-being and protection of all the people, and it is the bounden duty of all men and women of goodwill to curtail the activities of a trade which has brought infinite misery into the lives and homes of countless thousands.
§ Mr. TOOLE
I desire to claim the indulgence of the House in making this, my first, speech in it. When I was as elected I did not expect to take part in a Debate on this question, but I have had a few postcards! As a matter of fact, I have been informed that at my residence the postman has gone bow-legged this week, delivering letters. I want to express my disapproval of the Bill now before the House, and very much regret that our Front Bench did not give us a straighter lead upon this question. The Government on an issue of this description ought to know exactly where it stands. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) twitted the Labour party with the fact, as she suggested, that they had joined forces with the trade. That is absolutely untrue. We on this side have built up this great party, and become the Government of this country in spite and in the teeth of the opposition of the trade, and thrusts of that description come very badly, I suggest, from people sitting on the side of the House which represents the trade, and which, for the last 50 years, has used every public house in Great Britain as a committee room against the Labour party of this country.
With regard to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris), I have been wondering during this Debate whether he really represents Welsh opinion. It has been claimed that this is the desire of the democracy of Wales, but I do not think so. As a matter of fact, judging by the scores of opinions I have had in Manchester from Wales, there are many people in Wales who disagree with the Bill. First of all, I should like to know if the hon. Member for Cardigan mentioned local option in his election address, and whether it was a first class issue in his contest. I have a cutting here from the "Western Mail"—a Welsh newspaper. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tory."] I suppose even Tories can tell the truth occasionally. The writer says:If Mr. Hopkin Morris, the Member for Cardigan, had not thrown his cards on the table during the election campaign to the extent that he did, it is rather doubtful whether he would have become our representative in Parliament.This is in a Welsh newspaper, and I suppose even this Welshman had a right to express an opinion. Later, he points 1244 out that the results of this Local Option Bill would have a very serious and damaging effect upon holiday and seaside resorts in Wales, if they exercised one of the options contained in the Bill. It has been claimed that this is a democratic Bill, but it is not democratic. In the first place, to be really democratic, the initiative in the matter of options should be left entirely with the people who are concerned. Why should you say, "No change," "No licence" and "Limitation" only? Why should you not say, "Extended facilities," if necessary? Of course, I know why you do not, because, as a matter of fact, it is not local option you want. It is in the hope and belief that you will get prohibition. Why are you not honest about it? You might at least confess that this is a pussyfoot method of introducing prohibition into Wales, in the ultimate hope of introducing prohibition into England. There is no member in this House who could win a seat in this country in Wales, or in Scotland, on the subject of prohibition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Dundee."] After all, there are freaks everywhere.
Is the suggestion that the people of Wales are drinking people? It has been pointed out by the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs that drunkenness in Wales is on the decrease. Drunkenness in this country, too, is on the decrease, and I attribute that largely to the very wise legislation introduced during the War by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). It is one of the wise things he has done, and it certainly has brought about a more sobering effect upon the community. The average man and woman is not a drunkard, and particularly the average working man and woman. They are clean, honest, straightforward, sober people, as a rule. I speak as one with some few years' experience as a magistrate, and every time that I go to the police courts in Manchester I see the same type of face and, as a matter of fact, in nearly every instance, the same individual, cropping up every month charged with the same offence of being drunk. Habitual drunkenness is more a question of mentality than anything else. I have in my mind's eye now a gentleman who visited me in the police court once every three months. You might leave him in your home, 1245 and leave your silver or your money about, and leave anything you care for about, but if you left a ham about that was his. He had a weakness for stealing hams. We have another gentleman who has a weakness for stealing bicycles, and I suppose this is in the same category as the man who has a weakness for habitually becoming drunk. There are two types of habitual drunkards. There is the habitual drunkard of the lower order in Society, who does not know the difference between a 10s. taxi fare and 40s. and costs, and the gentleman who frequents the Savoy and, if he has not brains enough to understand the difference, at least has enough money to tell the doorkeeper to understand the difference. I suggest that the moderate use of alcohol is not injurious either to the individual or the nation. We all know that for medicinal purposes it is very useful. The average man is a moderate user of alcohol. Personally, I would not like to see in this or any other country alcohol completely abolished. There is a difference in temperament between the man who drinks moderately and the man who drinks nothing at all. I would prefer to sit round the conference table to discuss any question with a moderate user of alcohol than with a prohibitionist. There is a difference in temperament and outlook. There is a more jovial feeling.
§ Mr. TOOLE
I want the hon. Member for Cardiganshire to consider the effect of this Bill upon the Welsh seaside resorts. I have been in Wales once or twice on a Sunday, and have been very glad to get out of it. But I have friends who have been known to get a drink in Wales, even on a Sunday. They were law breakers. I would not do that, of course. For a district like Llandudno, residential as it is, to vote itself dry would have a damaging effect upon trade, because visitors would decrease in the summer time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] As a matter of fact, 50 per cent. of the visitors come from my part of the country, and I know the people; I live among them. For many years the party with whom I am associated have been taunted with the fact that if ever we came into power, we should confiscate other people's property. We discover now that the Liberal party are the confiscators. Simply to 1246 give the right and the power in a district to take away licences wholesale, where interest has become vested in them, is nothing more than confiscation.
Why should we always be interfering with the private habits of the working classes? Would any hon. Member tell me what there is morally wrong or socially wrong in the club life of the ordinary working men's club? With very great respect, I question very much whether the Noble Lady who spoke of the lives of working women really thoroughly understands the lives of the working classes of this country. In the district in which I live, right amongst the poorest section of Manchester, I know that club life—clean club life at that—is a boon and a blessing to thousands of working men, who come back to homes unfit to live in, cheap, shoddy, narrow places, where there is not room even for themselves and their families. I have in my mind one particular person with whom I am acquainted. He never goes home until an hour after the children have arrived, because there is not room for him to sit down with his wife and family to the evening meal. I am convinced that if, instead of merely wasting the time of this House in interfering with the liberties of sections of the population, a real effort on the part of all parties was made to improve the housing and social conditions of the people, we should do much more for temperance than by Measures such as this.
I wonder what the dockers of South Wales think of this Bill. I wonder what the colliers and steel smelters of South Wales think of this Bill. I remember, during the War, the right hon. Gentleman, who was at one time Minister of Pensions, making a speech in Manchester, and pointing out that it was thoroughly impossible for the men engaged in the steel-smelting industry to do without beer. We had an experience at the docks at Salford during the War when beer was restricted. The men actually refused to work until beer was sent down in sufficient quantities. It may be good or bad, but we ought to recognise that it is a habit in this country amongst millions. We ought to recognise it as such, and permit it, even if it is an evil to a certain extent, and not try to prevent those who desire these things from getting it.
1247 This is not the first time that a Bill of this description has been introduced. I believe this is the eighteenth occasion, and each Bill has met with a similar fate to what I expect this Bill will meet with to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I said "to what I expect." Of course, the difficulty about this subject is that all kinds of special pleadings take place to persuade one which way to vote. I have a leaflet from the British Temperance League making the extraordinary claim that the weekly expenditure on drink is £7,000,000, and that this is the main cause of bad trade and unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Prime Minister pointed out that the reason for unemployment was that we had not got protection, and the Prime Minister pointed out that the reason for unemployment was the international situation. It is certainly new to me that unemployment is due to the £7,000,000 spent on drink, forgetting as they do that £4,000,000 of that goes in taxation. Personally, I may say that I can either do with or without beer. Those who can do with or without it, usually do with it. It reminds me of a certain gentleman who was asked his opinion of Guinness' stout. He said it was both food and drink; and a night's lodging if you got enough of it.
I am absolutely convinced that true temperance reform must start with the individual. It is no use trying to introduce repressive legislation to compel people to be teetotal. Nobody asks a man to drink if that man does not want to. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Well, you try me and see! If you cannot get a change of heart and a change of mind into the people of this country it is no use legislating for them. The man who takes too much drink is dealt with by nature. That, I think, we must admit. As I said in the early part of my statement the average person is not a drunkard. There are, I know, isolated cases where the children are neglected as the consequence of the drink. [Interruption.] I do not know why my speech so disturbs hon. Members on the opposite benches—
§ Mr. TOOLE
I think we might considerably improve the matter in favour of temperance if the licensing magistrates were a little more tolerant than they are in this country. I know one street in Manchester where there are 52 publichouses—52 dirty, dingy, drinking dens. If an effort were made by the industry to supplant these 52 houses with five really decent palatial buildings, I think it would be well. I do not see why we should not. Places like the Savoy should be the monopoly of the rich. I do not see why the workman ought not to be able to take his wife or daughter into a public-house with the same self-respect that the Noble Lady opposite would take her friend into the Hotel Cecil. Whenever an effort is made, however, to improve the conditions under which people consume alcoholic liquor objection is always raised before the licensing magistrates. Surely there ought to be a certain freedom given to every section of the community?
In this matter, I suppose, that England to-day must save Wales, and in saving Wales, England will also be saving herself. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is your point of view."] That is the only point of view I am expressing, surely! Prohibition is not the only thing Wales deserves, and I rather wonder if I ought not to vote for this Bill to-day as a punishment to Wales. I think they deserve it. I feel convinced that this Bill is on entirely wrong lines. The initiative ought to be given to the people in the district and not fixed by this House. They are the people who ought to decide. To take away in the wholesale manner that this Bill proposes the living, not only of the people who hold licences, not only the stewards of clubs, but the hundreds of thousands who supply all the facilities and equipment for these institutions, will have a most damaging effect upon trade. I therefore hope that this Bill will be defeated.
§ Major OWEN
As a new and an inexperienced Member of the House, I feel confident that I can safely rely upon the kindness and courtesy of the House which is always shown to hon. Members who make a first speech. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the Debate. Personally, I stand here as a Welshman and as the representative of a Welsh constituency, claiming to know 1249 something about the demands of the country to which I belong and the nationality of which I am proud to be a member. I support this Measure for three reasons. I support it because Wales demands it. I support it because the existing licensing arrangements for dealing with the drink problem have proved ineffective and abortive throughout the country. Thirdly, I support it because the present Bill is in line with the best and most advanced thought throughout the whole world. I do not propose to go over again in detail what has been said on the question of local option in Wales. I am quite satisfied to know that this matter has been put already before the House adequately and explicitly by previous speakers. That Wales, however, does demand, and has insisted upon its rights to special treatment in this question of temperance legislation, there is no doubt whatever.
For nearly 40 years Wales has insisted upon its right of self-determination in this respect, and has consistently returned to this House an overwhelming majority of its own Members pledged to support the principle embodied in this Bill. There is no subject, perhaps, on which there is so much diversity of opinion as on the drink question—on drink itself and on alcohol as such, and on the methods that should be adopted to deal with the problem that arises out of the drink question. On this subject the proverb applies: "So many men, so many opinions." But there is one point on which there is practically complete and universal agreement and unanimity throughout the country. All who have studied the question of the drink problem agree, at any rate, that there are too many licensed houses. This point has been emphasised, and is constantly being emphasised by the various authorities and by various people throughout the country. Take, for example, the Majority Report of Lord Peel's Commission in 1896. This is what it says:It is generally admitted that the number of licences in a great part of England and Wales is in excess of requirements.The Report further says:A large reduction is much to be desired.It goes further still—We regard a large reduction of licences as essential."1250 The Minority Report, drawn up mainly by members of the trade, is equally explicit and emphatic. They state:No doubt can be felt as to the immediate and crying necessity for a large reduction.That is the evidence of an impartial body of people chosen by this House to report to it on this question of the redundancy of licences in the country. Apart altogether from that Report, that the number of licences is largely in excess of reasonable requirements, has been the assumption of all legislation undertaken by this House for at least 150 years. If hon. Members require any confirmation of this, I would refer them to this little book which was written by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in collaboration with his gifted wife, entitled, "The History of Liquor Licensing in England." If further testimony were required that there is a redundancy and overplus of licences in this country, we only need to look at the action of the trade itself at all Brewster Sessions. If there is application for a new licence the trade itself opposes it and uses every endeavour to stop any more licences being granted. There is undoubtedly unanimity on the question that there is a redundancy of licences in this country. The authorities on the question are not so unanimous or in such complete agreement as to the number of licences that should be permitted.
The House would agree that one licensed house for every thousand inhabitants is adequate to supply all reasonable needs. The Government Bill of 1908 which was passed by a majority of 237 in this House allowed for Wales a maximum of 2,670 and a minimum of 1,363 licenses. It was because the evil was so urgent, and in order to facilitate a reduction of licences that the Conservative Government of 1904 passed the Licensing Act known as the Balfour Act. There were great hopes raised throughout the country that the necessary reductions would be speedily effected but how has it operated? The Under-Secretary for the Home Department has given some figures this morning and I propose to supplement them.
In 1904 there were 6,716 on and off-licences in Wales excluding Monmouthshire, for a population of 1,714,000. That works out at one public-house for every 1251 255 inhabitants. In 1922 there were 5,454 such licences for a population of 2,025,000, or one licence for every 371 inhabitants. On the basis of one licence for 1,000 inhabitants there are in Wales 3,429 licences in excess of requirement. That is the result after 18 years' working of the Balfour Act. In some parts of Wales to-day, instead of there being one licence for every 1,000 inhabitants there is still actually one licence for every 100 inhabitants. The Act, therefore, has not at any period effected the reduction it should have done. The rate of reduction to-day, in fact, is considerably slower than it ever has been before. During the first five years of the operation of the Act 455 public-houses were closed, the average being 91 per annum. In the last five years 220 public-houses only have been closed, or an average of only 44 per annum, or loss than one-half of the average for the former period.
There are two explanations offered for this slow reduction. One is that in 1905 the amount paid into the compensation fund in England and Wales was £1,136,098. In 1922 that sum was only £850,000. In other words, in the case of the compensation fund the levy has not been strictly imposed by the magistrates in the country. In the second place, the amount paid in compensation for licences has almost trebled in the period under consideration. The average for England and Wales for 1905 was £614. In 1922 the average was £1,784. In Cardiff in 1922, although they imposed the full levy, the sum obtained was a little over £7,000, and the closing of one public-house alone in that city cost the sum of £5,000. It is obvious, therefore, that the Act as it exists cannot deal with this important and difficult question, and it is because the need is so geat, so urgent, and so clamant, and because all other methods have proved unavailing, that I support the present Bill.
Parliament has failed, and the Justices have failed, to solve this problem. All we ask for in Wales is to give the people a chance to solve this problem for themselves, and let it be put on their shoulders to work out their own salvation. The late Prime Minister, in quoting the Kings Speech, referred to the readiness of this country—and he did so with the approval 1252 of the House—to enable the United States of America to do as they pleased with regard to this traffic, without interference from countries outside, and we ask no more from this House. As Welsh people and as a constituent portion of this great Empire, we ask no more than the same right which this House readily gave to the United States to work out for ourselves this great and very difficult problem. In spite of what the Opposition may say and in spite of what the last speaker has said, I wish to say that I know from personal experience—having been brought up in the country—that the people desire this reform, and it is one of the greatest desires of that country to clear the way for the younger generation, to have their path made smooth, and the difficulties that arise from this very serious and very dangerous traffic removed for all time.
§ Rear-Admiral Sir GUY GAUNT
When I rise to address this House I generally find myself speaking against one of these patent liquor Bills. In considering Measures of this kind I get so nervous that I look casually at a policeman when I pass him, wondering whether he approves of the way I am walking or not. Most of those who have spoken in favour of this Bill seem to have more or less assumed that those who oppose it are against temperance, but that is very wrong. I am in favour of temperance all the way, but I am opposed to the way in which you are trying to get it, because in my view you are just going the way not to get temperance. It has been said that the trade is always against a Bill of this sort. Of course the members of the trade are against such proposals, and they would be fools if they were not. It is only a very small band of fanatics who support this Measure.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to know, Mr. Speaker, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite in order in calling people who happen to differ from him "fanatics"?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should have thought that the hon. Member for Dumbarton would have taken that as a compliment. I assume that the hon. and gallant Member means "enthusiasts."
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I very gladly withdraw the phrase if it gives any offence at all, and I will call myself a fanatic on the other side and the hon. Member an enthusiast. This Bill seems to me to be a fraud, because it is nothing but Prohibition in batches. Why do not hon. Members go in for Prohibition all the way and make a job of it? Take the Preamble. It says:A Bill to promote temperance in Wales by conferring on the electors in prescribed areas control over the grant and renewal of licences.That statement is absolutely untrue. It does not do anything of the sort. The Bill would not confer on the electors, even by the unanimous vote of every elector in the area, the power to grant the renewal of licences in that area. The power remains with the licensing Justices only. A section of the people, however, are empowered to limit or to take away licences. Surely that is a very different thing. Again, hon. Members make this out to be a democratic move. I deny that in every possible way. A bare majority of those who happen to vote, and they may be a small minority of the whole electorate, can carry a "no-licence" resolution. I will give an example, if I may. Take a poll of 100 persons. If 34 vote for no change, 31 for limitation, and 35 for no licences, then Prohibition is forced on the area by 35 per cent. of those who poll and not of the total electorate.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I will give another case. The converse is even more amazing. If 49 vote for no change, 25 for limitation and 26 for no licences, then the minority of 25 carries a limitation of licences resolution, because automatically they receive the votes of the 26 who want prohibition. Surely I am right in that interpretation of paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of Clause 3. Ifthe No-Licence Resolution is not carried, the votes recorded in favour of that resolution shall be deemed to have been recorded 1254 in favour of the limiting resolution and shall be added to the votes recorded in favour thereof.That is a pretty strong point. Of course, the penalties to be inflicted are going to frighten the lives out of some of us. I play golf and it is pretty stiff if I am to be torn from the loving arms of my wife for six months because I have a drink with a friend and consume it off the premises. Hon. Members say that Wales wants the Bill. I am afraid that. I have hardly been to Wales, and I know little about it, except that it consists principally of scenery and, I understand, goats and other things. If you have local option there, you have a perfectly good country for starting private stills. Only last week at Aberystwith in the constituency of the hon. Member (Mr. Morris) who brought forward this Bill—I have a cold in the head, it is true, but I am a little bit doubtful whether I have pronounced it right or not—there was a meeting. I see from the "Gazetteer" that the total population is 8,411, and, according to the newspaper report which I have before me, some 2,000 adults voted against the Bill and 37 in favour of it.
The hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) quoted the Colonies, where they have local option. I happen to be a colonial, and this is what has happened during these periods that local option has been in force. In Canada in 1900 there were 23 convictions per 10,000 of the population for drunkenness and in 1913 when local option had become thoroughly established there were 81 convictions. In Australia in 1908—it was after I had left, I am glad to say—there were 105 convictions per 10,000 of the population, and in 1913 there were 132.5 convictions. In New Zealand in 1894 there were 66 convictions per 10,000 of the population, and under the blessings of local option they had increased in 1914 to 121. Surely that is up against the hon. Member. I will not occupy the time of the House any more, but will simply wind up by quoting what Lord Salvesen, one of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council said as to Scotland:What I have said as to the actual result of the plebiscite conclusively proves, if local veto can be regarded as a measure of temperance reform, that it has been definitely rejected by the inhabitants of Scotland in every area where a temperance problem can be said to exist.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
As one who voted for a local option Bill for Wales 32 years ago in this House, I am glad to have the opportunity of putting in a word for a similar proposal here to-day. On that occasion the Welsh Members voted to the extent, I think, of 7 to 1 in favour of the Bill. There was an overwhelming Unionist majority, but, in spite of that fact, we carried the Second Reading. There was another Bill introduced two years afterwards, and then there was a Welsh majority of 10 or 15 to 1 in favour of it, and it was carried on the Second Reading. A similar Measure was carried in 1920. Therefore, on three occasions a Welsh Local Veto Bill has been carried by a majority of this House at the request of anything between 6 and 20 to 1 of the Welsh Members, but, owing to the difficulties of carrying any Measure beyond the Second Reading, such a Bill has never up to the present been incorporated in the Statute Book of the Realm. That, I think, is an unfairness to our people. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir G. Gaunt) has been good enough to say that this is not a democratic Measure. There is no doubt at all that up to the present—I am not going to predict how Welsh Members will vote to-day—there has been an overwhelming demand from Wales in favour of this Bill. The men who voted for that Measure faced their constituents at seven or eight elections after they had recorded their votes, and every time they were returned here to put forward the same demand. There is therefore a real demand, and all we ask is, not that England, which is oposed to local veto, should follow our example—it is entirely a matter for the English people themselves how they control their own habits and what they are to do with regard to their own public-houses and their own clubs, and we do not presume to dictate to them—but that you allow us to make an experiment which, in all loyalty, we have repeatedly appealed to the House, during the last 30 years, for an opportunity to try.
I would endorse the appeal made with very great force by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. T. Johnston). In a very eloquent and very moving speech, and a very convincing one, too, he appealed to the House not to allow its judgment to be affected in regard to the Second Reading of the Bill by objections 1256 which Members may entertain to certain Clauses of the Bill. As a matter of fact, the House would not agree to the Second Reading of any Measure that could be introduced at any time if the Second Reading involved approval of every Clause and every Sub-section of the Bill. The idea is that you are in favour of the principle, and you send the Bill upstairs to be scrutinised, examined and revised. Clauses can be eliminated and others can be substituted. You can revise the whole Bill, and I do hope, personally, that this Bill will be very considerably altered upstairs. There are many things which I should like to see introduced into it. I have much sympathy with a document which has been circulated to-day by Mr. Sherwell which would increase the number of options and would not make the Bill so restrictive, but would allow more initiative to the locality. I do not believe you will ever settle this question except by complete liberty of experiment. My right hon. Friend near me says he is wedded to one particular point of view. But his is not the only method of dealing with the question. It is very likely there are districts in which this is the only method in which we could hope to combat this terrible evil. But we shall never settle it until we get experiments of every kind tried simultaneously in various districts, and then in the end we shall be able to come to a conclusion as to the best way of dealing with it.
That is really what has happened in America. No one can deny the magnitude of the evil. There is no doubt there have been very substantial reductions in the drink bill of this country during the last few years, not in cash but in the quantity of alcohol which is consumed, and perhaps in the quality also. There has been a very considerable improvement, but that improvement has been effected by the action of this House—by an increase of taxation, by the restriction of facilities, and by provision with regard to the diminution of alcoholic strength. All that action has been introduced by this House and enforced throughout the country by means of the law of the land. Yet, in spite of that, the drink bill is still £400,000,000, or, if you deduct taxation, it is £200,000,000. We really cannot carry it. I am one of those who take a very serious view of the 1257 industrial outlook in this country. I do not agree with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the remedies he has suggested. The situation is one which requires to be grappled with very seriously. We are trading on a very narrow margin. We are dependent on foreign trade, and that is a very precarious position. And yet with all that we are carrying a, drink bill of £200,000,000! We cannot do it. What struck me in the United States of America more than anything else was the fact that the business community were behind drastic temperance legislation. My hon. Friend who last spoke dealt with the question of prohibition. That has only been carried in America because the business community were convinced that something had to be done, and I am told that if an attempt were made now to reverse that decision at least 75 per cent. of the business community would be found to be against reversal. The effect has been undoubtedly a very great diminution in crime, an increase in building, and an enormous quickening of trade, because people have more money to spend on things which create labour. One man told me that children in America had never had such good times since the creation of the world. Prohibition has made an enormous difference in that country. But we are not asking for that.
We are asking for liberty to experiment in our own country in order to deal with an evil which we are convinced is doing indelible harm to our population. We have been asking for it for 33 years. We have been a loyal people. We have never failed the Empire when we were called upon. We have been a law-abiding people. We are coming here in a constitutional manner, and some of us have grown old while asking for this thing from the House of Commons, and asking for it constitutionally. We are sent here by an overwhelming majority to ask the House of Commons to give us, at any rate, a chance to take this Bill upstairs, to examine it by Committee, and to see whether we cannot, by the common sense of all parties, fashion something which will be a good start in the way of experiment in our country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER - CLAY
I think we can all congratulate ourselves that the House of Commons on this Friday afternoon has provided a series of most 1258 entertaining speeches delivered without heat and characterised by considerable clarity. As an old Member of the House I could not help looking forward to our Friday afternoons and wondering whether there would be any change by reason of the absence of a familiar figure who sat in the late Parliament. I have been wondering if the House of Commons would be itself without the presence of Lord Banbury. We have, however, discovered, I think, that there are plenty of people who are anxious to sustain speeches on Friday afternoons. I am sure that those who are opposing this Bill are not doing so because they are enemies of the temperance cause. I think the most encouraging thing that has been said this afternoon in the cause of true temperance was the statement by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department of the figures showing the diminution in the convictions for drunkenness between the year 1913 and the present time. Why not let well alone? Why not let the gradual improvement in the education of all classes in the community gradually solve this problem, without restrictions of a kind which drive temperate people into wishing to become intemperate?
I confess I find it very difficult to put up with the extremists on either side. When a man says it is against the liberty of the subject that there should be any restrictions on the liquor traffic at all, I feel at once drawn towards the temperance side; but when I get into conflict, or into contact, with a bigoted member of the temperance party, my first inclination, I am afraid, is to go out and have a drink myself. That is the effect of extremism. I maintain that legislation of this kind will not really be in the interests of temperance. The speech delivered earlier in the afternoon by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. Johnston) appealed to me very strongly on account of its fervour, and of the strength with which he pleaded his cause, but I do not think quite sufficient attention has been paid to the experience we have had of the Scottish Act, which was passed in 1913. I do not think sufficient stress has been laid on the terrible amount of propaganda which has gone on on one side and on the other. What will inevitably happen in Wales also, before 1929, will be that you will have speakers imported from America on one side, and on the other you will have 1259 hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by the trade, and also by the temperance societies—
§ Lieut -Colonel SPENDER-CLAY
I do not know whether the Noble Lady is correct in saying that the temperance party have no funds, but they seem to spend a, great deal of money, and certainly they produce a great deal of literature. To anyone who has been in Scotland during a time when the propaganda was going on, they would seem to have ample funds for propaganda. In addition to that, old friends are stirred up against one another, strained relations are created for months before the poll takes place, a feeling of distrust and dissatisfaction is engendered throughout the country, and in the end nothing will have been accomplished. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire said, I think, that the condition of no licences in his locality had been maintained by an increased majority, but, taking the figures as a whole at the last poll in December, when polling took place in 584 areas, there was not one single fresh no-licence area, and, more than that, six of the 21 areas which had no licences before actually reverted to licences once more. Therefore, we have this curious fact that, in spite of all the thousands of pounds that have been spent by the ratepayers, the trade, and the temperance organisations, there are actually more public houses existing in Scotland than there were last year. As a result you will have stirred up all the feeling that I have described, you will have created a vast amount of unnecessary expenditure, and you are actually having an increased number of public houses. There is another aspect. If you have the fear of no-licence legislation, you are allowing the existing public houses to dip lower down in the scale, because no money will be spent on them in case there is no-licence legislation, and they will go down hill and become more and more drinking shops, which is the very thing anyone who is in favour of temperance would wish to avoid. We have in this country, under the licensing legislation of the last 17 years, extinguished 18,000 licences, at a cost of not one single penny to the general community, and 1260 during the last four years in Scotland, since the Local Option Act has been the law of the land, 380 licences have been extinguished altogether at a cost to the ratepayers of £62,000, quite exclusive of the tens or hundreds of thousands which have been spent in propaganda on one side or the other. I cannot help thinking that if the existing licensing compensation Clauses had been carried out, and if we could develop the present system, we should gradually reduce drunkenness, which is already happily on the decrease, and we could do more for true temperance than we can do by any amount of local option. An hon. Member spoke of a man who went to a club because he could not go home to his wife and family to have tea. That is an argument for improving housing, and the condition under which the workers live. I certainly think true temperance reform, which it is in the power of the country to give, could be best achieved by sweeping away the slums and educating the people.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Morgan Jones)
I gather so many hon. Members desire still to take part in the Debate that I shall not detain the House for more than a few minutes, but I desire to participate for one particular reason. I observe that one hon. Member who supports the Amendment for the rejection belongs to the same party as myself, and I am very indisposed to let the impression go abroad that the Labour Members for South Wales are entirely against the Bill. It happens that my constituency is contiguous to Pontypridd, and I have some right to put forward the point of view of the adjoining constituency, not on account of any desire on my own part, it is true, but because I was obliged to discuss this question of local option at the last Election. It is true there were other questions before the constituency. There was the question of Protection and the question of the Capital Levy. But it is rather curious that at most of the meetings the question time, which I invariably allowed, was taken up almost exclusively with questions upon this subject—[Interruption]—because I find in the meetings of my opponents it was not allowed at all.
§ Mr. JONES
I can only say that both my opponents have publicly declared that they have nothing to complain of on that score. As my hon. and gallant Friend is so keen on getting apologies from other people, perhaps he will apologise for his interruption. The question of local option was particularly discussed in my constituency during the last election. I want to draw the attention of the opponents of this Bill to a fact worth keeping in mind. They are entirely wrong in assuming that all the members who belong to the clubs in South Wales are against local option. I believe I am right in saying that the Tory organisation in my constituency has something like 7,000 members in the Tory clubs. The whole of the Tory vote at the election in my constituency, adding together all the women voters, the men voters, the club members and the non-club members, did not in the aggregate amount to 7,000. I am, therefore, entitled to draw this conclusion, that even in the Tory clubs there are a large number of men who are quite prepared to accept drink and who believe in the right to obtain drink who are in favour of allowing people of the locality to decide for themselves how great or how little shall be the facilities for getting drink.
I do not approach this question from the standpoint of those who seem to believe —I think they must be very few—that the people of Wales are drunkards, and that because of these drunken habits their facilities for obtaining drink must be limited. I believe the people of my country are as sober and abstemious as the people of any other country. At the same time, while I am entirely in favour of allowing any of my fellow-countrymen to have opportunity for drinking, if they so desire it, I also declare, without equivocation, that there are other people who have an interest in this matter, apart from those who themselves drink. It is a question for the community as a whole. Surely the wives should have a word to say, and surely the people who are called upon to give obedience to the laws of the country have a right to a share in framing them. It seems to me that there is an overwhelming case in favour of relegating to the people as a whole the right to determine how large or how little drinking facilities shall be granted to particular areas.
I have never been able to take the point of view of those who are in favour of pro- 1262 hibition. If I were asked my view I would espouse the cause of those who are in favour of State ownership and control of the drink traffic, plus local option. I do not want State ownership and control without local option, for it seems to me very largely futile. No Member of this House who has participated in this Debate has in the slightest degree been able to deny that for nearly half a century Wales has been, and still is, in favour of the demand for local option. For good or for ill the Welsh people are in advance of the English on this question. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I quite understand that my hon. Friends opposite do not agree. Then let us find out. Hon. Members opposite say that they represent Welsh opinion. We say that we represent it. The only way of deciding the matter is by taking a referendum of the people on the point. That is an entirely democratic proposition and is entirely fair.
In regard to the proposals contained in Part II of the Bill, believing, as I do, in the sovereignty of the people, I would be willing that the limit on the number of options provided by the Bill should be removed. I am in favour or putting in an option for extending the facilities, for I know full well that if local option were given to Wales it would never be utilised by the people in that way. But I am prepared to give them the chance. I am rather against the limitation of the vote to municipal voters. I believe that the vote should be extended to every voter on the Parliamentary register, but those are details which can very well be discussed when the Bill goes into Committee.
There is one element in reference to this discussion which gives me a great deal of disquietude. Every Member knows that in the course of the last few days we have been lobbied by both sides, on an interminable number of occasions, to vote either for or against this Bill. I do not desire in the least to limit the right of people to approach us upon this question—such things, I think, are largely inevitable—but I do object to, strongly, and resent, any attempt that may be made by any party on either side to hold out any sort of threat that if one does not do this or that then one shall have to suffer on the next occasion. I believe that it is my duty to 1263 do what seems to be in the interests of my constituents, without regard to these threats, and I would suggest that it would be an infinitely better thing if this drink question were now removed entirely out of the domain of politics, so that people should have a direct chance of dealing with the settlement of this question once and for all in the principality. My good Friend the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Mardy Jones) made the point—I do not know that there is very much in it—that in this particular Bill voting is to be upon a territorial basis. There is something in that, but my hon. Friend referred to the Rhondda and Pontypridd areas, with a population of 200,000. My hon. Friend will not deny that it is possible that the whole of that area might be on the land of two or three individuals, and that if those two or three individuals cared they could have made arrangements for the prevention of any kind of drink facilities in the whole of that area.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I have already said that all Members are entirely free to take their own line on this Bill.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Yes, even Members of the Government, and my hon. Friend will know from his vast experience that that is quite a common thing. When his party comes into power he will no doubt find that similar liberty is given to him. If that territorial power which I have described is possible under present arrangements, surely it is right to argue that the people in a large area like that have an infinitely greater claim to determine their own destiny in the matter than have two or three landlords. In regard to clubs, I had a long discussion before the last Election with certain people in my constituency. If I understood them aright, they practically told me that they were entirely in favour of my having a free hand on all questions of social legislation, whether education or housing or anything else, but that on this question of temperance they would infinitely prefer that I would leave the matter entirely where it is. No argument of that kind can possibly be 1264 accepted, for the obvious reason that the temperance question relates to a very difficult social problem, and every public man must be called upon to declare his view in regard to it. I take the view strongly that the time has come when the people of Wales must themselves have complete freedom to determine what is to be the future of the liquor traffic in Wales.
§ Sir HERBERT NIELD
In the little time that remains I do not propose to say much, especially as I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to wind up the Debate. There are one or two observations which I feel bound to make upon the general question, but my interest is mainly concerned with the Bill in so far as it deals with clubs. Upon the general question I wish to say that it seems as if those persons who call themselve temperance reformers are never ready to let well alone. They are everlastingly re-opening this matter, and creating difficulties which would be solved by themselves if only they were left alone. We have had evidence from the Treasury Bench this afternoon of the very large diminution in charges for drunkenness. I, in my judicial capacity at York, have had to remark on the almost complete disappearance of cases of drunkenness. That is an eminently satisfactory position of things, and it is to be found in all parts of the country. Why not let that natural healing process go on, and see to what extent it is going to remedy what you all deplore? In this matter the British people—and the term includes the people of Wales—will not submit to the intolerable tyranny of having their lives directed by other people. I hope the people of Monmouthshire, whatever their politics, and whatever their opinions on this subject may be, will take due notice of an observation which fell from the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs. Speaking of Monmouthshire in relation to statistics which he was giving, the hon. Member said that Monmouthshire was not Wales, for that purpose — it was in all criminal matters a part of England. That, if it means anything, means that social habits in relation to the consumption of alcohol in Monmouthshire, constitute a criminal matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "A joke!"] Hon. Members opposite always claim that it is only a joke when they see that one of their 1265 friends has put his foot in it. But when hon. Members get the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow morning, they can see the statement in cold print, and they will be able to judge by its context whether it is a joke or not, and I commend that passage to the voters of the Westhoughton Division of Lancashire, when they are again called upon to vote at the poll.
I turn to the subject of the club Clauses in this Bill. There are in Monmouthshire and Wales something like 156 Conservative associated clubs, with a membership of 48,000. The total body which I represent to-day is just within four of 1,500 associated working men's clubs, with a membership exceeding half a million, and I challenge any hon. Gentleman to give me particulars of any of these clubs having been struck off the register, or dealt with by the magistrates for any licensing irregularities. So you have spread over the kingdom, exclusive of Scotland, a number of these workingmen's clubs, which are the men's after-native homes, against which no complaint has been preferred and in regard to which there is no case of a club having been struck off the register. The lynx-eyed temperance reformer would be very quick to notice anything amiss in that respect, and to have a club brought before the local bench if he had a chance of doing so. I protest in the name of upwards of half a million of these men, and particularly the 48,000 against the Clauses in this Bill which aim at putting the club on the same footing as the public-house. There is no relationship between the club and the public-house. The public-house is a place into which any man, British or foreign, may step and where he may get his drink by the mere paying for it, which is a very different thing from the case of the man who gets his drink as a member of a club, or as the guest of a member who guarantees him, and as it were stands sponsor for him, during the time he is in the club.
If these Clauses are to be applied to Wales, to-morrow it would be suggested that they should be applied to the whole of England. That would mean that all these clubs would be subject to a vote of the polls, and a mere majority of one might turn the scale in a particular area. A bare majority in favour of reducing or closing up entirely licensed premises would affect these clubs. The people 1266 who have advanced money in debentures, or in ordinary subscriptions extending over a long period of years, for well-conducted clubs which have extended their premises and introduced furniture which can only be utilised in connection with the club, would find all this expenditure rendered valueless at the mere bidding of a mechanical majority, however small. That is an oppression and a tyranny which this House ought to discountenance.
It is said that clubs ought to be put on the same basis as public-houses with regard to their hours of opening and closing. Under the agreed Act passed in 1920, where the hours are definitely fixed, clubs were allowed of their own motion to fix their hours of opening and closing so long as they were within the limits prescribed by Parliament, and why should they not retain that freedom? The membership of a club consists in many cases—and, I think, especially in Wales, where I periodically go to hold my conferences—almost exclusively of men belonging to the mining or some other industry in the particular locality. That industry requires men to work in shifts and during certain hours, and the club adapts its hours to make it convenient for those men who desire to take advantage of the comfort of a club before they go home, and if they are to be subject to this automatic majority and to be treated no better than a licensed house open to the general public, very great hardships will be inflicted upon them.
There are 101 reasons why this Bill should not be allowed to go forward to Second Reading. It strikes at the bottom of individual liberty. It cuts away what has hitherto been regarded, not merely as a man's privilege, but as a man's right, and that is to determine for himself what he would eat and what he would drink, and I protest, in the name of the clubmen, against any further proceeding with legislation which strikes at their interests. Local veto will keep the different neighbourhoods in a constant turmoil. There will be all kinds of intrigues, and those of us who have watched the conduct of Parliamentary elections will be able to appreciate the intensity of the feeling that will constantly go on from year to year with a view to trying to snap a majority in favour of Local Option when the third year comes round. In the interests of the whole of the people, I 1267 think this Bill ought to be rejected, and that the people ought to be able to go on as they are at present, reducing drunkenness without this kind of legislation. By this Bill, Justices in future are to deal with licences in clubs. You are no longer to be at liberty to register your club, to open it, and to proceed with it in the ordinary way. You are to go to the licensing bench for a licence. I am a magistrate of 30 years' standing, and I know something about the inner workings of the bench. Why is it that well-known teetotal fanatics are allowed to sit on these matters and judge questions of licensing, and yet the man who, however remotely, is interested in the drink traffic is rigorously excluded by law? Even a debenture holder may not sit on the bench. [An HON. MEMBER: "Private profit."] Has not a teetotaler got quite as much interest, and more? To a teetotal fanatic the shutting-up of a public house, giving vent to his particular "ism," is probably far more valuable than a thousand pound bank note. And there I give him credit for sincerity. But all the sincerity in the world weighs nothing in the scale of individual liberty, if you are to deal fairly in this matter. I think the time is not ripe for any alteration. I am not concerned with the trade, and hold not the remotest interest in it, but I do say this is a trade that conducts its business under great difficulty. Those engaged in it are constantly liable to have all they have ventured in the world taken away by some indiscreet act. I think the trade has been harassed enough, and that this Bill ought to be rejected at once.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members having risen,
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
No; you made a distinct arrangement two days ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I make a protest. Although I am not a member of a party here, I have a right to get my chance.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Snowden)
I should be the last Member of this House to intrude myself, and I would willingly even now give way if it were the general wish of the House. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for the Home Department stated the collective attitude of the Government on this Bill, but I think I do my hon. Friend no injustice if I say that he imparted no great personal enthusiasm into the delivery of that declaration. I rise to exercise the privileges of a private Member, and to give my whole-hearted support to the principle embodied in this Bill. I have listened to the larger part of the Debate, and one feature of it, especially in the speeches of those who oppose the Measure, has been their avoidance of dealing with the principle embodied in the Bill. They have concentrated their attack upon certain Clauses and provisions in the Bill. May I respectfully remind the House that what we are going to vote upon in the course of a few minutes is a very simple issue? That simple issue is this: Shall the people of any locality have the right to say whether licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor in their district shall or shall not be granted? That is the issue—nothing less! I think I am right in saying that in the speeches which have been delivered in opposition to the Bill this afternoon, there is a universal consent that the liquor traffic must be regulated. As a matter of fact, we recognise that in existing Acts of Parliament, in that no licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor, outside those institutions in which the right hon. and learned Member opposite who spoke last is so much interested can be granted except by a bench of magistrates. What we have under the existing law is public control of licences by delegated authority. What we are asking by this Bill is that the power to control of the people shall be exercised direct.
I am not one of those who had a great admiration for what is called the referendum. It is one of the devices of infant democracies. But there are one or two 1269 questions which are eminently suitable for reference to a public vote. A referendum could only be successful if the issue to be decided is very simple. The issue to be decided as to local option is an issue o that character: Shall licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor be granted, or not? The right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last opposed this Bill, as other speakers have done in the Debate, on the ground that it is not democratic, that it is an infringement and interference with individual liberty. Let me take the first objection that the Bill is not democratic. Surely it must be democratic to delegate to the people who are directly interested an issue of the sort? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that the present system of granting licences is democratic?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not made it clear what these are. What we are asking is that the control shall be exercised direct by the people themselves. I can imagine no more perfect application of the democratic principle than what is proposed by Local Option.
§ Sir H. NIELD
Will the right hon. Gentleman say that in Committee a provision shall be put in that there shall be at least a minority poll of at least 45 per cent.?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I am purposely avoiding the details of the Bill, and I submit that they are not matters upon which we ought to decide our votes this afternoon. There are a great many points raised in the Bill with which I am not in agreement. There is one which was raised just now by the hon. Member opposite. I think it would be a great mistake if such an issue were decided by the vote of the odd man. In a matter like this, where individual rights and customs are so closely involved, I think it is important if the experiment is to be successful that it should be decided by a large majority, and have public support behind it. I say to those who are interested in the success of this Bill that I think it would be a very grave 1270 mistake, and would prejudice its success, and arouse a volume of hostility to it, if the issue is not decided by a fairly large majority.
I was dealing with the point as to whether this Bill is democratic or not. I cannot imagine any possible objection being raised to this Bill on the ground that it is not democratic. It has been said that it is an undue interference with individual liberty. I cannot remember any proposal which was ever made in this House which was not open to the same argument. A hundred years ago a proposal was made that children between the ages of five and six years should not be allowed to work in factories for 12 hours a day, and it was opposed by the ancestors of hon. Gentlemen opposite—[Cries of "Withdraw!"]—a hundred years ago there was no Liberal party in existence. The principle has now been accepted by every political party in the State that where an evil admittedly exists, it is the duty of the State to interfere with individual liberty not only in the interests of the individual himself, but in the interests and the welfare of the community. That is the moral basis of the claim we make this afternoon.
I avoid dealing with the details of the Measure now, but I would just like to refer to the question of the clubs. That is no new matter to me. It is a point which I have fought with all the energy I can, and it has been brought against me at every one of the contested elections which I have gone through. Whenever this qustion has been submitted to me I have always written in the largest handwriting I could, "No." My attitude on this question of clubs is well known to my constituents, and in spite of that some of the most energetic of my workers are members of clubs and they respect me for my attitude. I would not remain a Member of this House for five minutes on the sufferance of any club organisation. or the sufferance of anything connected with the liquor traffic. My time is nearly done, but may I say one word to my hon. Friends behind me, and I am quite sure that they will take it in the kindly and fraternal spirit in which it is intended. I said that I supported this Bill as a private Member. But I can claim to support it too, because it is and has been for 20 years part of the programme of the party with which I am associated. [HON. 1271 MEMBERS "No!"] It is quite evident that we have among Members of the Labour party in Parliament some who are not quite familiar with the official programme. The very last time that this question was raised at the annual conference of the Labour party this resolution was passed:—That this Conference, believing that the liquor traffic is a trade in respect of which the people as a whole must assert a full and unfettered power in accordance with local opinion, demands for this purpose that the localities should be conferred upon them facilities (a) to prohibit the sale of liquor within their own boundaries; (b) to reduce the number of licences and regulate the conditions under which they may be granted; and (c) if localities decide that licences should be granted, to determine whether licences shall be under private or public control.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a Point of Order. Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise the fact that, on a Motion moved by myself, the previous question was carried at that Conference on this very matter?
§ nearly every annual Conference of the Labour party for 20 years.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I submit, therefore, that this Bill embodying, as it does, the principle of democratic control, ought to be supported by every democrat and by all those who realise the urgency of the drink evil.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 229.1275
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Edwards, C (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Adamson, W M. (Staff., Cannock)||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Egan, W. H.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Entwistle, C. F.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Falconer, J.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ferguson, H.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald|
|Astor, Viscountess||Foot, Isaac||Kedward, R. M.|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Franklin, L. B.||Keens, T.|
|Ayles, W. H.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Baker, W. J.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Laverack, F. J.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Gosling, Harry||Law, A.|
|Banton, G.||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Leach, W.|
|Barnes, A.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Lee, F.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Lindley, F. W.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Groves, T.||Linfield, F. C.|
|Black, J. W.||Guest, Capt. Hn. F.E.(Gloucstr., Stroud)||Livingstone, A. M.|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Loverseed, J. F.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hardie, George D.||Lowth, T.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Harney, E. A.||Lunn, William|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||McCrae, Sir George|
|Charleton, H. C.||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Clarke, A.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Climie, R.||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Macfadyen, E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Hillary, A. E.||Mansel, Sir Courtenay|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hirst, G. H.||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Hodges, Frank||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hogge, James Myles||Maxton, James|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Meller, R. J.|
|Dickson, T.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.|
|Dodds, S. R.||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Millar, J. D.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hudson, J. H.||Mills, J. E.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Isaacs, G. A.||Mitchell, R. M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Dukes, C.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Mond, H.|
|Duncan, C.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Montague, Frederick|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Morse, W. E.|
|Moulton, Major Fletcher||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Viant, S. P.|
|Muir, John W.||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)||Vivian, H.|
|Murray, Robert||Romeril, H. G.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Murrell, Frank||Rose, Frank H.||Warne, G. H.|
|Nesbitt, Robert C.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. G.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Shinwell, Emanuel||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.|
|Nichol, Robert||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)||Weir, L. M.|
|Nixon, H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Welsh, J. C.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon, J.|
|Owen, Major G.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Palmer, E. T.||Spence, R.||Wignall, James|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Stamford, T. W.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Parry, Thomas Henry||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Stranger, Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Perry, S. F.||Tattersall, J. L.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Pilkington, R. R.||Terrington, Lady||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Raffan, P. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Raffety, F. W.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Rathbone, Hugh R.||Thomson, Walter T. (Middlesbro, W.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Raynes, W. R.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thornton, Maxwell R.||Wright, W.|
|Rendall, A.||Tinker, John Joseph||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Richards, R.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Turner-Samuels, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Robertson, T. A.||Varley, Frank B.||Mr. Morris and Mr. D. R. Grenfell.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Deans, Richard Storry||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Dunnico, H.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eden, Captain Anthony||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kennedy, T.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Elveden, Viscount||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Becker, Harry||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Lansbury, George|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Lawson, John James|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Gates, Percy||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon, William Clive||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Lumley, L. R.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lyle, Sir Leonard|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||McLean, Major A.|
|Buckle, J.||Gretton, Colonel John||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||March, S.|
|Burman, J. B.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Marley, James|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Middleton, G.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Harbord, Arthur||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Harland, A.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col, J. T. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harvey, C. M.B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Haycock, A. W.||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A.C.(Honiton)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hayday, Arthur||Naylor, T. E.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hayes, John Henry||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Compton, Joseph||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Cope, Major William||Hoffman, P. C.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Cove, W. G.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pennefather, Sir John De Fonblanque|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Penny, Frederick George|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Page||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Perkins, Colonel E. K|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland, Northern.)||Perring, William George|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Potts, John S.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Purcell, A. A.||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Remer, J. R.||Snell, Harry||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Remnant, Sir James||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wells, S. R.|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Ritson, J.||Stanley, Lord||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Steel, Samuel Strang||Willison, H.|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Windsor, Walter|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sturrock, J. Leng||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wise, Sir Frederic|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Scurr, John||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Sexton, James||Thurtle, E.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Mr. J. C. Gould and Lt.-Col. Watts|
|Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Morgan.|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ It being after Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next (18th February).