HC Deb 25 March 1925 vol 182 cc438-43

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to give additional powers to licensing magistrates as to hours of opening licensed premises. I hope the House will not think that this is a Bill by means of which I am trying to light the fires of controversy and promote disputes between "pussyfoots" and the brewing interest. I think it is the duty of hon. Members as far as possible to avoid controversy, and this Bill, which I am asking leave to introduce, is quite a mild and innocuous Bill. In fact, I think it might be described as a milk-and-water Bill; it has very little relation to the question of the desirability or otherwise of beer or whisky. The Bill stands by the compromise which was made in 1921, but the Bill of 1921, as hon. Members who were in the House at the time will recollect, was passed in the early hours of the morning, when Members of the House have not, that clear vision which they have at other times, and the object of the present Bill is to clear away some of the anomalies that undoubtedly do exist.

To mention one or two of them, in Oxford Street, in London, there is an anomaly which must be obvious to every one of us, where the licensed houses on one side of the street have to close an hour before those on the other side. We know very well that Frascati's Restaurant, the Holborn Restaurant, and the Connaught Rooms have great difficulty in carrying on their business in competition with other restaurants because of the anomaly which exists in that part of London. Then I will ask the House to turn its consideration away from, the gay life of the West End of London, and look at an anomaly which exists in the case of a lonely hotel in my constituency, 1,500 feet above sea level. It is the "Cat and Fiddle" Hotel, near Buxton, and may be known to some hon. Members. It has the reputation of being the highest hotel in England. That hotel is in a licensing area which includes a large industrial district 12 miles away, and the licensing authority have to fix times suitable for the industrial area. The hotel is open from 12 till half-past two, and from six till 10.30 at night. I put it to the House that no one in their senses would go to the top of a mountain—for this hotel is at the top of a mountain—between six and 10.30 for any alcoholic refreshment. The effect of the hours fixed for that particular hotel is that the hotel is practically closed altogether. Under the present Act the licensing bench have only power to fix one set of hours for the whole area under their control. The Bill which I am asking leave to introduce would give them an additional power to deal with special cases such as I have outlined, and it is framed with a view to meeting the existing difficulties. The House will see that it is only a Bill to meet special cases, and does not ask for any breach of the compromise which was arrived at in 1921. It is simply a Bill to deal with the anomalous position which exists in many parts of the country at the present time.


I rise to oppose the Bill. I can quite understand the point made by the hon. Member concerning the anomalies under our present licensing system, and I can quite understand that there is agreement on this point among those who believe in the licensing of the business. What I am concerned about, and what I hold that every man and woman in this House ought to be concerned about, are the outstanding anomalies that arise as a result of licensing the business at all. It is not a question of regulation in a matter of this kind; it is a question of asking ourselves whether or not, under our national policy of licensing, this course should be pursued when we are confronted with such great evils the overcoming of which in itself presents specialised difficulties. When the mass of the people are struggling under severe difficulties, is it right that we should complicate those difficulties, especially for those who are otherwise groaning under oppression? Is is right that we should set these particular traps whereby they are demoralised?

The hon. Member has mentioned a hotel on a mountainous height. I suggest that it is not a question of going to the heights, but a question of going to the depths in a business of this kind. It puzzles me entirely to think that any man or woman associated with the conception of the elevation of the people—and all of us who have been brought here are understood to have that ideal in view—for a man or a woman to be engaged in the manufacture or the distribution of such a concoction is unquestionably one of the paramount factors that is demoralising the interests of the nation at large. That there should be such wealth accumulating in the hands of the few, and to the awful degradation of the many, is a, situation such that not a single Member of this House ought to be identified with the licensing system at all. It is in my view a matter of objection to the entire national policy of licensing. That policy can only be challenged when we deal with it and, in a comprehensive fashion, handle the question of manufacture as well as sale. Once we agree to manufacture, which, all the forces of religion and tem- perance agree to, I quite understand the hon. Member's difficulty. He wants to try to find a fair allocation of hours between different districts. Other people who are identified with what is called reform set up the conception that a thing that is right on one side of the street is wrong on the other. That, to any man or woman looking at the thing fairly and squarely, is a position that we cannot accept. The real issue is the immorality, the actual degradation, the appalling results which are happening and which are, testified to by substantial records of the House and of every institution in the country. It is a most formidable power that we have to grapple with, and do not forget that during the War, when the call was made that this thing should have an end, that it should be entirely stopped, the power

which some members in the House specially represented was capable of holding up the entire nation and preventing that operation being carried out. That, of course, in my view was a mere expediency matter in the interests of materialism concerning the War at that time. The grounds which were put forward by business men as sheer grounds of materialism stand to-day alongside the great spiritual and moral issues which are involved in the call for the abolition of the entire liquor traffic.

Question put— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to give additional powers to licensing magistrates as to hours of opening licensed premises.

The House divided: Ayes, 174; Noes, 102.

Division No. 59.] AYES. [3.45 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Everard, W. Lindsay McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Fairfax, Captain J. G. MacRobert, Alexander M.
Albery, Irving James Falle, Sir Bertram G. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Fermoy, Lord Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Balniel, Lord Foster, Sir Harry S. Malone, Major P. B.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Fraser, Captain tan Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Frece, Sir Walter de Margesson, Captain D.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Ganzoni, Sir John Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H Gates, Percy Milne, J. S. Wardlaw
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Gaunt, Admiral Sir Guy R. Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Berry, Sir George Glyn, Major R. G. C. Montague, Frederick
Bethell, A. Grace, John Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Grant, J. A. Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Greene, W. P. Crawford Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Brass, Captain W. Gretton, Colonel John Murchison, C. K.
Briscoe, Richard George Grundy, T. W. Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Brittain, Sir Harry Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Naylor, T. E.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Gunston, Captain D. W. Nelson, Sir Frank
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. L. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Nicholson. William G. (Petersfield)
Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Nuttall, Ellis
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hartington, Marquess of Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Burman, J. B. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Burton, Colonel H. W. Haslam, Henry C. Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Campbell, E. T. Hawke, John Anthony Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Pielou, D. P.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Potts, John S.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Henn, Sir Sydney H. Power, Sir John Cecil
Christie, J. A. Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Pownall, Lieut. Colonel Assheton
Clarry, Reginald George Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Radford, E. A.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Herbert, S.(York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by) Raine, W.
Connolly, M. Hilton, Cecil Ramsden, E.
Cope, Major William Hirst, G. H. Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Holland, Sir Arthur Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Holt, Capt. H. P. Remnant, Sir James
Crook, C. W. Homan, C. W. J. Rentaul, G. S.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hopkins, J. W. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Dalton, Hugh Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Roberts, Samuel (Herelord, Hereford)
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Hume, Sir G. H. Ropner, Major L.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hurd, Percy A. Rye, F. G.
Dawson, Sir Philip Hurst, Gerald B. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Day, Colonel Harry Jephcott, A. R. Sandeman, A. Stewart
Drewe, C. Kindersley, Major Guy M. Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Duckworth, John Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Sandon, Lord
Eden, Captain Anthony Knox, Sir Alfred Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Loder, J. de V. Shepperson, E. W.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith MacAndrew, Charles Glen Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Smithers, Waldron
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull) Wise, Sir Fredric
Sprot, Sir Alexander Waterhouse, Captain Charles Womersley, W. J.
Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle) Wood, E.(Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Stuart, Crichton., Lord C. Wells, S. H Wragg, Herbert
Styles, Captain H. Walter White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Tinne, J. A. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P. Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Waddington, R. Windsor, Walter Mr. Remer and Lieut.-Colonel James.
Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Attlee, Clement Richard Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Barnes, A. Huntingfield, Lord Snell, Harry
Barr, J. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Batey, Joseph John, William (Rhondda, West) Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Stamford, T. W.
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Stephen, Campbell
Broad, F. A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Bromley, J. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Sutton, J. E.
Brown, James (Ayr and Butt) Kelly, W. T. Taylor, R. A.
Buchanan, G. Kennedy, T. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Charleton, H. C. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Clowes, S. Kenyon, Barnet Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Cluse, W. S. Kirkwood, D. Thurtle, E.
Colfox, Major Wm. Philip Lee, F. Tinker, John Joseph
Crawfurd, H. E. Livingstone, A. M. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lowth, T. Viant, S. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lumley, L. R. Warne, G. H.
Dennison, R. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Watson, W. M. (Dunfarmline)
England, Colonel A. Mackinder, W. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Fenby, T. D. Maxton, James Welsh, J. C.
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L. Morris, R. H. Westwood, J.
Forrest, W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Whiteley, W.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Murnin, H. Wignall, James
Gibbins, Joseph Oliver, George Harold Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Gillett, George M. Palin, John Henry Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Gosling, Harry Ponsonby, Arthur Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Greenall, T. Ritson, J. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland) Wright, W.
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Rose, Frank H.
Hardie, George D. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Harris, Percy A. Saklatvala, Shapurji Mr. Scrymgeour and Mr. Groves.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Remer, Mr. Dixey, Dr. Watts, Lieut.-Colonel James, and Captain Arthur Evans.