HC Deb 21 February 1933 vol 274 cc1602-4

3.56 p.m.


I beg to move: That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to the sale by retail of exciseable liquor. The Measure which I ask leave to bring in is a Measure to give licensing justices the power to grant certain special licensing facilities to specially well-conducted and suitable licensed houses. The Bill is a short one consisting of seven Clauses. Its first Clause defines the houses to which such licensing facilities may be given and the conditions under which the justices may give those facilities. The second Clause provides for an appeal against the decision of the justices if an applicant is aggrieved. The third Clause lays down the advantages of such, special licences.

The proposed new special licence in effect will combine in one licence all the various special licences which are now needed for entertainment, music, dancing and everything of that kind—except stage plays…with this proviso, that the licensing justices may at their discretion exclude dancing from the purview of such licences if they believe that the cause of morality demands it. Clause 4 safeguards and preserves the existing law with regard to the presence of children on licensed premises and provides that as at present children may not enter the bar of such premises. Clause 5 deals with the question of rebate on the licensing duty and provides that the cost of the comprehensive licence shall be no more than the cost of the individual licences issued at present and that the holder of such licence—which shall only be granted in special cases where the nature and conduct of the premises have shown that he deserves it—shall have in effect three licences for the cost of one. Clause 6 deals with compensation charge and Clause 7 is the Short Title.

The promoters of the Bill resent very much the attitude that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is something of dark and secret import to be discouraged by legislation and made as uncomfortable and unpleasant as possible. They protest against discrimination, both Budgetary and social, between the drinkers of hard and soft drinks. The believe that the drinkers of drinks containing alcohol have as much right to social comfort and conveniences as the drinkers of drinks containing what I may call the rival poisons of tannin and caffein. I am informed by members of the medical profession that these are poisons every whit as virulent as alcohol. Indeed the idea of the Bill is the promotion of temperance because the refusal of these facilities to licensed premises leaves the frequenters of such premises with nothing to do therein except to consume alcoholic beverages and, in consequence, I am informed on occasion they consume such beverages to excess. Anyone who has travelled abroad must have been struck with the conveniences and the good conduct of the Continental café where a man may take his family, listen to music, read the paper and indulge in games while consuming such refreshment, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, as may seem good to him. It is with the idea of making a very small beginning towards the introduction of some such system in this country that this Bill is introduced.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Michael Beaumont, Viscount Lymington, Lieut. - Colonel Windsor - Clive, Mr. Croom-Johnson, and Mr. Raikes.