§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Gilmour)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I think that the circumstances which have necessitated the introduction of this Bill are already well known to the House. The object of the Bill is a very simple one. It is to deal with a situation which has arisen owing to a decision in the High Court in April last, which has been subsequently upheld in the Court of Appeal. By Section 1 of the Licensing Act, 1921, the licensing justices of each district are empowered, within certain statutory limits, to fix the hours on weekdays during which the sale or supply of intoxicating liquor in licensed premises is lawful. I may say in passing that this problem does not include London; it only affects the country outside.
The licensing justices in any district outside the Metropolis may, if satisfied that the special requirements of their district render it desirable, make, under proviso (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 1 of the Act of 1921, a direction increasing the total hours to eight and a-half, and substituting 10.30 at night for 10 as the latest permitted hour. I believe that in rather more than 100 districts throughout the country the licensing justices have made a direction applying to part of the year, and it is one of these Orders which apply to a part of the year only—the Steyning Order, in the Steyning division of Sussex—that was brought to the High Court, and, as I have already said, was held on appeal to be invalid. I think it will be agreed that the situation which has been created has caused a great deal of confusion and is anomalous, and that, if the licensing justices have the power of increasing the hours for the whole of the year, it is a little unreasonable that they should be debarred from using their discretion with respect to a part of the year. The House will appreciate that the Bill which we are 498 introducing to meet this situation is not an instalment dealing generally with the licensing problem; its sole purpose is to deal with a question of emergency, and to confer on the licensing benches a power which a large number of the licensing authorities throughout the country have believed that they possessed, and which quite clearly they have exercised with considerable discretion and for the general advantage of the districts over which they preside.
The provisions of the Bill are quite simple and definite. Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 specifically provides that, where the licensing justices are satisfied that the special requirements of the district, during a part of the year only, render it desirable, they may make a direction of the kind in question as respects that part of the year. The House will observe that a minimum period of eight consecutive weeks has been prescribed. I have made inquiries, and find that none of the Orders which hitherto have been made have been for any shorter period, and I think it is desirable that some minimum period should be fixed. Sub-section (2) is merely consequential; it enables the justices to proceed to fix the special permitted hours for the specified part of the year within the limits of the direction. Sub-section (3) applies the foregoing provisions retrospectively to cover the Steyning Order and other existing Orders of the same type. The House will note from Clause 2 that the Bill applies to Scotland as well as to England and Wales. The Bill is one purely to deal with the result of an unexpected decision of the courts. It is a limited Measure. I would only add that, in view of the circumstances and the urgency of the problem, and in order that there shall be a removal of the disturbance and criticism from many districts, I hope the House will accept the Measure, and that we may be able to pass it into law in a comparatively short time.
§ 11.12 a.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We on these benches agree with this Bill, and shall offer no objection to it. As I understand it, the matter in question is simply one which has arisen owing to an unexpected judgment of the courts. On general grounds I should always be in favour of saying that, where unexpectedly a legal decision 499 has upset what was the intention of the House, and what has been held for a number of years to be the intention of the House, it should be put right by legislation. There is also a second point. I gather that the Bill enables the justices to allow extended hours for a shorter period than a year, and it might well be that, if we did not pass the Bill, some justices would have to extend the hours for the whole year in order to meet the requirements of their districts for a few weeks or a few months. Therefore, the Bill is not really a Bill for lengthening the hours during which intoxicating liquor can be sold, but will actually have the effect of enabling a shorter period to be given, and, if it were not passed, justices might be led actually to increase the hours all the year round. On these two grounds we shall support the Bill.
§ 11.13 a.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I have listened with much interest to what has been said by the Secretary of State in relation to this Bill, the necessity for which I regret. It is not a Bill that I should have thought would have been welcomed by those who are associated with me, but I fully recognise that the Government are justified in introducing it to deal with the confusion which has arisen as a consequence of the recent decision. This is the latest of the events arising from the attempt to deal with the Act of 1921. That Act was, I think, a most beneficent Measure, inasmuch as it sought to embody the experience which had been obtained in relation to the sale of intoxicating liquor during the War. During the War extensive experiments were made, and the result of those experiments was embodied in the Act of 1921. It may be that the social historian will come to look upon that Measure as the most beneficent Measure that was passed by the Coalition Parliament. At any rate, it is a Measure which very closely affects, and has very closely affected, the lives of the people in every town and village of this country. The Act of 1921 has been the subject of attack. The licensed trade have brought their opposition to bear upon it. The first attempt that was made was their endeavour to get an extension under Section 57 of the Act of 1910, their contention being that the special circumstances 500 of summer time might be considered a special occasion within the meaning of that Section. That attempt was defeated as the result of proceedings that came before the Courts something over 12 months ago.
Then this further question arose. I am not making any complaint against the licensed trade. They are perfectly entitled to make whatever application they think proper. Having been defeated in their first attempt, they tried to get their extension under the Act of 1921. The case came before the Steyning Justices. They have been given great prominence in the matter, but of course they are only one out of more than 100 licensing bodies that are concerned in the question. The Steyning Justices having decided that they were going to give this extension from eight hours to eight and a half and to make the closing hour 10.30 instead of 10 for a certain period in the year—I think six months—the case was taken to the Divisional Court and afterwards to the Court of Appeal. The licensing justices were brought before the Divisional Court on the ground that the order that they had made had exceeded their jurisdiction and they had failed to exercise their discretion judicially. Under the Act of 1931, it is open to licensing justices to order houses to be open for eight hours in the day closing at 10, but in certain cases if there are special requirements in their district—they have to be satisfied upon that—they can alter the eight hours to eight and a half and can make the closing hour half-past 10 instead of 10. Both the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal said it was not open to the justices to make an order for a part of the year which undoubtedly they could make for a whole year, inasmuch as the term weekdays used in the Act must mean all week days and not some week days. That is all that that case decided.
I have said we do not welcome the Measure, but we recognise the confusion that has arisen, and I think the Government have stood strictly by their promise to limit the Measure to what was necessary to deal with the action of the justices in this case. It is quite evident that there is a good deal of confusion on the matter in the country. This is spoken of as a summer time Bill, and the 501 impression has got abroad that we are doing something that is going to establish different hours in the summer time as compared with the rest of the year. We are doing nothing of the kind. In terms the Bill has no more to do with summer time than with Christmas time. It does not in itself give any longer hours in summer time and summer time, strictly speaking, is not relevant to the Bill. In fact, when the case came before the Divisional Court it was made clear that the consideration of summer time as compared with the rest of the year was not relevant. I should like to quote what was said by the Lord Chief Justice.It seemed to him very difficult to see how summer time could be said to constitute a special requirement of the district.The same point was taken in the Court of Appeal, where Lord Justice Scrutton in his judgment said:Summer time was not a special requirement of the district within Section 1 (b) of the Act of 1921. Summer time was a matter that applied to the whole country.So that, in so far as people outside this House are discussing this Bill as being a summer time Measure, they are wholly wrong. The period for which the magistrates can give this special concession can apply to any time in the year, and need not apply to summer time more than any other. I think the position needs to be explained in that way because, as I understand it, the discretion of the justices remains absolutely unaffected by the Bill—in every other respect it remains what it was under the Act of 1921—and that discretion cannot be exercised other than judicially. Therefore, if any advocate for the licensed trade goes to any bench of justices and suggests that as the result of this Bill it is the intention of Parliament that there should be a concession for summer time, he is saying something which is not in the Bill at all and which he is not entitled to allege. I assert, further, that if any bench of licensing justices, upon the ground of summer time alone, extend the number of hours, they can be brought before the High Court because they have exceeded their jurisdiction. They are bound by the terms of the Act of 1921, and the Government have been careful to repeat the words in the Bill that they can only grant the extension if they are satisfied that there are special requirements in the district. Summer time is not a special requirement 502 in any district, because it applies to the whole country. It is open, of course, to the justices to take summer time into consideration as one of the factors but, if any bench of justices should grant an extension simply upon the ground of summer time, they will be exceeding their jurisdiction, they will not be exercising their discretion judicially and they can be brought before the High Court.
I have received protests against the Bill from persons holding views similar to my own but based upon a misapprehension, based upon the assumption that the Bill is doing something that is going to impose longer hours in some districts. As a result of what is now being done, not a single extension is being imposed. It simply maintains the discretion of the magistrates and gives them the power to grant in part what undoubtedly to-day they can grant in whole. In a certain sense it may me regarded as a limiting Measure. It is true that some justices, being anxious to give this extension and being not able to grant an extension for the part of the year, have said: "Our only course is to grant it for the whole of the year," and in some instances they have made a sort of bargain with the licensed trade. "If we grant you this power for the whole of the year, will you voluntarily consent not to exercise that power during the winter months?" Obviously the magistrates ought to have the power, if they want to give it for a limited period, to exercise that power, but, beyond giving the magistrates the power to grant in part what undoubtedly now they can grant in whole, the Bill does not travel by the width of a hair.
I would like to assure my friends outside this House who are troubled by this Bill that I think their opposition has been based largely upon a misapprehension probably arising from the interpretation of the Measure—the anticipatory interpretations which have appeared in certain newspapers. For that reason, I do not propose, acting for some of my friends in this House, to oppose this Bill. We are a very reasonable body of Members. We recognise that the difficulty has arisen following upon a legal decision, and we do not wish to take advantage of that fact. Our cause is so impregnable that it does not need to rest upon 503 adventitious advantage, and our case has been stated. My hon. Friend wants to know what our case is, and says it is an empty case. It is an empty case that we were well able to fill in the course of many days' discussion on another Measure in the Committee upstairs.
I think that the confusion which has arisen in the country is largely attributable to the mixture or the confusion of this Bill with the one which was introduced recently dealing with the standardisation of hours. The public have assumed that the two Measures are in some way connected. They are not in any way connected, not in the slightest. My hon. Friend opposite who represents a division in a part of the county of Essex and his neighbour, the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Wise), well know what our objections were against that Bill. It was a Bill which sought to extend hours and which overruled the discretion of the magistrates. That is admitted. It set aside the discretion of the magistrates. This Bill maintains absolutely the discretion of the magistrates, and it does not extend the hours in any instance. That being so, it is quite different from the Bill we opposed upstairs, which I regarded as a most reactionary Measure, and which I shall take every opportunity with my friends of opposing if it is brought again before this House.
This Bill will not get rid of anomalies. In a certain sense perhaps it may, because of the additional powers, increase anomalies. I regret that because I believe in standardisation. I have never disguised that belief. So many differences have arisen because of the different exercise of their instructions by licensing justices in many parts of the country that standardisation is becoming more and more urgent, but I am very anxious that we shall resist those who, under the cry of "standardisation," are trying to get an extension of hours. My hon. Friends with whom I had an opportunity frequently of crossing swords in the Committee Room upstairs will remember that that was the ground of our opposition. If you can secure standardisation then secure standardisation, but do not obtain extensions under the colour of standardisation. I think that I may add to that Matthew Prior's words: 504The merchant, to conceal his treasure,Conveys it in a borrow'd name:Euphelia serves to grace my measure;But Chloe is my real flame.When a great plea was being made both on the Floor of this House and in Committee upstairs, on another Bill for standardisation, the fact was hidden from the general public, under the plea for standardisation, that extension of hours was being sought. I agree with the Secretary of State who said that this Bill was not an instalment of the licensing reform which at some time will have to be brought in. If those diffculties under our licensing laws are to be dealt with they can only be competently dealt with by the Government of the day, having at their disposal all the information and the resources which are generally denied to a private Member. I do not think that the mere passing of this Bill will take away from the heavy responsibility that rests upon the Government to decide sooner or later what to do in relation to the general matter of licensing reform. The difficulties which were dealt with at the time the Royal Commission sat and made its exhaustive inquiry do not become less by the passing of time. Only to give one instance, the difficulty with relation to clubs is not a lessening difficulty but an increasing one. There are many difficulties that were dealt with by the Royal Commission which reported two or three years ago, and at some time some Government will have to deal with those matters. This Bill will not affect the position either way.
In my final words, I would again take the opportunity of urging upon the Home Secretary that, although I understand that general consent is being given to this Measure on the grounds the House has allowed me to state this morning, I assume that the question of licensing reform will receive at some time the attention of the Government and that they will decide one way or the other what is to be done in relation to the formulated proposals of the Royal Commission. I am not saying which should be adopted or which should be rejected, but sometime or another that decision will have to be taken. The reforms which were then recommended are becoming more urgent by the passing of time, and it would be little short of a scandal if the Government went through the whole period of their power, having 505 been vested with power greater than any Government in our history, and left untouched some of those clamant reforms and recommendations made by men and women representing every side of opinion upon this matter. For the reasons which I have stated, I hope that the Bill will go through without any opposition upon the Committee stage. I regret the necessity for its introduction, but no one was responsible for the circumstances and we shall not resist the further progress of the Bill.
§ 11.33 a.m.
§ Mr. PIKE
In view of the support which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) has given to the right hon. Gentleman on the introduction of this Measure, I am rather suspicious as to whether or not I am doing the proper thing by supporting the Government's policy. When the hon. Member for Bodmin gives his good grace to a Measure, whichever it may be, which is presented by this Government, it seems to be a subject of very serious consideration, especially when it pertains to matters of licensing, for those of us who have been associated with him upstairs on other matters relating to the general licensing laws of the country. But if I may take the attitude that this Bill should be welcomed because, in spite of what the hon. Member for Bodmin said, it eliminates a very unjust anomaly over which the licensing justices have had very little power for too long in this country—the anomaly which has restricted the rights and the freedom of the individual of this country to acquire refreshment at a time when he considers such refreshment most beneficial to his general constitution. I believe that the action which the Government have taken will be very welcome throughout the country. The country appears to me to be crying out for action of a definite nature not only in this direction but in many other directions, and the Government in introducing this Measure and attempting to clear away an anomaly in the shortest time are to be complimented. I join with the hon. Member for Bodmin in hoping that no opposition will come during any stage of the Bill, so that it may go to the Statute Book in the shortest possible time.
506 The hon. Member said that the Bill only gave power to the justices to grant extensions if they are satisfied that there are special reasons to justify the application. I took it from his remarks that there was a possibility that even graver anomalies than already exist would arise through the exercise of that discretion. It is true that this Bill does not prevent the licensing justices from refusing an application. It may be that the refusal on the part of the justices will not in any way be representative of the requirements of the specific area in which the application is made. Therefore, although the hon. Member thinks that in exercising their discretion the magistrates may create greater anomalies, he must admit that they may at the same time, even with this Bill in operation, be responsible for the continuance of anomalies because of hard and fast views on the matter of licensing.
In Sheffield we are to have the honour of a visit from the Australian cricket team. That is a very great event in our lifetime, and application was made for an extension, not for a general extension of licensing hours throughout Sheffield during that visit but for an extension for the immediate purposes of those bars retailing drink on the ground. After 55 minutes consideration the bench decided that there were no grounds upon which they could justifiably extend the licence.
§ Mr. PIKE
I do not suggest that the extension should be granted for the team presenting themselves to the public, but even watching cricket sometimes is a very dry procedure. It is not necessary to make a habit of drinking although one has facilities for obtaining drink. The real substance of the Bill remedies a minor 507 anomaly and because it does that I shall give it my whole-hearted support, and I hope that the Government when they respond to the final appeal of the hon. Member for Bodmin and introduce legislation to deal with the many licensing anomalies that exist under the present law will act with that readiness and Courage that they have shown on this occasion.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike) cast doubt on the Bill because the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) supported it. When I saw the hon. Member fox Attercliffe supporting it, I wondered where I stood. I do not intend to follow the hon. Member into a discussion as to whether the use of alcohol is or is not good for an athlete. I know cricketers who play a good game who are teetotallers and I know others who play a good game who like one or two. Anyone who has experience of village cricket knows that there are good cricketers among the teetotallers and among the moderate drinkers. I agree with the Bill, and I think the Home Secretary is to be complimented on bringing it in. As I understand it, a court decision has set up certain doubt and confusion which ought to be removed, and this Bill seeks to remove it. Unlike the hon. Member for Bodmin, I have received no protests against the Bill, and I have found no feeling for it in the country, although I have received letters of support from people who are interested in the licensed trade.
The hon. Member for Attercliffe said that the Government ought to be complimented on their ready action. I agree. Here we have a decision of the court and the Home Secretary comes along at once and brings in a Bill to remedy the situation. We hear a great deal about the uselessness or inefficiency of Parliament, but this Bill shows that Parliament when it cares to get a Bill through can do so fairly quickly. That brings me to my point. There are other decisions given in court which create confusion and injustice. We have had one or two decisions given in the courts in regard to workmen's compensation which have caused confusion and injustice and have made a number of 508 people who have some knowledge of the administration of workmen's compensation wonder what is going to happen. That is the point that I wish to emphasise. I want the Home Secretary to be just as ready to come to this House with a new Bill to remove anomalies and confusion owing to a decision of the High Court on matters affecting large numbers of workpeople as he has been in coming forward with this Bill. We have a right to expect that. I support the Bill wholeheartedly because it removes an anomaly, but there are other occasions when the Home Secretary ought to act just as speedily when court decisions cause injustice and confusion.
§ 11.43 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD BLAKER
I do not desire to detain the House in opposing a Measure which all Members must be satisfied is most desirable, but I should like to call attention to a technical difficulty of drafting which appears in Subsection (3). There are a certain number of licensing areas where applications have been made and granted for extensions which were subsequently found by the decision of the High Court to have been ultra vires. Shortly after that decision was given the justices in many districts, acting through their learned clerk, passed an intimation to the licensees that they should not open. What is to be the position if Sub-section (3) passes in its present form in cases where every consideration contemplated by the Sub-section has been fulfilled? The words of the Sub-section:Where before the date of the passing of this Act such a direction or decision as aforesaid has been made … the direction or decision shall have, and shall be deemed always to have had, the like validity,applies in such cases. What will be the position? According to the Sub-section any direction so issued shall be deemed always to have been valid, but the magistrates will want to know, through their learned clerks, whether application must be made de novo for these extensions where the original grant legally made under this Sub-section has been rescinded merely by intimation from the magistrates clerk. It is a fact that in certain districts this is a matter which will arise and some of the clerks to the justices are definitely having very considerable 509 difficulty over the Sub-section. I suggest that the matter should be made a little clearer, and I hope the Home Secretary will consider the point.
§ 11.46 a.m.
§ Captain PETER MACDONALD
Although I agree with the Bill, so far as it goes, in removing one anomaly from our licensing laws, I regret that it does not go much farther and that the Home Secretary has not taken this opportunity of removing other anomalies which have arisen and anomalies which are bound to arise in the future. I regret that the Bill only applies to some 120 orders issued by licensing justices and does not extend to all health resorts throughout the country. The decision which has brought about this reform has brought home to us the hopeless position in which our licensing laws are at the moment and the necessity for early reform. I join with the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) in his appeal to the Home Secretary to lose no time in bringing forward a Measure for the reform of our licensing laws. I should like to know whether the Bill is to apply only to the 120 orders which have been issued or whether it will allow licensing justices throughout the country to grant an extension of hours this year. If not, you are imposing a penalty upon those licensing justices who have interpreted the law correctly and who have refused to grant an order. That is bad for Parliament and the country generally, because it encourages licensing justices to take steps which may be on the border line of a breach of the licensing laws in the hope that if enough of them break the law the Home Secretary will be obliged to step in and bring about a speedy reform. It also tends to bring a Parliament into disrepute, because it does not place upon us the necessity of being careful in the drafting of our legislation. This is only one anomaly that has been brought to our notice. We do not know how many more may crop up in the course of the next few weeks. It is unjust that those benches of magistrates who have not taken the chance of granting an order this year, it was a chance in many cases, and who have interpreted the law correctly should be penalised. It is impossible for them to grant an order this year because what are called Brewster Sessions are only held once in a year. That is a case for reform, because I think 510 licensing justices should sit more than once a year. They should sit whenever there is a sufficient number of licences to be dealt with so that persons need not have to wait for a whole year before their applications are heard, and then find in many cases that they are turned down as the result of bias on the part of licensing justices.
§ Captain MACDONALD
No, I do not think so. If a licensing justice has any connection whatever with the liquor trade he is precluded from sitting as a licensing justice. On the other hand, it is an uncontrovertible fact that hundreds of licensing justices are only licensing justices, and only sit because of their bias against the licensing trade. If it cuts both ways why should men who openly express their antipathy to any connection with drink or the licensing trade be allowed to sit as justices and reject every scheme which comes before them? There was a case in London the other day when some 79 magistrates sat to hear one application for an extension of a licence. The application was supported by 1,200 people throughout the area——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am at a loss to know how this affects the Bill under discussion and what it has to do with it.
§ Captain MACDONALD
I was trying to emphasise the point I made earlier as to the necessity for the Home Secretary to go farther than he has in this Measure I hope the right hon. Gentleman, in order to avoid any further anomalies, will make it clear to licensing justices what their powers are. Many of them do not know exactly where they stand as far as our licensing laws are concerned. They are at the mercy of their clerk, who very often does not possess very great knowledge of the law. In this particular case many applications were turned down because the clerk did not know whether the magistrates were justified in granting the extension of the half-hour or not. Some magistrates hesitated and the result was that some seaside resorts have been given the benefit of the doubt while others have not. I do not see why these matters should be left in the hands of licensing justices. The Home Secretary had a wonderful opportunity to bring in a one Clause Bill——
§ Captain MACDONALD
I think that the Home Secretary has lost a wonderful opportunity in this Bill of doing justice to licence holders and the general public. It would have been quite easy for him to have introduced an additional Clause stating that licensing justices have the power to extend the half-hour in the case of all applications this year. I appeal to the Minister to add another Clause to the Bill, to get over the anomaly which now exists and which will exist after this Bill has passed. I welcome the Bill so far as it goes and I thank the Home Secretary for his prompt action. I hope he will not lose any time in bringing forward a Measure which will remove other anomalies.
§ 11.56 a.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I rise to support the Bill. As the House knows, I was rather closely connected with a Bill known as the Licensing (Standardisation of Hours) Bill, which received I suppose about as much enthusiasm from the Government Front Bench as any proposed legislation of the kind is likely to receive from the Government. But, even so, supporters of that Bill are very reasonable. They are always prepared to support any Measure of the Government which is likely to lead to greater liberty. Therefore, today we turn our cheeks to the smiter and we welcome this very small advance. Undoubtedly if the Bill passes it will be an indication that special circumstances ought to be very carefully considered by magistrates. It will inevitably lead to a certain amount of increase of hours at certain times of the year to certain persons who desire that extension, and they no doubt will make the most of it. So far as it goes that is good.
I confess, however, that when my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said that, although he did not welcome the Bill he was prepared to support it, I thought there must be a snag in it somewhere. But for once there is no fault that I can find with my hon. Friend's legal arguments on the Measure. I have one great fault to find with the hon. Member. When interrupting my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike) he ventured to introduce the name of Mr. Bradman, as 512 apparently a sort of picture of what sportsmanship and lack of alcohol would lead to. If the hon. Member for Bodmin had been honest about it he ought also to have mentioned the greatest cricketer of all time, Dr. W. G. Grace, who was never known to refuse a little alcohol. I know that the hon. Member is a master of statistics. If he will carefully examine the records of the time when Dr. Grace played for Oxford or Cambridge, I think he will find that copious draughts of old ale in the evening had no effect on the doctor's average in the matches next day.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
If my hon. Friend will pursue his investigations he will find that the remark I applied just now to Bradman applies to the greatest of English cricketers to-day, J. B. Hobbs, who made a declaration in the same terms.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I can say at any rate that the greatest of English cricketers, Dr. Grace, drank ale and scored centuries. There is one serious point that I would make regarding the Bill. The Standardisation of Hours Bill was not only attacked by the Opposition but was criticised by the Government, because we were told that we were not doing away with sufficient anomalies. We were told that in certain instances it might be that the anomalies between district and district would be increased. It is interesting to find that in this Bill we have a Measure which, although advantageous, is absolutely bound to increase anomalies between district and district. Unfortunately some magistrates are eccentric creatures who are bound by nothing except their own feelings. We shall find broad-minded magistrates giving the extra half-hour in many districts, particularly where there is a good deal of popular pressure. On the other hand you may be unlucky enough to live in a district which could just as well make use of the extra half-hour, but you have a bench with a considerable number of magistrates who never turn up at any time other than the sitting of the Brewster Sessions, and the extra half-hour will not be granted. The spirit of envy will grow up in parts of my own constituency, I know, and in other places. I think that the Government will have to face the fact that we shall never get full satisfaction in the country so long as nominated justices, often out of touch for years with the requirements 513 of the country as a whole, are given complete and outstanding power over and above the elected representatives of the people in Parliament, who are very much more in touch with the ordinary man in the street. That is by the way. I would like finally to commend the Bill. I feel sure that for once we shall have the remarkable experience of finding a decent Measure supported by all sections of the House, and that it will remain decent nevertheless.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Captain A. Hudson.]