HC Deb 17 February 1937 vol 320 cc1189-90
Miss Horsbrugh

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to control the sale in Scotland of methylated spirits and of methylated spirits in admixture; and for other purposes connected therewith. I do not intend to take up the time of the House with arguments to prove the disastrous effects of drinking methylated spirits, or in substantiating the contention that the evil in Scotland is extensive enough to warrant control. I believe that those effects are well-known to hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies, and are appreciated by them. Far be it from me to say that this practice does not extend South of the Border, but if the control which we suggest for Scotland works satisfactorily, the Bill will no doubt be pointed out in future as one more instance of the superiority of Scottish over English law, and its adoption by England will, I believe, be suggested.

The main provisions of the Bill which I am asking permission to introduce are based upon an Enactment by the Parliament of Northern Ireland which has proved satisfactory in dealing with this particular evil. Hon. Members are probably aware that retailers of methylated spirits have to obtain a yearly Customs and Excise licence. It is proposed in the Bill that certain further conditions be attached to the granting of a licence, such as the registration of the applicants with the local authority, the keeping of a record of sales and the selling only upon receipt of an order signed by the purchaser, stating the purchaser's address and the purpose for which the spirits are required.

This is not a party Measure, because it has the support of hon. Members in different parts of the House. I believe also that is has the approval of a very large section of public opinion in Scotland. If the permission for which I am asking be granted and the Bill be not opposed at a later stage, and if the House sees fit to refer it to the Scottish Stand- ing Committee, surely the combined wisdom of all the Members representing Scottish constituencies will be able to strengthen what may be found weak in the proposed machinery and delete any provisions which appear unnecessary, and so devise a scheme which will find favour in this House and in another place and which will, while restricting to the minimum the inconvenience to those who sell or use mineralised methylated spirits for legitimate purposes, should provide a means in Scotland of combating what I am convinced is a real menace to the mental, moral and physical welfare of our people.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Miss Horsbrugh, Mr. Chapman, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Guy, Mr. Erskine Hill, Mr. Hunter, Sir Douglas Thomson, and Mr. Westwood.