HC Deb 06 February 1945 vol 407 cc1991-3
Mr. Graham White

On a point of Order. Is it not proposed to call the Amendment to this Clause in my name, in page 5, line 20?

The Chairman

No, the Amendment is beyond the scope of the Bill and is, therefore, out of Order.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. White

I ask to be acquitted of the intention of arguing on this Clause an Amendment which you have just ruled out of Order, Major Milner, but in the course of the Second Reading Debate I raised the question of the position of Excise licences under this Clause, and my right hon. Friend, for the Government, said that the matter would be looked into, as it apparently had not been considered up to that point. It struck me as being a little odd that it should not have been considered, because as long ago as the Royal Commission on Licensing it was reported upon and was further reported upon by the Morris Committee, on which this Bill largely rests. They definitely recommended that the question of Excise licences should be considered. It may be that the point I am raising comes under another Statute or Regulation.

The Solicitor-General

I am not quite sure whether I fully understand the point which the hon. Gentleman is making.

Mr. White

We know that before a grocer's shop is opened a licence, or permit, has to be obtained, and it may be that an Excise licence would require to have the same authority, in which case, for the life of that order, this question would not, presumably, arise. It is an untidy and disorderly proceeding that if a licensing authority plans an area someone should be able to come along and, on payment of a small fee, open as many places as he likes. Such procedure should be condemned. This point has given rise to considerable anxiety among many licensing authorities, and perhaps my right hon. Friend can give us a little guidance or enlightenment.

Miss Wilkinson

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that we have this matter in mind and that the position will be carefully watched. If it is found that wholesale dealers are taking advantage of the provisions of this Bill to prejudice the field of the licensing planning authority the problem will have to be considered again along those lines.

Mr. White

Can there be a check-up as to whether these businesses are covered by the Businesses Registration Order?

The Solicitor-General

I think that what my hon. Friend has in mind with regard to Excise licences is that under Defence Regulation 55B the Commissioners of Customs and Excise have discretion to refuse a licence to wholesalers where they were not in business before September, 1939. They have discretion as regards new entrants to this particular class of business, and that still remains when they are not controlled by the licensing justices.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.