§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The Order is for the Third Reading of the Civic Restaurants Bill. I would like to call your attention to and ask your guidance on the fact that the Bill to which we are being asked, technically, to give a Third Reading is a Bill which does not contain the very fundamental alterations made in this House during the course of the proceedings on the Report stage. The Bill has not been reprinted or amended. It is a little difficult for us, unless we have particularly good memories, to know exactly what are the contents of the Bill we are now being asked to consider.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
It is not unusual for the Third Reading of a Bill immediately to follow the Report stage without reprinting. In those circumstances there is not time to reprint the Bill. Hon. Members on both sides can be assured that if it could have been done, it would have been done. There is, of course, a copy of the revised Bill on the Table, which the right hon. Gentleman can peruse.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I quite appreciate—both of us have been present on such occasions—that Third Readings often immediately follow the Report stage. To hon. Members who have been in the House at the time, it has appeared to be a continuous process. However, on this occasion some 48 hours have elapsed since we concluded the Report stage, and surely it is not unreasonable to suggest—I hesitate to put it this way because I am not sure whether Mr. Speaker or yourself, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is not the officer responsible—that, whoever is responsible, it would have helped our convenience if we had a reprint of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That point will be borne in mind. In point of fact, on this occasion time was too short. The Report stage was taken on Monday, and the Bill was first put down for Tuesday, 1410 the following day. That being so, there really was not time for reprinting.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
May I with great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, ask if there is any precedent for taking the Third Reading of a Bill in which changes of importance have been made without there being before the House a copy of the Bill incorporating the changes? I admit that the Third Reading often follows the Report stage rapidly—
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Vice-Chamberlain of the Household)
There is a copy here.
§ Mr. Eden
It is true that there is one copy here, but does the hon. Gentleman think that is enough? There is more than one Member of the House, and every Member is entitled to a copy. I am glad the hon. Gentleman has made that interruption. That shows just the mentality we want to avoid. The fact that there is one copy available is not enough. All I ask is that it should not be regarded as a precedent that we are now being asked to discuss a Bill of which there is only one copy on the Table.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
There was one vital Amendment which makes the Bill to which we are asked to give a Third Reading much different from the one dealt with on the Report stage. It is important for Private Members to have an opportunity of seeing the revised Bill in order to see the actual form in which it appears for the Third Reading. The proper course would be to defer the Third Reading until the change is made.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am advised that there are quite a number of Precedents, but I certainly sympathise with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. In this instance there was not, in fact, sufficient time. The circumstances will be borne in mind, so that this will not become a precedent.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
May I with great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, draw your attention to the fact that when we have a Third Reading following quickly on the Report stage, it is usually a Bill which is not of a very contentious nature? This Bill was very highly contentious and one on which very many hon. Members voted differently from the way they usually. vote. We have not got a copy and we do not know how the Bill now reads. Does that not add 1411 gravely to our difficulties today, when many hon. Member on all sides of the House are seriously exercised in their minds on this subject?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
On the point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is not the issue very simple—whether this Third Reading can proceed under the present circumstances, without the Bill, completed as a result of what took place on the Report stage? If that is so, was there any right for the hon. Members who have spoken, to raise and Debate this point?
§ Wing-Commander Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it seems to me that our request for more time is quite reasonable, because when the discussions on the Report stage finished on Monday evening, it was quite clear that the Third Reading would not be taken the following day.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
Then may I put my point in a slightly different way? The vital Amendment to this Bill was one dealing with Scotland. It was taken on Monday when a large number of Scottish Members were away from the House. Now they are asked to give their final decision. The Government have had nearly three days in which to have the Bill printed, but are not giving us an opportunity to see it.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)
I am sorry this situation has arisen. It is not the first time such a situation has arisen in this House; complaints have been made before about the short time hon. Members are able to have a reprinted Bill in their hands. There have been a number of cases. [Interruption.] I wish hon. Members would give me a chance to make a statement of three or four consecutive sentences without interruption. I do not as a rule interrupt others. Am I not right in saying, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that 1412 this Bill now, on all major issues, including the controversial point which the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. H. Morris) made, is substantially the same as it was when it was introduced on Second Reading?
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is substantially the same, Scotsmen, after all, are less than 10 per cent. of the population of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".]
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman may be perfectly correct as far as figures go—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is really not a point of Order. I would be grateful if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not make a pretext for asking a question as a point of Order, when it is one of merits.
§ Mr. Eden
With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman-the Lord Privy Seal was in the middle of his speech. He was explaining to us how a major change in the Bill was no change at all, and I should be most reluctant to stop that speech. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will carry his explanation to a conclusion.
§ Mr. Greenwood
As regards the question of licences, the Bill, so far as England and Wales are concerned, is as it was when introduced into this House. The one change which has been made at the wish of the Scottish people—and it is their business and not ours—is that the provision does not apply to them. Therefore, in my submission if the House is reasonable, it will be admitted that none of the hon. Members has missed an opportunity, and therefore we might well proceed with the Third Reading.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him whether the Government have made any attempt to get the Bill printed in time for today?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I do not know that it is the Government's business; it is the machinery of the House which is concerned with that.
§ 4.34 P.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summerskill)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
In the absence of my right hon. Friend, it gives me great pleasure to move the Third Reading of what is a very short, but at the same time, as I think hon. Members will agree, a very important Bill. It makes a most important contribution to the social legislation of the country, particularly that legislation which is administered by local authorities. We have during the past years given local authorities powers to operate services ranging from refuse collection to symphony concerts, from public baths and wash-houses to ballet dancing in the parks. Now we propose to empower them to conduct restaurants, and to engage in all those activities normal to the catering trade.
I confess that at times during the passage of this Bill I have marvelled at the objections which have been raised by hon. Members opposite; objections which I am sure, they will in time agree had little substance. I am convinced that hon. Members opposite who have opposed this Bill at every stage, will, in a few' years time, when their constituency has a civic restaurant in its midst, reluctantly confess that the civic restaurant is conferring benefits on their constituents. I see opposite me today many hon. Members representing seaside resorts. I had expected to receive support from those hon. Members but throughout, they have been particularly vocal in opposition.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I will tell the hon. Member if he will exercise patience. I think hon. Members representing seaside resorts will agree it is significant that the right hon. Member for Bournemouth (Mr. Bracken) has not raised his voice in opposition, although there are many civic restaurants operating successfully in Bournemouth.
§ Dr. Summerskill
If I recollect aright, on the Second Reading of this Bill the 1414 right hon. Member for Bournemouth was sitting on the front Opposition bench. I remember he interrupted me on two or three occasions, not on the merits of the Bill but because I think he was feeling in that mood. The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) asked me why hon. Members representing seaside resorts should support this Bill. I recognise that hon. Members have fought valiantly for those constituents of theirs who are conducting catering establishments, but surely the real wealth of a seaside resort is derived from its visitors, and a progressive seaside local authority devotes a great deal of time in planning to increase the amenities of its town in order to attract more visitors. Sea air and bands on the pier may be very desirable, but I should have thought that, for the lowest income groups, cheap and wholesome food is the first essential of a successful holiday, and this the civic restaurant undertakes to provide. I dare to predict that when hon. Members from these seaside resorts who have opposed this Bill face their constituents, perhaps at a meeting during the period regarded as a holiday, they may have interjections from those people who would have been deprived of this benefit if hon. Members opposite had had their way.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I have already explained that they are not the hon. Member's constituents, but surely the town the hon. and learned Gentleman represents, Brighton, derives its wealth from the holiday makers? At the times I visit Brighton during the summer, the promenade is congested with holiday makers spending money. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman who represents that town should have had them in his mind when he was opposing this Bill?
Fears have been expressed that the restaurants will either become too enterprising or that they will fail to display initiative and will be run at a loss. Hon. Members need not be apprehensive. This, after all, is not a completely new venture. We have had a trial run in the British Restaurants, and those hon. Members who have a British Restaurant in their constituency will agree that, for the most part, they have been extremely successful. These restaurants have been conducted by responsible representatives 1415 of the town, and these people have not shown a desire to indulge in anything but what might be regarded as legitimate trade. Unfortunately, some hon. Members are apt to regard a civic restaurant as a sinister competitor in the catering field. This has not proved to be so in the large number of cases where these restaurants have prospered. I have examined the returns of many hundreds of British Restaurants in this country, and I have been convinced that the British Restaurant and private establishment are not mutually exclusive, but complementary to each other.
Powers contained in the Bill give the right to local authorities compulsorily to acquire sites, and this has provoked a certain amount of opposition. Since the Committee stage, I have made further inquiries into the matter. I want to explain to the House that people who operate a catering establishment in an area which may be compulsorily acquired, will be fully safeguarded.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)
May I ask a question? The hon. Lady has raised a question which was dealt with in Committee, when she said that this happened in Coventry. We have now heard that nothing of the sort happened, and no alternative sites were offered there.
§ Dr. Summerskill
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) very courteously came to me the day before yesterday, and said he would raise this matter. Therefore, I was anxious to explain to hon. Members who heard my first statement, that since I made that statement, the town clerk of Coventry has made a further communication to us to the contrary. I will deal with Coventry now, because it was on the Clause dealing with compulsory purchase that the right hon. Member for Southport brought up this matter. Hon. Members of the Committee will remember that I was told a certain injustice had occurred in Coventry, owing to compulsory acquisition of land. I feel you might rule me out of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in this matter, and perhaps it is not proper to discuss the domestic matters of Coventry city council. But the Chairman of the Committee gave me an opportunity to make a statement after Clause 4 was dealt with, and I think I ought to amplify it at this point, because I understand that the matter is to be raised later on. Hon. Mem- 1416 bers will remember that I said the town clerk had told me that the "Geisha" café was on a site which was to be compulsorily acquired. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) has just said that the owner of the "Geisha" café had not been offered an alternative site. I understand that powers are embodied in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944, which compel a local authority to offer an alternative site. If I am wrong hon. Members will dissent, but I think I am right. Although the owner of the café may not yet have settled on a site, I understand that powers are there, and he will be given one. Hon. Members will agree that the powers which have been exercised at Coventry under the Town and Country Planning Act have no relevance to this Bill at all.
The point I wanted to make in regard to Coventry was this. We asked the town clerk to let us know what restaurants might be acquired situated in an area to be compulsorily acquired under the Town and Country Planning Act, and he devoted himself to that question. I told hon. Members that the town clerk had no knowledge of a "Barrack Square Cafe," although the right hon. Member for Southport told me that the cafe in which he was interested was the Barrack Square Cafe. The town clerk now tells me that there is a Barrack Square, but there is no intention to acquire that compulsorily under town planning. There is a Barrack Square Cafe. The city council of Coventry own the cafe, and for some time have been considering terminating the tenancy. They are considering putting a civic restaurant on that site. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is a little improper for us to speculate on the reasons why a local authority want to terminate a tenancy. The last thing I want to do is to cause anyone any embarrassment over this question.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
You have been kind enough, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to allow this matter to be raised. It was an exceptional case, and the chairman of the Committee did allow the statement. I am, quite frankly, staggered at the action of the town clerk of Coventry. It is inconceivable to me how a man in that position could provide the hon. Lady on two separate occasions with completely misleading information. It just is not 1417 true. Naturally, in perfect good faith, the hon. Lady said that the town clerk knew nothing about the Barrack Square Cafe—
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
On a point of Order. No doubt this is very interesting, but a discussion on the conduct of the town clerk of Coventry cannot be in Order in this Debate. What is in Order is what powers the Bill gives to local authorities.
§ Mr. Hudson
The whole gravamen of the charge was that those powers should be used, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food stated in Committee they would be used, inA fair field and no favour."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, Standing Committee C; 10th December 1946, C. 42.]We are not criticising the town clerk, but we are criticising the fact that, in the only known case, the action taken disproves what the hon. Lady said.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The right hon. Gentleman has not been asked and, therefore, is not entitled to make a speech now. The hon. Lady should now continue her speech. Personally I am puzzled as to what this about Coventry has to do with the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Finally, I want to deal with compulsory purchase. I have made further inquiries, and I find that in cases where a local authority decides to acquire a site on which there is already a catering establishment, the local authority must, in the first place advertise its intentions. It has, of course, to inform the owner, and if any valid objection is lodged, a public inquiry will take place. The results of the public inquiry will then be examined by the Minister of Health, who will then decide whether the acquisition is to go forward. I think hon. Members will agree that the owner is safeguarded. I would remind hon. Members that when we are talking about a catering establishment, it might mean a kiosk where cups of tea and sandwiches are served, or it might mean a shop where fried fish is served. It would be quite unreasonable to impede the progress of town planning by denying the local authority compulsory power to acquire a site on which a catering establishment is situated.
1418 I will say a word about the licensing provisions. I remind the House that they merely confer on the local authority powers possessed by every catering establishment in the country. I see the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) in his place. I want to assure hon. Members from Welsh constituencies that they need have little fear that these powers will be abused. I have a special interest in Wales. I understand and admire its culture and its customs. I think that the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen will agree that the local authority representatives in Wales are probably better known to their electors than those in England. In fact the relationship is entirely different. I believe I am right in saying that a councillor there is often chosen because of his personal qualities, and not necessarily because of his political affiliations. Therefore, in Wales one finds the councillor very near the people.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I appreciate that the hon. Lady is familiar with the culture of Wales, and she will be familiar too with the national conscience of Wales, which is as strong as national conscience in Scotland, and which desires exemption in the same way.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Yes, but I think the hon. and learned Member will agree that legislation in Wales is not the same as it is in Scotland. That is why my right hon. Friend decided that Scotland must be dealt with in a different manner. To continue with what I was saving about Wales, the hon. and learned Member will, I think, agree that the councillor is very near his people. That is the safeguard. It will be difficult, in Wales, for a member of a local authority to be irresponsible in the matter of administering this particular provision. May I say a word to the Scottish Members? [Hon. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"] I see opposite me a number of Scottish Members, including the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling).
§ Dr. Summerskill
I want to assure them that the necessary machinery to implement the pledge given to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will be forthcoming. I believe that every hon. Member, from whatever part of the 1419 country he comes, will find that a well-conducted civic restaurant will add to the amenities of his constituency, provide for a long felt want, and provide not only good fare but good cheer, and particularly it will introduce a little variety for those people who lead dull and monotonous lives.
§ 4.53 P.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
The Parliamentary Secretary said that this was an important Bill. The Minister of Food, when moving the Second Reading; referred to it as "a small Measure." I am certain that the hon. Lady is right. It is an important Bill and is intended by hon. Gentlemen opposite to be an important Bill. It is therefore, regrettable that the hon. Lady's speech was so short and scrappy, and very largely taken up with breezes on the front at Brighton, and an account of rather remarkable goings on in Coventry. In this House, it is most desirable, when an important Measure reaches its Third Reading, that the arguments for and against it should be properly marshalled. That was, I understand, the old tradition of the House. I do not think that the hon. Lady would pretend that she has marshalled the arguments at all.
Justified tributes have been paid by both sides of the House to the services provided by British Restaurants during the war. I have no doubt that these institutions, under the less robust name now conferred upon them, will equally find a great many customers in peace. The reason for that, as every hon. Member knows, is that any institution or shop of any sort selling unrationed food at the present time will always be popular. That is not, of course, because the existing traders are unwilling, or indeed unable, to supply the need, provided only that they could get the food and the facilities to extend. There are plenty of people who can give much better service in their own shops, and a great many who are very anxious to start up if they could get the necessary facilities. I have myself written at least 12 times to the hon. Lady asking for more fat for fish fryers, and for such things as permission for ex-Servicemen to start up village food shops. She has generally refused these requests. I do not in any way blame her for that. She has to work within the global amount 1420 of food that she can get hold of. The important thing about this Bill is that we are not giving more food to the people. What we are doing is municipalising a certain proportion of it.
The political controversy on municipal trading is a very old one, and dates well back before the days when Mr. Joseph Chamberlain pushed forward municipal trading in the last century. I will touch briefly on two of the old arguments. I say briefly, because although they are important, it is the new arguments that now need to be driven home. The first and most obvious of the old arguments against municipal trading of this sort was that an existing trader might be taxed to subsidise a competitor. In Clause 3 (2) it is laid down that a civic restaurant must be solvent within three years, but the Clause proceeds to make heavy qualifications to that provision. What it amounts to is that the Minister is empowered to allow a restaurant to go on indefinitely whether it is paying its way or not. Under Clause 3 (2, b) he may do this if he thinks that circumstances may change. The Minister of Fuel and Power has been waiting for circumstances to change ever since he has been in office. Mr. Micawber waited the whole of his life for circumstances to change. If he, the Minister, waits for circumstances to change he could very well go on indefinitely keeping going a non-solvent concern subsidised by the rates—and subsidised at the expense of the existing trader. That is the first of the old arguments. The second is the extreme scepticism which many of us on these benches feel about municipal accounting in these matters. If one looks at the Bill one sees that the form of accounts is to he as prescribed by the Minister. I do not think that we have yet had satisfactory answers on such points as whether, in fact, a true economic rent will be charged, and whether proper provision will be made for depreciation.
I will now leave the old arguments. I wish to deal with much more important arguments which have only been lightly put so far. The conditions under which a private trader operates today in this country are very different from those of the time of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. Any trader of any sort in this country is dependent, in order to earn his living, 1421 on the favour of a number of Ministers and on the favour of his local authority. He is dependent on their favour to get the food he must sell, the fats for his cooking, for his fuel—coal, electricity and gas; he is dependent upon them for his linen and his clothes, even for getting a small repair done or lick of paint applied. He is dependent on them in any case of structural alteration or rebuilding or launching out into any new venture. Therefore, we have the position that that private trader is absolutely in the pockets of those Ministries and his local authority, very often acting together.
I would ask Members in all parts of the House to consider this question: Do they honestly believe that when it comes to the sharing out of scarce resources, the private trader will get an equal share with the local authority? I do not think it will happen. I think that the local authority is bound to get a preference. The Minister said in Committee that he was all for a fair field and no favour. Under these circumstances we shall not get that. In our present economic condition the purchasing power and the value of money are steadily diminishing, but at the same time the value and importance of the coupon, the docket, the licence, the permit and above all the value and importance of the favour of officials are steadily increasing. The small trader therefore is faced with a most difficult position. I well remember that during the election hon. Gentlemen opposite said a great deal about their care for small traders, and some of the small traders may have believed it: This is a serious warning to them.
I turn now to the licensing question. The hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), who is the expert on this matter, has now gone out and I am no longer under his eagle eye. He raised the question of this pledge on the non-licensing of civic centres. I actually signed that pledge, but I will not enlarge upon it now, because hon. Gentlemen opposite have already so many pledges in the pawnshop that it is hardly worth while taking this one down from the peg. The defence of the licensing provisions has taken a number of varying forms, and the hon. Lady just now repeated one of the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food. He has been very subtle on this matter and has used the strategy of indirect approach, 1422 because he realised that this was a provision which would be offensive to a great many people in all parties all over the country. He further realised that he could not defend it on the ground that a licence was necessary for the restaurants, because in fact they have got on during the war, and are getting on now, quite well without this particular provision.
He therefore tried various indirect methods of justifying it. One first method he tried was to say that he could not be the judge, that this was a matter which every local authority must decide for itself, and far be it from him to take away power of any sort from local authorities. The workers he said and the people of this country were now fully adult and able to make this decision for themselves. That, boiled down, is what he said. I have two comments to make on that argument. The first is that what he is really doing is to say to an urban district council, "We are taking away your hospital, your electricity undertaking, your gas works, your buses, and we will probably manage to contaminate your water supply, and therefore your real function has gone. You are already retired, and the Government will do for you what has been done for many other respectable retired people—we will let you keep a pub." The second comment that occurs to one is that if the criterion for giving these powers is whether the people are adult or not, and whether they are able to judge these things for themselves, how strange how extremely depressing it is that the Scottish people have not yet attained maturity or adult status. They are still adolescents throwing snowballs at each other in the arctic gloom.
The next, and even more subtle, form in which the right hon. Gentleman attempted to defend this was by saying that after all it was probably wrong, but it would not happen very often. He said he thought that in many cases councils would not apply for these powers, and in many cases when they did apply for them they would not be granted. That seems to me very like the argument of those who defend the judicial whipping of children on the ground that most benches do not inflict it. One cannot really defend a thing on the ground that most people will not do it; it is a poor argument.
I should like to comment on the question of the difference between Scotland and 1423 Wales on which the hon. Lady has touched? The excuse for excluding Scotland, as the House will remember, was the difficulty over the difference between the licensing laws of Scotland and this country. The Minister said it would be very wrong if a council were to be judge and jury in its own cause. I hope he will go on thinking that, because if he does he must vote against the Third Reading of the Electricity Bill, the Town and Country Planning Bill, and the Transport Bill, because the Government are taking powers to be judge and jury in their own cause in every one. It was not a very difficult thing to get round. The Minister, on Report, went so far as to say that this difficulty about the licensing laws in Scotland made it impossible to apply this Clause to Scotland. If hon. Members will believe that they will believe anything. The last person who believes it is the Minister. He did not believe it on Second Reading, and he most emphatically did not believe it upstairs, because when he was talking to the Committee on this point he said:The Bill, as it stands, without any Amendment whatever, can apply to Scotland. There is a question of interest and doubt on the licensing provisions of the Bill, and there is an Amendment down in the name of the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. … Even without that Amendment—which I tell the Committee at once I am prepared to accept—which will make the position perfectly clear, the Bill as it stands can apply to Scotland "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 10th December, 1946, c 26.]I do not think that anyone can really doubt that the whole matter is a put-up job. I very much wish the Minister were here. I understand he is now carrying on his duties among the fleshpots of America. I thought that on Report stage he showed that curiously pervasive vulgarity which is so typical of Etonians who have taken the wrong turning like himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would have liked to enlarge on that subject, but as he is not here, I will pass the matter over in relative silence.
On the subject of Wales, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) has pointed out, since the Licensing Act of 1881 Wales has had different licensing laws from England. Temperance is a matter about which people in Wales are as concerned as people in Scotland, or probably more so. But what has hap- 1424 pened? Hon. Members opposite have got hold of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and have bullied him to such a degree that he has gone to the Ministry of Food and insisted on Scotland being taken out of the Bill. I would say to my hon. Friends and colleagues in the Welsh Parliamentary Party that this is a very great lesson to us, and if it were in Order I would say that that lesson is that there should be a Secretary of State for Wales.
That is all I have to say. I sum up by asking hon. Members in all parts of the House—because this is a matter on which the parties are divided—to reject this Bill firstly because, while doing nothing whatever to increase the food supply to the people, it does and must act unfairly on existing traders; to reject it secondly because its licensing provisions are offensive to a great many people, and lastly because the Bill is offensive to Wales.
§ 5.9 P.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I was very surprised to hear the hon. Lady, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill, bring in the seaside resorts and say she could not understand why hon. Members representing the seaside resorts should not support this Bill. I thought I had told her, and the right hon. Gentleman responsible for this Bill, on more than one occasion, both upstairs and on the Floor of this House, many reasons why seaside as well as other resorts should reject this Bill. A very excellent reason has been advanced by the hon. Member who has just spoken, and it is a most obvious one. If seaside resorts were to be given more food as a result of civic restaurants being opened, instead of special powers being given to open civic restaurants at the expense of the people who are now paying rates and taxes and trying to keep their establishments going all the year round in order to be able to cater for summer visitors, there might have been some sense in it.
This Bill gives powers to local authorities, without hating to prove that there is a consumers' need in the district, although that has to be proved by anybody else wishing to open a catering establishment in a district, to make compulsory purchases, to run at a loss for five years or more, to sell liquor, all of these being things that would be very much welcomed by existing catering establishments 1425 at seaside resorts and, indeed, anywhere else. But these powers are denied to them. It is for that reason we maintain that for the Minister to talk about a fair field and no favour is utter and complete humbug.
This Bill is humbug from beginning to end. To describe it, as the Minister did, as a simple Measure is ridiculous, for it has the most wide and vicious implications in the few Clauses which it contains, and the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary has not said anything today to convince me otherwise. As to the seaside resorts, one of which I represent in the House, unless the Minister is prepared to increase the quantity of food that is allocated to the area, there is no likelihood of any of the local authorities in it asking for powers to start civic restaurants, because they are fair-minded people, and they realise that to do so would be unfair to the existing establishments which are prepared, if a consumers' need is proven and further quantities of food are made available to them, to extend their business and meet all the catering requirements for the area, and to do it all the year round, without increasing the rates or the taxes by running catering establishments at a loss. I take the strongest exception to this Measure and I shall vote against it.
The argument has been made, and no doubt it will be trotted out again, that every hon. Member on this side of the House who opposes the Bill does so because he represents the brewery interests. That is utter and complete nonsense. I do not represent, and never have represented any brewers' interests. I wish I did, for it is one of the industries which so far has escaped nationalisation. Indeed, this Bill is only a first step towards the nationalisation of the catering industry If local authorities are stupid enough to do the dirty work for the Government in taking over establishments and setting up civic restaurants and pubs, it will need only one more step for the Government to bring in a Bill to swallow them up, as it has done gas, electricity, water supplies, transport, and so on. Local authorities, today, are in the position of being rates and refuse collectors, and if the present Government are in office much longer only the refuse will be left to them, because nobody will be able to pay rates. To say that those who oppose the Bill and the Clause which gives licences to civic restaurants to sell 1426 liquor are representing the brewers' interests is wholly and completely wrong, and grossly unfair.
On more than one occasion I have expressed my views on this Bill very strongly. I hope hon. Members will realise what are the implications of the Bill. It is a vicious Bill, introduced under the guise of national necessity, to continue what was indeed a necessity during the bombing raids of the war, when British restaurants were set up for the purpose of providing meals for bombed-out people. I am told that in most districts, although there are a few exceptions, that need does not exist now. Taking it far and wide, I am convinced that catering establishments, given a chance, would provide for all the catering needs of the community. I am convinced they could do that in my constituency, and in any constituency, if they were given a fair chance I strongly oppose the Bill and shall vote against it.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
I want to congratulate the Government unreservedly on this Bill; it is a pleasure for me to do things unreservedly. I think that our local authorities, with their energetic, democratic spirit these days, will fully appreciate the opportunities which this Bill gives. I was not on the Committee that considered the Bill, and perhaps the point I want to make was stressed in Committee more than it has been in the House, but I have been surprised how little reference there has been made in the Debates to the person whom I consider will benefit most of all from the Bill. The modern housewife is being invaded by the B.B.C. and by the daily Press with news of what is going on in the outside world, but I do not think anyone in any part of the House would deny that in a modern age, with new opportunities opening before women, in theory, those who have to carry the daily domestic burdens are having a harder time now than they have had for a very long time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] They are having a harder time because a rising standard of democratic education and awareness makes them now, as never before in the past, alive to the fact that life should have more beauty, more comfort—
§ Miss Lee
The hon. and gallant Member has made a fascinating interjection. I tell it to my constituents in Cannock. If any hon. Members opposite were to come into the midst of a typical mining audience, or an audience of engineers who were on part time before the war, and ask them about the milk which the children can have now, and the general level of food in their homes now, they would say that it is better than it was before.
§ Miss Lee
Is the hon. and gallant Member agreeing or disagreeing with me? We must, in this House, try to get the facts straight, because a great portion of the daily Press is continually misinterpreting them. As far as food is concerned, our country is going through a very bad time, for reasons known to all of us; but now, in the depth of our difficulties, I assert that there are millions of poor families in Great Britain who are getting a fairer share of the nation's food than they did before the war, when the shops were full of goods, and there was no lack of rich harvests.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
The hon. Lady says that people have more food now than they did before. If that is so, why is there great necessity for all these restaurants?
§ Miss Lee
The hon. and gallant Member has misunderstood me. I will try again to explain what I mean. Some people are getting more food than they did before the war. Other people are getting less, or getting poorer qualities. All of us on this side are proud of the fact that in time of scarcity the children, the weakest and the poorest and those in the most exposed positions, are given a fairer share. Some of us in this House may not be getting the variety and the luxury that we would like, but I assert again, and no hon. Member would challenge the assertion that there are millions 1428 of families in Great Britain—of agriculture workers, miners and others—formerly unemployed or on short time who are getting a fairer share of such things than they got before. I am sorry that I have been taken off the line of argument upon which I began.
I was saying that the modern woman has now a vision which we, on this side of the House, intend to see materialised, of how life can have more grace and more comfort than at any time in the past. By this Bill our local authorities will have an opportunity to give to our women something more than food. The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) stressed, as other hon. Members have done, that the Bill will not increase the total quantity of food that we have to distribute. That is true, but there is another thing to be considered. I have been observing these matters very closely in my own area and in other parts of the Midlands. I can assure him that a great many women who are working alone a great deal in their houses during the day suffer from the loneliness and the monotony of their work. Even more than do men who have been out in some other place earning their living during the day, they need companionship and company. They need an opportunity to exchange points of view, not only about domestic matters but about things generally. Again and again, some of the best of our working-class matrons find that the only place they can go to in the evening is the public house, to which they may not want to go.
I could take hon. Members to parts of our cities where, in the evening, life closes down, and all is lonely and drear. About the only bright place to which people can go is the public house. I was brought up in Scotland where the thought of a woman crossing the threshold of a public house meant that she lost all reputation, but I have learned in England to recognise that we have very different customs and cultures in this small island. I know many women in the Midlands who keep their houses spotlessly clean and are fine women in every way who do not mind accompanying their husbands or friends to the local pub in the evening, to have a glass of beer.
The Bill will enable the most imaginative, thoughtful and enterprising local authorities to create real folk houses in 1429 the evening, where, if a man prefers a cup of tea to a glass of beer he will not be considered a cissey, and if a woman wants a glass of beer instead of a cup of tea she will not be regarded as a hussy. The division that we have in this country between the tea drinkers and the beer drinkers is a historical hangover. We are living now in a world where most of us are trying to get rid of barriers and false prejudices separating racial and religious groups. Why all this segregation of beer drinkers from tea drinkers? Even here in this House the same distinction is preserved. The other day I had, as visitors here, a charming couple, friends of mine. I know their customs because I have been entertained by them in their cottage home. I knew that father wanted a glass of beer. and I knew that mother wanted a cup of tea They came here just after 6 o'clock in the evening. The facilities offered in this House are completely archaic. They are most ungracious. At that time in the evening I could either go into the pub with dad, or into that long coffin-shaped room, facing the terrace, for tea. I decided to go to the tea room, push along the tray and get a cup of tea for "Ma," but I could not go to both places at once. It was suggested to me that I should carry a cup of tea into the bar. I make that point in passing. This House could set an example of modest but gracious hospitality. At present it does not do so. I hope that some of our municipalities will set us an example. The powers conferred by this Bill enable them to do so.
I want our civic restaurants to be luxurious and to be designed with the psychology that recognises that if people have comfortable homes they will not want to go out to uncomfortable restaurants or cinemas. If people have uncomfortable homes that is all the more reason why our communal places should give them not only comfort but the stimulus and example of good design. Anyone who saw the long queues of people waiting to be admitted to the "Britain Can Make It" exhibition will realise the enthusiasm of the people of this country for beauty and design Frankly, when entertain friends, sometimes from America and sometimes from Europe, I am not proud, to put it mildly, of the places that our private enterprise has provided, before, the war and since. Where can I take my friends?
1430 We have a few expensive restaurants, but the general level for ordinary pockets is not good. I am hoping that, by their beautiful walls, roofs, flooring, lighting and lamps, and fittings generally, our civic restaurants will be made by our local authorities into shop fronts, in which we can show off the best of good British design and good taste. I have been in some civic restaurants and enjoyed them and I have been in many others that I did not enjoy. I would like to see a little thought and vision displayed, rather than the genteel bleakness which was no doubt necessary in some places in the war days, but which should be abandoned in favour of more pleasing designs.
I hope that our local authorities will plan places of beauty for our people. If they will make the best use of the powers that we are giving them they will be doing a great deal to bring families together. Some women accompany their menfolk to the pubs. Others stay at home and sometimes suffer from isolation. It is very hard for a woman to have to choose between virtue and a glass of indifferent beer which she does not want anyhow.
I make an appeal to beer drinkers. Hon. Members opposite appear to be scared of appearing as friends of the brewers. Apparently I am the first friend of the brewers who has spoken, for I have a suggestion to make to the fellow who wants more beer than he is getting at the present moment. Why does he not realise that the pubs have almost a monopoly now? Most plans for civic restaurants are still plans that belong to the future. There is nothing to prevent our publichouses serving teas. Why do not, the fellows who want more beer, encourage their local pubs to serve hot tea when it is demanded, as well as beer? I have seen too many women, in recent times, urged "to be a sport," and have a glass of beer, when they did not want it. I suggest to beer drinkers that they would do themselves a bit of good, and that the brewers would do themselves a bit of good also, by my proposal. The brewers have practically a monopoly. They have the facilities and they have the power. I am not talking about special war conditions. The brewers want people to buy drinks and to stand a round of drinks. If one has enough money one can afford to stand drinks all round. A person can get a reputation for generosity without hurting himself in the slightest. But it is extremely 1431 embarrassing if a person has to stand a round of drinks and he cannot afford to do it.
I hope that a great deal of that social embarrassment where people are asked to drink too much or to drink when they do not want to drink at all, will be ironed out by the provision of gracious civic restaurants where one can have beer, sherry or tea as one pleases. I hope that they will be places where men, women and children, will be able to go with happiness and freedom. My last point is to urge that these civic restaurants should give mother an opportunity when she goes out in the evening to be served properly. She has been working hard at home and making meals all day long. She should not have to push a little tin tray round the civic restaurant, but, for a change, she should be properly served and waited upon.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) in the very persuasive argument she advanced in favour of this Bill. I merely propose to make a few comments of my own. This Bill is now divided like Gaul into three parts, Scotland, England and the rest—the rest being Wales and Cornwall. As they have been ignored in the Bill, I also will have to ignore them. That leaves me with two parts. I am afraid that this Bill is just one further example of the failure of the Government to understand Scotland. We are again dragged into an English Bill. There is not the slightest conception on the part of the Government or the Scottish Office that Scotland has a different philosophy, a different mentality and, I would suggest, even a different morality to England. However, while I must register those facts in my protest against being tagged en to England once again, I realise we must accept the Bill as it is.
For that reason, and from that point of view, I congratulate the Secretary of State for Scotland on bowing to the storm of Scottish opinion in regard to licensing. He has shown a wisdom that might well have been followed by the Minister of Food, or the Parliamentary Secretary who is now representing him. I have never known Scotland to be more united upon any subject with the possible exception 1432 of Prestwick, than they have been on this question of licensing. Indeed, it has been a most unique and unusual experience for me, and for most of my Scottish colleagues, in that we have been supported by the most irreconcilable and hitherto divergent elements in the community. The Churches, for whom we have naturally a great respect, the great temperance societies, among them the British Women's Temperance Association, which is one of the most respected bodies in our country, and the "trade" have all been united. They have been united to such an extent that at times I felt that if a General Election were happily to take place in the near future, I would not need to argue the general incompetence of the Government or the particular fatuity of the Minister of Fuel and Power to ensure that my majority was once more restored to its normal proportions.
I opened many of these restaurants under the old title of British Restaurants, and I opened them gladly. In wartime, they served a most useful purpose. They provided cheap and good food for the many workers who were torn from their homes and dumped in unusual surroundings. Also, they provided a centre for mutual intercourse and understanding. As many of our working visitors came from England—and the South of England at that—they undoubtedly served a great and special service in Scotland. For that reason, I would have welcomed this Bill if I had thought that it was intended that these places should be used purely as social community centres where young people, and perhaps those not so young, might meet together for gaiety, brightness and dancing as some relaxation from the dark, drab and dreary existence which most of them suffer today.
But, hard-headed and logical idealist that I am, I turn to Subsection (5) of Clause 3 and find that I can discover no acceptable answer to the objections which arise there. As hon. Members will see, that Subsection lays the burden on the ratepayer for three years, or longer, according to the whim of the local authority, to make good the losses of any civic restaurant. In other words, that means that an ordinary restaurant, tea shop or hotel, must subsidise in the form of a direct tax payment its very own competitor in the form of a civic restaurant. That seems to me a fantastic proposal. It 1433 is one to which only Gilbert and Sullivan could do justice.
I come now to the English section of the Bill. I confess that here I am in something of a quandary. When I drafted a few notes for this speech I had assumed that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food would be in his place. I thought out a few somewhat acid comments to make upon the speech which he made during the Report stage. I thought that that was one of the most unpersuasive and incomprehensible speeches that I had ever heard from a Minister. I thought back to those charming broadcasts which he made during the war, and I asked myself where his capacity had gone. I reminded myself of those powerful arguments he used to use for Mosley's new party, and, further back—
§ Sir T. Moore
You just caught me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, before I referred to the right hon. Gentleman's Communist affiliations as well. However, I will drop that. What I intended to say was that the quandary in which I find myself is that I am now faced with the hon. Lady, for whom I must confess I have a very deep personal regard. I find myself quite unable to go further. My hands are tied, and my tongue as well, in dealing with the hon. Lady as they would not have been, had the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food been here. I strongly object to the English section of this Bill. I strongly object to civic restaurants having a licence at all. There are two reasons for my objection and they have been referred to by previous speakers. First, as was mentioned the other day, it introduces increased drinking facilities under the cloak of ministering to the feeding requirements of the working population. Second, it introduces unfair competition with the established licensed public-houses which we have throughout our various communities. To my mind, those are fundamental objections which almost dissipate the values which these proposals had when the Bill was first introduced.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
I have often heard the expression "unfair competition" used in this Debate. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has used it now, as one of his main objections to the Bill. Would 1434 he explain exactly what he means by "unfair competition"?.
§ Sir T. Moore
Certainly. Possibly the hon. Gentleman was out of the Chamber when I started my speech. I mean that these restaurants will be in competition with the established public houses. If these civic restaurants lose money in competition with the public houses, the public house owners as ratepayers, will have to subsidise from the rates their own competitors, and that, to my mind, is extremely unfair. Therefore, I cannot find any justification for this Bill in the terms in which it has been presented to us, and I have not yet found any speech by the hon. Lady, by the Minister or by any hon. Member on the other side capable of persuading me to vote for it.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carrnarthen)
There was one statement in the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) in which she dealt with different customs, manners and views on life in various parts of the country, including that which she represents. I fully agree with the hon. Lady, but it is very difficult to get Whitehall to agree with that view. It is the most difficult thing in this country to get Whitehall to recognise that there is a difference between Wales and England, or between Wales and London, or that there is a similarity between Wales and Scotland—and not merely upon this Bill. The various Departments of Whitehall all have the same view, and this has been revealed in this Debate.
I do not propose to repeat the arguments which I used on the Report stage, but there is one matter to which I wish to draw attention. It is a point which has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch). It is an important point, and it concerns a new development in this Parliament. This new development is that many important Bills are being sent upstairs for discussion. We are losing control of them, and that loss of control is a very important thing, from the democratic point of view and from the point of view of the electors. We have, at the moment, four major Bills upstairs. I am not going to allude to these Measures, I merely wish to say, that that being so, the decision of a Committee upstairs assumes a far greater importance than it had under our normal procedure. In these new circumstances, we have a Committee 1435 upstairs, carefully selected and with a Government majority, in which there cannot be an adverse vote against the Government, except with the support of the Government's own supporters.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. and learned Member is not in Order, on Third Reading, to go into detail as to what happened on the Committee stage.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I do not want to pursue that further. I have done all that I wanted to do, and the point had already been brought to the attention of the House. On the Report stage of this Bill, a large number of supporters of the Government, with great courage and independence, refused to vote for the bad provisions inserted in this Bill. I am in substantial agreement with the hon. Member for Flint, that there might be an argument for saying that, apart from the licensing provisions, it might be a desirable Bill to pass into law, but, since these licensing provisions have been introduced during the last stage of the Bill, I hope that, while there is yet time, in another place, the Government will promise to reconsider the matter and perhaps remove the whole of these licensing provisions.
The introduction of these provisions has a far wider implication than the mere provision of amenities for the feeding of the people. Especially has it this far wider implication in the smaller towns and the country areas. I hope, therefore, that the Government will give further consideration to this matter before the Bill comes back to this House. I regret that a Government from whom, upon this issue, I, and, I am sure, their own supporters, had expected a very different standpoint and a very different result, should have seen fit, upon the Report stage, to insert this provision in the Bill.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Sargood (Bermondsey, West)
I do not intend to intervene in this Debate for long, as I only wish to make reference to one small point, but it is a point which I consider to be a very important one. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have repeatedly cast very serious aspersions upon the accuracy of the accounts likely to be kept by those municipalities which are running these civic restaurants. Apart from the 1436 fact that, as a member of a public authority, I resent very strongly indeed the suggestion that I—or, indeed, any other member of a public authority—am likely to be less efficient and less honest in dealing with my public duties than I am in dealing with my private capacities, I would remind hon. Members opposite that everyone of these accounts of civil restaurants will be submitted to the public auditors. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they would be willing to have the accounts of their own trading concerns audited by the public auditors? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I want to ask them whether they will agree to the same searching audit as that to which the accounts of public authorities are subjected, and I suggest that we ought not to hear any more about these aspersions on the accuracy of the accounts of civic restaurants.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Brigadier Low (Blackpool, North)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bermondsey (Mr. Sargood) has accused us of casting aspersions on the accuracy of the accounts of these civic restaurants, but, in fact, the points which have been made from this side of the House have always been concerned with the form in which the accounts would be presented. Perhaps I might leave that point there
The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), who has just left her place, was speaking a short time ago of the burden which the housewife is called upon to bear today. I see that the hon. Lady has just returned, and I would say to her that the cause of these burdens is shortages. In fact, I think the hon. Lady will probably agree with me that, in every case, those burdens are due to shortages. How is this Bill going to affect these shortages? Is there, indeed, anything in this Bill which will help to relieve the shortages which are the cause of the housewife's burdens? One would hardly expect the Minister of Food to be introducing a Bill which has anything to do with greater production. We all remember how strongly he has warned us all against the "produce more" cry.
The Minister of Food expressed great enthusiasm for "this small Measure" when he introduced it on Second Reading when he said that he, personally, had treat enthusiasm for it. I think that my 1437 hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) has debunked the "smallness" of this Measure, and he was aided by the Parliamentary Secretary herself. It seems to me that to say to this House that the primary object of this Measure is to continue the activities of British Restaurants is nothing more or less than "hooey". The Minister of Food will shortly he able to understand what "hooey" means, if he does not do so already.
§ Brigadier Low
Apparently the hon. Gentleman does not. The Minister expressed his enthusiasm for this Measure, and, having told us how fond of it he was, has gone off on a mission to Canada. It was interesting to read a report in "The Times" that the British Food Mission's spokesman at Ottawa had said yesterday that there was nothing urgent in the visit of the Minister of Food to Canada and that his talks would be purely routine. If that is so, it seems slightly discourteous for the Minister to leave the country before his Bill has passed its Third Reading, and it also appears to make nonsense of his enthusiasm for it. For the very excellent reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint earlier in the Debate, I propose and I hope that many other hon. Members will do likewise, to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. From the small Measure which this Bill was supposed to be, it has grown to one which is designed to satisfy the Minister's wider purpose, that of extending municipal trading to include the activities of restaurants and ancillary services. It might have been less pernicious had it been left to the courts to decide what were ancillary services. But the Bill goes further than that, and says that local authoritiesmay carry on such activities incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid as they consider necessary or expedient.Had it been left to the courts to decide what were ancillary services, there might have been some safeguard for the ordinary private man, but under this Bill it is not, apparently, to be left to the courts, but to the local authorities themselves to say what they will do. It is a vast extension of present day municipal trading to allow a local authority, in addition to 1438 carrying on the ordinary activities of a restaurant, to sell biscuits, food and tobacco. From the arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite who have spoken during the course of this Debate, that extension has been made specially for the purpose of enabling local authorities to make profits, and thus make a success of the undertaking.
In passing, I would ask the Minister, or whoever is going to reply, to explain how, in the present situation and when of all commodities food is in short supply, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have to make the supply of tobacco shorter still, it is supposed that the Government are going to be fair to the private trader if they allow local authorities to set up new shops or new undertakings for the sale of biscuits, food, tobacco, and so on. As the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary knows, she refuses from clay to clay applications made personally by ex-Servicemen and private traders to be allowed to take part in such activities. She also frequently refuses applications sent to her by hon. Members, including myself, on behalf of constituents in cases which we think, and with which she often agrees, are ones of real hardship. How does she justify giving a power to local authorities to start such undertakings? It must be grossly unfair to the private trader, unless the Ministry of Food are going to introduce into this country so much extra food and tobacco. Perhaps the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary can tell us about that.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
Am I to understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is opposed to the staffing of any new canteen facilities anywhere?
§ Brigadier Low
Not at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman must not understand that; he must understand that I am opposed to allowing local authorities, who have, as my hon. Friend said, the favour and the ear of Ministries, to get in front of the large queue of private traders and charitable institutions who are trying to start such enterprises today. I and a great many of my hon. Friends are opposed to that, as are also, I believe, some hon. Members opposite. It is for that reason that so many of us in this House oppose the extension of municipal trading in this way, which, as my hon. 1439 and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) told us a short time ago, can only result in unfair competition.
In her short speech the hon. Lady referred to seaside resorts, and seemed to imply that, in years to come, these resorts would be regretting the action of hon. Members of this side of the House who represent them in voting against this Bill. I cannot understand how she can think that. Surely, she realises that the services which are given in seaside resorts in the form of catering establishments, both large and small, are carried out by private traders. From what I and other hon. Members have said in the course of this Debate, it is quite clear that the introduction of municipal enterprise will be to the detriment of those private traders.
I will finish my argument by stressing once again that this Bill has absolutely no effect on the main problem to which the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock referred, the burden on the housewife due to the shortages. This Bill has simply nothing to do with greater production. If it does anything at all, it will employ more local government servants, and will, therefore, take more men away from productive enterprises. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] Why the hon. Member says "Nonsense," I do not understand. He may know how new municipal undertakings can be set up without, ex hypothesi, increasing staffs. The primary purpose of this Bill, if the honest and only true purpose had been to extend British Restaurants where necessary, would be a good purpose. It has been emphasised often enough from this side of the House that that is not its real purpose. I submit that the purpose of this Bill is to widen the exent of municipal trading more than ever before, and to interfere with the legitimate rights of private persons carrying on catering activities. For that reason, I shall vote against it.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
There is a considerable part of this Bill to which I give my very hearty approval, and when the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) talks about the dangers of municipal trading and the defence of the private trader, he is inviting me with all his power to throw 1440 in my lot behind the Minister in support of this Bill. As I said, when the Bill was introduced on Second Reading, I regarded it then and I regard it still as a means whereby a very great and beneficent social change will be carried out. I do not forget the war years, and my experience in this matter. I believed then, and I believe still. that there are great masses of young people for whom entirely inadequate provision is made both as regards the food that is available to them and the opportunities afforded them for meeting one another and for sitting down together and discussing the problems of the day. I saw no provision at all for that requirement. During the war many of us voluntarily sought to extend, as far as possible, the whole idea of the community centre and, using the British Restaurants, to establish better facilities for the people to meet and eat together. On Second Reading I observed that this Bill endeavours to carry out that idea; I said then, as I say now, that we cannot risk the opposition that comes from the benches opposite in this matter. I intend to support the Bill for these reasons.
The Bill had a great blemish which is now more clearly seen after today's discussion. I am afraid the degree of the indelibility of that blemish has been increased by many of the things which the Minister has said. It will be a good exercise after this is all over—and I have no doubt it will be undertaken by some of the Churches and the temperance movements—to peruse all the reasons which the Minister has given for the introduction into the Bill of the parts relating to licensing powers. At one time he was talking about the necessity for permitting licensing facilities in only a few of the restaurants. He mentioned a conversation that he had with the hon. Member for Duddeston (Mrs. Wills) who told him that Birmingham, which will probably have 30 or 40 or even more of these civic restaurants, was thinking only in terms of one or two restaurants in the centre of the town because it was thought it might be a good thing as an exception to permit one or two. But in other parts of the discussion he sought to make a case for drinking with meals, claiming that this was a process of temperance education. He was so keen about the idea of everybody having a glass of beer with his meals 1441 that I wanted to know why drink should not be provided in everyone of these restaurants.
When I listened to the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) giving her ideas on the excellence of beer, side by side with the excellence of tea—she put her money on both horses—it occurred to me that she was really making the same sort of point which the Minister had made, and the only conclusion which one could draw from her plea—I am sorry I have to refer to her in her absence, but she will, no doubt, read what I have said—was that she was trying to make out a case for the licensing of every one of these restaurants. In passing, with regard to the question of tea and beer for which she made such a passionate plea, I would say that there is a sort of Gresham's law in this beer and tea question. Beer is left in currency and tea disappears. The public houses have had long enough to try out this experiment of becoming restaurants for the supply of teas if they had wanted to, and if the people who go to public houses had wanted it. But that situation has not developed. Indeed, very often where the attempt has been made beer has been left triumphant. My feeling about these restaurants is that the more we bring in these licences the more we shall fail to produce in the civic restaurant the type of institution which would really serve the highest social purpose.
Another thing I must say before we take leave of this Bill is that I think it is most unsatisfactory that we should accept the possibility of running these restaurants successfully in Scotland without licences, and pretend that the situation in England is different and that licences are required in order to make a success of this enterprise. I think better of England than that. I am sure there is as good a chance of running the restaurants well in England as they are intended to be run in Scotland. They were run well all through the war. The British Restaurant made its way again and again without the assistance of liquor. There is no reason why the civic restaurant should not continue to do so.
I think, too, that we in the Labour Party must recognise that we have done a very ill service to local politics by the decision which has been taken on the question of licences. Do not let us forget that when a town council discusses 1442 whether a restaurant should have a licence and the facts, get into the Press, the inevitable consequence will be that those who want beer and those who do not want beer will press municipal councils, and a new conflict will be raised in municipal politics as a result of this proposal. This very point of keeping the drink question separate from politics, and putting the choice as a matter of a direct option to the voters, is involved in the decision of the Labour Party to accept local option as its fundamental policy years ago. This is the reason why in some of our Dominions, particularly in New Zealand and in parts of Australia, they preferred to have this question settled by local option so that it could be entirely apart from the other issues. At times the Minister spoke of it as a process of local option. I submit that it is a local option which will bring the drink question into municipal politics to a degree which none of us on these benches really desires, and I am very sorry that it has happened. At any rate, as I have already indicated, while the churches and temperance movements are left to fight in whatever way they can to make this Measure less of a blemish, I hope that an effective effort will be made against the municipalities who want to introduce licences and that successful appeals will be made to the magistrates' courts against them.
I think we ought to have settled the issue here. So far as I am concerned, I have registered my vote and raised my voice in the hope that the fight might have been settled by us here. We have left it to be fought out in the country. It will be very difficult for many of us who have struggled over this question for years, and it will be very difficult for many of my hon. Friends who have in their constituencies many voters who regard this as an extremely serious issue. I wish we had never been troubled by it at all. I think the Minister has done a grave disservice to our party work by his proposal. Although we intend to accept the Bill—I certainly am prepared to vote for it—I will use every means I can to emphasise the necessity to get rid of the processes of licensing wherever it is adopted. Unless the influence of drink can be kept out of any social reform which it is desired to bring about, the drink tends to bring down to a lower level the best that can be attained by an otherwise effectual social effort.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stone)
It is a great honour for me to follow the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), who has made such a powerful and impassioned speech appealing to hon. Members opposite to vote for this Measure with guilty consciences. I wish to follow the hon. Member on one point only, namely, that many people throughout the country have believed that community centres could be a development of outstanding value to the various communities. There is however no question whatsoever but that, by the introduction of the Clause allowing for the sale of drink the whole project of building the community centres round the civic restaurants has been completely vitiated, and that plan with which this Bill might have set out originally has now been hacked away entirely by the Minister on the Front Bench opposite.
We on this side of the House have always said that we are in favour of civic restaurants, if their necessity can be proved. There is one advantage which civic restaurants have today, and it is that calorifically less and less can be distributed further and further. This is essentially a continuation and a perpetuation of a crisis measure. I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary this question: If the only conceivable advantage of these methods of communal feeding can be that the crisis through which we are passing at the moment is to continue, is the Minister of Food not saying vicariously by the presentation of this Bill that we in this country are to go on living under our present conditions, with shortages of food and shortages of fuel, which make it difficult for housewives to obtain and cook their meals? There, I agree, the civic restaurants may have a use. But they can perfectly well be continued and carried on by means of an Order. They can perfectly well be brought forward, after proving necessity, by Private Act of Parliament, as happened prior to the war. But we cannot assume that the crisis is to continue. The Government have stood by the fact that there will be more food—eventually. At the moment, these restaurants do no good except to the individuals who attend them, and who may get greater calorific values than on the short ration, available
Is it reasonable to suppose that in the years to come this country will continue under this deprivation? Is it reasonable 1444 to suppose there will be a shortage of domestic fuel? Is it reasonable to suppose there will be a permanent shortage of food? I suggest that it is not reasonable to suppose that. What was, in point of fact, happening—there were many signs of it happening—was that the number of people eating in civic restaurants was declining; but since this present crisis they have probably increased. In the natural course of events it would have been expected that the civic restaurants would go out of business. Their numbers and their powers have diminished, and are diminishing, whereas according to the Government by this Bill they ought to be increased. I regard this as a typical reversal of the normal and satisfactory order of things in this country. The object of this Bill is to extend the system of community feeding on a large scale. Normally that would not happen. What people want normally are small restaurants in which they can have a good time and in which they feed at home.
§ Mr. Fraser
What I mean by "a good time" is that normally the restaurants should serve two purposes: the purpose of pleasure, and the purposes of necessity—
§ Mr. Fraser
Let me finish my sentence. We believe that the need for restaurants is either that of necessity—with which I have already dealt—or that of pleasure. As has been demonstrated by the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), these restaurants are not providing the pleasurable surroundings; they merely allow housewives to go out of their homes. I on this side of the House maintain that the home is the basis of the whole social order, yet the housewife is to be encouraged by this Bill to go out of her own home into a communal restaurant, where she is provided with food at a subsidised rate. It is to be subsidised twice: once by the Government and once by the community.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member is not entitled to resume his seat and indi- 1445 cate that he is giving way by pointing at another hon. Member.
§ Mr. Fraser
I intendea to continue, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I sat down in order to give way to the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Jones).
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
On a point of Order. Is not an hon. Member entitled to resume his seat in order to invite another hon. Member opposite to make an interruption?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The noble Lord is incorrect in assuming that that is what I meant. What I meant was that the hon. Member was not in Order in sitting down and pointing to another hon. Member. It is quite in Order, and is an essential part of the Debate, for hon. Members to give way at times.
§ Mr. Jones
I did rise previously, but the hon. Member asked to be allowed to complete his sentence. It was a rather long sentence. I wanted to ask the hon. Member if he realised, in reference to what he calls "a good time," that to the ordinary working men and women the opportunity to go to a British restaurant and to obtain a meal, as and when they think fit, would be an extremely good time?
§ Mr. Fraser
I thank the hon. Member for that interruption. The point I am making is, that at this time we do not want to encourage, on an enormous scale, the restaurant habit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] We believe that the best time available to people should be in the home. We also believe that, outside the home, places such as restaurants and clubs should be made available for necessity or for pleasure. We believe the continuation of these wartime measures is, in general, a bad thing. As the hon. Lady said, it is an important social trend. For my part, I believe it is a bad trend.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Does the hon. Member mean it is a bad thing for the women to go out of their homes?
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes. I was coming to that. I believe the average woman's place is the home. I am sure the Minister of Food might, at moments, have thought that, following on from some of the polemics in which he indulged in his earlier political career. The continued drift away from the home will be in 1446 creased by this Bill. As we can see from some of the Clauses, it is perfectly in order for a municipal authority, when it has charge of such a restaurant, to subsidise it from the rates for at least two years, and to produce food at an absurdly low cost to the consumer. That will lead to a great deal of political jobbery and chicanery.
My hon. Friends on this side of the House have already put the main points of objection to the Bill, but I want to put this one final point. We believe—or, rather, I believe—that it is of great importance that we should see people are given full encouragement to have and to live a private, domestic life in their homes; for the home is the basis of our society; and that basis is better preserved by keeping a decent table in a decent kitchen in one's home, than by our going out to these community restaurants—which will never he community centres, as I pointed out. Let us encourage people rather to enjoy their average evenings at home, and wives to provide decent food for their husbands when they return from work.
§ 6 20 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Bolton)
I had not intended to intervene in the Debate, but I now want to repeat what I said on Second Reading. Speaking as a very strong teetotaller, I cannot see where the Opposition are in regard to this Measure. Yesterday, we were talking of spending millions of pounds more on the educational services, and saying that people had a higher degree of intelligence now. Today we are talking about the fear that young people and intelligent working folk may do certain things. I want to suggest that this Bill should be looked at in the proper perspective. All it seeks to do is to allow local authorities, composed of highly intelligent people—they must be because they have been through the riddle of the opinion of their fellow townsmen—to allow the local authorities the right to ask an intelligent bench of magistrates, justices of the peace appointed for their knowledge of local affairs and social matters, for permission to have licences installed in civic restaurants. That is all that the Bill seeks to do. But one would think that this Bill was dictating to the British working man and his wife and everybody else, compelling them to go to some place where drink is served, and forcing them to partake of it. It is a ridiculous state of affairs. 1447 The whole opposition to this Bill is based upon the view of individual persons towards drink as such —
§ Sir W. Darling
I intervene only to say, not the whole of the opposition. There are much greater grounds for our objections even than that of drink.
§ Mr. J. Jones
I say that there is individual opposition on the ground of drink as such. There are too many individual objections. I listened to hon. Members opposite talking about the restrictions that the Labour Party, they say, is placing upon the workingmen of this country. When an opportunity comes to give the working class in this country the right to decent conditions in which to enjoy a drink, if they want it, at reasonable prices, then we get an outcry of this description. The whole thing is fantastic.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Does the hon. Member say that the Secretary of State for Scotland of his own party is fantastic?
§ Mr. J. Jones
I am not too well versed in Scottish affairs, and I am not wanting to be; and so I am not going to be involved in that question. I am speaking from the ordinary, commonsense man's point of view with regard to this Bill. I am no lawyer, which is a good thing. I do not want to be put in the position of having to prove that one of my right hon. or hon. Friends is right when he is wrong or wrong when he is right. All I want to say is that this Bill seeks an extension of communal feeding in what I hope will be proper conditions provided by the local authorities. That is all there is to it. I will not repeat what I said when I twitted the hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander Roland Robinson.) I would far rather see our people having a drink, if they desire to have one, in decent conditions—on the Continental system, if they want it, in open spaces—than see them being driven, as they are today in many cases, into dives and hell holes where drink is being served in deplorable 1448 conditions. This thing should be looked at properly.
I remember having a terrible thirst—and the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) will remember it, too—when neither he nor I could get any water to drink. I remember our water bottles were empty. I noticed that some of our friends were drinking things out of other sorts of bottles, but I would not do so. It is a matter of individual will power.
§ Earl Winterton
As the hon. Gentleman has referred to me, I hope he will make it plain that we both drank water.
§ Mr. J. Jones
Oh, yes. But I have seen men die—and so has the noble Lord—rather than drink something to which they were averse. I would do anything rather than prevent the working people of this country getting drinks, of all sorts, if they want them, in decent conditions. I think we ought to give people the right to exercise their own intelligence, and the privilege to go where they choose.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Jones); and, more particularly, I do not propose to follow his interesting relationship with the noble Lord on a now long ago occasion. The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss J. Lee), who addressed the House in her usual delightful way, made several statements with which one might deal; but there are two on which I should like to comment in passing. I agree very largely with her in saying that, if we are to have these civic restaurants, they should he made as attractive in every possible way as we can make them, in design, furnishing, comfort, and what they produce in the way of food and drink. It is a very desirable thing that the surroundings should be the best that we can get, if we are to have these civic restaurants. I differ from the hon. Lady in that she said that our people in this country are better fed now than they were before the war.
I am referring to the millions. As regards my constituency, which is a combination of urban workers and agricultural workers 1449 —and I think that other Members on this side of the House will agree with me—there is no question about it: they are not so well off in the matter of food as they were before the war. I do not think that such a remark as that—that our people are better fed now than before the war—should be allowed to go without contradiction.
I want to refer, m particular, to the Scottish side of the Bill, which has caused such great disturbance, not only amongst Scots Members, but also—and, perhaps, to a greater degree—amongst English Members and Welsh Members. The Bill was published last year, and, presumably, it was the result of a Cabinet decision. The Cabinet must have agreed to it In that Cabinet is the Secretary of State for Scotland. Now, the Cabinet, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, made it perfectly clear in that Bill which they produced for the consideration of the House, that they wished civic restaurants in Scotland to be enabled to have licences. That was as clear as daylight. In the Second Reading Debate there were protests about this—considerable protests; but the Bill was given a Second Reading with, again, the approval of the Government, and, particularly, of the Secretary of State for Scotland The Committee stage was reached, and then the trouble began. The trouble really arose, I think I am right in saying, over the question whether this Bill did or did not apply to Scotland, or could or could not. My right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S Hudson) was particularly anxious on that point, and so was my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). The Minister of Food answered that very clearly indeed; it has already been referred to, and I should like again to make reference to it. My hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division of West minster (Sir H. Webbe) said:It he can assure us that if the Bill, as 10 is now in front of us, wihout any Amend merit is carried it can apply to Scotland, then my point disappears.The Minister of Food replied:The Bill, as it stands, without any Amendment whatever, can apply to Scotland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C. Tuesday. 10th December. 1946; C 26]The Minister of Food then went on to mention an Amendment, standing in the name of the Joint Under-Secretary of 1450 State for Scotland, and stated that even without that Amendment the Bill could apply to Scotland. And so there was no doubt in the right hon. Gentleman's mind that it could apply to Scotland. As the House knows, the Government were defeated on that particular Clause. Right at the end of the Committee stage, on the sixth day, the joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland produced a very long and important Amendment, which was thoroughly discussed, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport was particularly anxious to know something more about it; it referred to the powers of local authorities in Scotland to borrow money in connection with this Bill. It had apparently been overlooked by the Government until the last minute, which seems to us to be a most extraordinary state of affairs. I should like to ask why it was overlooked. I do not think it would he wrong to say that the subject matter of this Amendment should have been introduced right from the beginning, if the Bill had been properly drafted by the Government. It is deplorable that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have allowed the Bill to go forward without such an important Amendment being in it.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am not sure to which particular Clause the hon. and gallant Member is referring, but I would remind him that we cannot, on Third Reading, deal with matters which are not in the Bill.
This Amendment was put into the Bill, although it is not printed in the Bill at the moment, because of this peculiar situation in which we find ourselves tonight. I feel, therefore, that I am justified in referring to it. The climax of this story of Government ineptitude came on the Report stage, when, to our astonishment, we saw that the Secretary of State for Scotland had inserted an Amendment, which was carried, entirely reversing in every respect the subject of licensing as far as it affected Scotland, and yet he, as a Member of the Government, had produced the Bill four months earlier, and had said that he did not approve of Scotland being left out of this matter. As I say, the position was reversed, and he said that Scotland would not now have licences. It was a complete reversal of Government policy, and there is no doubt that there is a 1451 great deal behind it. Protests by English and Welsh Members were made at once, and the Minister of Food stated quite clearly:We were convinced, although reluctantly, that that difficulty made it impossible to apply this Clause to Scotland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c 820.]
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. and gallant Member is now discussing something which has been excluded from the Bill.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
This Amendment has been inserted in the Bill, although it has not been printed in it. This Amendment is to the effect that the question of licensing shall not apply to Scotland, and the Minister of Food stated no less than three times that this part of the Bill could not apply to Scotland although, for nearly four months he had said it would apply to Scotland. That is most astonishing, just as the statements of the Secretary of State for Scotland are astonishing. The Secretary of State said four months ago that there would be licensing for Scotland, and then said later there would not be licensing. We have an example here of political tumbling.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. and gallant Member speaks of "political tumbling." Is it not possible for a Scotsman to change the mind of an English Minister?
Then why should we have to do the same thing for the Secretary of State for Scotland, because his mind has also been completely changed? This type of acrobatics may be very well for Bertram Mills Circus, but in serious matters in the House of Commons it is most reprehensible on the part of Members of the Government. I have no hesitation in saying that the way these two Ministers have treated this Bill has led to all the trouble we have had in these later stages. I am very sympathetic towards those Welsh and English Members who wonder how it is that Scotland is, first, to have licensing, and then is not to have licensing, and wonder why it should not also apply to them. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some information on what really went on. I think that the Amendment, excluding Scotland from licensing, is a good one, but it was put into 1452 the Bill by the Secretary of State for Scotland not for its inherent goodness, but as a piece of political chicanery. It is quite unworthy of him as a Minister, and it is unworthy of the country whose interests he is expected to support.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenyon (Chorley)
While giving general support to this Bill, along with many of my colleagues, I feel that I must raise my voice in protest against that part of it which permits intoxicating liquor to be served in these restaurants.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I feel that I must protest against the selling of intoxicating liquor in civic restaurants. The Government are making a profound mistake, and their action will receive throughout the country a great measure of disapproval I leave aside the question of whether drink is or is not a good thing, but if it is a good thing to sell liquor why has Scotland been excluded? I fit is a good thing, then surely Scotland also deserves to have it. I should like also to quote from certain speeches from Members on this side of the House, which indicate there is something unsatisfactory about selling or drinking of liquor. May I quote from what my hon. friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) said, on 17th February:I was once a member of a Labour club which sold intoxicant. I oppose Labour clubs of that kind, because that is not the purpose of the Labour movement; it has done indirect injury to the Labour movement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17TH February, 1947; Vol, 433, c. 836.]There, you have the claim that the selling of liquor in a club did an indirect injury, May I give a second quotation from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Jones) in that Debate, in which he said:I now refer to British Restaurant 'B'. In my constituency this restaurant is not far removed from some huge cotton mills where are employed many juvenile cotton workers, primarily females. It I were a J.P. in that district, and had to decide whether that restaurant should have a licence, and the restaurant was being used primarily by juvenile female labour, I should think twice before granting it, and so would any justice of the peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1947; Vol. 433. c. 844.]
§ Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)
Is my hon. Friend quoting those Members as 1453 eminent authorities on this business? Otherwise I do not see that those quotations have any special significance.
§ Mr. Kenyon
When an argument has been put forward from either side of the House, I think it is within the right of a Member to contest that argument.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
Does not the quotation which the hon. Member gave a few moments ago come from the speech of a former Minister, and a very respected member of the Labour Party?
§ Mr. Kenyon
It was from a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) the other day. He is not a Minister.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. The third quotation I wish to make is from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville)—
§ Mr. Tolley (Kidderminster)
Will my hon. Friend let us have the other part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton (Mr. Jones), in which he referred to the giving of a licence?
§ Mr. Kenyon
I would like to make my quotations in my own way. My hon. Friend the Member for Consett visualised a working man and his wife going into a British Restaurant, and he said on first thought:… there should be places like these … into which a man may take his wife for a meal and a drink, if he so desires. He buys his missus a lemonade.—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 17th February, 1947: Vol. 433, c. 847.]Why do these Members give u, the impression that there is something about intoxicating liquor which they would exclude from females, and which has admittedly done injury, in certain respects, in dubs? It there is something wrong with intoxicating liquor, no amount of good surroundings will put it right. The claim that we are creating good surroundings in civic restaurants will in no way right a wrong.
Now I want to deal with local option. A local authority submits an application to the magistrates for a licence. Many members of local authorities are also magistrates, and they will be interested 1454 in the matter as magistrates as well as local authority members. Is not that the reason why Scotland has been excluded? The point which faces me, as a licensing magistrate is this: Suppose a local authority submits an application to the magistrates for a licence, and they turn it down. Immediately, there arises, in that area, strong public controversy between the local authority, on the one hand, and the bench of magistrates on the other. While it is true that local authority members are elected by the people, magistrates are appointed. They are not elected and, therefore, the decision rests, not in the hands of elected members, but of appointed members. They do not express the electors' feelings, because they have been so appointed, usually by one person. I feel that this question will create, in a large number of areas, bitter controversy which ought not to exist. I do not feel that magistrates who are doing the work they are doing should be brought into controversy of this nature, and I, as a magistrate, wish to raise my voice in strong objection to it.
Magistrates are bound to take into account all the circumstances which surround the granting of a licence for any premises. In licensed premises, certain conditions govern the granting of their licence. Juveniles are precluded, and young people under 16 must not be served. In British Restaurants an increasing burden will be placed on those who are serving intoxicating liquors, because they will have to judge the ages of young people. In these restaurants there will be a larger number of juveniles than in any other place. The whole position is definitely unsatisfactory. This is a retrograde step, and it will, I am sure, be resented throughout the country.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
With the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon), I, and my hon. Friends on these benches, find ourselves in complete agreement. This is a retrograde step. Those were his words, and the hon. Member is right. It was because we, in Scotland, also thought that it was a retrograde step that the licensing provisions of the Bill do not apply to us. Let us, instead of facing the future, face the facts. The facts are as follow: Scotland rose in revolt against this Bill arid compelled the Scottish 1455 Labour Party to change their minds. The churches rose in revolt, the temperance movement, which represents hundreds of thousands of Scottish people, rose in revolt, the youth movements, the local authorities, and the co-operative societies in Scotland rose in revolt. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the brewers."] No doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite support the brewers. I noticed that in a recent Debate, the only hon. Member who supported the brewers was an hon. Member on the other side, who spent his time telling us what a fine thing it was to take one's wife into a pub and have a good old bottle of Guinness.
§ Major Cecil Poole
The hon. Member pointed to me when he said, "An hon. Member on the other side." I should like to make it perfectly clear that I was not the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Stewart
I did not give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the credit. It was the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville). Scottish opinion, represented by all these bodies, rose in revolt and demanded their Scottish Labour Members to reverse the policy which they had already agreed to. The Scottish Secretary was himself under compulsion to change the Bill as it then was. Why did these bodies rise in revolt against this provision? It has been the history of this country during the last hundred years gradually to take more and more control in this House of the drink trade. Gradually, year after year, decade after decade, we have imposed more and more restrictions on public houses on the kind of public houses, what they sell, when they sell, and how they sell. This Bill is doing the equivalent in England of extending the hours of every public house in the country. It is doing exactly that. And it is doing more than that—it is increasing the number of pubs in the country. This Bill will be known throughout Nonconformist circles as the "Civic Pubs Bill." Why have all these restrictions been accumulated throughout the years? Because we have been persuaded that unless we control the sale of liquor, great harm is done to the people. I observed that the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), and other hon. Members opposite, have said, "Why should not the British working man take his wife and family out 1456 with him to the pubs at night?"—to these grandiose, beautifully furnished, civic pubs?
§ Mr. John Lewis (Bolton)
Before the hon. Member leaves that point, in view of the fact that only a certain quantity of drink is available at the present time, surely the effect would not be to increase the amount of drink but to spread it over a greater number of places?
§ Mr. Stewart
If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Labour Party is going to be in for 20 years, and the depression is going to be as bad as it is now, he is quite right—if that is to be our misfortune for 20 years. The country and the world hope that very quickly we shall be in better times under a better Government.
I was trying to deal with the fundamental issues of this Bill. Why are we opposed to the extension of the provision of drink to civic restaurants? I want to address myself to the case of hon. Members opposite who ask, "Why should the British working man and his wife and children be prevented from going into these places and having a drink?" If hon. Members opposite had urged the production of better houses—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We are now dealing with the Civic Restaurants Bill, and not with the production of better houses.
§ Mr. Stewart
Either we stand for the sanctity and development of the British home as a centre of British life, or we do not. The moral issue dividing that side of. the House from this is simply this: We stand for the sanctity of the home to the greatest possible extent. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh at that; but that helps me. That is what we stand for. What hon. Members opposite apparently stand for, according to their statements tonight—with one or two gallant exceptions—is something quite different. That people should go out at night—a man and his wife and children should go into pubs., civic, private enterprise, or otherwise. That is a disastrous outlook for our country. If that is the issue, then let the people of Great Britain face the fact, that hon. Members opposite stand for British families going into pubs, at night. I do not.
§ Major Poole
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a simple question? I hope that he will give a simple answer. If this 1457 is a great moral issue, would the hon. Gentleman be prepared to support in this House complete prohibition of the drink trade in this country?
§ Mr. Stewart
Regulating the drink trade is one thing; prohibition is a very different thing, and I will leave it at that. I have pointed out the dividing line between the two sides of the House. It was said by the Minister of Food, in a very slippery speech, which became more and more slippery as it proceeded, that the reason that this provision in the Bill could not be applied to Scotland was because of the Scottish legal system. I do not want to be rude, but that approach is very near to political dishonesty. There is not a scrap of evidence for it. In Scotland we have a system of sheriffs, and we could have handed over to the sheriffs the duty of the licensing authority. Therefore, that is all humbug. The Scottish Secretary withdrew and Scottish Labour Members withdrew because they were afraid of the temperance vote and the Co-operative vote.
We are to have splendid, beautiful, well-designed places as the civic pubs of the future; but if they are anything like the present British Restaurants, I am sorry for the working class. Every local authority in England, dominated by a Labour majority, will see that there is a civic pub in the town, and drive its people into that civic pub by encouraging them to go there. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If it is suggested that they should go, then why not drive. them—subsidise, them, persuade them, produce publicity, make it much cheaper, and do everything to encourage the working man and his wife and children to sit drinking beer at night. I wonder if hon. Members will pause and think for a moment what it is they want in their own family lives. I speak personally—and I fancy that in this I represent the views of Members in all parts of the House—when I ask what is it that I, with my wife and family, like to do in the evenings? I like to be at home with them, and if we get a little tired of each other's company I like to 1458 invite friends to my home. Sometimes I like to be invited to other people's homes along with my family. That is the simple domestic life at which I aim and which I enjoy, and I do not believe the working class of this country want anything different.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not know why hon. Members laugh at these matters, or is it that they are laughing because they are simple issues? I cannot believe it possible that the British working man—and I am not altogether unacquainted with him and his habits—shares the same view as the hon. Member for Cannock, that he does not like his home and that he prefers to go out in the evening to the local pub and there meet his friends. I believe that the average working man prefers to be at home with his family and I believe that this Bill undermines that aim. For that reason, in my opinion, it is immoral and I am ashamed to find that when this issue was raised on the Report stage only seven Scottish Labour Members had the courage to vote, and all of them voted for drink. If the Scottish Members were persuaded of the high morality of not having this provision applied to Scotland why should they funk the issue when it comes to applying the same principle to England? Are they going to funk the issue tonight? I challenge the Scottish Labour Members to stand up to their principles and vote against this Measure. If they do not they are frauds and humbugs.
§ Mr. Montague (Islington, West)
I would not have risen to take part in the Third Reading Debate but for the references made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon) to what I had said on the Report stage. I thought that the question of the licences which might be applied for had been thoroughly discussed and really settled on the Report stage, but I have been quoted by the hon. Member for Chorley as saying that I had come to disagree with the idea of Labour clubs. That was an incidental remark in my speech, and I say now on that particular point, that I object to them, because running clubs is not their business as a political organisation, and does injury to that organisation whether 1459 it be of the Labour Party or any other party. I want, at this moment, to give my reasons for that. It is not a question of the morality of drinking. It is the fact that a club—and there are plenty of them in Scotland as well as in Wales—becomes affiliated with the Union of Institutes and Clubs—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The question of clubs does not arise as it is not in the Bill. Therefore, the hon. Member is out of Order.
§ Mr. Montague
The matter was referred to in a speech of mine and has been quoted here tonight. I wanted to make it perfectly clear why I made the remarks I did. However, I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as I do not want to infringe the Rules of the House. There is not much else I wish to say because I spoke on the Report stage when this drink issue was under discussion. But some other things have been said in the course of this Debate on which I should like to comment briefly. First, I deny the right of people who have all the facilities they want in their clubs and their restaurants, and who, as well, can use the facilities of this House, to tell the working classes what kind of life they have got to live. If these hon. Members are concerned so much with the morality of the working classes, my retort to them is: Let them look after their own morality, which will give them quite enough to do. It irritates me to hear people, who I know are not teetotallers, and who are members of clubs and have all the drinking facilities that they need, talk about the working classes as if they had to be pampered and wrapped in cotton wool, and could not he trusted to see a glass of beer on a table with a meal. It is nonsense to talk like that about the working and I resent it.
§ Mr. Montague
The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) is not Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy-Speaker. If I am out of Order—
§ Mr. Montague
—I am prepared to give way to the officer of the House who is responsible for seeing that the Debates are 1460 properly conducted, but I do not think I am out of Order in what I am saying. We have not to go very far from this House to find, for instance, Lyons Corner House, which is at the top of Whitehall. It is crowded day and night by people, not all of the working classes in the crude sense of that phrase, which is the labouring classes—but the general workers, such as those from the lower middle class. These people all use Lyons Corner House day and night, and beer can be obtained there. We find the children sitting round the table with their parents, and we all know that families go there to eat and drink. I have not seen any excessive drinking or bestiality such as hon. Members opposite have been talking about. One hon. Member talked tonight about home life and he seemed very concerned about the home life of the working classes. We have been working for decent home lives for the working classes for years.
§ Vice Admiral Taylor
The hon. Member mentioned Lyons Corner House. Have they got an off-licence or do they only provide drinks with the meals they serve?
§ Mr. Montague
This continual interruption of business is being abused, and I must ask to be allowed to develop my argument. I am not discussing the merits of an off-licence versus an ordinary licence. What irritates me is this reflection upon the class to which I belong.
§ Mr. Montague
It is not nonsense for hon. Members opposite who would be the first to object if their own personal habits of life were interfered with. They talk about supporting the morals of the working class of this country. So far as that is concerned, the working class should be left alone. One hon. Member in the course of this Debate referred to the Continental method. I know the Continent a little bit, and I know what the Continental system is. I have seen in the beer-gardens of Switzerland, Germany and Austria the kind of thing which, 1461 frankly, I should like to see in this country. One great moralist, in the person of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said on one occasion—and he said it in my hearing in the old Exeter Hall in the Strand—that if the drink system of this country were the same as it was in Germany, then he would have very little objection to it. In these beer-gardens there are foaming tankards of beer, stein and all the rest of it, and there one sees families enjoying themselves in a way that the people of this country do not know how to.
Really, one does not see this tremendous demoralisation because people get together away from their homes on occasions—and of course they want to be away sometimes. I want to take my wife—and I should want to take my children if they were younger—where we can have decency and comfort and where I can also have the glass of beer I want. It does not demoralise me. What a lot of nonsense it is to talk about demoralisation, especially when it comes from hon. Members who take their own families to restaurants in the West End constantly. It reminds me of the young fellow in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "Patience" who—… lostered a passion for alcohol. The consequence was he was lost to-tally, And married a girl from the corps-de ballet.'That is the attitude of mind that if you drink a glass of beer you will go to perdition. As I have said before, I do object to the abuse of alcoholic liquor and to the grossness of some of the pubs, but I do not see why one should insult municipalities like Bournemouth where there are perfectly respectable civic restaurants. I have been there frequently. I have attended symphony concerts by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and have then gone to the civic restaurant for a meal, and drinks have been supplied. Families go there after bathing and taking other forms of enjoyment in the city.
There is no bestiality in such circumstances. The bestiality exists in the slums. I represent a constituency a great part of which consists of sums. They would not like to be called slums, but in fact, the standard of housing has been that of slums ever since I have been connected with the area.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The question of slums does not come 1462 within the terms of a Bill to establish civic restaurants.
§ Mr. Montague
I will not run the risk of being out of Order again, but on the Report stage the subject was thoroughly discussed and today all kinds of extraneous questions have been introduced which really should have been answered by those who do not happen to be people who are fanatical with regard to teetotalism. I am not fanatical about it and I think that people should have the right to drink if they so desire. I do not want to extend drinking facilities but I do want to extend facilities for reasonable refreshment for the working class as much as for any other class. I object to one class being singled out on moral issues and insulted by the suggestion that if, through their municipal activities, they provide civic centres of refreshment for themselves they are going to fall down into a hell of drinking and squalor in consequence. It simply is not true, and it is not even true of public houses where they have—as some of them have in London—actually increased the amenities. They have done this in my own constituency by the very improvements they have carried out. Let us see that the people get justice, decent housing and decent conditions of life. Then we can leave the moral issue to take care of itself.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) succeeded in stirring himself to a considerable degree of heat over arguments which he was pleased, erroneously, to attribute to this bench and to my hon. Friends behind me. I have listened to practically the whole of the long Debates on the Second Reading, upstairs, on the Report stage down here, and now on Third Reading, and I have not yet heard anyone belonging to my party opposing any of these proposals on the ground that they were demoralising to what the hon. Gentleman was pleased to call the class to which he belonged. It had better be made perfectly clear that the objection which we have to the change made down here after what we had done upstairs is on the ground that it offended a very large number of people in the country I do not say whether they were right or wrong, but the fact remains that it does offend a large section of the people and 1463 since we are a democratic body representing democracy on broad grounds of policy we felt that it was not worth while offending the consciences of people who, whether or not we agree with them, are perfectly honestly opposed to what must and can only be for the benefit—if we assume it is a benefit—of a very small number.
Those were the only reasons for which we objected. The hon. Member for West Islington said that he objected to people who like their glass of beer or wine, and who can afford to belong to a club and to go out to restaurants, inflicting these restrictions on people—to use his own words—"inflicting these irritating restrictions on the class to which I belong." It is not we who are doing that; it is his own people. Is he going to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food does not like a glass of beer or wine? He has heard him say here in this House that taking a glass with meals was a good thing and ought to be encouraged. But it is the right hon. Gentleman himself who is inflicting these irritating restrictions on the class to which he belongs in Scotland—not we. The right hon. Gentleman had better remember—and the hon. Lady, too, for that matter. It is they who have imposed these restrictions on Scotland in order to enable the hon. Member and the people who think like him in his own party not to suffer those restrictions in Engand. It is humbug.
As I said just now, we have had a long discussion on this Bill. It is a Measure which at first sight appeared to be comparatively innocent, but as we have delved more and more into its implications we have found that far from being an innocent little Bill to enable local authorities to maintain British restaurants that were started during the war it is—as was pointed out by my hon. Friend today—a deliberate and, I am afraid, successful attempt to extend municipal trading to a very wide field. Incidentally, it has also become a Measure that had better be called "The Civic Pubs Bill" rather than the Civic Restaurants Bill. In the course of his Second Reading speech the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food said he was anxious to see claimed for British restaurants no more than a fair field and no favour. He and his Parliamentary Secretary have signally failed 1464 during the course of the discussion upstairs and on the Floor of the House to carry that claim into effect.
No concessions have been made to the cogent points we put forward. An hon. Member this afternoon asked why we did not trust local authorities considering that their accounts were subject to public audit. We have no objection to a public auditor and we realise that accounts may be subject to public audit. What we object to is the form of the accounts and the fact that there is no statutory rule laid down that in respect of these civic restaurants local authorities are to provide proper sums for rates and rent. The hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend the Minister, in course of the Debate upstairs, said, "Oh, but the Minister will lay down satisfactory rules for these accounts."
If he is going to lay down satisfactory rules, we cannot see why they should not be included in the Bill, and the fact that he refuses to include a specific provision in the Bill makes us doubt the good faith with which he made the promise. We had a long discussion and tried to get additional safeguards inserted regarding the power of local authorities to acquire not only sites but the buildings on the sites under Clause 3, and we quoted the example of Coventry, merely as an illustration of the way in which local authorities, given their head under the existing legislation, were behaving. The Parliamentary Secretary, with the permission of the Chairman in Committee, quoted some information she had received from the Clerk to the Coventry town council. I told her a day or two ago that, according to my knowledge, that information was incorrect. She appears to have made some inquiries of the Town Clerk of Coventry, and gave us today a revised version of the information. That information is equally wrong.
I do not want to go into it at great length, but merely as an illustration of the sort of thing that happens—and the sort of thing we were anxious to prevent happening—under the Bill During the discussion on Clause 3, it was distinctly stated that this particular town council had offered an alternative site to the owners of the cafe which had been requisitioned. Powers of requisition are extended and perpetuated in this Bill. I call your attention to that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to show that this is in Order. in fact, it was not 1465 so. The town clerk had completely misinformed the hon. Lady The owners have not been offered an alternative site. The council have merely acknowledged a letter received from the owners asking for an alternative site The hon. Lady said that the town clerk had under consideration the opening of the Pool Meadow Café as a civic restaurant. She went further and said that the town clerk had denied any knowledge of a café called Barracks Market Café. I have an advertisement issued by the City of Coventry in the Press. It states:… City of Coventry British Restaurants. Pool Meadow Café. The Pool Meadow Café is now open …The hon. Lady made her statement on the basis of information—I am not blaming her—received from the town clerk on 6th February, saying that the opening of a civic restaurant was being considered. Yet here is an advertisement of the City of Coventry dated 11th January saying that the Pool Meadow Café is open. Frankly, in all my long experience I have never heard of a responsible official of a municipality misleading a Member of the Government in such a way. He also said he knew nothing about Barracks Café, and yet on 3rst January, a week before the hon. Lady, in perfect good faith, quoted the statement, here is a report by the Civic Restaurants Superintendent of Coventry—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman cannot go into all those details on this matter. He has given ample illustrations. He cannot go into details about such matters at this stage. He must confine himself to what is in the Bill.
§ Mr. Hudson
I quite appreciate that, and am not trying to get round it, but the hon. Lady mentioned this matter, and I want to illustrate the fact that we are depriving people of a very definite safeguard. May I read just one more quotation in order to finish off? Here is what the Superintendent said on 31st January:The first two months of operation of the Barracks Market and Pool Meadow Cafés under the British Restaurants Committee of the City Council have shown particularly satisfactory trading result … so good that the Barracks Cafe will open on Thursday afternoon.I am sorry for the hon. Lady. It is a fantastic situation in which a town clerk deliberately misleads not only her but, through her, the House. 1466 I now turn to the question of drink. Everyone who heard the speech of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) must agree that it was not only a witty but a very cogent speech. He exposed the inconsistency of the attitude taken up by the Minister of Food. Let me repeat that the party opposite and the Government cannot expect always or even ever, to have it both ways. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister on the Report stage defended the exclusion of Scotland on the grounds that the law was so different in Scotland that one could not really assimilate the two, but in the course of the proceedings upstairs he said exactly the opposite. He said that the Bill as then drafted could apply to Scotland. It is perfectly clear, as the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) said, that the change as far as Scotland is concerned was the result of a deal done inside the Labour Party in order to buy off the opposition of the Scottish hon. Members.
§ Mr. Hudson
The hon. Member for East Fife described the Government's excuses as humbug I say their action was gross political dishonesty. If not that, the Minister of Food was guilty of the grossest incompetence upstairs. As for other hon. Members, I am sorry that the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), my namesake, has compromised with his conscience—
§ Mr. Hudson
He has said that the Bill contains a bad blemish, but he is apparently to vote for it. I will leave him to deal with his own conscience. However, that does not excuse the action of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite. I am glad to see three of them sitting there—the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Air and the Secretary of State for War. In the course of the election those right hon. Gentlemen, together with a number of others, were specifically asked, "Will you insist that no sale or supply of intoxicants should be allowed in publicly-provided community centres?" All three of them, in accordance with our records, answered, "Yes." The Minister of Food, in winding up on the Report stage, tried to save them by accusing the hon. Member for 1467 West Ealing of what he called a "dialectical leap." I have not heard the expression before, but the Minister said that he had made a dialectical leap to identify community centres with civic restaurants. We have heard a good deal tonight to prove that there was no leap about it. It was a hyphen, if anything. It is quite clear that hon. Members on the Government side believe that civic restaurants should form an essential part of community centres, and they have voted in favour of turning civic restaurants into pubs, and therefore clearly they believe that there is nothing wrong in having civic pubs in the middle of community centres.
Among the Members of the Government who answered, "Yes," to that question were the Home Secretary, the Minister of Defence, the Solicitor-General, the Secretary of State, the new Minister of Education, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Secretary of State for War and the Chief Whip—
§ Mr. Hudson
I never sign these questionaires at Election tame. I have some regard for a pledge when I make one, but pledges are regarded as ten a penny by the Government. They may have signed the pledge, but they have certainly repudiated it. They are backsliders.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
If the right hon. Gentleman is alluding to me, for one, I stand by the pledge that I gave. I was concerned with this matter when I was at the Board of Education in the Coalition Government, where a paper was prepared on which a great Debate took place as to whether drink should or should not be admitted to community centres, which are quite well defined institutions. A civic restaurant is not a community centre.
§ Mr. Hudson
That, no doubt, at the time of the Coalition, was the case, but the difficulty that the right hon. Gentleman and all his colleagues I have mentioned are in is that during the discussion 1468 of this particular Pill—and I realise his difficulty—it has become abundantly clear that the idea behind it goes a great deal further than would appear on the surface, and that in fact the view of a great number of Members of his party—certainly the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food who is in charge of the Bill, and of his Parliamentary Secretary—is that civic restaurants should, be an essential part of community centres.
§ Mr. Hudson
I do not want to delay the House, but I have quotations here. For example, the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings), who I see in his place and who honoured his signature in the Division Lobby on Monday, said:I believe that civic restaurants of the future should be developed in association with other civic functions I hope that we shall nave community centres and youth clubs. What could be better than a common building for all these purposes?
§ Mr. Hudson
May I continue reading? It goes on:Why not a big hall in which the midday meal is served, which can be used in the evening for dances or meetings of various sorts…Hon. Members should note that this Bill does not limit the serving of drinks to meals. That is an arguable point. This Bill will enable civic restaurants to serve drink just like a bar. It goes on:and why cannot there be smaller rooms in the same building used for serving snacks? I think that in the future the civic restaurant will have a very important part to play in the life Of this Country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th November. 1946; Vol. 43o, c. 1870 and 1871]So that is quite clear—
§ Mr. Somerville Hastings (Barking)
May I point nut to the right hon. Gentleman—it is obvious to the House—that I was speaking for myself, giving my own views, and in no sense committing anybody else?
§ Mr. Ede
I thought from the way the right hon. Gentleman led up to this 1469 quotation, that he was going to produce a quotation from the Minister of Food accepting the view of my hon. Friend. May I point out that a community centre is organised under the Ministry of Education, and is not in any way at the moment connected with the civic restaurant or the actual committee of the local authority which organises the civic restaurant?
§ Mr. Hudson
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary ought to know me well enough—we have been in the House together on the same side and on opposite sides long enough—to know that I would not say that unless I could produce evidence. The hon. Lady sitting beside him will confirm that, when in the Committee upstairs we were discussing this Amendment on the fourth day of the proceedings, she said:I would remind the Committee that many local authorities are very anxious to have civic restaurants as part of their community centres."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C; 28th January, 1947, c. 166.]In fairness to the right hon. Gentleman, I honestly do not think, when he started these things, that he realised the wide extension which the Minister of Food and various people are giving them, but, believe me, the impression left on the House—certainly the impression left on this side of the House and generally—is that it is the desire and intention of a large number of hon. Members on that side, including Members of the Government, to see that civic restaurants form an essential part of community centres.
§ Mr. Hudson
It is, really. If the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour in another place to see that some words are inserted limiting this, and making quite sure that drink is not sold in what he calls community centres, that is a very different matter. After all, we are dealing with the Third Reading of a Bill, not printed, but as it should have been printed, and he should take it from me that I have been following this now for a very long time. The intention of his supporters is to make civic restaurants part of community centres. It is, therefore, I claim, perfectly fair to argue—indeed the hon. Member for West Ealing was, the person who first brought these pledges and promises by his right hon. leaders to my attention, and I have checked them up. It is quite clear that whether they realized 1470 what they were signing at the time or not, in fact they pledged themselves to resist the serving of drink in community centres and by their vote on Monday, whether they realise it or not, they have, as far as England and Wales are concerned, definitely told local authorities they can serve. drink in civic restaurants in community centres.
§ Mr. Hudson
We still believe that the decision is wrong on the ground that it will offend the vast number of people with consciences who believe that the serving of drink under such circumstances is morally wrong. I am not saying whether I do or not. All I am saying is that there are large numbers of people who do—hundreds of thousands, probably millions in this country. We think it wrong, on an occasion like this, to offend such a vast number of people who honestly hold that belief. Because we believe that, and because we are opposed to this wide extension of municipal trading, we propose to vote against the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Dr. Summerskill
As I have already spoken, I must ask leave of the House to speak again. I shall not take many minutes because I feel that there has been a great deal of repetition tonight. The same arguments have been advanced as on the Second Reading, the Committee stage, and the Report stage, very often by the same people, but there are one or two points with which I want to deal. First I am sure the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) will agree with me that we do riot want to do any injustice to the Town Clerk of Coventry. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Town Clerk has deceived me, and that he finds it difficult to understand why I was given the account I received. Surely, he will agree, however, that the Town Clerk had no dishonourable motive. There was no reason at all why he should give me the information he did, and I explained in my opening speech what the right hon. Gentleman has said now, that this matter has no relevance to the Bill. It was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, and it was necessary for me to clear tip the matter. In the first place he mentioned, the Geisha Cafe, I have already told him that although his informant said he has not been offered 1471 alternative premises under the Town and Country Planning Act, he will have that offer made to him, so I really think that for the right hon. Gentleman to make a debating point out of that is entirely unfair.
§ Dr. Summerskill
That matter will be decided by the local authority. The other two factors which the right hon. Member mentioned have nothing to do with compulsory powers which we discussed under the Clause. There is no reason why the Town Clerk should tell me about the domestic affairs of Coventry City Council. He was specifically asked to give information concerning catering establishments situated in the area being compulsorily acquired. I hope that as a result of this Debate the Town Clerk of Coventry will not suffer in any way, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman feels the same in this matter.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
I do not know. It is really disgraceful. I am not a city councillor, but it is disgraceful.
§ Dr. Summerskill
It has been suggested that we will give local authorities the opportunity of juggling—I do not think "juggling" is too strong a term—with the accounts of civic restaurants. I assure the House that the form of accounts which my right hon. Friend will prescribe will be such as to contain all the items concerned with a catering establishment. I think it was the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) who asked whether a civic restaurant would pay an economic rent. What they will pay is a rent based on the current letting value, and that will be prescribed in the form of accounts.
Once more in this Debate hon. Members representing seaside resorts have presented a united front, and have advanced the same arguments as before. I want to say a word to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), because he gave a moving description of the struggles of the landlady during the winter waiting for the coming of the summer season. I understood he. said it was a struggle for 1472 these landladies to pay the rates in the long period before the season.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Yes, the hon. Member implied that. I want to put another point to hon. Members representing seaside resorts. I understand that these landladies feel very strongly about what is known as the "one day tripper," who comes in with his food for the day, and leaves without spending money in the town. These civic restaurants will not necessarily be subsidised by the rates. They may reduce the rates in the seaside town, because the day tripper will go to the civic restaurant to have a cheap meal, and so reduce the rates paid by the landladies.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I think the hon. Lady has misunderstood what I said. The objection is that the day trippers come to the Isle of Wight, and other seaside resorts, and take their meals out of the limited rations which are allowed to that area by the hon. Lady's Department. That is what they object to. They would not mind if the trippers brought their own food.
§ Dr. Summerskill
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension on the question of rations. He said that the civic restaurants would take the rations which would otherwise be allocated to private catering establishments. That is not so. A civic restaurant will have rations allocated to it, and there is no question of taking rations from the other restaurants.
§ Dr. Summerskill
We had a Debate once before in which the hon. Member raised this point. If he will come to my room I shall be glad to explain to him the rationing scheme which we administer. I think the House will agree that the most delightful and original speech this evening came from my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). But, by the end of it, I was left wondering whether she would have a glass of beer, or a cup of tea, in the civic restaurants.
§ Dr. Summerskill
The hon. Lady drew a picture which was in striking contrast 1473 to the ugly picture drawn by the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). I have been in this House for some years, and I think the speech he made tonight was the ugliest speech he has ever made. He did everything possible to prejudice the people of this country against British Restaurants, whereas the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock drew a gracious picture of a colourful restaurant, well-designed, attractive, and inviting. In fact it was such as I have described as a housewives' club. That was in contrast to the ugly picture of the hon. Member for East Fife.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I am not going to use the term the hon. Member used, because I find it so offensive that I try to repress it in describing civic restaurants of the future. He gave a delightful picture of his own domestic life, how he loved to sit at home with his wife and children, and to invite visitors in.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is another domestic detail in which I hope the hon. Lady will not indulge.
§ Dr. Summerskill
If you will allow me to pursue it for a minute, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am sure the House will find that it is relevant. It is entirely relevant to my argument. I want to explain that whereas the hon. Member for East Fife is able to lead that life, and is very fortunate in so doing, there are many millions who cannot.
§ Dr. Summerskill
We are anxious to provide these restaurants, in order that people who live in overcrowded and ugly surroundings should have an opportunity of enjoying an amenity they have never
§ had before. There is nothing immoral in a working-class family going to a civic restaurant. There is nothing wrong, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) said, for them to enjoy the kind of social life which hon. Members opposite enjoy. The right hon. Member for Southport mentioned the speech of the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Flint."] —no, I think I am right, the hon. Member for Stone. It was a most unusual speech for these days. His theme was that civic restaurants might tempt the housewife from the home where she should be ministering to the tired warrior. The hon. Member also asked me whether these restaurants would be needed after the emergency. He is a little young, and perhaps, has forgotten that between the two wars 50 per cent. of the people of this country were under-nourished. There will be a need for these restaurants for many years to come. I view these restaurants in a way which is entirely different from the approach of the hon. Member for East Fife. For 20 years I prescribed bottles of medicine, when I should have been prescribing food for undernourished people. I do not overstate the case when I say that this contribution to the services of the local authority is as important as any of the services which we have supplied for the prevention of disease. I look forward to the day when we shall have a well-nourished community—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Although they have had a long lease of life in this House, hon. Members opposite have never managed to establish that. The day will come, and when it comes, this Bill will have made a big contribution.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 271; Noes, 116.1477
|Division No. 87.]||AYES||[7.50 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bechervaise, A. E.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge)|
|Adams, W.T (Hammesmith, South)||Belcher,. J. W.||Braddock. T. (Mitcham)|
|Allen, A. C (Bosworth)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bramall, Major E. A.|
|Anderson, A (Motherwell)||Benson, G.||Brook, D (Halifax)|
|Anderson, H. C||Berry, H.||Brooks, T. J. (Rathwell)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Beswick, F.||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Bing, G. H. C.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Awbery, S.S.||Binns, J.||Bruce, Maj D. W. T.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Blackburn, A. R.||Buchanan G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Blenkinsop, A.||Burke, W. A.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Blyton, W. R.||Butler, H, W (hackney, S.)|
|Balfour, A.||Boardman, H.||Callaghan, James|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr.H. W.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Champion, A. J.|
|Chater, D.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarveashire)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Keenan, W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Collick, P.||Kenyon, C.||Royle, C.|
|Collins, V. J.||Key, C W.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Sharp, Granville|
|Cook, T. F.||Kinley, J.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Kirby, B. V.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Cunningham, P.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Daines, P.||Levy, B. W||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslam)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Lipson, D. L.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Longden, F.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Davies, S O. (Merthyr)||McAllister, G||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Deer, G.||Mack, J. D||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Delargy, H. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsand)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Diamond, J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Dobbie, W.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Donovan, T.||McLeavy, F.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Stamford, W|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Steele, T.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Dye, S.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Marquand, H. A.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Edelman, M.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Swingler, S.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mathers, G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mayhew, C. P.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Medland, H. M.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Messer, F.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Ewart, R.||Mikardo, Ian.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mitchison, G. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Follick, M.||Montague, F.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Foot, M. M.||Moody, A. S.||Thurtle, E.|
|Forman, J. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Tiffany, S.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Timmons, J.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Mort, D. L.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Gaitskell, H T. N.||Moyle, A.||Tolley, L.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mulvey, A.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Murray, J. D.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gibbins, J.||Naylor, T. E.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Gilzean, A.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Nicholls, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Walker, G. H.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brantford)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Noel Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstew, E.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Warbey, W. N.|
|Grierson, E.||O'Brien, T.||Watson, W. M.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rather Valley)||Oldfield, W. H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Oliver, G. H.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Orbach, M.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Hale, Leslie||Paget, R. T.||West, D. G.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col, R.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Parkin, B. T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wigg, Cal. G. E.|
|Harrison, J.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Wilkes, L.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Pearson, A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Piratin, P.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Platte-Mills, J. F. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Holman, P.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|House, G.||Popplewell, E.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Hoy, J.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Willis, E.|
|Hubbard, T.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Woodburn, A.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pritt, D. N.||Wyatt, W.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Proctor, W. T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Irving, W. J.||Randall, H. E.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Janner, B||Reeves, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Mr. Collindridge and|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Rhodes, H.||Mr. Coldrick.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Aitken, Hon, Max||Beechman, N. A.||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Birch, Nigel||Buchan-Hepbur, P. G. T|
|Aster, Hon. M.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Bullock, Capt, M|
|Baldwin. A. E.||Bossom. A. C.||Byers, Frank|
|Challen, C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Channon, H.||Keeling, E. H.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Kendall, W. D.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Legge Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Linstead, H. N.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Digby, S. W.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Drayson, G. B.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Drewe, C.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Spence, H. R.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)||MacLeod, J.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Gage, C.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Gammons, L. D.||Morales, A. E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Grant, Lady||Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Teeling, William|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Thomas, J. P L. (Hereford)|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Maude, J. C.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Grimston, R V.||Medlicott, F.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Molson, A. H. E.||Ward, Hon, G. R.|
|Hare, Hon J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morris, Napkin (Carmarthen)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morris-Jones, Sit H.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Hinchinghrooke, Viscount||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Jarvis, Sir J.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Pitman, I. J.||Commander Agnew and|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.