HC Deb 14 October 1952 vol 505 cc121-47
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, after "if," to insert: it appears to the Secretary of State that by reason of the proximity of any two new towns it is expedient that one committee should be appointed for them and. The next Amendment is consequential to this one, and there are also further consequential Amendments later on the Order Paper.

During the Committee stage of the Bill the Government were pressed to insert words limiting the power of the Home Secretary to direct that there shall be a joint committee for two or more new towns to cases which may be conveniently described as those similar to the Welwyn and Hatfield new towns, which are literally contiguous. My right hon. and learned Friend promised that he would consider the arguments which were brought forward, and I think that the Amendment meets the points that were put. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) suggested that the power should be limited to the case of two new towns only, and I think that that point is fully met.

The right hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) has an Amendment on the Order Paper: in line 14, after "more, "insert" "contiguous." If accepted, that would limit my right hon. and learned Friend's power to the case where two towns are literally touching one another. The right hon. Gentleman would probably agree that that might be a little too restrictive. The precise legal meaning of the word "contiguous" would, I think, require actual contact, and it might happen that a case with such close proximity that to the layman it was contiguity would not be so in the eyes of the law. I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman will be willing to accept the words which we propose. The words "by reason of proximity" will cover the sense of his Amendment.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Why not "close proximity"?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

"Close proximity" does not add anything. "Proximity" means nearness, and whether there is a difference between nearness and close nearness I do not know, but I do not think it would take the matter any further.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I raised the question because I thought the hon. Gentleman was himself raising that very point. Contiguity, of course, is one thing. There may have to be physical nexus, which is another matter. Proximity might be nearness, and yet it might not be near enough. "Close proximity," which was the hon. Gentleman's own phrase just a moment ago, is, however, rather another matter.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

If I used the words "close proximity," I must apologise for something that is almost a tautology. I think there is nothing to be added to the word "proximity" by defining it as "close proximity," and I hope very much that the House will be willing to accept the Amendment as giving effect to the views which were expressed in the Committee upstairs.

Mr. Ede

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his explanation of the Amendment, which, I think, meets the points that we raised in Committee. To my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), I say that I am not at all sure that this is not a case where looseness rather than closeness of phrase may possibly be to everyone's advantage.

Mr. Woodburn

I am grateful. The word "contiguous" was proposed not because we thought it was the best word that could be found but as a kind of memory tickler to see that the point was not forgotten and that the promise was fulfilled.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 1, line 14, leave out from "for," to end of line 15, and insert "those two new towns."—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]

8.0 p.m.

Mr. J. Hudson

I beg to move, in page 2, line 1, to leave out from the beginning, to the end of line 40, and to insert: (2) The Secretary of State shall, as soon as may be after the passing of this Act or the coming into operation of the order under section one of the New Towns Act, 1946, designating the site of the new town, whichever is the later, consult with the development corporation of the new towns or town affected, with every local authority whose area includes any part of any new town affected and with the licensing justices for every licensing district which includes any part thereof, and also with such other persons and bodies of persons as appear to him requisite to be consulted, as to the constitution of the committee, and shall then prepare a draft scheme for the constituting of the committee. (3) Any scheme made under the foregoing subsection—

  1. (a) shall specify the number of members of the committee, the persons by whom and manner in which the several members are to be appointed, and the period for which they are to hold office;
  2. (b) may contain provisions with respect to the manner in which the scheme may be varied and as to the duration thereof and the making of a new scheme to take effect on the expiry of the previous scheme.
(4) When a draft scheme has been prepared the Secretary of State shall send a copy thereof to every such development corporation to every such local authority and to the licensing justices for every such licensing district as aforesaid, together with a notice specifying the time (not being less than twenty-eight days) within which representations with respect to the draft scheme may be made to him. (5) The scheme shall have effect when confirmed by the Secretary of State either as submitted by him in draft or subject to such modifications as may be made by him in consequence of any representations made to him in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing subsection. The Amendment is in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), four of my hon. Friends—two of them Scottish and two English—and myself and is designed to set up a different type of organisation from that envisaged in the Bill for mapping out the plan of licensing which would ultimately have to be submitted to the licensing court before final arrangements were made for the setting up of licensed premises in new towns.

The Bill says: For … determining the number, nature and distribution of licensed premises in new towns there shall be a committee. Those words are imported, "determining the number, nature"—and I shall deal with that word, "nature"—"and distribution of licensed premises."

The Bill as it stands proposes to do this work by the constitution of a committee under an impartial chairman appointed by the Secretary of State. I can believe it possible that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would appoint a strictly impartial chairman, but I should also believe it possible that there might be gentlemen who might occupy the position of Home Secretary whose appointments would not be so impartial.

Secondly, the committee is to consist of two sections equal in size, one to be representative of the magistrates of the licensing courts, which is to have the ultimate decision and which will sit in the position of a judge on the proposals made by the committee of which they form half. The other half is to consist of representatives of the corporation.

We are not satisfied with that organisation and have made a proposal based upon a provision that existed in the original Act which this Bill proposes to amend. The proposal we made is that before anything else is done there shall be a consultation by the Secretary of State with the development corporation of the new town and with the local authority. If there be two or three local authorities consultation should be with every local authority for every licensing district. It should also be with such other persons and bodies of persons as appear to be requisite to be consulted, as to the constitution of the committee that shall then prepare the draft scheme.

The important point is that this proposal of ours insists that a great body of people interested in the problems of licensing and public order and the consequences which unfortunately often attend licensing conditions should be consulted. They include people like members of temperance societies—which, quite frankly, I put first because they have been paying special attention to this issue for many years, appearing in the licensing courts and to the best of their ability advising the magistrates on the issues with which they have to deal.

They also include organisations such as the churches, who are showing themselves increasingly alert to what is involved in this Bill—I know that in many cases they desire to be consulted about the development taking place—educational bodies and representatives of youth organisations likely to be affected if there is too much licensing in the area where the youth organisations are at work. There are many other types of person who can very well be brought into consultation regarding the plan that should be adopted and the oversight of that plan in its early stages.

I would remind the Home Secretary that at the end of the Committee stage, under the wretched arrangements that have been made for curtailing our discussions, I was on my feet trying to move an Amendment, to which no attention was paid and no consideration given. It was that there should be an advisory committee, additional to the committee of which I am now speaking, which could make a general survey of what was going on in connection with licensing in the new towns. It could make reports on the results of licensing in the new towns if necessary, to the Home Secretary in order to guide him as to what mistakes were being made or what negligence was being committed.

No attention was given to that and the whole thing was jettisoned, like so much else which I think might have been useful in the development of this Bill. I am, therefore, now the more insistent that the Home Secretary should give careful consideration to the method he has adopted with a certain amount of enthusiasm.

I know that he has been closely connected with this proposal in the Bill from the days of the Morris Committee which dealt with the overspill areas and licensing in towns destroyed by the blitz. The Morris Committee recommended this proposal which the Home Secretary has taken up and made the central part of his Bill. I thought at the time of the Morris Committee that it was an inade- quate arrangement and that it was particularly wrong that there should be half the members of this controlling committee consisting of representatives of the licensing court who themselves would ultimately sit as judges to decide whether a proposal coming from themselves should be accepted.

That is a most unjudicial way of proceeding and anything which would bring into the committee representatives from a wider field of activities I hope might be considered by the Home Secretary at this stage as a good proposition from a juridical point of view. It would make the committee less liable to the criticism and attack which will inevitably be made against it when it is pointed out that half the members in the licensing court have the judicial job of deciding what licences there should be when they have made the running at an earlier stage in a committee of which they constituted half the membership.

It is not only a question of the number of licences or the siting of the licensed premises in the new towns that we have to take into consideration in this matter. As I emphasised when I opened my speech, the nature of the public house to be licensed is a matter of importance to which in the past little attention has been given. There is, for example, the nature of the public houses in Carlisle where, from my point of view, all sorts of helpful regulations have been introduced.

There is, for example, the regulation forbidding the advertising of liquor and its merits. Those advertisements do not appear in the Carlisle premises. There are regulations which insist upon a careful provision of all types of refreshments in addition to those of an alcoholic character. There are regulations which lay down that not only shall there be provision for but there shall be definite encouragement of the sale of non-intoxicants. In Carlisle, steps are taken through the nature of payment to managers to encourage the sale of non-intoxicants. Bonuses are offered to encourage that sale.

A committee set up in the form which I propose ought to take all these things into account in these modern days if the real needs of the public in the fullest possible sense are to be considered. On the question of the nature of licensed premises, as I reminded the Committee upstairs, I do not see why there should not be, as there is in "The Pheasant," in Carlisle, a room entirely separate from the drinking facilities, completely separate from the house and reached by an entirely separate entrance.

One can go into that room and not realise that one is in a public house at all. There is neither smell nor suggestion of liquor anywhere. The girls working in the room are waitresses in a café. They are not barmaids and do not look like barmaids. The people who go into the room and make use of it include boys from the local secondary school. That is why I thought it good to have near to customers of that sort people of ordinary character rather than to have barmaids, who have a special job to carry out in public houses.

That room in "The Pheasant" was an indication of an effort to bring the public, who, in the past, have used the public house, into association with something that had less dangerous consequences in the life of the community than the drinking habits of the community have often brought in their train. All these things have to be considered. I am surprised that I should have to emphasise them to the Conservative Party. After all, they have a record on this licensing question. In the days of Lord Peel's Commission licensing regulations were introduced which showed that the Conservatives themselves thought that drink was not like other commodities but was to be regarded as a dangerous thing in the life of a community, to be restricted and dealt with on the most careful basis.

I suggest that the danger still remains. I am not yielding to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) when he talks about the greater content of water in the drink today. All the water put into the drink would be good from my point of view, but somebody is always anxious to strengthen the drink. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch seemed to want to have beer of a stronger character in the new houses. I want it weak, and I can imagine that a committee which had to confront the problems of disorder in a community which arise from the drinking of strong liquor would agree with my point of view rather than with the view of those who want to strengthen the liquor.

8.15 p.m.

I can imagine that even Lord Woolton would agree with me about this. When he was Minister of Food I went with a deputation to complain to him about the waste of food in the manufacture of drink. His answer was that the drink which was being provided in war-time under Ministry of Food regulations was drink of practically a temperance character, since there was so little alcohol left in it.

We should bear all these considerations in mind in connection with public houses in the new towns. It is because I believe that the sort of non-juridical organisation that the Home Secretary visualises in this Bill will not take proper account of these propositions that I am now asking the House to consider the setting up of a wider organisation as suggested in this Amendment.

I sincerely trust that the Home Secretary will yield. He seemed to be yielding to my persuasions in the Committee when I talked about the need to be careful about this thing and the need to look for opportunities to develop the sale of something other than alcoholic beverages in licensed premises. I thought then that he was yielding, and perhaps now he will be willing to consider this matter as a serious problem to be examined.

I am certain that outside, in the churches and in the temperance movements, the refusal to accept this suggestion—in the way that so much has been refused by the Government in this Bill, which I have called and still call the brewers' Bill—will leave the gravest reflection against the Tory Party and the Tory Government because of their failure to meet a great social consideration. I put the Amendment in all seriousness to the Home Secretary.

Mr. J. Kinley (Bootle)

I beg to second the Amendment.

In doing so I hope I am speaking entirely without prejudice, not being a frequenter of "pubs," not a magistrate, not a member of the licensing bench nor ever likely to be, but being a member of the public who, over a long number of years, has been able to see that however well the licensing justices may have done their work in the past there has always been much room for improvement from the point of view of public welfare.

There is even room for improvement in many parts of the country from the point of view of public decency; for things have been tolerated which never should have been tolerated. Indeed, I think I can say without fear of contradiction that the history of this trade is a long-drawn-out history of a struggle by the authorities to secure from or impose upon the trade ways of dealing which would give less offence to the public at large.

Even now there is no other trade in this land which requires such careful and continuous scrutiny from the police. Having experienced that myself as an interested member of the public in the old towns, I want now to add my plea to that of my hon. Friend that we may make a new start in the new towns by providing, first of all, that we shall have a different authority from the old routine licensing bench which in the rest of the country in the old days brought so little improvement over such a long time.

Let us make a fresh start by seeing, so far as we can, that the new ideas, which are bound to develop in the new towns step by step as the population grows and becomes more diverse, become effective and that it shall be possible year by year, or periodically at least, for an entirely new mind to be added to that which is going to decide how many licensed houses there shall be, where they shall be sited, and what shall be the nature of their operations—that is, the extent to which they shall serve the public other than the public which goes there for the consumption of alcoholic liquor.

May I, incidentally, utter a word of warning to the Home Secretary and suggest, assuming he will accept the principle here involved, that he should safeguard improvements? I should like to call his attention to an incident, without mentioning names. He may or may not have heard of it. There was an occasion when, after a fair amount of public outcry against certain results that accrued from certain public houses, there came a plea for an additional licence. It was granted, but on conditions. The conditions imposed were those which arose out of the outcry that had recently made itself felt in the local Press.

The licence was granted on condition that there must be a part of the premises to which the public could have free access for the consumption of light refreshments and non-intoxicating liquor. In other words, the licence was allowed on condition that a part of the premises would be made into what we would call a café. The brewers agreed and they got the licence. They still have the licence. The café or tea room has long since disappeared and the licensing bench who imposed that condition have gone. An entirely new licensing bench, operating according to the old ideas, now annually renew it, but the tea room has gone.

Therefore, it will not be sufficient to provide in the new Bill for that kind of thing to be done unless the Home Secretary can find some means by which an improvement such as that—desirable in the opinion of most of us—can be made permanent at least until all the new committees, expressing the new ideas of the new community, shall decide that, after all, what was imposed by a previous committee may no longer be desirable and, therefore, changed.

We want the new population to be able to express its new ideas through a new form of committee, and if we can get that we shall have done something to improve the Bill which we have tried to kill but have so far failed.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I hope that no one in the House will think I am being hypocritical when I say that I have listened with great interest to both of the speeches that have been made, because both hon. Members have marshalled their arguments and expressed their points of view with great sincerity and force.

As the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) said, the provisions which the Amendment proposes are adapted from Section 1 of the Licensing Act, 1949, which provides for the constitution of local advisory committees. The intention of this Amendment quite clearly is that the committee should be a broadly based representative body corresponding to the local advisory committee. I think I have quite clearly in mind what the two hon. Members intend. That is my difficulty in the matter, and I should like to develop my point and put it to the House.

We find difficulty in accepting that the 1949 provisions are a suitable model for a body which has such very different tasks as the committee established under our Bill. The hon. Member for Ealing, North will remember that although initially the local advisory committees under the 1949 Act had some say in the planning, their main function was to provide a link between the State management organisation, which, of course, would have come into force under that Measure, and local interests and views on the operation—and may I emphasise that point—of the State management scheme.

They would have been invited to approve of plans laid before them by the development corporation in consultation with the local State management officials. But under this Bill the committee will have different functions. They will have to initiate the plans and they will have no supervisory function as regards the running of the licensed premises. The supervisory function will be in the hands of the licensing justices as it is today.

8.30 p.m.

The point which I should like to put to the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded this Amendment is that a body which is to deal with the purely planning aspect should, from the point of view of effective working, be less widely based than an advisory body. I quite accept that if it is going to be less widely based we must have some other method of getting the views of those interested bodies of which the hon. Member for Ealing. North spoke. I want him to believe that I am not avoiding that point. I shall come to it in a moment. But I think that one has to consider the position of the development corporation with great care.

I should like the hon. Gentleman to imagine the position of the development corporation under his plan. Unless the scheme which his Amendment suggests were to give them something like half the membership of the committee the development corporation would be in a very difficult situation, because they are responsible for the general development of the new towns. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate my difficulty. Unless we are to give them about half the seats on the committee they will be under-represented. If we give them half the seats on the committee there will be the difficulty that we are bringing in the representatives of the other local authorities and crowding out the licensing justices who are tremendously important.

I know that the position of the licensing justices is a difficult one. The hon. Gentleman emphasised the juridical aspect, and that is extremely important. I do not want anything I say to seem to under-estimate its importance, because from whatever angle we approach it as to our personal tastes we all agree that it is most important that the licensing justices should be impartial and should deal with the problem without bias.

But when we consider their problem we see that it is very nearly, if not entirely, a problem of local government. They have to make a judicial decision on the evidence before them, but what they finally decide is whether that new housing estate or that area which has been developed shall have another public house or should have a removal, and so on. They are really considering, in rather the same way as in other functions a local authority considers, the government of their area, except that it is taken out of a politically elected body and put into the hands of a judicial body. That is why I think that one has always to remember that important aspect of their work.

I speak with great diffidence in the presence of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, who is a distinguished historian; but I think that the more one goes back into the history of justices the more one finds them engaged in administrative duties.

Mr. Kinley

Could the right hon. Gentleman deal with the justice of histories?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not want to pursue that fascinating by-path, though I am sure that the hon. Member would be interested if we had more time to do it. I shall not go further today. That is the aspect which I think should be borne in mind, and that is why I have come to the point of view that the planning committee ought to consist of the development corporation and the justices, and I do not see the space for the others.

There are two points on which I agree with the hon. Gentleman. One is that I believe just as strongly as he does that bodies like the Temperance Council or the churches or youth societies or local authorities should be able to make their viewpoints felt, and if there were no method of doing that before reaching the final stage, in front of the justices, I should not be at all happy about my suggestion. But my answer, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is the provision for a public inquiry, and there I believe we shall see the proper representation of those points of view.

First of all, take local authorities. In my experience of public inquiries, which, from the advocate's point of view, goes back quite a number of years, I have always found that a representation by a local authority is treated with great respect. After all, it is one of the things into which a person holding an inquiry can get his teeth—the view of the elected representatives. I also take it that the views of the churches and youth societies would receive proper consideration. I separate them from the temperance movement only because they are speaking from an angle which is not that of a particular view on the question.

But I also believe that we should get full consideration of the views of the temperance movement. Probably I have used this argument before in front of the hon. Gentleman: in my early days, now, unfortunately, some 15 or 20 years behind me, when I used to have experience in this class of work, I always found that the advocates for the temperance point of view were most skilful in making their point. I have mentioned in front of the hon. Member an old friend of mine, Mr. Stephen Dodds, a former Member of this House, who used to do that work over a large part of the north-west of England, and did it with great success.

I am sorry I am taking so long, but I want the hon. Gentlmen to believe that I have considered the point.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

It is quite true to say that the magistrates and the development corporation must substantially constitute this committee. As far as I can see, that is the practical method. But is there any reason why the outside groups, those who are interested and whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman accepts are interested, should not have their view expressed and canvassed? Is there any reason why they should not be asked to nominate someone who could be incorporated into the committee?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I think that point could be met. I apologise to the House if I did not put this very skilfully, but the fact is that the development corporation are not tied to put on to the committee members of the development corporation, although they have the right of nomination. I am taking now not what could happen but what is likely to happen; and what is very likely is that one representative of the development corporation part of this body would be a representative of local authorities in the area.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

With an instruction from the Home Office to that effect, that might be all right.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I will promise to consider it administratively.

The other point I wanted to make—I hope I can make it quite shortly—is one both hon. Gentlemen made. I have tried in the Amendments I have put forward—I shall not discuss them because we have not come to them—to meet the point made about the provision of other amenities including meals and non-alcoholic refreshments. Whether I am successful the House will tell me later, but I have tried to meet that point by making it the duty of the committees to consider those things and to make proposals unless they have good reason for not doing so.

I have put that forward. Of course, it is the duty of the justices in that case to give effect to those proposals. I shall consider it again because the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bootle (Mr. Kinley) made an interesting point about ensuring continuity. I hope that that will ensure continuity, but I shall look at that point again because I was interested in the example that he gave.

I am very sorry I have not been able to meet hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite on this point, but I hope they will forgive me for explaining how I have considered the point and what I am aiming at by the provisions I have put forward.

Mr. Ede

Let me assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that his deep sorrow that he is unable to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) on this matter is also sincerely felt by us on this side of the House. I am bound to say that I think the difficulty that the right hon. and learned Gentleman experienced in his speech in explaining what the procedure was does indicate the difficulty that confronts him and us in dealing with this particular point in the Bill. My own view is, as I expressed it in Committee, that a very great deal of the success of any proposal will depend upon who prepares the scheme and the period at which general public opinion can make itself felt in the preparation of a scheme.

I myself would have preferred the scheme that was put forward by my hon. Friend, that was taken, I think, almost word for word from the 1949 Measure; because it seems to me that the various—I do not like to use the word "interests"—but the various influences in a district that make themselves felt on this kind of issue ought to have a very large share in the actual shaping of the scheme; for it is one thing to appear with suggestions on a scheme someone else has prepared, and quite another thing to present one's own scheme and for other people to express their views on that; and with the initiative remaining with the general body of public opinion.

I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North that I have always felt myself that such a committee was probably even better than the system of local option, to which, I know, he is wed. I am, therefore, disappointed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not felt it possible to accept my hon. Friend's Amendment.

I share also very much the misgivings of my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Kinley) with regard to the position of the licensing justices. After all, under the right hon. and learned Gentleman's scheme represenatives of the licensing justices will form half the committee—if we ignore the chairman: half will be the development corporation and half the licensing justices. It seems to me that when they have to exercise their ordinary functions it will be very difficult for the other licensing justices, who have not been on the committee, to depart in any way from the decisions that have been reached by the committtee on which their representatives sat.

The idea which up to the present has been the conception of the law, that the licensing justices sit and listen to the evidence that is brought forward on either side in cases of this kind, is one which ought to be preserved, and the fact that some of their number have already expressed a view with regard to the proposals may make it exceedingly difficult for the justices to perform when they sit as the licensing committee of the area.

I therefore think that on both counts the proposals in the Bill leaves a very great deal to be desired. I had hoped that we were getting away from the idea that justices had anything to do with local government except hearing cases that were brought before them, either by or against local authorities, and to get them involved in affairs of local administration is to put them back into a position which since 1888 in most things and since 1894 in all things they have not occupied.

8.45 p.m.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

May I just have one friendly crack at the right hon. Gentleman? I thought he was a very distinguished member of a standing joint committee himself.

Mr. Ede

Yes, and may I say that no crack which the right hon. and learned Gentleman could make would give me greater pleasure, because those who have heard me more often than the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that I have persistently denounced the position of the standing joint committee, and particularly the position of the justices on it. Since the right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned it, I may point out that it was only enacted because of the fears of the Tory Party in 1888 that the recently enfranchised agricultural labourers would elect Radical county councils and it was unsafe to trust the management of the police to such revolutionary bodies as it was feared had been created. One has to administer the law as one finds it, and to hope that one will get an opportunity of removing those anomalies which excite derision when one is engaged in the task. I think that the divorce of the justices from all forms of local government except the management of their own benches is a thing to be welcomed.

There is one other matter with which I have never been quite sure how the right hon. and learned Gentleman expects to deal under his own proposal. In all the new towns except two there are a number of existing licences, and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I went together to any of these districts, looked at the map and surveyed the district, we would come to the conclusion that the number of existing licences is more than sufficient, certainly for the existing population, and in one or two cases sufficient in number to deal with the new population. After all, I did have a couple of years in which I had to consider this matter as Secretary of State, and one of the points was the fear of the existing licensees that their licences in future would not be held in their present position.

I very much doubt if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would like to give a guarantee that every existing licence in the new town will be in the same position when a proper layout of the licensing provisions for the whole area has been taken into account. I am not quite sure, and I have never been able to discover in this Bill, how the existing licensee is to be dealt with. Who is to prepare what we had in mind under our Bill—a general scheme for the new town, viewing it as a community as a whole and considering the number of licences it ought to have, the nature of the licences and how far the existing number of licences was sufficient to deal with the whole area?

I understand that the right hon. and learned Gentleman considers that this Bill is largely based on the licensing and planning proposals for which he was responsible for introducing into the House when my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was Secretary of State. I have not been quite sure how the principle was applied there, whether a licence that was not required in the rebuilt area was to be transferred sometimes into a new area of the same district and sometimes into the overspill area. I have never been quite sure how he proposes to deal with that matter.

I should like to have heard in his explanation of the way in which his scheme works wheher he is going to rely on the operation of the existing law to deal with what may become redundant licences when the new town is developed, or if this point has really received serious consideration in the framing of this Measure. It is a practical point which really gives anxiety to the licensees in the districts which have become new towns. If, on the other hand, we are to understand that what I may call the orignal core of the new town is to be left untouched, and the new town is to be considered separately with regard to licences, I can see some very difficult circumstances arising for all concerned with the trade.

The proposal which has been put forward is that there should be a committee to consider this matter, consisting not of the development con poration and the licensing justices, but of all whom I have described as an influence in the town who want to build up a social community that shall have reasonable facilities for all forms of social enjoyment. Such a body would, I think, be able to deal with this problem of existing licences and their proper disposal or continuation in the new town with an authority that the development corporation, plus the justices, will not be able to attain.

In this selection of advisory committees, which, after all, I think had all been appointed by the time I left Office, I had that particular question very much in mind, because we all desire that the new town shall be a unity. That is to say, what we want to avoid is having a little core of people who are the old inhabitants surrounded by or having as an appendage the new inhabitants existing side by side for some years not as a community but as two communities, possibly having some hostility one towards the other. I believe that a committee on the lines of that indicated in my hon. Friend's Amendment would be more conducive to building that up than would be the proposals of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The development corporation cannot be taken as representative of either the existing community at this stage or of the new community.

Mr. Lindgren

It was not meant to be.

Mr. Ede

My hon. Friend says, "It was not meant to be." I understand that it had a job of work to do, and that is to provide the houses and the factories in which the new community will live and work. The majority of the people on it are not resident in the area but have been selected for certain technical qualifications in building and town planning which are not really very essential to an understanding of the problem which is presented to us at this stage of this Bill.

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, the committee which he proposes has a different task to deal with from the task imposed under the 1949 Act, but I still think that task is the essential preliminary to the adequate discharge of any other task which may be imposed on it. I should have hoped that between now and the final consideration of the Measure in another place the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have had another look at this issue. It might very well be that the local advisory committee for which we asked could be brought in as a preliminary body to any body of the kind proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman so that the initiative would rest with a body representative, not of the narrower viewpoints of the development corporation and the licensing justices, but of the viewpoints of the community as a whole.

I tried as far as I could to get representatives of the trade itself on the committee. I believe that while the trade—as far as I am concerned, I should not do anything to bring the trade to an end—is a recognised part of the community the conditions under which it is to carry on its business is a matter of some concern to itself. I was once met by a deputation from the Brewers' Society which said, "We have our representatives on all these committees. Have you any objection to their meeting together to talk over the difficulties which they meet in their respective areas with a view to their taking some action based on mutual enlightenment?" I replied that they could have such a meeting as long as they did not ask me to pay the expenses of calling it together.

I suggest that the bodies mentioned by my hon. Friend—and I would go so far as to suggest possibly a representative of the bodies whose claims were so eloquently put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville)—should have some relation with this, because the best form of licensing planning carried out in the ordinary areas can sometimes be put completely at variance and reduced to a condition of some chaos by the indiscriminate opening of clubs.

I say that as one who is president of a working men's club and has been connected with working men's clubs and institute unions for over 50 years. It is desirable that they should be brought in, and as far as I know there is nothing in this Bill which will enable the Home Secretary, a development corporation or the licensing justices to deal with the question of clubs in these new towns. Subject of course to police objection in a very limited sphere, anybody who can produce 5s., a book of rules and a list of members is entitled to have his particular project registered as a club.

9.0 p.m.

This matter with which we are dealing is one which not only concerns the success of the licensing provision in the new towns, but also the success of the new towns themselves. We made provision earlier today to meet the needs of temporary premises. I am quite certain that it is going to be somewhat difficult to get these houses erected at the present time. I accept the figure which was given earlier today by the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe), that any licensed house that is likely to be recognised as a permanent licensed house in a district like any of these will in the future cost from £25,000 to £30,000. That represents an expenditure on materials and labour which at the present time is wing to be very difficult to justify, especially if it is to be taken out of the provision that has been made for houses, schools and hospitals. I hope that this is a matter which can be regarded as completely without any party bias.

I have no doubt that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary is very much like I was when I was at the Home Office. I would have liked to build a couple of new prisons. I doubt whether two would be enough now. I lived in the hope from the earliest days of my sojourn in the Home Office that I should be able to build a couple of new prisons. But what Secretary of State would dare to come to this House and ask for materials and labour to put up a couple of new prisons? In the same way, but not in any way comparing new public houses and old prisons, I doubt if the right hon. and learned Gentleman or anybody else connected with the new towns would feel that they had any hope of getting a provision for new public houses at the present time.

With the provision that we made earlier this afternoon, I would venture to suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there is plenty of time for this matter to be dealt with, and that the chance of getting a representative and general body, who will give consideration to the needs of putting forward a scheme to be submitted to the development corporation and considered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, would really be the best way of dealing with this matter. I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to believe that we put this scheme forward because we are anxious for the success of the new towns. We are anxious that the licensing provisions shall be adequate and suitable, and we believe that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North represents a way of securing this that is better. It is an essential preliminary to get a sound scheme that is worthy of the hopes we all have for the new towns.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not know whether the House will give me leave to speak again [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—but I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that I do not want to obtain a failure to divide by any false pretences. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are entirely free to divide or not, as they like. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of a most ably argued speech, put forward with great force what I would call a preliminary conception. I should like to look at it. I shall have a look at it. I cannot make any promises at this stage in the Bill, and I do not want anybody to believe for a moment that I am doing so. I promise to look at the proposal because I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has raised an interesting point.

Mr. Bing

I shall not take very long in what I have to say. I much appreciate what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, but there is one practical difficulty to which it is only right to call the attention of the House.

I have seen in the Press a statement that the new Session of Parliament is to be opened on 4th November. If that is so, and this matter is to be submitted to another place in the short time that remains, we shall not have the value of the counsel that one normally gets there. In the other place there are Members attached to the brewing profession. They were enobled in previous years for the contributions they made to the success of the various parties that have been in office. On the other hand, there are some very distinguished members of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's party, like Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who was lately chairman of Lloyds Bank. He has investigated this whole matter and he gave evidence before the Royal Commission. He would be in a good position to make suggestions. We cannot have a proper discussion of the Bill in another place if it is to be rushed through.

I want to get an assurance from the right hon. and learned Gentleman that adequate opportunity will be given in another place for such great experts there to consider the matter fully and give us the value of their counsel from the experience which they have had. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, or one of his colleagues, will be in a position to say that the Bill will be introduced immediately in another place, and that there will be a full and ample opportunity for discussion.

It is extraordinary for a controversial Measure of this sort to be pushed through a House which contains 25 of the most senior bishops, who have all something to say on temperance questions. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that their mouths should be shut and that no bishop is to be allowed to speak because the right hon. and learned Gentleman's time-table will not allow it?

That is what the brewers are saying. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has read this month's "Brewers' Journal." If so, he will know that it says: No delay in the House of Lords to be tolerated. It is all right for the right hon. Gentleman to say that when the Bill goes to another place it will have adequate consideration, but his master's voice has already spoken. We ought to have a statement to the effect that there will be adequate opportunity.

After all, one of the issues in the General Election was that the House of Lords should be given more opportunity for studying questions. The bishops and the temperance leaders who are in the House of Lords ought to have an opportunity for considering the issues raised in the Bill. They should have an opportunity of considering what the "Brewers' Journal" has to say. This House has voted every one of the Amendments proposed by the Brewers' Society, and has turned down every one which they opposed. That, as we all know, is purely coincidental. But we should not suppose that necessarily the majority in another place is so subservient to the wishes of the Brewers' Society as is the majority opposite here, and there ought to be a reasonable opportunity.

I shall not stand in the way of the compromise suggestion presented by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. If he wants to think about it again, let him do so, but he ought to have not only a think himself; he ought not to refer to another place as something which carries out his imprimatur. He ought to take into consultation the various people whose abilities have been so lauded in the recent Election campaign, whose powers, whose concentration, whose opportunities for study and thoughtful consideration of legislation have been praised.

Let us have a proper consideration of this matter elsewhere. If we do not, I think there are many hon. Members on this side of the House who will take the view that one month, being twice as long as the right hon. and learned Gentleman is proposing to allow another place to consider the proper term for considering the most controversial piece of legislation he has introduced this Session, is quite long enough for another place in which to deliberate.

In those circumstances, I hope we shall have from the right hon. and learned Gentleman an undertaking that, even if it means postponement by a week of the opening of the new Session, they will not cut short the right of the bishops to talk about temperance, or even details of temperance, or to be subordinated to the interests of the brewers. That is the sort of question the right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to answer and that is the sort of question we have a perfect right to ask in this House.

Mr. J. Hudson

By leave of the House, in an attempt to pour a little oil on the troubled spirit, and in view of the genuine attempt made by the Home Secretary in a difficult situation, I appeal to him to think it out again. I have not given up hope entirely that he will arrive at something that will meet the very strong case put up by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, after "term," to insert "not exceeding three years."

The Bill as drafted provides that the appointment of a member of a committee shall be for such a term as may be determined by or under an order of the Secretary of State and there is no limit in the Bill to determine it. This Amendment sets a three-year limit on the powers of the Secretary of State though, of course, he could exercise them so as to provide for a shorter period.

The Amendment gives effect to an undertaking given in Committee by my right hon. and learned Friend on an Amendment put down by the hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. R. E. Winter-bottom). Perhaps Mr. Speaker, you would allow me to refer to the next Amendment on the Order Paper which is really part of this one?

The House will appreciate that if a limit is set to a term the question at once arises whether it would lie in the power of the Secretary of State to make a person whose term had expired eligible for reelection. The Amendment to line 28 after "State," to insert: with or without eligibility for being reappointed, as may be so determined. provides that such a member may be eligible for re-election.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Ede

May we take it, Mr. Speaker, that for the purposes of convenience we are discussing the two Amendments together?

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Ede

I should like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman or his hon. Friend for an explanation of the rather peculiar wording of the second Amendment. I do not recall ever seeing before the phrase "with or without eligibility." Does this mean that it might be that in one of the schemes there would be a term of years fixed and a statement appended that certain people would not be eligible for re-election, but that others to whom that was not applied might be eligible for re-election?

I have always thought that the giving of eligibility by no means meant that the person concerned had been granted a freehold but that when his term of office expired, while the person appointing him could reappoint him, he was not bound to do so. It might create some difficulties if a man was to be asked whether he would serve for a term of years and was then to be told that no matter how well he did the job, he would not be reappointed. Most men taking up this kind of work like to feel that if their services are well rendered, some appreciation will be shown in the form of extended opportunities.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

If I may have the leave of the House to reply, I think that the answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that the words of the Amendment would give complete discretion to the Secretary of State. He could make what rules he pleased, but, of course, he would exercise that discretion in a reasonable way. I do not think it would be possible to lay down in the Statute exactly in what way he should exercise that discretion. There might be cases in which it was thought desirable that there should be no eligibility. It is unlikely that the Secretary of State would make those cases apply to particular individuals, although it is conceivable that it might be desirable to do that.

I think it best to leave the matter open so that the Secretary of State can make rules. No doubt the rules, generally speaking, will be in general form so as to apply to all members of the committee equally, and I should imagine that in the ordinary way it would be left open for the member to be reappointed at the end of his term, subject, perhaps to an age limit or something of that kind.

Mr. Bing

I hesitate to intervene on this but, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, I took a considerable part in the discussion on this matter in the Committee. I have never understood—I should like to say a word in defence of the "Morning Advertiser" in this matter—why the Bill was originally drafted in the fashion that it was. Why did we not follow, and why have we not yet followed, the wording of the Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1945? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has always said that what he is trying to do in this is to get as near as he can to that Act.

The Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1945, provided for all these matters and set them out very clearly. It was amended, I think, without a Division in the House, by the general agreement of everybody, by Section 31 of the Licensing Act, 1949. It was amended to repair an obvious omission. That particular provision contained a modest addition, which, I should have thought, when there arises the question of what is to be put in in another place, might also be considered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The words of the Amendment to the 1945 Act by Section 31 of the Licensing Act, 1949, are these: The appointment of a member of any such committee (unless his office is earlier abolished by the expiration of this Act. … In view of the very transitory position which right hon. Members opposite occupy, I should have thought we should not give these people three years certain. How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman know that this Act will continue for this time? Why does he not see fit to insert the same saving phrase as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) introduced when he was amending the Act introduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself?

This is not a major point and there is a great deal to be discussed in the quarter of an hour which is all that is left to deal with five Clauses of this Bill. How far we shall get in that time I do not know. I shall not delay the House further on this point, but I suggest that in the interests of proper drafting of legislation which is a matter on which hon. Members opposite pride themselves—they do not care much what is in it so long as it is properly drafted—they ought to follow precedent. They should see whether they cannot follow the words of the Licensing Plan- ning (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1945, which was introduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself and the Licensing Act, 1949, a Clause of which was introduced, I think I am right in saying, with the blessing of the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 28, after "State," insert: with or without eligibility for being reappointed, as may be so determined.

In page 3, line 9, leave out "or more."

In line 12, leave out from "by," to "as," in line 13, and insert: one and partly by the other.

In line 35, leave out "or more."—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]