§ [2ND ALLOTTED DAY]
§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
The earlier stages of this Bill have produced many imaginative flights into the controversial stratosphere and therefore it is opportune, I think, to use the pedestrian last lap of the Third Reading to remind the House that it is a short, practical Measure to deal with a limited, although important point. Its contents constitute our solution to the problem that faced us at the outset when we had to make the choice of putting State management into effect in the new towns or of changing the policy and ensuring that licensed premises, like other facilities in the new towns, were provided in the ordinary way by the usual people.
I have explained more than once why effect had to be given to this decision at once so that the planning and development of the new towns should go on without impediment or hindrance. This Bill embodies our conviction that State management in the new towns was a mistake. We made our views clear during the passage of the Act of 1949, and we have nothing to change in them. This is not the occasion to go into them again, but it is the occasion to emphasise that, by preventing State management, the Bill does away with two things: first of all, the setting up of a fresh administrative structure, and secondly, the expending of substantial sums of public money. It repeals a Measure which we believe is both unpopular and unjustified by the facts, it gets rid of expenditure and it allows private enterprise, subject to appropriate public control, to provide the licensed premises.
If the Bill were not passed and the repeal it contains not enacted, there would remain imposed on the new towns measures which are out of proportion to the needs of good planning, are experimental and are unwanted. The Bill proposes that the general scheme operating in 208 the country should apply to the new towns but subject to adaptations which are necessary for two purposes: first, to meet the practical needs of the new towns, and secondly, to give the development corporations a share of the responsibilities to which, in our opinion, their special functions and duties entitle them.
I should like to make it clear about the contents of the Bill that there is nothing in it which involves any present to the liquor trade of money arising out of public development. The development of the new towns will give many forms of private enterprise new opportunities to which they are entitled; but an important aspect which must be remembered is that the Bill will result in substantial financial benefit to the development corporations themselves. They can lease land for public houses, or they can build themselves and ensure that a fair share of the profits that arise inure to the corporations, such as was impossible under State management. In addition, the State will get a fair share in taxation.
I want to emphasise the point that there is no distinction between the licensed trade and other forms of private enterprise. The Section of the 1949 Act which is repealed by Clause 1 of this Bill did not seek to nationalise all forms of free enterprise. It was not based on the assertion that public development should never lead to private profit. The reason advanced was sound planning. This Bill is also designed to secure sound planning, but in what we think is a different and more practical way, for we believe that planning is essentially and fundamentally a local matter which ought to be entrusted to local bodies. This Bill provides the machinery needed to secure, first, that these bodies function harmoniously and effectively; and secondly, that local public opinion is given an opportunity for expression.
I want to make it clear that the Bill does not take the form of repealing the 1949 Act and putting nothing in its place except the ordinary licensing law. As the point has been raised in discussion once or twice, I think it is proper that I should say a word as to why we have not taken this course. The difficulties were the overlapping jurisdictions of the licensing authorities and the development corporations, and the lack of machinery for co-ordinating them. Everyone appreciates that the development corporations have 209 the duty of ensuring proper development in the new towns in every respect—I repeat "in every respect"—and, therefore, they must concern themselves with the provision of licensed premises.
The provision of licensed premises, however, is also the responsibility of the licensing justices, and I want to return to a most interesting aspect of that which was first developed yesterday by the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) and taken up in turn by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I entirely agree with the point which they stressed, that the licensing justices must act judicially. I think I am putting it correctly when I say that they can have a general policy for their area, but they cannot consult with another body about a particular case before they hear and determine judicially an application for a licence.
Without the provisions of this Bill, it will not be open to the development corporation and the licensing justices to discuss in any detail the planning of licensed premises in a new town; but the Bill deals with this situation and provides the necessary means of co-ordination. Both bodies retain the powers of which I have just spoken, and the Bill ensures that they are exercised in harmony and in the best interests of the new towns.
I should like to follow that up, because I want to take up a point about which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields was good enough to ask me yesterday. In dealing with it, may I begin by showing how the machinery will work and then come to his point as to how it will deal with existing licences? In practice, the steps will follow in this way. First of all, the development corporation will take into consideration the planning of the part of the new town due for development. They will have in mind many other things, including the number of licensed premises that they deem necessary. The development corporation will take their plans to the committee established under this Bill with suggestions as to licensed premises, and the subject will be discussed with the representatives of the development corporation and the justices. In the committee, plans will be fully discussed and modified, if necessary, both in regard to sites and as to the type of accommodation, services and amenities to be provided at the premises.
210 Then the plan will be published for public consideration and there will be an opportunity for objection. If necessary there will be a local inquiry, and, finally, the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Secretary of State for Scotland will confirm, reject or modify the proposals. Thereafter, after the planning steps have been taken, the development corporation, as part of their general duty, will take practical steps to ensure that the committee's confirmed proposals are put into effect; but it will be open to the development corporation themselves to build the premises and let them or—what I think will more frequently happen—invite bids for the leases of sites on which private enterprise may build. In each case, of course, the site, the building, and so on, must be in accordance with the committee's proposals.
In either case, the development corporation will get the best terms for themselves and for their new town. Their choice is not restricted to brewers. I do not want to make a bad point, for I envisage that it will be brewers in a large majority of cases. I do not want to suggest anything else. I am sure that the right hon. Member for South Shields will not misunderstand me. Of course, the choice is not restricted. In a suitable case the corporation could get a Trust House or an individual if they wanted to do it. It will be for them to make the choice and to serve the best interests of the new town. It is their duty to find a suitable tenant and to comply with the requirements as to providing amenities.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says "it is their duty" to ensure that there is a good tenant. Whom does he mean by "their"?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The development corporation. After the planning stager the development corporation then carry the plan into effect. It will be for them to make the choice as to who will carry out the actual physical work.
I now come to the point which the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to put to me yesterday. What is to happen under our proposals about existing licensed premises in the new towns? It is a question of some importance, and we considered it carefully in framing the Bill. It would be useful if we looked for a moment at the nature and size of the problem. As I think I have previously 211 informed the House, there are altogether 205 on-licences of all kinds in all the new towns in England, Wales and Scotland. Of these, 55 are in Hemel Hempstead, 25 in Stevenage, 22 in Hatfield, 23 in Cwmbran, 19 in Harlow, 17 in Bracknell and 16 in Crawley. The number in any other new town is less than 10. I understand that the great majority of these existing on-licences belong to small public houses.
On the face of it, these figures suggest redundancy in Hemel Hempstead and the possibility of some redundancy in Stevenage, Hatfield and Cwmbran. Again, I hope I shall not be misunderstood, since I speak of the figures alone and do not pretend to the special local knowledge which would be necessary to decide this point. In the other new towns I have named, with fewer than 20 licences apiece, any redundancy must be on a small scale. One must always remember that practically all those licences have been in force for many years, presumably doing an economic trade, and have not been extinguished under the provisions of the Licensing Act, 1910, for the elimination of superfluous licences.
The next question we have to ask ourselves is: What will be the effect on those licences of the development of the new towns? Circumstances will vary with each particular case but, broadly speaking, it is manifest that the general tendency will be for any existing redundancy to be diminished rather than increased as the result of the growth of the town. I want to face the question which, I am sure, the right hon. Gentleman had in mind. Assuming that some problem of redundancy remains, what can be done about it? One can either remove the redundant licence to another site where there is need for a licence, or can suppress it against compensation.
The provisions of the Bill have been framed so as to allow of removal wherever it is appropriate. We fully expect that, in connection with the work on the new towns, negotiations will take place between the development corporations and the owners of existing licensed premises with a view to removal of superfluous existing licences to new sites. I do not think I am doing the licensing justices as a whole an injustice, and I am certainly not saying anything which is not strictly accurate about the benches 212 that I personally know best, those in South-West Lancashire, when I describe the procedure that was followed there. I do not know whether this procedure was followed by the bench of which the right hon. Gentleman was so distinguished a member, but it was certainly followed in my experience.
When brewers suggested the removal of a licence, especially that of a small and decaying public house, it was quite clearly conveyed to them, at any rate in Lancashire and in the direct way that we have in those parts, that if they came for the removal of that house without offering the extinction of one or two other licences, their chances of getting the removal would be very small. Whether that was strictly judicial or not, it was a procedure followed with the utmost good faith by the licensing justices. It had the result in many areas of producing a voluntary re-distribution of licensed houses in accordance with the changes of population.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
One of my difficulties, as I mentioned in Committee, relates to the position of licensing justices. As I understand the matter, the development corporation approach the committee and submit plans which the committee have the right to decide on, and to ignore the development corporation, who have their selected members on the committee—
§ Mr. Hale
These persons need not be members of the development corporation, but there must be members of the licensing justices. The development corporation do not appoint their own members. Subject to appeal to the Minister, the site is agreed and the development corporation fix the terms. One of those terms may possibly be the surrender of some existing licence. That need not be, and in many cases cannot be done, by application for special removal because it might be cancelling a licence of a different type or two or three small licences. Under Clause 4, the licensing justices have no power at all. If they are satisfied that the terms are suitable and that the applicant is suitable, they must grant the application, irrespective of the conditions and of the terms. I do not know how it is intended that these provisions should work.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
That is what I was trying to explain. I willingly recapitulate as shortly as I can, in order to make the point clear to the hon. Member. I have explained the various planning stages. The committee stage is important because, under Clause 3 as we have now altered it, that is the stage at which we establish the site, the kind of house, the amenities and the provisions which have to go with the house. At that stage the licensing justices have agreed to the kind of house which will be allowed.
At the next stage the development corporation will begin to negotiate. At that stage, of course, the terms of the building lease or the tenancy—if they build themselves—will be a matter of contract. At that stage it would be quite possible that, instead of the premium on the lease being £x thousand, it should be £x minus £y thousand, £y being represented by the extinction value of the licence of another house.
§ Mr. Hale
May I interrupt again, because this is most important? The development corporation have reached this stage, I agree, and brewery A says, "We are prepared to surrender two or three existing licences as part of this, and so, instead of paying so much in terms, we shall expect them to be reduced." Then another applicant says, "I am prepared to pay the terms." Then the development corporation say, "We recommend it should go to brewery A or to applicant B," and then they go to the licensing justices and brewery A makes an application. Under the existing law, applicant B is also entitled to make an application. Is he not to be heard at all? Is no one else able to go to the licensing justices and say, "I want my rights under the law"?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
No; that is the point. I am sorry if I have not made it clear to the hon. Gentleman. That is the change: the licensing justices constitute 50 per cent. of the committee and they are on the committee in order to bring to it their experience and knowledge gained as licensing justices. Therefore, the committee will decide the kind of house that is necessary and it will then be a matter for the development corporation, who have the planning of the town in mind, to consider whether they will accept the extinction of the licence, because it is not the removal of the second licence but 214 its extinction that is being considered, and it is the duty of the committee to see that the plans which they are putting forward provide for the reasonable supply of licensed premises to the towns.
I am not avoiding the difficulty which the hon. Gentleman has pointed out. I face it. I say that it is a matter for the Committee to decide in order to get analogous results to those which I mentioned have often been obtained by licensing benches within my knowledge, I do not think there is any practical difficulty.
§ Mr. Ede
This is a complicated matter. I do not want to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman now. I shall try to deal with it, as I see it, when I make some observations in reply to what he is now saying. I shall understand if he wants to interrupt me to explain that I have not quite understood what he is saying. That is something which I must put up with.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Unless one has the background, not only of licensing law but of licensing practice, it is a difficult matter. I have done my best, but I am conscious that there may be defects in my exposition—I am always conscious of that—and I accept with great cordiality the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, should it become necessary.
That is the way in which we believe we can get in the new towns a large measure of the re-distribution of licences which may be necessary. That is one method. There is the other simple method which I mentioned of the extinction of unwanted licences. It might well have happened, apart altogether from this controversy, that a development corporation wanted to extinguish a licence in order to divert that part of the land of the corporation to other purposes. That would simply be a matter of bargaining, of paying for the licence value. The advantage which I suggest this method gets is that if they want to do that they can recoup themselves, at any rate to some extent, from the premium on the lease or the rent they will get for the new premises.
Of course, there is the third possibility, which I have not mentioned but which will be in the minds of all hon. Members, that licensed premises may become redundant in the ordinary way and be 215 dealt with by the provisions for compensation for redundant licences under the Act of 1910.
Therefore, we expect that the development of the new towns will of itself act as a strong stimulus towards the re-distribution of existing licences, and the committees to be set up under the Act will, of course, take account of any existing licensed premises in deciding what new premises are needed. It may be thought by some right hon. or hon. Gentlemen that we should have gone further and proposed that the committees should be given specific powers to require, as opposed to expedite, the removal or extinction of existing licences. That course would have raised difficult questions of compensation and, from the background which I have described, I do not think that the practical problem is so great as to justify drastic proposals of that kind.
I cannot leave this part of the Bill—where I have been dealing with practical matters—without expressing my appreciation of the help, the very real help, received from the Opposition in working out the practical details. I do not expect any quarter for saying this, but I should not like to let the occasion pass without saying it. When we got away from the sterile, controversial irrelevancies of certain stages—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which were they?"] I only put it in this way, that certain portions of our argument did not differ from the classic comment on the mule: they had great pride of ancestry but they had no hope of posterity. I want to turn to the later portion where we had frequent exchanges of ideas on practical questions which were very fruitful because we saw the fruits of that exchange added to the Bill yesterday.
I believe there is no disagreement as to the need to ensure that any new public house in the new towns should be of a high standard. None of us wants a return to what were called "drinking shops"; we all want a worthy contribution to the communal life of these new towns. The Amendments made yesterday to Clause 3, which were as much the product of Opposition as of Government ideas, serve to give the committees clearer directions as to the matters to be considered. I believe it was said from opposite yesterday that the new Clause about 216 temporary licensed premises gives faithful effect to the conclusions of the Committee as a whole without distinction of party. There, again, one saw that the practical discussions were concerned exclusively with what would be best for the new towns.
There are just one or two points which I want to make clear, and then I shall have done. There is nothing in the Bill which will increase the number of licensed premises beyond what would be provided under any other method of securing their existence. Secondly, it is important for everyone to understand that there is nothing in the Bill to give the building of licensed premises any special priority. The number and rate of production will remain the same and, as every right hon. and hon. Member knows, there is an established machinery for establishing priorities between the rival claims on building resources and awarding starting dates for building. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields said yesterday in discussing one of the Amendments, licensed premises—if I may paraphrase his words—have to take their place in the queue in the ordinary way.
I also do not think there is any difference between us and the party opposite on the need, or the scale or the sort of licensed premises to be provided. I am sure that we agree on the importance of developing the new towns as balanced communities with all these necessary amenities. We agree on the need to provide new towns with suitable licensed accommodation. We agree on the need for preventing undue delay between the arrival of the population and the provision of the accommodation.
This Bill is concerned with the only question at issue between us—who should provide that accommodation? On this our division is sharp and I fully understand the differences of viewpoint. We, for our part, believe that the Bill is right in providing that private enterprise should make provision of licensed premises. We believe that the measure of public control provided by the Bill is sufficient and is in the right hands; and we believe that the interests of the new towns and their people are better served in this way.
On these things our belief is clear and firmly based but, as I have said, on the other points as to the number and type 217 and the kind of amenities which these premises will provide I am glad that there is a measure of agreement. I hope that it will be the enduring duty which we feel on all of us to see that the high standards to which we have set our voices in this debate are never debased.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
A few minutes ago I really began to wonder what all the trouble had been about. I cannot help thinking that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, when he moved the Second Reading of the Bill and when we started the Committee's proceedings upstairs, had then shown the same temperament, a great deal of the most disagreeable Committee work that I have had to do in this House would have been avoided.
He started by saying that the Bill that he was introducing on Second Reading was what the Government intended to have. Well, it is not now quite the Bill that it then was. I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognises that in the later stages, at any rate, we have dealt with some of the general problems concerned with licensing in a way that I hope will make the work of establishing licences in the new towns an example of what ought to be done in other areas.
But that does not mitigate in any way our feeling that the method which we proposed in the 1949 Act would have been a better way of dealing with the problem. It is not to be taken that if the Government carry this Bill through this House and hurry it through, as they will this evening, by 7.15 p.m., and then get it through another place, we regard this as the final solution of the problem that is presented.
We had the advantage in the Committee of very considerable assistance from the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant) and it was my regret that yesterday he almost withdrew from our discussion and in fact only rose to certain bait that was thrown out to him by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) who, of course, is an expert angler on such occasions. I really hope that this does not mean that the hon. Member for Wokingham feels that his great contribution to the licensed trade of the country now has almost reached a stage when it will receive its 218 usual due reward of a call to another place.
We should have missed him in the Committee, and yesterday we even enjoyed his benign smile, although we had few of those words of wisdom that so helped us upstairs. After all, I understand that he has a strong connection with Ind Coope and Allsopp. When the first Lord Hindlip was created out of Sir Henry Allsopp, he wrote indignantly to "The Times" to say that it was wrong to say that he was a brewer, because he had given up brewing. I hope that it will be a long time before the hon. Member for Wokingham has to make such a complaint. I might say that that will not induce me to drink any of his concoctions.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary dealt in considerable detail with the problem that had worried me throughout the proceedings and which still gives me cause for concern. That is the problem of the existing licensee. I am quite certain that a very great deal of the opposition to the proposals that we put forward was concentrated round the fact that the existing licensee was nearly bound to suffer. I think that that was directly put to us as a result of what we were proposing.
I went a very considerable distance in order to remove those fears by saying that in any new houses that were provided in the new towns the existing licensee of any licence that became redundant or had to be removed should receive the first consideration in the appointments made to the new houses. He gets no such guarantee under this Bill, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that he hopes that the Bill will be a strong stimulus to re-distribution. In spite of what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch said yesterday about the strength of beer, one expects, of course, to have strong stimulus in connection with any consideration of the subject which we are discussing today.
I hope that the steps that we took to safeguard the position of the existing licensees will be borne in mind by those who, I think, in the main will be the persons who will get the leases of the new sites, when they come to deal with the employment that they are to offer. It is not in the Statute, but they expressed such 219 lively concern when it was thought that those persons now related with them might be related with someone else that I hope sincerely that, under the new arrangements in this Bill, they will see also, no matter how strong the stimulus to re-distribution will be, that the existing licensees will be borne in mind.
I now come to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about the existing licensee. As far as I could follow what he said—any failure on my part to follow him was my fault and not his, because he obviously made a most sincere effort to give us a clear and revealing exposition of what the position would be—my apprehensions are not diminished. This is the history that he gave us. Before his new committee considers the proposals, the development corporation and the owners of the existing licences would have negotiations with each other. When they have come to some form of agreement, they would take that agreement to the new committee for consideration, and there they would meet not merely representatives but members of the licensing justices. Then the new committee would reach a decision one way or the other on the agreement that had been arrived at between the development corporation and the owners of the existing licence.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
What I said was that at the first stage the development corporation would make their preliminary survey of the planning of that part of the new town. That might or might not—I do not say that it would—necessitate preliminary negotiations with the owners of the houses. It might come at that stage or it might come at the second stage when they had brought their draft plans to the committee.
§ Mr. Ede
Let us take the ordinary run of things. Presumably they would desire that when their plan went to the committee it should represent agreement as nearly as possible, or, at any rate, they should know what would be the likely views of the owner of the licence. I do not think that is an unfair way of regarding the working negotiation rather than any set rules which might be laid down.
At any rate, whichever way it happens, a decision is reached by the committee with regard to the way the licence is 220 dealt with, and some members of the licensing committee of the district established under later Sections of the Act of 1949 come to consider the matter, and they give an expression of opinion as part of the view expressed by the committee, and then the licensing committee reach a decision. As I understand it, once that decision has been confirmed when the scheme is put forward, it becomes binding on the justices. It was established by the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) that at that stage the licensing justices have no power to vary what has been decided by the committee, certainly as to the location and nature of the licence; all they are concerned with is the suitability of the applicant.
I hope that represents a correct statement of what transpires at that stage. That was precisely the danger that I pointed out last night. It makes me hope all the more that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will find an opportunity, when the Bill is considered in another place, to have some regard to the alternative procedure which was proposed in the Amendment moved yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has alluded today, and on which he gave us no pledge yesterday except that he would consider the matter.
I view with great disfavour the sort of arrangements which he suggests are made in the part of the country where he used to practise. The kind of understanding between a bench and an applicant in front of a bench that, in addition to what appears on the surface of things, something outside is also understood is a very undesirable form of the administration of justice.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I could not agree more with the right hon. Gentleman, but I was referring to the practice in Lancashire 15 to 20 years ago. There was no disguising it. The matter was brought out openly, and fully disclosed to the licensing justices, the Press and the public. There was nothing behind the scenes; it was done in open court. That makes a difference to one's feelings about it.
§ Mr. Ede
Oh, yes, but what really happens is that the licensing justices virtually impose a condition which they cannot enforce at law. People who have to 221 administer justice have to be very careful how far they put themselves into that position. I have known some borough councils which wanted to improve a street corner on which there was a public house. By some means which are unknown to me but are very effective, they arranged that the licence became redundant and the compensation came from the compensation fund. Then the street improvement went through, and instead of the rates having to bear the cost of compensation, it came from the compensation fund.
I fear from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that the opposite will occur here. He said that, if such a condition were accepted by both sides, one or two redundant licences would be suppressed and that would result in a smaller payment being made on the premium for the lease, which would mean that the development corporation would be paying for the suppression of the redundant licences which I believe ought to be compensated out of the statutory compensation fund.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I did not say "redundant." I said that they would probably be decaying licences. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman had to see somebody behind Mr. Speaker's Chair when I was dealing with that.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I thought the right hon. Gentleman had moved. I dealt with the matter separately. I said there was a strong possibility that redundant licences would be dealt with in the ordinary way by the compensation fund under the Act. The right hon. Gentleman will find that I said that.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman said at some stage or other that in some case or other there would be a reduction of the premium on the lease because more than one licence had been surrendered in order that a removal might take place. That does not seem to me to alter the case very much. Why should the development corporation pay compensation for the extinction of a decaying licence? I do not follow that either. I should have thought that a decaying licence was a very small asset either to the brewer or to the licensee. 222 I am not at all sure that they ought not in some cases to pay the development corporation a little for giving them an easy get-out from a position that would be becoming almost intolerable.
I am bound to say that the more I consider this matter the more I am persuaded that this arrangement by which the licensing justices appear at so early a stage, and commit themselves before a judicial hearing, is one which we on this side of the House could not support. I sincerely hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will realise that, in doing that, we accept for the moment, for this Bill only, the fact that licensing planning is to be the basis of the future arrangement.
I would ask the Home Secretary whether, before he pushes the Bill through the other place at a speed even greater than that at which he pushed it through here in its later stages, he will see if he can do something to remove the difficulties which confront me, and which I assure him I put forward solely in the interests of good administration of the licensing law and the preservation of the impartial position of the licensing benches.
I wish to deal with one other matter. I am bound to say that I gained the impression, from an early interview that I had with the licensed trade, that they had agreed on a scheme by which each new town would be regarded as the province of an individual brewing firm. They assure me that I misunderstood them, and I accept their word. It is now a long time ago, and in recent months I have, of course, been speaking from memory and not with the advantage of consultation with the documents.
I am told that what really happened is as follows, and I think it is still symptomatic of the way in which this particular trade views the problems which we have been considering. The London brewers went to see the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire brewers, and said, "You are to have in your areas a lot of the population that will come from our area, and you will have to provide licences for the people whom we used to serve. Therefore, we think that you should agree with us that some of the licences in the area should be given to us, and that you little boys should not have all the cake that we big boys used to eat."
223 One can well imagine that little boys always have bigger appetites than big boys, and this approach was not received with very great friendliness by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire brewers, and the scheme broke down. Although it was said that I was told that they could arrange an allocation, no such arrangement was ever made.
I wish to make it quite clear that that is their explanation of the incident. It does not seem to me that it varies very much from what I have always suspected, that they think that the allocation of these licences is a matter for them to arrange, and that it can be done quite well outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
That brings me to another point which I wish to ask the Home Secretary. In the event of there being no bids for these sites at the figures which the development corporation think right, what does he propose that they should do? It was a point which I always had very much in mind. The Home Secretary is taking away the power whereby he could step in and deal with such a situation. How does he think such a situation could be met if in any area the brewers got together, and said, "In view of the prices they are asking for the sites, we are not playing"?
We all agree that we desire to see adequate and appropriate provision made, but the Home Secretary has left himself in a position which merits his consideration. We all admit that it is almost impossible to imagine anyone other than a brewery, with its financial resources behind it, or the State, being able to deal with the situation which the new towns will present. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was quite frank on the occasion of the Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Act, in which he took such a prominent part during the war, when he said, when asked about free houses, "There will be nothing but tied houses under these schemes." That is a point which I think he will be well advised to consider, and I hope that either later today or in another place we may hear what sanction the right hon. and learned Gentleman reserves to himself in order to ensure that these schemes shall be implemented.
As I said in opening my remarks, we prefer the method which we had in the 224 1949 Act. We do not share the views of some people who think that the Carlisle experiment has been a failure. We believe that the Carlisle experiment has been a success. It has certainly enabled very considerable improvement to be made in the licensed premises of an important area. It has stood the test of competition in those towns in which some licences are held by the State management authority and some by private individuals.
There are fair-sized towns, like Mary-port and Wigton in Cumberland, to mention only two which come into my mind, where there has never been a monopoly. The Home Secretary may recollect that when we were considering the 1949 Act, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) had published in the "Daily Telegraph" an article in which he said that "Gracie's Banking" was a most desirable licensed establishment but that the beer was "off." When I asked him if he had drunk it, he said "Yes." He was then somewhat surprised to hear that "Gracie's Banking," although a public house under the State management scheme, did not take a single drop of State beer, and that the beer he was complaining about was that provided by private enterprise brewers, and—
§ Mr. John MacLeod (Ross and Cromarty)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that in the area of Ross and Cromarty, which I represent, there is a complete monopoly by the State, and no private enterprise has ever been allowed to come into that area and compete with the State-owned enterprises?
§ Mr. Ede
Certainly that is so in the case of the properties there. I spent a considerable time going round the Ross and Cromarty area, and I thought that the hotels there looked better than any I had stayed in on this side of the Border. I wish I could spend every holiday in Ross and Cromarty at the hotel I stayed at. But any house which has a demand for any type of beer can get it.
When I went into a little public house in a place called Culbokie, the licensee said to me, when he showed me a shelf of Younger's Oatmeal Stout, "I only wish I could get treble the quantity." And he could not get it because the brewers would not give it to him.
§ Mr. MacLeod
The right hon. Gentleman has not really dealt with the point, 225 I agree entirely with him there, but it still remains a fact that I could not go and open up in that area. There is no competition at all. There are no licences anywhere in that area—[Interruption.]—not in that area. Nobody has ever been allowed to go into it and compete with the State-owned public houses.
§ Mr. Anthony Marlowe (Hove)
Did the right hon. Gentleman convey the burden of that complaint to his right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) who has considerable influence with Youngers Brewery?
§ Mr. Ede
The right hon. Gentleman was my Under-Secretary of State at the time, and we had no secrets between us. I can only hope that the passing of the information had beneficial results. I go no further than that.
Let us face this: the Measure we proposed was, in my view, the best way of dealing with this problem. It avoided all the difficulties which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has frankly faced this afternoon and explained the way he thinks they will work out. I have given him my reasons, based to some extent on practical experience of the licensing problem from a less remunerative angle than his when he was gaining his experience. We think that the Measure now proposed will involve very great difficulties for the licensing justices. It will make their task in these new towns very difficult.
There is no real means of securing that effective local public feeling can make itself felt in the preliminary stages, which was the point of the Amendment of my hon. Friend yesterday. We still hope that on some of these points the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in the further considerations of this Bill elsewhere, will be able to do something to remove the difficulties we have pointed out; but we must not be taken as accepting the view that in the new towns the proposals he puts forward are so nearly as good as ours as to enable us to regard this as a solution of this difficult problem.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
It is no wish of mine in any way to impede the passage of this Bill, but yesterday the right hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) asked whether I would be willing to come forward and explain the point of view which might be held in East Kilbride, which is in my constituency. It was later suggested by the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) that I was not very interested in the matter.
The right hon. Member for East Stirling yesterday asked:… who, in Scotland, wants this Bill? Who has made any representations to the Government? What justification have the Government for changing the law in Scotland? We have never been told that anybody in Scotland supports the Bill. I have never heard of anyone who particularly wants the Scottish new towns opened up to the old trade, and I should very much like to know whether there is any evidence of anybody having been asked, in reference to this Bill, what should be done in our new towns."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 100–1.]I hope to be able to answer that rather long question which, incidentally, was not answered by the hon. Member for Fife, West, who could only contribute to the discussion the suggestion that I was disinterested, and the further point that… if a mandate were asked of the people of Glenrothes I am certain that they would all opt for public ownership of public houses."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 14th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 107.]The hon. Member, apparently, has no evidence upon it to give, or else he was not sufficiently interested to bring it forth.
My interest in this matter is entirely independent. I have no connection with any brewing house. I am not a great drinker. I share the public regret that beer is, on the whole, of thinner substance than of yore. This matter came to my attention on the very first day that I arrived in this place last year. I then learned that the owners of the five public houses that exist in East Kilbride had been informed in May of that year that they would, as at Martinmas, be taken over, and the intimation related to purchase. November had now arrived and the owners and the licensees of these public houses found themselves in great embarrassment, because no further operation or proceeding had taken place, and they had no idea what was to befall them.
227 May I make it clear that of all these five public houses not one of them is a tied house. Of those five, one had been a family business for more than 100 years; another had been a family business for more than 50 years. Of the five, four of the owners were the licensees. In the remaining case the owner was in declining health and the licensee was an employee. There could not, therefore, in this case be any question of influence by brewing interests regarded, shall I say, as an industry or a pressure group.
The matter came to my attention through these owners, who were faced with the prospect of compulsory purchase at short notice upon terms that had not yet been disclosed to them; who were offered no prospect that their businesses could be re-opened elsewhere; who, indeed, had no certainty that they would even obtain housing accommodation. It is a familiar theme of mine that housing in East Kilbride lags a little short of promise. In short; I was confronted with the spectacle of five businesses being closed down.
I made my own inquiries and I could discover no single person outside the Development Corporation itself who saw any particular reason why these "pubs" should be taken over and run as State enterprises. On the contrary, when I inquired within the Development Corporation itself I was given two arguments about two of the "pubs" concerned that were strictly irrelevant, and a third that seemed to me to be of no value. The first was that a "pub," which shall be nameless, was suspected of permitting Sunday drinking. That, it was thought, was a sound, suitable and irrefutable argument for taking that "pub" over. Surely it could be replied that that was a police problem, and not in itself an argument which justified the compulsory purchase of that "pub."
In the second case—and I could not help noting it during the speech of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede)—was a "pub" at a street corner. The argument there was, "We want the 'pub' out of the way anyhow." Again, not a strictly relevant consideration—
§ Mr. Hale
I take it that in his use of the somewhat unusual abbreviation 228 "pub" the hon. Member is referring to licensed premises? The term is unknown to me. He referred to the Development Corporation expressing themselves and then went on to refer to street corners, and so on. To what sort of communication from the Development Corporation is he now referring? Did he get it privately or officially, collectively or individually? How was this extraordinary opinion expressed?
§ Mr. Maitland
I am much obliged for that inquiry. A public-house, as the hon. Gentleman has said is, of course, a licensed premises. The communication to which I have referred was a verbal conversation with members of the Development Corporation who were also members of the Licensing Advisory Committee. They disclosed to me what had taken place, and I have no reason to suppose that there was any secrecy; the matter was perfectly open and straightforward.
To continue, the third argument which was used for taking over these licensed premises was that the new town was in great need of a new hotel. That is an argument which, in itself, is not lightly to be cast aside; but, again, it was strictly irrelevant to the case in question, in as much as none of the licensed premises concerned could possibly be turned into suitable hotels for the purpose in mind. Indeed, it was admitted that they did not lend themselves to such development, for various entirely local reasons. Therefore, the three arguments advanced do not seem to apply.
Of course, there was a much more serious allegation, which was that the level of drinking and entertainment and the social habits of the new town could not be suitably raised without the dictatorial control—and I use the term advisedly and deliberately—of the Development Corporation. It is here that I part company with the right hon. Member for East Stirling in his approach to the whole matter. The social objectives outlined yesterday are surely, without any question, acceptable to us all. We should like to see the consumption of liquor relegated to its natural place in the consumption of other things. We certainly do not want to encourage the development of mere drinking dens.
There is not, as far as I know, in East Kilbride any real danger of degraded 229 drinking growing up; on the contrary, I believe it is true that the statistics relating to drunkenness in East Kilbride on the whole show a satisfactory trend, but I am open to correction on that point. At all events, I did not find many members of the public in East Kilbride, or, indeed, anywhere outside the secret circle of the Development Corporation itself, putting forward any arguments in favour of submitting these perfectly respectable private enterprises to the dead hand of State control in the interests of some higher morality which could not, apparently, be achieved or reached by any other stimulus.
The question has been raised whether the development corporations as they are now can be counted upon to work satisfactorily under the new Bill. So far as East Kilbride is concerned, my attention was called right at the beginning to the fact that the Corporation were disappointed to find that the Government proposed to amend the existing law, and that they had announced their intention of doing so without consulting them. It is also true that the East Kilbride Development Corporation was not consulted by the previous Government before the latter brought forward the 1949 Act.
No doubt the Development Corporation in East Kilbride not only has a right to hold views and express them on this matter, but it may perhaps regard itself as being in some respects lowered in function under this Bill. After all, the Chairman of the Licensing Advisory Committee under the 1949 Act happens to be the Chairman of the Development Corporation. The secretary of the Committee happens to be the secretary of the Development Corporation, and another member, a county councillor, is also a member of the Development Corporation.
One could well understand that the Corporation might now feel certain fears that it was not to have adequate representation under the new system. But, as far as one is able to follow the matter, I understand that, except for details—and, upon analysis, they appear to be details of practical working—the Corporation of East Kilbride can be counted upon now to carry out its task under this Bill satisfactorily.
Their main concern, and I am sure it will be recognised as a very reasonable concern, is that the chairman of the new 230 panel should be totally and really independent. I dare say that they have a fear that a Tory brewer might in some way insinuate himself into that position. I can only say that, in so far as they are anxious for an entirely independent chairman, so also am I.
In the broad social problems which lie before the new towns—and they are many, and some have been tackled with imagination and some others cumbrously and, I believe, stupidly—in these broad social problems, it is most important that we should not begin by being doctrinaire or dogmatic. We want persons of good will and decent standards to work together for the common weal. I see no reason to suppose, from my own experience of East Kilbride, and public opinion there being what it is, so far as one can judge by conversation, that the method proposed under this Bill to inculcate standards by example rather than by compulsion will not, in fact, succeed.
I believe that the people of East Kilbride, whom I know perfectly well, are sober, respectable people, who will welcome decent facilities for drinking or for any other honourable amusement. There is every reason to suppose, I believe, that the example which might be set by licensed premises under this Bill would rapidly be followed by the private public houses already existing there. It is because I believe that the way of example is always more satisfactory, more humane to the individual and more consonant with human dignity, as a means of raising standards, that I am glad that this Bill continues to refer to Scotland, and I only wish to speed it on its way.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland) will forgive me if I consider it a matter of discretion not to follow him in his purely Scottish argument. I feel that I must state that I consider it is a tragedy that, at the present time, we should be compelled to debate an unimportant Measure such as this, in view of the very many serious problems now facing the country.
As far as I am concerned, this Bill, as it now emerges, in spite of its amendment, is little better than when we first took it upstairs. The Home Secretary has been very consistent in his resistance to good 231 advice. Perhaps I am being prejudiced, but, as far as I am concerned, no Amendment could make this Bill a good Bill. The only improvement that could be made would be to discard it altogether. If I thought there was the slightest hope that my plea would be listened to I would appeal to the Government, even at this late stage, to discard it. Before we had this Bill there was an opportunity for small scale experiment to be carried out.
I personally cannot claim to be an expert either on beer or on "pubs"—perhaps I ought to say "licensed premises" in view of what my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) had to say—but I am told by those who claim to be experts in these matters that there is still some room for improvement. As I say, there was a chance for experiment. Had it failed, no great harm would have been done, and had it succeeded it might have set a standard for the rest of the country.
I believe that the Home Secretary feels that the Bill as it now stands gives that opportunity, but he seems to be going rather a roundabout way to achieve what could have been so easily accomplished if matters had been left alone. When I consider our very serious economic position and then think of this Bill and of the intention to have sponsored radio and television, and when I think of the ridiculous road transport denationalisation Bill and of the intention to denationalise steel, I wonder where this Government think they are taking us.
I know that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) is the Prime Minister, but I am fast coming to the conclusion that Government policy is being decided by those who find spiritual kinship with the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). I believe that what has happened in the case of this particular Bill is that that group—I hope it is not a party within a party—demanded action. They said, "Give us something which will undo something which has been done by the Labour Government." So the Cabinet went into a huddle and then they remembered that the brewers did not like the Bill dealing with licensed premises in the new towns which the Labour Government had put forward and so they produced this 232 miserable Bill. Of course, for them it had the advantage that it would be introduced by the Home Secretary, who is noted for being a strong stonewaller on a sticky wicket.
I have been very sorry for the Home Secretary during the whole passage of this Bill. I saw him on Second Reading and was with him all the time upstairs during the Committee stage. I saw him on the Report stage yesterday, and I see him again today. During none of these stages has he seemed to me to be a very happy man. Even in lighter moments of debate he does not seem to have enjoyed himself, although I think he is happier today because he feels he is getting near the end of his task. We can appreciate that he may feel resentful that his talents, time and energy should have been wasted on this unimportant Bill.
During the Third Reading of the Labour Government's Bill in May, 1949, an hon. Member of the party opposite stated that Bills were usually introduced for one of three reasons—to implement an Election pledge, in response to some popular demand, or in the hope of obtaining votes at a forthcoming Election. There is a fourth reason which he seemed to forget. It is possible to introduce legislation for the benefit of the people. But this Bill does not meet any of those conditions. It is so unimportant that I can only think it must have been conceived in a spirit of party spite. The true purpose, I feel, was revealed when the Government resisted the new Clause which had as its object to prevent tied houses.
There are some very strange ideas about freedom among the party opposite. They say to the beer drinkers in the new towns, "You shall drink whatever beer you choose provided you choose Blogg's beer." When we consider the problems facing us in this country it is a matter of amazement that the Government can find Parliamentary time for this miserable and unimportant Bill. I warn the Government that it will have its repercussions. I think that this Government will go down in history as the Nero of modern politics. Not only will it be said that they fiddled—and everyone agrees that they are prize fiddlers—but that they tried to quench the flames with a bottle of beer.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
The Home Secretary has today again adopted, as he has done throughout the debates on this Bill, an attitude which makes it difficult for those of us most opposed to it to say all we feel about it. In view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's urbanity and the great courtesy which he has shown us throughout these proceedings, one feels that one cannot reply to the soft answers which turneth away wrath except in a milder spirit. Yet, though I hold the right hon. and learned Gentleman in great esteem, I see behind him all the time those great enemies of the people, the brewers.
§ Mr. Hudson
They are there in the spirit if not in the body, and I am seeing them in the spirit. [An HON. MEMBER: "Seeing double."] It is other people who see double. One of the advantages of keeping clear of strong drink is that one sees perhaps more clearly.
The Bill has at last arrived at its Third Reading stage, but something which the Home Secretary said today made me feel that I was not hearing him aright. He paid compliments to the Opposition for all the improvements they have effected in the Bill. Had it not been for the Guillotine there might have been more improvements still. Indeed, had it not been for the particular form in which the Bill was drafted which made it essential for you, Mr. Speaker, and for other occupants of the Chair to rule out of order various Amendments which we tried to move, it might have been possible to make many more improvements. Of course, I am not casting any reflection on the Chair; I am sure that at all stages the Chair has done its duty. But, in any case, we have a certificate of good conduct showing that we on the Opposition benches have done our public duty.
If the last Amendment with which we were dealing yesterday could be accepted, as I hope it will, I would not take so dark a view of the matter as that taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn). He condemned the Bill with open candour. However, despite any little improvements we have effected it 234 is my view that this Bill is quite unacceptable. It is unacceptable for the two main reasons given on its introduction. I have said throughout these proceedings that the Bill was introduced in the first place because of the disreputable and permanent liaison between Toryism and the brewing trade.
Secondly, it was introduced—and not enough has been said about this—because of the totally unsatisfactory licensing position not only in new towns but in old towns. Proposals that have been made by Royal Commissions and which might have been taken up by political parties had the licensing system been properly looked at, have been disregarded, and we ambled on with the situation that confronted the Tory Party half a century ago on the question of licensing still very much neglected.
I remind Members opposite that in the days when the Tory Party first tackled this question they thought of reducing licences at the rate of 2,000 a year. At no time have they done anything of the sort. My own party—I am not making a party point—have not followed the recommendations of the Royal Commission that they were responsible for appointing, and the late Mr. Arthur Henderson, the great architect of this party, wrote shortly before his death—I do not use his exact words, because it was a long letter—that it was high time that legislation should be introduced to meet the unsatisfactory licensing system.
I admit that the Labour Government, to the extent that they tackled the one issue that came up—the question of the new towns—followed to a degree, at any rate, the recommendations of the Royal Commission that they had appointed. But the only thing that the present Government are doing is to follow a ramshackle procedure that was devised and carried through to meet a ramshackle situation created by Hitler in the blitzed towns, when as a result, as I said yesterday, of the Morris Committee's proposals, committees were set up consisting half and half of magistrates and other persons—in the first case, local authorities; now, in the Bill, representatives of the corporation responsible for the new town—under an impartial chairman to plan licensing.
It is this procedure to which I draw the attention of the House as the ground upon 235 which we are mainly opposed to the proposal. Despite the explanation given by the Home Secretary—I agree that he has been very careful and has taken a great deal of trouble to explain that he does not intend the functions of the magistrates as the judicial body to be unduly interfered with—we must remember what my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has also pointed out regarding the judicial character of the magistrates who go on to a committee, who take the responsibility as to half the membership of that committee for the planning of licences on the basis of evidence that is offered, partly in public and partly in private, to the committee as a whole, who are bound, as they will be, by the reasonable attitude of a committee man working with other committee men, to have some regard to what they arrive at after private and public considerations, and who then pretend to go back on to the magistrates' bench, as they must to, under their sacred function of judges, entirely untrammelled by any other considerations than the judicial function which they must exercise.
The magistrates being bound to remember that they have committed themselves to a line of policy that has been accepted by them and by others in a committee, it is to my mind—and will be, I think, in the mind of the general public—impossible for them on many occasions to feel themselves entirely free on the magistrates' bench to judge as if these things had not taken place.
It is, as we have always said, a question not only of doing justice, but of letting it be seen that justice is done. As my right hon. Friend the former Home Secretary, with much more experience than I have, has said, I repeat that we continue to feel the greatest distress and disturbance about the Bill because of the upset that has been made in the magistrates' position.
I do not know how far the feeling may be growing in the Tory Party—I know that it has grown with many of my friends—that the licensing system is now out of hand because the function of the magistrates has failed entirely to face the problems that everybody, in every party, agrees confronts them. There are many people who would be glad to scrap that system and to put something in its place. 236 I am not so sure about the scrapping of it, because I do not know what to put in its place.
I know of the proposal about the nationalisation of drink which we tried in this small field with which the Bill is dealing. When discussing nationalisation, those who believe in it talk about nationalising the things of which they want to see more and not less. Nationalisation of coal is good because we believe, and we are proving, that we will get more coal. Nationalisation of the railways is good because we believe we will get better transport. There can be nationalisation of all sorts of things; more of what the nation needs is the possibility that is before us. The party opposite do not believe that, but we on this side believe it. Therefore, I can wholeheartedly accept nationalisation.
But who wants to see more—and I put this question to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)—of this commodity, especially just now, when the figures for drunkenness are again increasing? Since 1947 they have increased by more than 100 per cent., from 25,000 to over 50,000.
The amount of money being spent on beer—I separate it from the general amounts that are being spent on other kinds of liquor—is again increasing. If anybody says that it is increasing because we are taking more in taxation, I reply that the people, in their desire to have beer, even that watered stuff which my hon. Friends dealt with so well yesterday, are willing to pay vast sums, very much more than many of them can afford; very much more than they ought to pay if they are thinking about the whole of the needs of their families; very much more than ought to be spent at present, when we talk about a welfare community, a welfare State and raising vast sums to guarantee health, sanity and goodness of life all round.
The amount spent on beer has risen to £500 million a year. The present Foreign Secretary, in the last Parliament, dealt with this point and very cautiously suggested whether we all ought not to be thinking about the extreme character of the expenditure that is now made by people on these things.
Therefore, when I face up to the evil of drink, whether in new towns or old towns, I am not convinced that I am 237 entirely free to support the sort of proposals that I accept wholeheartedly when they relate to other things of a beneficial character. But I am sure that the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields was a very much better one than this, and gave us a much better chance of introducing Amendments by which there would be consultations with bodies other than magistrates and local authorities.
I accept that the Home Secretary is to think genuinely about this matter, and I think that he may yet get in the other place something which will obtain in a generous way the representation of the Boy Scouts, youth clubs, temperance societies, churches, trades unions and the non-political women's organisations who are very concerned about this matter and who have to pay for the consequences of our failures when we do fail. Those are the sort of people who could give really good guidance and help after training and further experience in the matter. They might help even this Bill to be less dangerous than it is at present.
I wish to close on the note on which I think the House will expect me to close. We are dealing in this Bill with a commodity that brings no great good in its train. It provides great pleasure, I admit; that is the trouble, but it is the sort of thing that has worked badly for us in the past and is working very badly today for our great neighbour across the Channel. We do not want to travel that road either in the new towns or in any other towns.
I do not know whether hon. Members remember that Petain, after his breakdown and the defeat of France, said that the reason that France had been destroyed and beaten to its knees was because of drink. People may laugh and say, "That is only old Petain, the expert in excuses." But I think people will alter their tone now, for the French Minister of Health, in a Government that is largely similar in character to the Conservative Government here, has just stated at a conference in Paris that 1¼ million people in France are today under special medical treatment or in hospitals because of alcoholism, and that the amount that the State is spending on undoing the effects of alcoholism is far more than any money that they raise in taxation from the commodity that is doing the damage.
238 The commodity that we are dealing with in the new towns under this Bill is the commodity that has seized the people of this country, made them spend more than they ought to do and brought lower the standards of health, sanity and goodness in the life of the community. It has failed to serve any good purpose in a modern community. Those who shut their eyes to Petain's consequences may laugh, but I have seen these things too often and have struggled with men—yes, men even in this House—who have told me privately how hard it is to throw off the shackles of this thing when once it gets a hold in private or in public life.
It is with the knowledge of the great power of the liquor trade holding the Tory Party as it does, and with the knowledge that as a result of that wicked alliance we have to have this Bill, into which I have done my best to introduce what little improvement was possible, that I conclude with what the ex-Prime Minister said recently about another Bill and about which the present Prime Minister said of a Bill he did not like, "The only thing you can do with this Bill to improve it is to take it upstairs and slit its dirty throat"
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)
It is always a privilege and a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson). It has been quite an experience for me to follow all the proceedings on this Bill and, at different times, to listen to the hon. Gentleman. In a sense I am a little disappointed that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has kept the hon. Gentleman off his normal tones because once or twice his indignation—and it is an honest indignation—has been such that it has proved that it is not only jet aircraft that can approach the sound barrier.
Although I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point of view, and do not agree with it, he has not mentioned the true reason for this Bill. The true reason for the Bill is just this: the people do not want the State to interfere in their ordinary drinking amenities.
§ Mr. Gough
Furthermore, if the hon. Gentleman had approached his constituents at the last General Election on this simple issue we would not have had the pleasure of listening to him this afternoon. Throughout the passage of this Bill hon. Members opposite have been trying to hide a very ugly skeleton in their cupboard and they have appointed various spearheads—one is the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)—to keep away from the discussions the true reasons why they are opposing this Bill.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has referred to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch as an expert angler. He certainly angled very successfully for some red herrings. I think that possibly the first red herring that he has put across the trail is this question of the brewers having something to say in this Bill. This attack by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the brewers in general, and sometimes on my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant) in particular, proves to me one thing only, and that is that hon. Members opposite want not only to have State-owned houses in the new towns but they want that as a first step to having the State ownership of every single licensed premises up and down the country, and as a next step after that they want to nationalise the brewing of beer.
§ Mr. Gough
What I am saying is so obvious from the arguments which have been put forward in the course of this Bill. If and when that time comes—and I hope it never does—we shall be told with the usual jargon of the nationalisers that in the interests of co-ordination and integration all other breweries will be shut down and one massive great brewery will be set up. I suggest that a very good place for it would be Morecambe, where it seems that anything can be brewed up by hon. Members opposite.
The right hon. Member for South Shields talked about Carlisle and said what a wonderful experiment it had been. The Carlisle experiment has been in operation for something like 30 years. I 240 ask myself two questions about it. First of all, why has no other city, town, or borough—including boroughs with Socialist majorities—taken up a similar experiment to Carlisle? Why have they not even asked to be allowed to take up such an experiment?
The second question is one which I asked during the Committee stage, when this point was raised. Why is it that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—who is not in his place—when visiting Carlisle during the 1950 General Election campaign, did not go to one of these wonderful houses for his luncheon but to one of the two private enterprise hotels in that town?
A great deal of play has been made by the party opposite about the lack of public demand for this Measure. It would be fair to say that not only in my own new town of Crawley but, as I have heard, in many other new towns, there has been a considerable public outcry. I have never seen such a meeting as the one which took place in September, before the last General Election. It was one of the most unanimous meetings I have ever attended—unanimous in its condemnation of the Measure which was then on the Statute Book—and it sent a measure of its indignation to the right hon. Member for South Shields. There is ample proof that up and down the country a very large number of people do not want this or any other Government to interfere in what they consider to be their normal private pleasure.
A great deal has been said by hon. Members opposite on the question of tied houses, and a tremendous fuss has been made. The tied house system has been put forward as being one of a dreadful character. The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) referred to it yesterday as an evil system. I turned up the Report of the Royal Commission on Licensing which was appointed by the Labour Government in 1929 and which sat for quite two or three years. In that Report—at paragraph 331—they said:… we regard the simplest tie, under which a tenant contracts with a producer of beer to obtain from the latter all his beers, as fundamental.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
In fairness to the House the hon. Member should read the following passage, in 241 which the Royal Commission say that the tied house system has led to many evils and recommend that legislation should be introduced to alter it.
§ Mr. Gough
I quite agree, but this Bill does not defend the tied house system. There is absolutely nothing in it to prohibit a free house in any of the new towns. What I do say is that although there may have been many reasons for legislation—I am sure there are; there are probably many reasons for legislation in all walks of life, and even in the profession of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch there may be several black sheep; I know there are in mine—nevertheless, the fact is that the Royal Commission stated that they regarded tied houses as fundamental.
If one looks at this matter dispassionately, as the ordinary man in the street would look at it, it will be seen that the drinking houses of this country during this century have improved out of all recognition. I believe that the hon. Member for Ealing, North will admit that. I agree that the scourge of drink in the early part of the 20th century and the latter part of the 19th century was a national disgrace. But it is essential to bear in mind that one cannot improve public houses and make them really good meeting places and clubs of the ordinary working chaps and their wives unless there is sufficient money to build them and to make them successful.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree with me that much the greater part of the improvement in the drinking habits of the people of the last generation or two—and we all agree that there has been an improvement—is due to the thing which he was denouncing a short time ago, namely, the interference by the State, in the making of much tighter regulations with regard to closing hours and so on?
§ Mr. Gough
I am in agreement with the hon. Gentleman on that point. I am not out of favour with the State properly controlling the drinking of alcohol to excess, or for properly controlling the hours of licensing, and so forth; but my point is that the State should stop there. It should control, but not interfere and try to manage and run 242 businesses about which it knows absolutely nothing.
Representing, as I do, one of the very best of the new towns—the old part of which represents a lovely part of Sussex, and with Londoners coming to the new part from Bermondsey and Wandsworth—I can say that in that town there is no desire whatever for the original Socialist conception and that there is full and open-mouthed support for this Bill, of which I whole-heartedly approve.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
I feel a very great temptation to follow the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough) into some of the matters which he has brought before the House. As there is a limited period of time available to us now, however, and as other hon. Members wish to speak, I shall resist that temptation with this exception, that I want to say one or two words about what I believe to be the fallacy which he seems to nurture with regard to State-trading in liquor, so far as we are concerned.
He expressed the opinion that this was what we should regard as an experiment in retailing liquor in the new towns with a view to extending it to all the licensed premises throughout the country, with the idea of ultimately setting up one huge State brewery which would do the brewing for all the public houses in England. This is just sheer nonsense. In any case, we made no provision in our own Bill of 1949 for such a contingency. We had no such intention; in fact, we rather went the other way to secure that that eventuality should be avoided.
This is the very old political dodge of sticking up one's own Aunt Sallies in order to knock them down again, and I do not think that anyone would be taken in by that sort of thing.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I am coming to that point in a moment or two.
I very much regret that on this occasion I do not feel it in my heart to congratulate the Home Secretary or the Committee, in which I took some part 243 upstairs, on having improved the Bill. Personally, I think it was impossible for us to improve a Bill which was, to say the least, rotten. After the devastating speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), to which we listened yesterday, I should have thought the Tory Party would have seen the red light and would have been only too anxious to withdraw the Bill, which I am sure will bring discredit upon them and which will certainly react upon them in the constituencies.
We listened with interest to the Home Secretary—the bridegroom of the brewing interests—dressing up the Bill with garments of snowy white, in this marriage of convenience between the brewers and the Tory Party. [HON. MEMBERS: "The bride."] I am sorry; I mean the bride. We ought not to be surprised that the Tory Party have done this because we know that they and the brewing interests have been keeping company for a very long time. But the honeyed words of the Home Secretary cannot mask the real purpose of the Bill.
Perhaps I may remind the hon. Member for Horsham of its real purpose. The Bill seeks to do one major thing, and one only; it seeks to enable the brewers to exploit the good will which will be concentrated in the new towns now being built as a result of the planning of the first two Labour Governments, and being built with public money. Our Act sought to ensure State control over the retailing of intoxicating liquors in these new towns and—a point to which I attach much importance—we sought to discourage the consumption of intoxicating liquor, rather than encourage it, by such methods as advertising.
Of course, this was where we came into conflict with the brewers and those who seek to look after their interests in the House. Indeed, if another Clause had been added to the Bill yesterday—a Clause which we discussed—it is quite certain that the interests of the brewers' representatives in the House in the Bill would have disappeared.
May I refer very briefly to Clauses 2, 3 and 4, the operative Clauses, which enable the brewers to get hold of tied houses in the new towns? Here I want to correct the entirely erroneous impression of the hon. Member for Blackley 244 (Mr. E. Johnson), who spoke yesterday. He said:It is utterly falacious to suggest that a State-owned "pub," a free house, gives a wider choice than a tied house. The average tied house provides probably two or three draught beers of its own, mild and bitter and very often its best mild and in many cases they supply draught Bass as well and bottled beers, such as Bass, Worthington and Guinness stout.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 66.]I submit to the House that this was nonsense.
May I take an example of what may very well happen in the area in which I live? In the City of Bristol we have three brewers—George's, Bristol United and Simmonds'. I believe Simmonds' have other breweries throughout the country. There is talk, which may well come to fruition, of the building of a new town roughly eight to 10 miles outside the city. All those breweries supply public houses in the area around Bristol, and I submit to the hon. Gentleman that if this principle of free houses were accepted, and if it were to apply to a town within a radius of 10 miles of the city, it would be possible for the consuming public to obtain any of those local beers in any one public house without having to go from one to another. I suggest that his argument falls to the ground.
§ Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)
If I might interrupt the hon. Gentleman, surely he is not suggesting that any free house in a relatively small town will carry a stock of about nine different kinds of draught beer? It would be quite impossible to keep it in condition.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I said that a new town might possibly be developed in this area, and it would be a town with a decently-sized population. There would probably be sufficient call, therefore, to justify stocking the various beers. I am not saying that they would do so; I am simply saying it would be possible for them to do so if they wished.
Finally, I was extremely pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) say this afternoon that we do not regard this Bill as the last word in this matter. We do not intend that the Conservative Party, when they are elected to office, shall simply 245 upset the legislation of preceding Governments—and that is all they have suggested doing so far—in almost every sphere of legislation.
As we part with the Bill, I want to make a final protest at the utter inadequacy of the time which was allotted to us for discussion of this fundamental change in the administration of licensed premises in new towns. I checked the Order Paper which we had before us and found that when we went into Committee we had at least 130 Amendments, eight new Clauses, three new Schedules and five Amendments to the Schedules to discuss. If we had discussed them we should have had eight and a half minutes for each of those items. It was ridiculous to allow such a short space of time for what I think is an extremely important Bill. Here I differ from one of my hon. Friends who said this should be regarded as a trivial Bill. In my opinion, it is an extremely important Bill making fundamental changes in previous legislation.
Finally—and it is my usual habit to add three final words—I want to refer to the provisions of Clause 5, which enable temporary licensed premises to be provided in new towns and, I presume, ultimately elsewhere. I protested against this in Committee and I urged my hon. Friends also to protest against it. I repeat my protests here, strengthened by knowledge which reached me almost immediately afterwards. The day after I protested in Committee, I read in my local evening newspaper the remarks of the chairman of the Board of Governors of United Bristol Hospital, who said:I am in despair about the re-building or re-instatement of Bristol General Hospital. It is about 12 years since it was war-damaged. Nothing has been done. It sounds fantastic.I protested then against materials being used for the provision of licensed premises in new towns while many of these urgent needs still had to be met. I make my protest now on the same grounds. I condemn this Bill and ask my hon. Friends to vote against it when we have our final opportunity on the Third Reading, which we hope to conclude shortly.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Thompson (Liverpool, Walton)
I do not think the House will want to part with this Bill on the ungracious note which was struck by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins). The fact of the 246 matter is that this Bill was introduced by the Home Secretary in consideration of the interests of the Opposition, and throughout the proceedings in the Committee he showed himself the very peer of patience in the face of every possible provocation by Members of the party opposite. It was ungracious of the hon. Gentleman to withhold from his remarks any credit to the Home Secretary for the way in which the Bill now appears before the House.
When the Bill was first presented, in some secret or collective arrangement amongst Members of the party opposite it was decided that it should not become law, and the Members of that party in the Committee began at the first Sitting of the Committee to make it perfectly clear that they were going to adopt any manoeuvre, reputable or disreputable, that occurred to them to prevent the Bill from being passed. After the waste of the greater part of the time at the first and second Sittings of the Committee, it became clear that the one and only way in which the whole intention of the Bill could be discussed, however briefly, was by introducing in this House a Time-table Motion, and if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) has any cause for complaint—and possibly he may have from his point of view—
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
We are now dealing with the Third Reading of the Bill, and not the Time-table.
§ Mr. Thompson
I am endeavouring to deal with the points put to the House by preceding speakers, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am sure you will pull me up for transgressing the bounds of order if I do so, but I was about to inform the hon. Member for Ealing, North that, if he has any complaint that there was not time to change the Bill as he would have wished, it is a complaint which he ought to make to his colleagues who denied the Committee upstairs the proper use of the time it had.
This Bill has been made a vehicle by certain hon. Gentlemen, and most notoriously by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), for an attack on the brewers. He has not devoted himself as much as possibly he might have done to a critical 247 examination of the purposes of the Bill; he has devoted almost every speech he has made to an attack on the brewers as such.
§ Mr. Thompson
The purpose of the Bill, of course, is to provide for the new towns the kind of services in the public houses that we believe the people want. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In order to make that possible, it became necessary to enable the justices and the new town corporations, acting first collectively and then separately, to provide the kind of inns in those towns that they thought the people wanted. Under the provisions of the Act of 1949 it was essential for the development corporations themselves to set up the kind of public houses they wanted.
The basis of the attack of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch has been that, within the public houses to be provided under this Bill, there will be less freedom and less choice for the people of the new towns. Well, that simply is not so. The fact of the matter is that the public houses that will now be provided in the new towns will offer to the people of those towns the kind of alcoholic refreshment they want.
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not mind my interrupting him, as this is a fundamental point. What guarantee has he in any new town that in fact the beer that will be supplied in any particular house will be that which is required by the people in the area concerned? There is no justification for his statement whatsoever.
§ Mr. Thompson
I think it is sufficient, for a first comment, for me to say that in that respect they will be certainly no worse off than they were under the previous legislation of 1949, because the situation that prevails now in Carlisle, where we have this State control and State management, is that there is one, and only one, type of beer available for the whole of the people in the whole area.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The hon. Gentleman is making a statement that is completely untrue as regards the State management 248 of the public houses in Carlisle. There is available to the consuming public such beers, whether brewed by private enterprise or in the Carlisle brewery, as are required by the people in the area.
§ Mr. Thompson
Yes, but the whole of the choice, particularly of draught beer, is limited by the fact—
§ Mr. Lindgren
Will the hon. Gentleman consider this? So far as Carlisle is concerned—and I speak with some knowledge of Carlisle, having visited it—there are available to the people five different types of beer from different sources. If the hon. Gentleman will come to visit me in Welwyn Garden City, under private enterprise all he can drink is Whitbread's.
§ Mr. Thompson
Of course, the hon. Gentleman has gone to great lengths to try to explain the situation in Welwyn Garden City. I do not propose to weary the House with the circumstances that led him to it, but the fact of the matter is that in Carlisle, under State control, one can get ale provided by the Carlisle brewery, and no other. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes; no other. One can get different kinds of bottled beer already referred to—Bass, Worthington, Guinness's stout—but there is a limitation on the type of draught ale that can be bought in those public houses.
Under the new provisions of this Bill, in the new towns, according to the discretion of the licensing justices, there will be available a wide choice of draught beer, according to the number of licenses that there are in each new town; and that is a fundamental difference, which enables the man who likes his beer to make his own choice of the kind of beer he is going to drink.
I go a long way with the hon. Member for Ealing, North in his complaint that we spend too much of our national income on beer, and that a great many of the social evils from which we suffer in this country can be traced to excessive drinking of beer, to excessive devotion of the family income to not very profitable or fruitful purposes; but the right way to deal with that is through social and ethical influences bringing about the desire in the mind of the individual to avoid the temptation, and the desire on 249 the part of the community to help him to do so.
The House must not lose sight of the fact that there are those in our community who want to drink beer, who want to drink it in moderation; who want to partake of a glass of beer as a concomitant of the evening out, as part of our social life, and they ought to be free to choose the conditions, as far as they can, in which to enjoy that amenity. One of the few people overlooked in the course of our debates on this Bill is the bloke who likes a glass of beer.
§ Mr. Thompson
The hon. and learned Gentleman reminds us that it should be a good glass of beer. I should have thought that the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch had almost made out the case for the hon. Member for Ealing, North in his comments yesterday. But the strength of his case, like the strength of his beer, is open to close examination. It is not unknown to Members of this House, and certainly not unknown to the hon. and learned Member for Horn-church, that there are many different kinds of strength for light ale, and it is quite possible to produce analyses of light ale which show a variation from the particular figure, the particular line, in the Brewers' Almanac to which he was referring. There are many other kinds which he might equally have brought to the attention of the House.
I do not intend to detain the House for a long while, and in conclusion I wish to make one point, and one point only. The Home Secretary has conducted the debates throughout the very long and tortuous career of this Bill with patience and good will to hon. Members in all parts of the House. He has been tolerant and had a kindly understanding of the view of the hon. Member for Ealing, North, and a patient understanding of the tortuous mental processes of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch. Nevertheless, the attention of, the House ought to be called to one aspect of this matter in which my right hon. and learned Friend has been subjected to what seems to me to amount to abuse of the gravest kind.
For good or ill, the Government decided that this was a Measure which ought to be brought forward. It had to 250 be brought forward for reasons quite well known to hon. and right hon. Members opposite—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—apart from the reasons that they think they know. It had to be brought forward in order that the development of the new towns might go ahead, and it comes a little unkindly from the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch to pass comments, as he did on 30th July, about what he calls "telepathic Amendments" introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend.
That remark can only mean that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not believe the statement of the Home Secretary that there had been no communication between himself and the Brewers' Society in framing Amendments. Either the hon. and learned Member means that he believes what is said and is prepared to accept it, or else he ought to go further and tell the House that he simply does not believe my right hon. and learned Friend. It is grossly unfair for a debate of this kind to be conducted for days and nights, as this one has been, in an atmosphere, of good will and patience on the part of my right hon. and learned Friend and for him then to be subjected to that kind of abuse, and I very much hope the House will take note of that.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
I am sorry that I perhaps offended some hon. Members opposite by suggesting—or was it by not suggesting?—that what the Home Secretary had said was untrue. If he said so, I am certain that he had no communication with the Brewers' Society. All I did was to read the relevant passage from the minutes of that valuable body, in which they said that the Amendments they wished to make all appeared to have been put down in the Home Secretary's name. This merely showed that both bodies were thinking alike. This may be from a similarity of outlook and identity of approach, and not from any reason of telepathy. I shall not go into this further, for it is, after all, a medical rather than a social problem.
What I wish to do is to ask the House to reject this Bill, because, however courteously and however thoughtfully it has been put forward by the Home Secretary, it has quite clearly been put forward by him under a complete misapprehension. Yesterday, when dealing with what 251 he considered to be the major point of the Bill, he said:The major question is whether there is to be the opportunity of freedom of choice—and there has been no evidence brought forward to suggest that there will not be competition of public houses between different brewers—or whether we are to be limited to the beer of State breweries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 96.]The Home Secretary is therefore, I take it, under the impression—or else he was deliberately deceiving the House, and I am quite sure he would not do that—that in the new towns there was to be sold the beer of State breweries. I will give way to him in order that he may tell us where is the State brewery that was supposed to supply the new towns.
§ Mr. Bing
The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows there is power to operate breweries, because the 1949 Act applied not only to the new towns but to Carlisle as well. He also knows, or should know, that undertakings were given by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that no such breweries would be built. No such brewery has in fact, been acquired, and the Home Secretary ought to know perfectly well that there would have been no State beer sold at all in any State-run house in the new towns.
§ Mr. Marlowe
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman then explain why power to create such breweries was taken in the 1949 Act in connection with the provision for the new towns, and why, when we asked the then Home Secretary to delete that Clause from the Bill, he refused to do so?
§ Mr. Bing
He did so quite rightly, because he did not wish to be placed in the position of being blackmailed by an association of brewers, and that was exactly what my right hon. Friend said at the time. The Home Secretary knows perfectly well that if he were to build a house next year and if this Bill had gone ahead, it would have been impossible to have served State beer in the houses in any new town.
He made great play with the fact that in Committee I had said that the gravity of the club beer was declared on a label 252 whereas I should have said on the invoice, and he said that on those grounds nothing I said ought to have been believed. That was his argument. He now comes forward himself and says that the one issue is whether these houses are to sell State beer, knowing perfectly well that there was no possibility of their serving State beer because in any case a State brewery could not possibly have been built in the time he himself said it was necessary for these houses to open. The whole of his argument is, therefore, fallacious. If the whole of his argument is fallacious, what is the real argument?
Some of the facts have never been disclosed. Under the Licensing Act it is necessary for the owner of every public house to be registered. The Home Secretary had at his disposal the names of every brewery company which would profit by this Bill. Why has he never disclosed them to the House? He was asked in Questions to do so, but he said he could not obtain the information. He has spoken of his great licensing experience and he knows perfectly well that to get that information he had only to communicate with the licensing justices, who keep that register. Why has it never been disclosed?
Why have we never had one speech from any representative of the Parliamentary Committee in this House of the Brewers' Society? We have had a speech second-hand from the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson), who explained what he had been told by somebody else about lemonade. But we have sitting here in the House the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant), who owns a number of public houses, or whose companies do, in the new towns. Will he answer me this—and I will give him the name of the firm: Is not every single one of those houses tied to a mineral water manufacturer of Colchester called Nichols?
§ Mr. Remnant
None of them is tied to the Colchester mineral water company. That is not its correct name, anyhow.
§ Mr. Bing
The correct name is Nichols Mineral Water Company, Limited, of Colchester. The shares in it, as the hon. 253 Gentleman well knows, are held by an investment company of which he is one of the directors. That is the sort of information we really ought to have. What is being done here is that, without any statement to this House, we are having this handed over to people we do not know. We do not know the result of this carve-up.
Yesterday I was attacked by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who said that if a fraud took place there could be a prosecution. He is the last person to make such a suggestion. One can get £1,000 a year quite easily by perpetrating a fraud and never be prosecuted for it, and I will tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman how to do it. Go out in the country and say, "I will give you red meat. I will reduce the cost of living. I will do everything you want"; and you get £1,000 a year. You come here and you do nothing about it, and you can never be prosecuted for it. These are cases of types of fraud and types of misrepresentation which are outside the law and which it is our duty to bring inside the law.
Our party on this side of the House may have been lax in not dealing with the matter, but when the Home Secretary has brought before him cases of people who are going to take over these houses in the new towns, who are selling short measure, what is the excuse? The law does not say that they must put the correct measure in the bottle. We say that they are watering their beer. Their excuse is that if that is done by the brewery, it is quite all right.
The hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) spoke of the poor unfortunate licensee who, he said, had been forced to put water in his beer. But forced by whom? By his brewers—Messrs. Stone? Do Messrs Stone ever declare what is the original gravity of their beer, and do they ever tell anyone outside their firm? How then, can we judge whether he has watered his beer? What is done is quite simply this. I repeat, and I do not retract one word of, the charges I made yesterday. What is done is that the Chancellor puts another penny on beer and there is a pennyworth more water added to the brew. I will, of course, give way if the hon. Member for Wokingham wants me to do so.
§ Mr. Remnant
May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he is not aware that the duty is charged by the Excise on what is known as the wort in the collecting vessel at the then gravity? It varies according to its class from, I think, 1,027 up to about 1,050. Until he can prove that the original gravity taken by analysis in the "pub," whether draught or bottle, is below what it was in the collecting vessel, then it is a fraud for the hon. and learned Gentleman to suggest that the beer is watered.
§ Mr. Bing
This is a most interesting situation, because we have discovered one brewery director who does not understand how his business is run. What the hon. Member for Wokingham said in the first place is quite true, that the duty is assessed on the unfermented liquor. This is water—and no doubt this is the reason for the opposition to the nationalisation of water—and the small number of ingredients which are added to it. Supposing one is selling special beer, say, "Double Diamond" at 1s. 9d. and 1s. 7d. a pint, and one decides that, because there is a penny more duty, one will make it that much weaker. How does anyone discover that? How does anyone tell that the drink this week is weaker than it was last week? It all goes out under the same label.
I am making this suggestion to the hon. Gentleman, and, through him, to the Brewers' Society. We can end all this quarrel tomorrow. Let him come with me to a public house and take his own beers—Messrs. Ind Coope's beers. Let him send samples to a public analyst, and let the public analyst declare publicly what was the original gravity. Are these people who are seeking houses in the new towns prepared to do that, because otherwise they may well be selling drink to people who are charged 1s. 7d. a pint for material on which they are only paying £7 15s. duty a barrel. Someone else—a more honest brewer—who is possibly excluded by some arrangement come to among his fellows—is in the position of paying £10, and he is pushed out of the ring as letting down the side.
That is the sort of thing which can only be cleared up if the brewing industry are prepared to declare what are the original gravities of the beer they sell. That is the simple answer which the House is entitled to have from the hon. Member 255 for Wokingham. Are they entitled to declare the original gravities, or are they not?
§ Mr. Remnant
The hon. and learned Gentleman's charge has grown so considerably that I want to put two points to him. First, he challenges me to go with him, have a bottle of one of my company's beers analysed, and publish the result. What does he prove by that?
§ Mr. Remnant
The other point, introduced in some absurd way, is that if a penny a pint duty is put on, we then lower the quality of the beer. What connection has that with his charge yesterday that certain bottled beers are water? None.
§ Mr. Speaker
All this is very interesting and might provide material for a very excellent debate on another subject, but it is getting very wide of the Bill the Third Reading of which we are discussing.
§ Mr. Bing
I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, and I am bringing to a close what I have to say. I have gone on rather longer than I intended. If you will permit me to answer the questions so courteously put to me, the answer to the first one is that I do not know what the analysis would reveal, but I suspect that it would reveal that this beer is a great deal weaker than similar standard brands sold for the same price. That would be the value of the analysis, because it would give the public an idea of what they were buying. It is one of the things which we should be entitled to know in the new towns.
So far as the second question is concerned, how would it be possible for these brewers to raise the gravity of their beer by 3 per cent., as they promised Sir Stafford Cripps, if it is already as weak as it is now? How could it have been sold so weak at a previous time? As you have said, Mr. Speaker, this is perhaps a little wide of the mark. I was drawn into it by a brewery director discussing the technicalities of the trade.
I think that the Home Secretary ought to take steps in another place to make clear which are the individual firms who are going to benefit by this Bill and take 256 steps to see that at least in the new towns the quality of the goods sold in every public house is made clear to the public. As the Bill stands, I think that it is a Measure which we should reject. It does not, so far as one can see, effect a useful change in the law, it is merely a pay off for the improper arrangement that has been come to. Nothing that has been said on the other side has changed my view on that.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Marlowe (Hove)
The remarks which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has addressed to the House in the last few minutes are characteristic of the Socialist approach to a matter of this kind. The hon. and learned Gentleman quite clearly failed to grasp that one cannot run a brewery business by selling inferior beer. The result would be inevitably that sooner or later the business would cease to prosper, and, as he knows so well, these breweries are very prosperous concerns. The reason is that they sell beer that satisfies the customer who goes to buy it.
The hon. and learned Gentleman takes the approach that what we need is a State brewery and State-controlled public houses, and then the unfortunate consumer has to have whatever beer is imposed upon him. He does not understand that that is the fundamental difference between us. We believe that the brewers should be free to brew beer which the public want, and the fact that they do so is evidenced by the success and prosperity of the breweries concerned.
The hon. and learned Member, of course, naturally links that argument with a Bill that is associated with nationalisation. The original 1949 Bill was in fact a nationalisation Measure. Hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot be surprised that one of the first things we did on being returned to power was to repeal that nationalisation Measure. We are, in fact, de-nationalising public houses which were nationalised by the previous Government. That is not inconsistent with our policy. We made it plain throughout that that was what we would do as soon as we got the opportunity.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The difficulty of the hon. and learned Member is to understand; that is characteristic Socialism. He does not admit that there is such a thing as acquired taste, but other people who are not so doctrinaire as he recognise that there is such a thing. What happens is that a particular beer being readily available in a particular area, the large majority of the people in that area get an acquired taste for it and are, therefore, perfectly satisfied to get it. The proof of that has been shown by hon. Members opposite who have complained that the country is, as they say, roughly carved up into spheres of influence in which the brewers operate. If there were not local satisfaction with a particular brewery, another brewery would come in and make the best of that dissatisfaction.
§ Mr. Lindgren
If it is possible to acquire a taste for a particular beer in a particular area because of the exclusion of other beers, why should it not be just as easy to acquire a taste for State beer?
§ Mr. Marlowe
That, of course, begs the whole question. The hon. Member is failing to see that what his party wanted to do by their Bill was to set up a State monopoly, and that was the last thing in the world we would countenance.
§ Mr. J. Hudson
Will the hon. and learned Member apply that argument to the appeal I make? Could we not get an acquired taste for water?
§ Mr. Marlowe
I do not know. I hesitate to take up the hon. Member on this point, but the whole of his party have alleged throughout that this is some sinister alliance between the Tory Party and the brewers. What Socialists get an acquired taste for I am not able to say, but, in relation to the claim always made by the Socialists that they are the great defenders of the temperance movement, it struck me as rather peculiar that throughout the whole time they had the conference at Morecambe they insisted on having an extension to midnight every night. The hon. Member for 258 Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) can make what he wishes of that.
I want to deal with the particular merits of this Bill. I have dealt with the main one—that it is an act of de-nationalisation. One of the particular reasons we welcome the Bill is that it is the first of a series of de-nationalisation Measures on which this Government have embarked. That is its chief significance, and it is a test of good faith. We said we would denationalise where we thought that right, and by the time this Bill has become law we shall have carried out the first of our pledges in that respect. In the Bill itself we carry out a process far more democratic than anything contained in the 1949 Measure which the Socialists brought in.
That is the point I was taking up with the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) just now. His party said that in these new towns there should be a State monopoly and that none of the system set up by the Clauses of this Bill was to operate. Under their system there were to be State public houses and there was power to create a State brewery. There was the risk, and indeed the possibility—the whole machinery was created—that a State brewery would supply the State public houses, and under that system of monopoly that would be the only beer available to the occupants of the new towns.
As my right hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, we have instituted a democratic system by which the new towns have their own committees to submit their own proposals and to go through the machinery explained by my right hon. and learned Friend. When that part of the machinery is exhausted, there is the right of public inquiry and representations can be made by the people most interested—the people who consume the stuff and who sell it. I claim that that is a democratic method and a fundamental improvement on the State monopoly which was created by the 1949 Measure.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), in his speech this afternoon, did, I think, answer one of his own arguments. He was dealing with the question of what was to happen if no brewer offered to taken on any of the new public houses in the new towns. But just 259 prior to that he had given an instance of what he described as a dispute between the London brewers and the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire brewers as to the spheres of influence in which they should operate. I gather that he accepted that the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire brewers were not allowing the London brewers to have a monopoly in their area but were insisting on competition.
§ Mr. Marlowe
That is exactly what we have maintained, but what hitherto has been denied by hon. Members opposite, that there is sharp competition in this trade. The right hon. Gentleman has himself produced evidence of that very sharp competition.
Having regard to what you said, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get involved in this question of gravity, which I confess I do not understand from the scientific aspect. But I suppose it is faintly and remotely in order under the Clauses which say that certain amenities shall be available. I suppose it might be regarded as an amenity that beer of a particular house should be of a particular gravity. I wish to refer to the matter and also to the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Horn-church in relation to short measure, because there is no foundation in any of his arguments. In none of the cases he instanced was the seller of the article warranting that it was of a particular gravity or that there was a particular measure in the bottle.
It all comes back to this, that if brewers persistently sell poor beer and give short measure they do not satisfy the customer and they lose their trade. What is happening is quite evident; the public are buying the bottled beer to which the hon. and learned Member referred because they like it. They buy it because it is what they want. They do not ask for a particular measure, nor do I understand that it is sold in any specified quantity. It may be in any quantity in a bottle, but the customer knows that it is the bottle which he usually buys and he is satisfied with what he gets. [Interruption.] It is not to be 260 expected that hon. Members opposite will understand—
§ Mr. Glanville
Is the hon. and learned Member seriously suggesting to the House that a man goes into a "pub", calls for a bottle of beer, and does not stipulate the size or quality, but takes whatever they give him and, if he is not satisfied, goes to the next "pub" and orders another one?
§ Mr. Marlowe
What I am trying to do is to answer the argument put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch yesterday. I do not propose to take up further time on it, but the hon. and learned Member knows perfectly well, and all hon. Members opposite know perfectly well, that this is the test of the difference between us on this issue. We believe there is no great crime in allowing private enterprise to enter into bargains with the consuming public and that the consuming public should be free to make what bargains they like with the seller. Hon. Members opposite, however, have an entirely different system, a system of nationalisation by which the national Socialist-controlled organisation forces its goods on the public.
That is a view to which we have never subscribed, and that is the great cleavage between us. That is why this Bill truly represents the Conservative approach to life, because it de-nationalises that which the Socialists sought to nationalise, restores a part of the trade of this country to private enterprise and gives the people an opportunity of making their own choice.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
Before I come to wind up the debate generally on behalf of the Opposition, I should like to deal with one or two points made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe). From an eminent legal source we now learn that it is quite correct and within the general standard of decency as accepted by the Conservative Party for a brewer to sell to a consumer something which that consumer thinks is half a pint and which is not half a pint.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Those bottles are manufactured and designed to create the impression upon the person who buys them that they are half pint bottles, and it is generally known in the trade that it is not a pint or a half pint.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Not if it is a pint bottle.
I wish the hon. and learned Gentlemen were acquainted with the history of the Tory Party's association with private enterprise, because the Tory Party never really trusted private enterprise. It placed on local authorities the responsibility for carrying out the weights and measures scheme and the employment of inspectors. Why did a Conservative Government do that? Because private enterprise in trade was defrauding the customer of the amount of goods which he ought to have. It is also true that a food and drugs scheme was introduced for exactly the same reason. The brewing trade for some time has been deceiving the public both as to the quality and the quantity of the beer which it sells.
§ Sir Edward Keeling (Twickenham) rose—
§ Mr. Lindgren
I do not mind giving way to someone who has paid the House the courtesy of being here during the debate, but I think it is a little hard to give way to someone who has just floated into the Chamber.
§ Sir E. Keeling
I merely wanted to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that a half bottle of wine is commonly called a pint all through the trade, but, in fact, it is much less than a pint?
§ Mr. Lindgren
I will accept what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but I am dealing with a much more proletariat activity, namely, drinking beer, of which I have a great deal more experience than I have of wine.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hove has told us that people generally are satisfied with the beer that they get in their own areas, that the brewers are giving satisfaction to the people. That is completely untrue, because this is a monopoly and controls all the social 262 activity in some of these areas, and the people must go to the brewers' "pubs" to enjoy that activity. There is no alternative.
The hon. and learned Gentleman was quite right to this degree, that we differ widely from this Bill on a question of principle. It is not a question of whether it is to be a State or a private "pub." The issue is that where a value is created by the community, then that value should be returned to the community. The hon. and learned Gentleman has revealed the fundamental policy of the Conservative Party, although he used a great deal of language in showing it. The Tory Party believes that if a value is created by the community through the collective effort of the community, then it is quite right for that value to be appropriated by private enterprise. That is what this Bill is doing.
Under the 1949 Act we said that in the new towns, where hundreds of millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money are being used, the increased value created by bringing 40,000, 50,000 or 60,000 people within an area should go back to the community and should not be handed to the brewer. Now the Home Secretary is saying that that principle is wrong, and that this enhanced value should go to the brewers and not back to the public. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us that this was not a special concession for the licensing trade, that we were dealing with the licensing trade in exactly the same way as with any other service which had become available in a new town area. That is exactly what is not being done. Is the Home Secretary going to say that he is placing the licensing trade in exactly the same position as the butcher, the baker and other persons serving normal commodities in any area?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
As the hon. Gentleman has asked me a question I hope he will give way to permit me to answer it. It is subject to this point. Any new house will have to pay the monopoly value, which is a large sum which the licensing trade pays and which no other trade pays.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks about new houses, but in his own speech today he said that there were 255 existing houses 263 in new town areas, many of which he agrees were almost redundant. He mentioned Hemel Hempstead and said that there were 55 houses there. Many of them are not public houses in the sense that they give the publican a living. The fellow who runs the "pub" has to do some other part-time job like a plumber, a carpenter or a small-holder, but the Government are going to create a new and enhanced value on these houses which is not to be enjoyed by other traders in the area. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is to treat the "pubs" in exactly the same way as the butcher, the baker and other people giving a public service I would not mind, but that is not the case.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that for the purpose of maintaining the gross value the development corporations buy up the site value of existing business premises and then leases them to people on a tenancy basis, thereby creating a tenancy under which, as trade increases, the value of the rent increases also. There is no provision in this Bill for any such relationship between trade and rent paid in the public houses.
§ Mr. Lindgren
"Oh, yes," says the Home Secretary, but what guarantee have we that under this Bill there will not be a linking up of the brewers to object to the value placed on a site by a Development Corporation, and then refusing to pay the price? The right hon. and learned Gentleman assumes that that is impossible, but my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) quoted a discussion which took place between the London brewers and the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire brewers. I have to declare an interest about Hertfordshire, and I want to say a little more about it later.
I am a licensing justice in the area of a new town. It was common knowledge in the area that the brewers had got together and had decided among themselves which of them, in fact, were to apply for the licences in Stevenage, Welwyn and Hatfield. Competition among the brewers in the different areas was not going to exist. Things were to be exactly on the basis on which private enterprise often operates tenders. The firms who wish to 264 tender get together first and decide who is to have the contract. The other firms put in fictitious tenders while the one who wants the job puts in a figure at which he is prepared to do it. There is fictitious tendering in all sorts of trades, as well as in local government work, and it has been suggested that this kind of thing is likely to happen in connection with the new towns.
Our fundamental objection to the Bill is that the Government will be handing to the brewing interests profits that will arise from the spending of hundreds of millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money in the developing of new towns, and that the Government have not taken to themselves the protection which exists in the New Towns Act of getting back from the brewers a reasonable portion of the money.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The hon. Gentleman is presenting an interesting argument, which he is relating to the increased value of property. How would he apply that to the retail trade?
§ Mr. Lindgren
I wonder how some people come to be termed "learned." Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman know that it is people who create value? If there is nobody on land, the land has only its agricultural value, possibly £100 an acre. If there are 10,000 people in the area, the land, for the purposes of building a cinema or a public house, may go up to £1,000 an acre, while the presence of 20,000 people might cause it to rise to £5,000 an acre. In the new towns, the Development Corporations who develop the areas will let shops on the basis of tender. When the population, in the first five years, is only about 5,000, a Corporation may want only £700 a year as rent for a shop. At the end of five years, when it is expected that the population will be 10,000, the rent may go up to £1,000 a year. The Development Corporation will relate the rentable value of their property to the earning capacity of the number of people in the area.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The value of the shop and the turnover will increase by reason of the increase of population in the new town, as the hon. Gentleman rightly points out. Exactly the same principle applies to public houses. Both increase their turnover and their profits.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The Development Corporations take back some of the value from the shops, inasmuch as they increase their rents. There is no power whatever in the Bill for the Development Corporations to increase the rents charged, or the purchase price of the sites of public houses, according to the increase in population.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Yes, there is absolute power. The Development Corporation can settle the terms of a lease so that the rents can be increased as the population increases, in exactly the same way for a public house as for a shop.
§ Mr. Lindgren
That is not the general conception of the plan, as I understand it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] That has not been accepted among Development Corporations as a possibility, nor by the brewers because they say that the monopoly value that they pay for their licences is all that they should pay.
Over and above the fundamental objection to which I have referred there are more general points. On this side of the House there are varying views as to the social value of the brewing industry and even of public houses. There are those, like my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), who believe that all beer and all alcoholic drink are wrong, while there are others, up to my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville), who believe that there is no bad beer but only that some beer is better than others. The vast majority of us would agree that within the liquor trade there are possibilities of evil, much more than in other trades.
§ Mr. Glanville
Might I interrupt my hon. Friend, as he has referred to me? I know he is a kindly man, so will he stress the point which I made yesterday that workingmen's clubs should be instituted in all the new towns and that there should be no public houses of any sort, privately owned or otherwise?
§ Mr. Lindgren
I hope that in all the new towns there will be facilities for the development of clubs on that basis. Facing the problem as it is, one has to admit that it is more likely, in the original stages, that the "pub" will come first. This trade is potentially something of a social evil, and, therefore, there ought to be a greater measure of public control.
266 The Bill takes away the measure of public control which was given by the 1949 Act. The public house could be, in the real sense of the word, a social centre or community centre but, as provided by the tied brewery, it is not a community centre.
I hope that the Home Secretary will look at the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North. It is one about which I am getting worried. I speak now as a licensing justice in one of the areas of the new towns. Sitting as a licensing justice, I shall have to accept the decision of four of my colleagues who have gone as a working party with four representatives of the new town Development Corporation. My judicial capacity will be conditioned by the agreement reached in that sub-committee. If the agreement arrived at by the four justices and the four representatives of the Corporation is not honoured when the public house comes to be run, what sanction will there be?
It might be set down, for example, in such an agreement that there shall be facilities in a public house for nonalcoholic drinks to be served, and for separate entrances, but when the house is built and tenanted those facilities are not in fact provided. As I see the Bill the licensing justices then would have no means of exercising any sanction. I hope that the Minister will deal with this point.
In addition to the question of the point of view of the licensing justices, this Bill takes away what was under the old Act a protection for the consumer on licensed premises. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and even hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, cannot by smiling just ride off the assertions made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch. I said earlier in my speech that so far as the brewing trade is concerned it is true that over a period of years the public have been defrauded in regard to quality, quantity and price. That is increasing as the monopolistic tendencies of the trade increase.
If that is contested I say that no brewer yet in this House, and no one speaking in this House on behalf of the brewers, has justified what happens, namely, that the tenant of a house is charged a much higher price both for his draught and bottled beers by the very brewer who is 267 prepared to sell the same draught and bottled beers to either a free house or to a club. We ought to protect the tenants of the houses. Under this Bill there is no protection for the tenant of the tied house in any shape or form. He is completely at the mercy of the owner, who is the brewer. The 1949 Act provided for the setting up of more reasonable standards for those who undertake to serve the public in those areas.
Finally, may I join with my hon. and right hon. Friends in saying that it really is surprising that this Bill has been brought forward at the present time. The hon. and learned Member for Hove said it was necessary to bring this Bill forward at the present time in order that the development of the new towns could proceed—
§ Mr. Lindgren
Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will say what he intended to convey? Certainly his right hon. and learned Friend, in bringing forward this Bill, said that it was necessary at the present time in order that the development of the new towns could go on. That is untrue. If this Bill had not been brought forward their development would have gone on just the same. The only difference would have been in the ownership of the public houses in the new towns. The only difference would have been who received the profits arising from the retail trading in those towns. The right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends are giving those retail trading profits to the brewers. Under the 1949 Act the retail trading profits on the sale of the same beers would have gone to the community who collectively had provided the finances for the new towns.
I say in all seriousness that this country is in a difficult economic position—hon. Gentlemen opposite smile. Do they really not think that?
§ Mr. Lindgren
And it is a little worse now than it was 12 months ago. But do not let us get on to that, let us accept the fact. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying now to laugh away what is a fundamental problem. So far as this country is concerned there is a serious economic difficulty. Their own Prime 268 Minister has said that we are standing on a trap door. One of our problems is that numbers of people in all sections of the community do not believe that the economic situation is as serious as it really is, and the problem of those of us who are politicians is to convince the public of the economic difficulty which this country is facing.
How can we convince the fellow who doubts that our economic position is as bad as it is when the Government of the day fritters away Parliamentary time at the end of its first Parliamentary Session; when all that it can bring forward as legislation is a Bill which transfers profits arising from the sale of all liquor in the new towns from the public to the brewers? This is a Bill which benefits not the community but those interested in the brewing trade. For the reason that it is fundamentally against public principle, my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House will divide against this Measure today.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)
We have had a valuable debate and if I say that it has been helpful in parts only, I hope that no hon. Member will think that I am being offensive. Some hon. Members opposite have said that they are completely opposed to this Bill. I think it was the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) who said that no Amendment could improve this Bill. Then he went on to say that the Opposition had put down 130 Amendments and eight new Clauses. Hon. Members who take such a view and such action cannot really expect a full answer to their remarks at the end of a long debate. On the other hand, we have had a number of helpful speeches and there are one or two points which, even at this late hour on the Third Reading, ought to be answered.
In particular, there were two points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). He asked what would happen if there were no bids for leases at a figure which might be asked by a development corporation. He went on to suggest that it might be possible for the brewers to get together, and he asked my right hon. and learned Friend what sanction he had kept to deal with such circumstances. Does the right 269 hon. Gentleman really believe that there is any serious probability of a brewers' conspiracy in this matter? If that is so, why has there not been such a conspiracy in the past? My own constituency of Hendon is a new town in the sense that it has all been developed since 1920. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that in that case there has been something in the nature of a brewers' conspiracy? Has there ever been any such conspiracy? Of course not.
§ Mr. Bing
Would the hon. Gentleman excuse me for interrupting one moment? If he will refer to page 327 of the Brewers' Almanack, he will discover that the brewers recommend exactly this course. After having said that they should ascertain from the committee whether their representation would be permitted, they say:If the brewers concerned, after consultation amongst themselves, are in a position to make agreed recommendations to the Committee"—this is the course that should be followed. So it is not fanciful to suggest what the brewers themselves have put in their own Almanack.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I do not agree for a moment that what is there suggests that in the slightest degree. There has never been any suggestion that anything of the kind has occurred, and it does not seem probable that anything of the kind can happen now. As the law stands it is, of course, open to any section of the community to take a similar sort of action.
The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) said in his speech that in a new town it would be open to the corporation to make a charge against any tradesman and that that would be the method of securing that the value created by the community should return to the community. There is, of course, no difference between a brewer and any other sort of tradesman, except in respect of the question of licensing, with which the Bill deals. There is really no serious risk.
If, however, the situation arose in which a development corporation felt that they were not being offered a reasonable amount for licensed premises which should be payable having regard to the probable profits of those premises, there is absolutely nothing to prevent the corporation from running a public house 270 themselves. That would be the proper sanction, and it would be one which, I have no shadow of doubt, would be put into effect forthwith.
The right hon. Gentleman asked how existing redundant licences would be dealt with. The answer is that Section 73 of the Finance Act, 1947, applies in the ordinary way. The right hon. Gentleman will not complain that that was a Tory Measure. It was passed when the Labour Government had a great majority in the House, and it provides for reduction of the amount to be paid for monopoly value of a new licence on the surrender of one or more old licences. That Section would operate in such a case, and I think would cover the point which the right hon. Gentleman queried.
The debate has made it perfectly plain that all hon. Members who are in any way connected with new towns, or have taken the trouble to ascertain the view of those in new towns, are in favour of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Walton (Mr. K. Thompson) said that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure the provision in new towns of what people want by way of licensed premises. That, I think, is the point of view which has been expressed by every hon. Member speaking from an area in which a new town is situated.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The hon. Member may live in a new town, but he is not a Member for one, and it may be that some of his friends have spoken to him in a rather different sense from the views he expressed at the Despatch Box this evening. I should be surprised if it were not so. The fact is that all the weight of opinion from those in the House who are connected with new towns is in favour of the Bill.
It is not a large Measure, it is not an important Measure. I do not want to conclude by making any great peroration upon it. Mr. Philip Snowden, I remember, on one occasion said that perorations are placés where people say things which they cannot prove. I sometimes wonder at what stage in his speech the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch starts his peroration. But this is not an occasion for a peroration. It is a simple Measure. It is one which is 271 approved of by the vast majority of Members, whether they live in new towns or elsewhere, and I confidently commend it to the House.
§ Mr. Bing
Will the hon. Gentleman, first, say whether, before the matter is discussed in another place, he will cause to be published the list of brewers who will benefit by this Measure; and second, whether he proposes in the new towns to introduce any provision by which the strength of the liquor which is sold is to be declared to the public?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I can answer the first question now. Brewers are simple members of the community.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
This is a valuable Measure, which will benefit the whole community, and, therefore every brewer will benefit. As regards the other question,
§ the hon. and learned Member must put it on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Bing
The hon. Gentleman will realise that there are in the new towns a number of existing houses which, but for this Measure, would have been liable to be taken over for the State. Will he agree to publish the names of the brewing companies who own those houses? They are all known, because they must be recorded under the Licensing Act.
§ It being Seventeen Minutes past Seven o'Clock (the Proceedings on the Third Reading having been entered upon at Thirteen Minutes to Four o'Clock). Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Order [21st July], to put forthwith the Question necessary to bring the Proceedings on the Third Reading to a conclusion.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 279; Noes, 259.275
|Division No. 233.]||AYES||[7.17 p.m.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Channon, H.||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Grimond, J.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Cole, Norman||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Colegate, W. A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Cranborne, Viscount||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Barber, Anthony||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hay, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Baxter, A. B.||Crouch, R. F.||Heath, Edward|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cuthbert, W. N.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Davidson, Viscountess||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Deedes, W. F.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Holt, A. F.|
|Birch, Nigel||Donner, P. W.||Hope, Lord John|
|Black, C. W.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Drayson, G. B.||Horobin, I. M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas (Richmond)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Bowen, E. R.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Duthie, W. S.||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Braine, B. R.||Fell, A.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Finlay, Graeme||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Fisher, Nigel||Hurd, A. R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Foster, John||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gammans, L. D.||Jennings, R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Godber, J. B.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Gough, C. F. H.||Kaberry, D.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Gower, H. R.||Keeling, Sir Edward|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Graham, Sir Fergus||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Nicholls, Harmar||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Speir, R. M.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Nutting, Anthony||Stevens, G. P.|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Oakshott, H. D.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon A. T.||Odey, G. W.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Storey, S.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Osborne, C.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Partridge, E.||Summers, G. S.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Teeling, W.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|McCallum, Major D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Tilney, John|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Raikes, H. V.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Remnant, Hon. P.||Turton, R. H.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Renton, D. L. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Robertson, Sir David||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Robson-Brown, W.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Roper, Sir Harold||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Markham, Major S. F.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Russell, R. S.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Marples, A. E.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Wellwood, W.|
|Maude, Angus||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Maudling, R.||Scott, R. Donald||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Shepherd, William||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Mollor, Sir John||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Wills, G.|
|Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Smithers, Peter (Wincheater)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Snadden, W. MoN.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Soames, Capt. C.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Redmayne.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Chetwynd, G. R.||Follick, M.|
|Adams, Richard||Clunie, J.||Foot, M. M.|
|Albu, A. H.||Coldrick, W.||Forman, J. C.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Collick, P. H.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Freeman, John (Watford)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Cove, W. G.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Crosland, C. A. R.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Baird, J.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Glanville, James|
|Balfour, A.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bartley, P.||Daines, P.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Darling, George (Hillshorough)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Bence, C. R.||Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Grey, C. F.|
|Benson, G.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Beswick, F.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Deer, G.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Delargy, H. J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Baardman, H.||Dodds, N. N.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hannan, W.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hastings, S.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Fernyhough, E.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Field, W. J.||Holman, P.|
|Carmichael, J.||Fienburgh, W.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Finch, H. J.||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Champion, A. J.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Mort, D. L.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moyle, A.||Snow, J. W.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Mulley, F. W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Murray, J. D.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Nally, W.||Steele, T.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Janner, B.||O'Brien, T.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Oldfield, W. H.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stetchford)||Orbach, M.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Oswald, T.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Padley, W. E.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Paget, R. T.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pannell, Charles||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Keenan, W.||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Kenyon, C.||Parker, J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Paton, J.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Pearson, A.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Kinley, J.||Pearl, T. F.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Timmons, J.|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Poole, C. C.||Tomney, F.|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Popplewell, E.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Porter, G.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Lewis, Arthur||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Viant, S. P.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Proctor, W. T.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pryde, D. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Logan, D. G.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Rankin, John||Weitzman, D.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Reeves, J.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|McInnes, J.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||West, D. G.|
|McLeavy, F.||Rhodes, H.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|MaccMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Richards, R.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Ross, William||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Royle, C.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Williams, Ranald (Wigan)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Messer, F.||Shawoross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Short, E. W.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Monslow, W.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wcodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Moody, A. S.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Yates, V. F.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Merley, R.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Slater, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Arthur Allen and Mr. Holmes.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.