HC Deb 28 January 1954 vol 522 cc2031-3
Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I beg to move, in page 9, line 36, after "licence," to insert: the kind of retailer's excise on-licence which is desired. This is a Privilege Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Second Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

7.17 p.m.

Mr. Ede

We have had what has been, I hope, not an unpleasant discussion, and my hon. Friends and I are very grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the way in which he has met the majority of the points we have raised.

We must express regret that the subsection which we proposed to leave out has been retained. We can only hope that adequate steps will be taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in Wales, and by the Secretary of State for Scotland in that country, to see that the deplorable state of affairs that must exist in the licensed houses of Swansea, Newport, Leith and Aberdeen shall receive prompt and effective action from the police forces in those areas. I am quite sure that they will see that the terrible picture which the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department has presented to us as existing in those places will not be allowed to exist any longer. I was not aware that that situation did exist, but, in view of his disclosures, we must ask that this great amount of secret drinking which has caused him to take the line he did on that subsection of the Bill shall receive attention from those whose duty it is to see that evildoers are brought to justice.

7.19 p.m.

Mr. J. Hudson

May I add my thanks to the Government, and in particular to the Home Secretary, for the generous way in which he has met our demands. I hope that the result of our discussions, and the passing of this Bill, will emphasise to those colleagues who have tonight found pursuits elsewhere the fact that this drink question has still to be watched.

It would be appropriate, so soon after his death, to say that the late Lord Simon, when Home Secretary, reminded this House that there was a big licensing question, and objected to the legislation that had been produced there because he did not like a piecemeal approach to the larger problem that faced him. The Government face the large issue of finding a new general approach to the licensing problem and a smartening up of the licensing procedure. The last Royal Commission Report made recommendations of a unanimous character, but we go on from year to year failing to do anything except to nibble piecemeal at a problem of very great importance.

I am almost hoping that, in view of the difficulties which the Conservative Government are now in with regard to the promises they have made in matters of larger legislation, and if they are looking for something useful to do in their inability to carry out those promises, they might look at this question and see whether they can take a step which is long overdue in the fuller organisation of the licensing laws, rather than merely putting canteens under the licensing magistrates.

That they have done that is a thoroughly good thing. I entirely approve of it. It is the right way to deal with these problems and I hope that the significant concessions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made will be effectively carried out, and that the Home Office will keep a watchful eye on the process.

7.21 p.m.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I hope that the House will allow me to intervene for one moment to thank the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) for what they have said about the conduct of the Bill. It is a great pleasure that, despite one disagreement, we can find so many matters on which we can co-operate and work together.

I should like to add one word on the application by the right hon. Gentleman, with ruthless logic, of an argument of my hon. Friend. It reminded me of the conception of a colleague of ours at school, who thought that infinity was a place where an innumerable number of parallel lines rushed together and met. I should like to say, with the best possible temper, that that is just as difficult and as complete an abstraction as the view of Swansea and Aberdeen which the right hon. Gentleman tried to give.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.