HC Deb 09 February 1955 vol 536 cc1912-20
Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend Licensing Regulations at Airports in Great Britain. This is a very simple and very restricted Measure. I would call the attention of all hon. Members to the fact that it establishes no new principle. It is, in fact, a Bill designed to provide a new administrative facility. It is a Bill which has considerable support from representative and responsible bodies, concerned primarily with travel. I disclose no particular secret when I say that right hon. Gentlemen opposite, during the course of their administration, were aware of the requirement which is outlined in this Measure and are not hostile to it.

This Measure would seek to make it possible for civil airports with international travel facilities to waive the present licensing laws under the Licensing Act, 1921, in respect only of bona fide travellers, that is to say, those people who pass the barrier and are restricted by the Customs rule from coming back again. It does not extend to those who, having gone to the airport to see people off or to visit, are not passing through the barrier to travel.

I know there is a little anxiety in certain quarters that this is a Bill which would make an airport a sort of all-night roadhouse for anyone who cared to look in and have a drink at any time. That is not the purpose of the Bill at all. It has clearly been indicated that it would apply only to airports with international services, of which there are only 15, and I have reason to believe that if it receives the approval of the House it will be applied only to the two most important international airports in the country, London Airport and Prestwick, the airports which are most concerned with international air travel.

The reason I seek the approval of the House to bring in the Bill is that its provisions would give our airways similar facilities to those enjoyed by their main American and other foreign competitors. B.O.A.C. and B.E.A find themselves considerably handicapped in that when travellers on their lines are, for an undue time—sometimes because of the weather, and there are mechanical defects on occasions—stranded in the lounges they cannot go back beyond the Customs and they are unable, if the time is not within the licensing hours, to have any form of alcoholic refreshment.

This is a limitation which impairs the service. Moreover, the British Travel Association is satisfied that it does not encourage those who touch down to view our arrangements in a very satisfactory light. Because our airlines are a considerable source of revenue to us, and because it is of particular importance that we should encourage international travel, I believe that this is a facility which ought to be granted.

I said earlier that the Bill would create no new principle. If one is travelling by sea, it is possible for one to enjoy these facilities without difficulty, and it seems strange that those who have to travel by air for business reasons or choose to travel by air should be penalised as they are today.

I realise, and I think that all hon. Members by now realise, that there are some hon. Members who, for reasons of principle, oppose the Bill on the grounds that any extension of any form of alcoholic drinking is repugnant to them. I fully appreciate their opposition and the grounds on which they oppose the Measure, but if the House were to accept their contention it would have to reverse altogether all legislation dealing with licensing, and I do not believe that it would be prepared to do that.

Therefore, from the point of view of hon. Members generally, I do not think that this is an issue of principle. We are dealing with a practical administrative facility. Because I think it is a sound facility, because I think it will do good for British air travel and because I believe it will assist our airways to compete with their rivals, I hope very much that the House will give me leave to bring in the Bill. I hope that hon. Members who oppose the Bill on principle will not withhold leave to bring it in, because I am sure that if they believe in a principle they will be prepared to discuss it.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

I rise to oppose the introduction of the Bill, which, in another form, with not quite the same definition, was introduced by the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) in 1952. On that occasion the House considered the matter and 173 hon. Members voted for it and 173 against it. I hope that on this occasion I may be fortunate enough to win the one additional vote which is necessary for my purpose.

The Bill was on the tapis a great deal longer than 1952. It was reintroduced by the hon. Member at the end of 1953 and it was on the Order Paper most Fridays throughout 1954. It cannot be said that there was no discussion of the Bill, although it can be said that discussion was all on one side.

Here comes the Bill again. If the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) gets it on the Order Paper again, he will succeed in having those who are interested in the matter, either for or against it, hanging about for a long series of Fridays during the year. Not only will be able to hold up hon. Members on Fridays but he will have the whole temperance movement and the Churches, who showed themselves very interested in the matter last year, again lobbying us and adding very greatly to the pressures and maybe, the inconveniences which hon. Members have to suffer. I am offering something to hon. Members when I suggest that this is a good opportunity to get rid of what will prove to be an intolerable nuisance.

The hon. Gentleman says that his Bill introduces no new principle. My reply is that he offers a Bill which to the extent that it seeks to extend facilities for drinking is in itself a breach of the licensing laws, and that if it were carried it would offer encouragement for similar breaches in many other directions.

When the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale introduced the subject two or three years ago, his principal point was the convenience of not so much the business men referred to today but foreigners, and he said that foreigners disliked to find liquor laws so different from the ones to which they were accustomed. It seemed to me then, and it still seems to me, that meeting the requirements of foreigners is a poor sort of reason for making breaches in our law. All sorts of alterations might follow. We might give the facilities to a few people who want them, but we should seriously upset other interests.

For example, if there were to be drinking facilities beyond the Customs barrier and beyond the barrier where passports are examined at international airports, there is no safeguard in the Bill against what occurs now on ships crossing the Channel—drinking being obtained at a price free of Customs charges. If there is to be a place for drinking at airports beyond the Customs barrier, one can well imagine the attraction that it will hold for bibulous travellers.

It is not merely that, as a temperance reformer, I object to this sort of extension. I suggest that those who are engaged and are themselves licensed in the trade are entitled to ask by what right they should be subject to competition of this sort. When all parties in the country have co-operated to build up licensing laws which carefully balance all sorts of moral considerations and the claims of all sorts of interests, why should there be this upset to meet the requirements of people who are so fond of drinking that they cannot leave it alone even when travelling by air?

I will come to a further reason why we should not listen too readily to claims of this sort. I am not advancing my case merely on the grounds of the teetotaller. I dare say that if I had not risen hon. Members on that side of the House, who generally pose as friends of the licensed trade, might have made the point that I am making, which is that this proposal, which is unfair to the licensed trade, is also objectionable from the point of view of air travel.

How far is this consistent with the comfort and safety of air travel? I expect that the hon. Member for Harrow, East will have noted the many speeches I made on this subject on Fridays last year. A court case was brought against a man who found his way on to an aeroplane. He was so under the influence of drink that he was able to break his way into the pilot's cabin and instruct him how and where to fly. It is true that the crew seems to have been able to do something with him for the time being and then he was brought to court and heavily fined, but there is no satisfaction in that from the point of view of the safety of the plane.

To give some people the satisfaction of drinking beyond the Customs barrier —whatever price is paid for the liquor beyond that barrier—will mean that some risk to the plane will be run and that is something which cannot be justified in any circumstances. It may be said that anyhow drink is already supplied on the planes. Unfortunately, that is so. I think it is objectionable, but at least the very capable employees of the air services are in a position to discover the condition of the air travellers on the plane and they can make up their minds whether more liquor ought to be supplied to them. It would be possible, by allowing travellers to drink in the sort of places the hon. Member for Harrow, East wants and then turning them on to the planes, to leave the hostess to do what she can. That is surely an intolerable state of affairs.

Mr. Ian Harvey

We are all enjoying what the hon. Member is saying, but it is open to the very competent staff of the airlines to prevent any passenger who arrives in that state—I do not submit that passengers are likely to do so—from getting on the plane at all.

Mr. Hudson

The hon. Member relies on the competence of persons employed on the aeroplanes to do that. The president of one of the most important American airlines has stated that any passenger obviously under the influence of drink is not to be admitted to the planes. The need for that would be a good deal less likely to arise if the sort of proposal now being put to the House were avoided.

This is a wanton and irresponsible proposal. It is a proposal that certainly ought not to be discussed, unless it is to be related to the general question of licences in all places where liquor is being provided. Until that is done, I hope that the House will make up its mind, as it almost did in 1952, and reject this Motion.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 12:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. IAN HARVEY and Mr. RUSSELL were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, and Mr. JAMES HUDSON and Mr. HASTINGS for the Noes, but it appeared, on the Tellers coming to the Table, that a Member who had not been appointed had told for the Ayes.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER directed the House to proceed again to a Division.

The House divided: Ayes 234, Noes 137.

Division No. 31.] AYES [4.25 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Grimond, J. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Page R. G.
Alport, C. J. M. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Paget, R. T.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Hare, Hon. J. H. Palmer, A. M. F.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Parker, J.
Arbuthnot, John Harris, Reader (Heston) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Perkins, Sir Robert
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Bacon, Miss Alies Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Peyton, J. W. W.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Baldwin, A. E. Heath, Edward Pitt, Miss E. M.
Barber, Anthony Higgs, J. M. C. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bartley, P. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Beach, Maj. Hicks Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Profumo, J. D.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Hirst, Geoffrey Raikes, Sir Victor
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Holland-Martin, C. J. Ramsden, J. E.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Hollis, M. C. Rayner, Brig. R.
Bennett, Sir William (Woodside) Holman, P. Redmayne, M.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Holt, A. F. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bing, G. H. C. Hope, Lord John Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Birch, Nigel Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Bishop, F. P. Horobin, Sir Ian Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Blyton, W. R. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Roper, Sir Harold
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Bowden, H. W. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hurd, A. R. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Scott, Sir Donald
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Sharples, Maj. R. C.
Bullus, Wine Commander, E. E. Iremonger, T. L. Shepherd, William
Burden, F. F. A. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Carr, Robert Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Cary, Sir Robert Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Chapman, W. D. Kaberry, D. Snow, J. W.
Clarke, Col, Sir Ralph (East Grinstead) Kerby, Capt. H. B. Spearman, A. C. M.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Langford-Holt, J. A. Speir, R. M.
Colegate, Sir W. A. Leather, E. H. C. Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lindsay, Martin Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Linstead, Sir H. N. Studholme, H. G.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Crosland, C. A. R. Lloyd George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lookwood, Lt.Col. J. C. Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Longden, Gilbert Teeling, W.
Davidson, Viscountess Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Luoas, P. B. (Brentford) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Digby, S. Wingfield Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Dodds, N. N. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. McKibbin, A. J. Thornton-Kemsley, C N.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster) Tilney, John
Donner, Sir P. W. McLean, Nell (Inverness) Touche, Sir Gordon
Doughty, C. J. A. Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Turner, H. F. L.
Drewe, Sir C. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Turton, R. H.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Eden, J. B. (Bournemoutn, West) Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Erroll, F. J. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn.Sir Reginald Vosper, D. F.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Markham, Major Sir Frank Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Fienburgh, W. Maudling, R. Wall, Major Patrick
Finlay, Graeme Mayhew C. P. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Fisher, Nigel Mellor, Sir John Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Moore, Sir Thomas Wellwood, W.
Ford, Mrs. Patricia Morrison, John (Salisbury) Wheeldon, W. E.
Fort, R. Mott-Radolyffe, C. E. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Foster, John Mulley, F. W. Wigg, George
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Nabarro, G. D. N. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Nicholls, Harmar Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gammans, L. D. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Wills, G.
Glover, D. Nield, Basil (Chester) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Godber, J. B. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Wyatt, W. L.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Nugent, G. R. H.
Gough, C. F. H. Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Graham, Sir Fergus Oakshott, H. D. Mr. Russell and Mr. Ian Harvey.
Gresham Cooke, R. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Acland, Sir Richard Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Pearson, A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Popplewell, E.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Herbison, Miss M. Porter, G.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Holmes, Horace Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Attlee Rt. Hon. C. R. Hoy, J. H. Proctor, W. T.
Awbery, S. S. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Rankin, John
Bence, C. R. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Reid, William (Camlachie)
Beswick, F. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Remnant, Hon. P.
Black, C. W. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Rhodes, H.
Blenkinsop, A. Janner, B. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Jeger, George (Goole) Robertson, Sir David
Braddook, Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, James (Rugby) Ross, William
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Jones, David (Hartlepool) Royle, C.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Carmichael, J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Chetwynd, G. R. Keenan, W. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Clunie, J. Kenyon, C. Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Coldrick, W. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cove, W. G. Lawson, G. M. Sparks, J. A.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Steele, T.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lindgren, G. S. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Llewellyn, D. T. Sylvester, G. O.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. MacColl, J. E. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Edelman, M. McGhee, H. G. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) McInnes, J. Viant, S. P.
Evans, Stanley (Wedimbwy) McKay, John (Wallsend) Wade, D. W.
Fernyhough, E. McLeavy, F. Wallace, H. W.
Finch, H. J. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Watkins, T. E.
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Weitzman, D.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mann, Mrs. Jean Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Manuel, A. C. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Gibson, C. W. Medlicott, Sir Frank Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Gooch, E. G. Messer, Sir F. Wilkins, W. A.
Greenwood, Anthony Moody, A. S. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Willis, E. G.
Hale, Leslie Mort, D. L. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Oswald, T. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Owen, W. J. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hamilton, W. W. Padley, W. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hannan, W. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Yates, V. F.
Hardy, E. A. Pannell, Charles
Hargreaves, A. Pargiter, G. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Parkin, B. T. Mr. Hastings and
Hayman, F. H. Paton, J. Mr. James Hudson.

Question put and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker

Who will prepare and bring in the Bill?

Mr. Ian Harvey

Mr. George Rogers, Mr. Russell, Colonel Gomme-Duncan, Mr. Crosland, Mr. Angus Maude, Mr. Follick, Mr. John Rodgers, Mr. Fienburgh and myself.

Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)

On a point of order. I heard my name called. I am not backing the Bill.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

It seems that the hon. Member's name was included in the list in error. Is that right?

Mr. Follick

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member's name should be deleted. We cannot spend any more time upon this.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)

Is it not possible that some hon. Members may have been persuaded to support the Bill in view of the fact that the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) was on it?

Mr. Speaker

There are a number of possibilities, but all hon. Members are supposed to be as vigilant as the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick).

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Ian Harvey, Mr. George Rogers, Mr. Russell, Colonel Gomme-Duncan, Mr. Crosland, Mr. Angus Maude, Mr. John Rodgers, and Mr. Fienburgh.