§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. James Simmons (Brierley Hill)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a modest little Measure, and such opposition as has been encountered stems from genuine doubts and fears, on the one hand, and from calculated misrepresentation by the Club and Institute Union on the other. The principle of this Bill was accepted by the House last Session, when a Second Reading was given without a Division to a Measure introduced by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black). Unfortunately, owing to lack of Parliamentary time, the Committee stage was not completed. But this Bill has been improved as a result of the suggestions made during the Second Reading and Committee stage of the previous Bill.
Clauses 3 and 5 of the Bill deal with the procedure for striking a club off the register and give definitions of "registered club," "secretary" and "bar." A bar is defined as,… any place exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.This definition has stood the test of time, and it has been applied in regard to public houses since 1921.
Though the taking of alcoholic drinks by adults is regarded as one of the amenities of social life, it is generally 1578 regarded as harmful to the growth, health and vitality of children and young persons. This view is held by education authorities and social workers, and the Ministry of Education itself supports it. Those interested in the care of children and young persons also share this view, and the protection of children and young persons from influences connected with strong drink has become as necessary as was their protection from the consequences of long hours of labour in the factory, field, mine or workshop.
Many members of Churches who regard adult drinking as ordinary and acceptable look upon it as an offence against children to take them into places where the drinking habits of adults are established. It is to the credit of Parliament that it has recognised the danger of the atmosphere created in licensed premises to the child life of the nation. Since 1921, children under 14 have been prohibited by law from entering the bars of public houses, and the supplying of intoxicants to young persons under 18 from a public house is also prohibited by law. In the light of general experience of these provisions as they affect public houses, is any hon. Member prepared to suggest that we should go back to the pre-1921 days and the serving of young persons in public houses? I think the answer would be an emphatic "No".
By passing a Measure introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford. West (Mr. Royle) in 1956, Parliament extended the provisions of the 1921 Act to cover occasional licences and, by so doing, acted in a perfectly logical manner. So we see that Parliament has erected a fence to protect our children from the dangers and temptations offered by their presence in licensed premises or premises where drink is sold and consumed. But there is still a gap in this fence which is represented by clubs. If a local council deliberately left a gap in a fence which it had erected around a water-filled marl hole to prevent the children of the neighbourhood from falling in and getting drowned, it would be regarded as an act of criminal folly.
This Bill gives Parliament a chance to close the gap in the licensing provisions as they affect children and young persons. These provisions are simply stated, and their object is, first, to keep children out of the bar of a club, and, secondly, to 1579 prohibit young persons under 18 years of age being served with intoxicating liquor in clubs. Along with all other social workers, I am appalled at the volume of juvenile drunkenness, which increased by 74.4 per cent. between 1953 and 1956. One would not, of course, suggest that clubs are entirely responsible for this increase, but there is some evidence in the various surveys which have taken place.
The Salvation Army has been making what is, I admit, a very limited survey in one girls' remand home. It was found that 27 girls between 15 and 18 who were in an approved school had all been accustomed to drink before they were 15, and 18 had been accustomed to visiting clubs. The Temperance Council of Christian Churches is concerned about the presence of children in clubs, and at this month's half-yearly meeting of the Youth Department two speakers expressed the view that the clubs more than the public houses are responsible for the increase in juvenile drunkenness.
The Christian Citizenship Department of the Methodist Church has asked several of its ministers to undertake local surveys of the club position. One survey which was conducted in North Staffordshire quotes the cases of a working men's club and a British Legion club. The former club was visited in the last fortnight, and children were found there, as well as babies in arms, while drinks were being served. When the minister concerned mentioned the matter to a member of the club, the latter said:That is what clubs are for—to enable parents to bring their children. They cannot take them into public houses. That is the reason why we have clubs.In the British Legion club, which the minister visited on the same day at nine o'clock in the evening, he found half-a-dozen children sitting at tables where people were drinking. The secretary of the club said, "I would not allow my own children to come in here; they are in bed." He added that many people could not come unless they brought their children, but he would prefer a separate room from the bar to be provided for the children.
At another ex-Service men's club he inspected the secretary was very friendly and helpful. He said that he himself had 1580 recently come from Lancashire, where he had not been accustomed to children attending such clubs, and that the idea did not appeal to him. He said that he definitely would not allow his children to attend the club and that he was eager they should attend a Sunday School. He did not give any encouragement to parents to bring their children into the atmosphere of drinking.
From the north of England, I have another minister's report, showing that on Tyneside the practice of having children in clubs was never encouraged. The report by this minister says:For many years, I lived within 35 yards of a social club in Coxlodge, and frequently knew of—and saw—this practice taking place. Children attached to our Church and Sunday School at that time often accompanied their parents in the evenings, and especially at weekends.In Manchester, I find there is a tendency for the same thing to happen at licensed clubs in certain less respectable parts of the city. After careful investigation, however, I am persuaded that this practice does not prevail generally in the Lancashire cotton towns, although, having said that, I must mention that very recently I had occasion to be in Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge, and in both of these towns heard of, and saw for myself, children and teenagers entering and leaving the premises of licensed clubs, much to my concern and dismay. In Ashton-under-Lyne, the situation is causing much concern as many young people are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law after drinking at a certain club near to a dance hall.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? Could he say whether the clubs to which he has referred are one-room clubs, or whether the criticisms he is making—and I am not in any way suggesting that he should not make them, if he wants to—concern children going into the bars of two-roomed clubs? Is he referring only to single-room clubs in which there happens to be a bar?
§ Mr. Simmons
I will clarify the position in regard to the clubs a little later, but I am not sure whether the ones I have mentioned are one-room clubs or not.
The Home Office authorities say that they have no proof of juvenile drinking in clubs. How can they have? They have no power of inspection, and they cannot have proof if it is there to be had.
§ Mr. H. Boardman (Leigh)
If the Home Office has no proof of this, can my hon. Friend tell me how he obtains proof of it?
§ Mr. Simmons
People in the religious world who are concerned with child life have taken the trouble to make considerable inquiries. During the past fortnight, the Wolverhampton Express and Star has published several letters from members of clubs. This paper circulates in my constituency, and the clubs referred to are in many cases those of which I myself have knowledge. One letter states:At the weekend I visited four clubs. At each one there was in process either Housey-Housey or Tote, in some both. This is a general procedure in clubs to raise funds, and also certain card games can, within the law of clubs, be played for money. From this it is quite evident that the youngsters will receive at a very early age the urge to gamble.An ex-clubman, writing in the same paper, said:Any parent with any regard for his child will avoid the atmosphere of drink and gambling."Another letter from Willenhall in Staffordshire says:As a member of various clubs, I see a great deal of club life, but I can honestly say how disgusted I am to see clubs converted into a business. At weekends it is nothing else but 'House-housey.' Children are encouraged in the rooms where it is played, and on many occasions I have seen them taking part in the game. One club has had the audacity to stop snooker, cards and dominoes while 'house-housey' is in progress, unless those wishing to play are willing to do so in the ante-room among buckets, mops and polish.Another letter, referring to management committees, says:They have a serious responsibility. Apart from being responsible for turning their clubs into common gaming houses, thus being open in law to various penalties, the possibility of having their club closed is a very real one.Most powerful support comes from the Wolverhampton and District Free Church Federal Council, which represents the Nonconformity life of South Staffordshire, and the secretary of the Federal Council writes a very impressive letter, in which he is very moderate and very fair as far as the clubs are concerned. He says:Mark you, these clubs are well run and their football teams and flower shows always do well But no club, however well run, is a 1582 place for a child. It is an unnatural thing to see a child waiting to be taken home at 10.30 on Saturday night while dad finishes his beer and game of skittles.Public houses can be inspected at any time. Clubs have the protection of the law, and would safeguard their own interests if they supported the Bill now before Parliament.I have also received over 100 letters of support, and five letters against my proposals. That has been my postbag during the past three weeks. I have had a letter from a teacher who writes:I am an infant school teacher and my children are half asleep till Tuesday after being in these clubs at weekends until 11 p.m. The damage they suffer both physically and mentally is irreparable.A Methodist minister in my constituency writes:Teachers in this district complain of the over-tired children they have to try to teach on a Monday, and of their boasting over fathers' capacities for drinking. Anything that can be done to prevent children growing up with these standards will be a real service to present and future generations.I have also had letters opposing my view—five of them—and especially an anonymous one from a writer calling himself "Decent Working Man." It came from outside my constituency, and it says:Let me point out that the parents do know where their children are and what they are doing. They do not give their children intoxicants to drink. No doubt you and your pals spend your leisure time at these fancy so-called night clubs which are nothing else but brothels where prostitutes expose themselves nakedly in so-called dancing cabaret.
§ A Decent Working Man."
§ I am not disturbed by such letters. The C.I.U. could, of course, lay down model rules for its members which would achieve the object of the Bill without legislation, but at its annual meeting in 1949 the C.I.U. refused to do so. Its then general secretary said that it was not against the law for a club to supply intoxicants to a member under 18, though public opinion today might condemn such supply. Thus, by its own showing, the C.I.U. is not exactly a pioneer of progress and reform. It knows what public opinion wants but chooses to flout it rather than educate its members to conform with it.
§ This month the C.I.U. got busy with its patriotic red, white and blue letter headed, "Clarion call to kill." One is 1583 inclined to say, "Patriotism by the imperial pint," or to paraphrase the late Jack Jones, M.P., and to say something about "Waving the Union Jack before the Club Union jackasses." The C.I.U. has succeeded in working up some opposition by playing on the fears of its members and suggesting, by innuendo, that the Bill will do things that are not to be found within it. In most cases it is the officials and committee and not the members of the clubs who have written to Members of Parliament. I know that from experience in my own constituency. I am not afraid to go into any club in my constituency and to meet the members.
I have been threatened with the eviction of my party and the loss of members' votes unless I withdraw the Bill. Naturally I refuse to compromise a principle for the sake of a few thousand votes, even though my majority is under one thousand. We should all of us refuse to sacrifice the nation's children upon the altar of political expediency. The Club and Institute Union circular gives the game away when it says:
Under the Bill, no young person under 18 could consume any type of intoxicating drink, which would include a beer shandy, or even a cider or 'Baby Cham'".
§ If it wants the Bill killed in order to provide this kind of intoxicant for young people, may we not presume that this is what the clubs are supplying them with now? The C.I.U. is in fact demanding the right to sell intoxicants to young people under 18.
§ We have been asked to consider the position of the one-room club, the sports club where, after an afternoon's cricket, football or tennis, members like to use the licensed pavilion to have tea with their families in a nice social atmosphere. One answer is that the club could suspend permitted hours during this tea break. The permitted length will not be shortened, because the permitted hours would be suspended for one period and put on to another. If it is a matter of having children in for a game, the club could suspend permitted hours for an hour or an hour and a half, and then members could go on with their desire for alcoholic refreshment afterwards.
§ As to amendment of the Bill, we have not been able to devise one. If the in- 1584 terests concerned can produce an Amendment to cover bona fide cases. I undertake to consider it carefully and sympathetically in Committee with my hon. and right hon. Friends who have sponsored the Bill. There are, however, one-room clubs that would get no sympathy from any decent person. Since the repeal of Regulation 55c in 1953, there has been an uncontrolled scramble to open new clubs. The numbers are from 800 to 1,000 in each of the last four years.
§ Mr. David Griffiths (Rother Valley)
Would my hon. Friend state the numbers which have closed during that period?
§ Mr. Simmons
That point does not alter my argument. [Interruption.] Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to complete the argument. It does not alter the argument, because most of these clubs are mushroom in character. Many of them are nothing more of Blackpool, in a report made only last month, said:So many clubs comprise merely one room with a bar, the only amenity being a dance floor little larger than a postage stamp. Seemingly the common object is that of consuming intoxicating liquor behind closed doors in premises not subject to restriction or supervision.It would be difficult to draft an Amendment excluding sports clubs from the provisions of the Bill without also excluding the kind of club described by the Chief Constable of Blackpool and being opened today as the result of the removal of Regulation 55c. A further danger would be the encouragement to the "pubs" to seek legislative action to secure the re-entry of children into their one-room bars.
This is purely a Children's Bill. Its sole object is to protect children from influences and temptations which are harmful. It is an all-party Measure. The three candidates in the Rochdale by-election were asked their attitude to the Bill. Hon. Members will recall that notice to introduce it was given last November. All three candidates, Liberal. Conservative and Labour, pledged their support to the Bill.
All Governments in recent years have taken a cowardly attitude on the drink question. They have refused to deal 1585 with it. They should therefore be grateful that a private Member has taken up this issue concerning the welfare of the young and has embodied it in a Bill for which no party will be able to take credit or incur blame. As the promoter of the Bill, I have received massive and overwhelming support, especially from the Churches. I have mentioned the five letters against the Bill.
My letters of approval have passed the century mark. They have come from Churches, social workers, police court missionaries, individuals, trade unions, and from the licensed trade itself. [Laughter.] Well, what is wrong with that? Did not the late General Booth receive subscriptions from the brewers? When sanctimonious friends called attention to that fact he said, "We are doing the Lord's work. It does not matter whose money we use so long as that work is done." We are interested in the welfare of the young folk of this country. If the licensed trade is giving its support, that shows that it is satisfied with the provisions for keeping young people out of its bars.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
Does my hon. Friend think that the licensed trade is more concerned with the interests of children or with competition from clubs?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
Does my hon. Friend also remember that beer sold in clubs comes from the brewers? Therefore, the brewers can be completely disinterested in this matter, although my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) suggested that they are fearing competition.
§ Mr. Simmons
Probably the brewers and licensed trade are not entirely altruistic, but that does not matter to me. My concern is to gain support for the principle of keeping children and young persons out of contact with the atmosphere of places where intoxicating liquor is consumed.
Representative bodies of the Methodist. Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches and the Society of Friends have written in support of the Bill. The Free Church Federal Council and the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches in Wales have also sent support. The most representative body, the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches, with its imposing list of joint presidents—the 1586 Archbishop of Canterbury, representing the established Church; the Archbishop of Westminster, representing the Roman Catholic Church; Mr. Harcus of the Free Churches, and General Kitching of the Salvation Army—give full support. A wealth of experience of the young life of this nation is gathered under the influence of the organisations and individuals I have mentioned in support of the Measure and should receive due notice.
To those who say that inconvenience will be caused by this Bill, my reply is that all measures of reform cause some inconvenience. Child slavery in the factories was defended, and its abolition opposed, by those who feared that employers and merchants might be inconvenienced. Universal education was opposed by those who thought parents would be inconvenienced if their children did not earn wages. But surely we are much more enlightened in these days. Parents are proud, anxious and willing to make sacrifices for their children. They will scrape and save to enable their children to enjoy the benefits of higher education.
The heart of this nation is sounder on the question of the welfare of the child than on any other question. I do not believe that the member of a workingman's club will put his drink before the welfare of his child. I do not believe that the sporting fraternity will refuse to forgo their drink for a limited time in order to be able to enjoy having tea with their families. I believe that the nation that cares as much for the moral and spiritual as for the cultural and material wellbeing of its children will reap a reward in the rising generation which is priceless. I sincerely believe that this will be the effect of this Bill and I most earnestly request the House to give it a Second Reading today.
§ 11.34 a.m.
§ Sir Frank Medlicott (Norfolk, Central)
I beg to second the Motion.
On this occasion I am almost prepared to call the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) my hon. Friend, because we share strong convictions on this matter. I wish to commend him on the position he has taken and the steadfast way in which he has pressed on with this Bill in the face of threats which ought never to have been made against him. He has paid the House the compliment 1587 of covering the ground in some detail. I propose to make my speech as brief as possible, although I know from experience what a dangerous thing that is to say. I have never known a speaker who promised to be brief and kept his promise.
I am glad to have the opportunity to second the Motion, because it indicates that this is an all-party matter. Lawyers and Members of Parliament tend to look at legislation from two rather different points of view, but in one respect they are agreed. They agree that the law, if it is to be respected, must be consistent. This Bill seeks to remove a glaring inconsistency in our legislation relating to the sale of alcohol. The late Mr. Bernard Shaw used to say that he could resist everything except temptation. [HON. MEMBERS: "That was Oscar Wilde."] The remark was characteristic of both those gentlemen. I am glad to have given an opportunity to the House to display its literary knowledge. That was a weakness not confined to those gentlemen and it is not confined to adults; and it has been laid down in this country for several decades that measures must be taken to safeguard children and young people from the temptations associated with indulgence in alcohol.
It has been made abundantly clear that strict provision must be made in public houses so that the bar shall always be a separate place. The necessity for the Bill has become important because of the great increase in licensed clubs, an anomaly which hardly existed in 1921 when the principle of the separate bar was laid down. Already in this debate there has been some questioning about the rate of increase in the establishing of these clubs. It is true that many of them have been closed, but there is no doubt that there has been a steady increase in the total number of clubs which are functioning. Every increase is making a mockery of the principles laid down in the Licensing Act, 1921.
This Bill is not in any sense an attack on sports or social clubs. In fact, the only real ground of criticism comes from the small one-room clubs. Many social and sports clubs are able to comply with the terms of this Bill in advance because they already have the proper amenities. Many others can do so by comparatively small expenditure, and many others can 1588 comply by temporary suspension of permitted hours. The residue of clubs which cannot comply with the requirements of the Bill is likely to be very small indeed. I do not think it is open to the sponsors and proprietors of one kind of club to say that it is inconvenient and difficult for them to comply with what Parliament has laid down as a requirement with reference to young children and that they want to be exempt from this kind of legislation. That is not really good enough. The onus is upon the spokesmen for clubs of that kind to suggest, perhaps during the Committee stage of the Bill, how within the limits of the Bill their difficulties can be overcome.
For nearly forty years it has been made clear beyond any question that in public houses young children must be protected and safeguarded against too early contact with intoxicating liquor. If that provision is necessary in "pubs," it is manifest that it should also be introduced in respect of clubs.
For these reasons I second the Motion.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which seeks to impose unnecessary restrictions, in present circumstances, on registered clubs.The reason which has prompted me to put down an Amendment is that when the earlier Bill was before the House it was unopposed, and considerable play was naturally made of that fact. I do not complain of that, of course, but I must point out that subsequent support for that Bill was not sufficient to maintain a quorum, although we all know only too well the difficulties facing an hon. Member who seeks to promote a Bill on a Friday.
It will be the wish of the House that I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) on his good fortune in the Ballot. While I cannot congratulate him on his choice of Bill, I do congratulate him on the excellent and fair way he presented it. None of us could doubt the very great sincerity of my hon. Friend and the other sponsors of the Bill.
My sole reason for opposing this Measure is that, while one must respect 1589 and understand the aims of people who promote legislation, as the House of Commons we have to be concerned with the actual and textual implications of the Bill and with whether its provisions can be enforced. It is my submission that these proposals cannot be amended in Committee in such a way as to remove the very great difficulties which will arise.
I take issue with the hon. Member for Norfolk, Central (Sir F. Medlicott) in his assumption that a private club is necessarily the same thing as a public house. It is only one step from that argument to say that if one consumes alcohol in one's private house, the same legislative machinery should also apply there. While I should not dream of providing liquor for young people so that they became intoxicated, I should nevertheless very much resent being compelled to open my house to police inspection and all the other necessary provisions.
§ Mr. Mulley
I can anticipate my hon. Friend's point. It is that there is nothing in the Bill about police inspection or enforcement. That is a very great criticism of the Bill. Satisfactory provisions for enforcement could not be inserted without providing for the police inspection which is characteristic of the public house, with whose position he is seeking to equate that of the private club.
There is no proper provisions for enforcement, and I am strongly opposed to putting on the Statute Book a Bill which cannot be properly enforced. We know that in other aspects of our legislation, such as the betting laws, it is a complete mockery that the law does not command public support and cannot be enforced. It is wrong to put on the Statute Book a Measure which will not command the consent of the people in the clubs who would have to enforce it. The fact is that people in many clubs today enforce the provisions suggested in the Bill, as well as others which go beyond those provisions. It is a serious criticism of the Bill that it brings under one Measure all types of clubs.
§ Mr. Simmons
As a member of the Clerks and Administrative Workers' Union, does my hon. Friend excuse badly lighted, badly ventilated and unhealthy 1590 offices because some firms provide good offices?
§ Mr. Mulley
I certainly do not. I should be out of order if I referred to my favourite subject of legislation for offices, but this is a different argument. We want legislation for offices because we want inspection and proper enforcement. There would be no distinction in the Offices Regulation Bill between public and private offices. Both kinds employ clerks in exactly the same way. We should object to making a distinction between those offices visited by the public and those to which the public does not have access, and I should not expect my hon. Friend to make a proposal of that sort. That is the sort of thing he is doing today. There is a great distinction between places open to the public and places confined to private members.
In a democracy, where we encourage people to take responsibility for maintaining their own social affairs, it is a grave reflection to say that by Act of Parliament we should lay down a code of conduct for them. My hon. Friend rightly said that nowadays parents and the general atmosphere are such that children are provided with greater opportunities for better education and so on. It is because I believe that parents are of this mind that I am opposed to the Bill.
None of the children likely to go into the clubs, against the provisions which my hon. Friend seeks to make, does so except on the invitation and in the custody of his parents. We cannot legislate to ensure that parents do their jobs properly. It greatly distresses me that many parents go out of their houses leaving young children unattended at night, but I should be opposed to a Bill seeking to make that a penal matter. The Bill undermines the good democratic responsibilities of members of working men's clubs and the responsibilities of parents for their children.
I do not want to take up a lot of time, because there are other matters to come before the House today, but I ask my hon. Friend to consider the alternatives. If a parent is so neglectful of his duties, as my hon. Friend would have it, that he puts his children in the temptation of alcohol, would he not also be sufficiently neglectful to leave that child outside a 1591 club in the street on a cold night? Is it not also the case, because of housing conditions in our cities today, and for other reasons, that the alternative to the children being in a club is something which we cannot view with great enthusiasm?
§ Mr. Simmons
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not want to misrepresent the Bill. It does not keep children out of the club premises, but out of the bar.
§ Mr. Mulley
If my hon. Friend will allow me to continue without interruption, we will save time. I was about to deal with that matter. My hon. Friend knows the ordinary organisation of many clubs. He knows that even if they have separate rooms, there is generally a serving hatch by which drinks can be brought from the bar to the concert room, or to a corridor. It is also extremely doubtful whether, as now printed or as amended, the Bill could make it clear, without the benefit of counsel's opinion, whether a part of the club would or would not be caught by the Bill.
The ordinary working man who is secretary of a club and who gives up his time to club administration is not a lawyer and does not want to have contact with the law. The attitude of many decent hard working people would be that if this legislation gave them trouble with the police and the law, they would give up their jobs as secretarys and not serve on club committees.
§ r. Glenvil Hall
I take it from what my hon. Friend is now saying that he would be willing, for the same reasons, to repeal present provisions which prevent children from entering public houses?
§ Mr. Mulley
With great respect to my right hon. Friend, I do not want to say things two or three times. In fact, there is a great difference between a public house where anyone can go and a private club where the officials are very careful about observing regulations about introduction and so on, just the same as I see a distinction between a private club and a private house. If we accept the proposition that any premises where alcohol is consumed must be subject to the licensing laws, then we will be pursuing a very dangerous and completely wrong line of 1592 approach. I cannot make myself more clear than that.
There is a particular difficulty about one-room clubs. I know from experience in my constituency that many clubs would like to provide more amenities, but were unable to do so in the immediate postwar situation, because of building restrictions, and are unable to do so now because high rates of interest and mortgage difficulties act as a further deterrent. Reference has been made to sports clubs which would also present a serious difficulty.
If there is a cricket match, and there is only one room in the pavilion, why should one lad of the village who is good enough to play for his side at the age of 16 or 17 be excluded from the pavilion when the match is over at, say, 6.30? More particularly, why should the other ten players, because that lad is present, be deprived of the possibility of having half a pint of cider or something like that? One can visualise the many difficulties of that kind that would face sport clubs which, by their very nature, cannot afford to have a pavilion with two or three rooms.
I take issue with the promoters of the Bill when they argue that the increase in drunkenness is due to the operation of registered clubs; or that, in fact, the Bill would do anything to reduce that state of affairs. I say that, because I have received letters from both those in favour of and those against this Measure—as, I expect, have all hon. Members—and those in favour of the Bill always draw attention to the figures of increased drunkenness among young people. Those in Sheffield who have written to me in favour have referred me to the report of the chief constable of that City. It is true that that report shows an increase last year of 11 prosecutions for drunkenness among young people of 18 years of age, but the chief constable went on to say—
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)
I think that the hon. Gentleman meant to say 11 per cent., and not 11 prosecutions.
I was referring to the number of prosecutions in Sheffield. The number is 11, out of a total of 96, which is, approximately, also 11 per cent.
§ Mr. Mulley
The chief constable went on to refer to the figures of drunkenness among young people as being extraordinarily small. I shall not weary the House by quoting from previous debates, but I think that it was made abundantly clear by the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury, then Joint Under-Secretary of State to the Home Department, that, although the Home Office had made inquiries in an effort to distinguish between the various sources from which those convicted of drunkenness had obtained their liquor, there was no evidence that it came from registered clubs. However, the hon. and learned Gentleman will be dealing with this matter later, so I will leave it there.
I very much resent the suggestion that the Bill will in any way reduce the incidence of drunkenness among young people. I think that it is that suggestion that has attracted the support of a number of people who, otherwise would not, perhaps, have been so persuaded. I also find it extremely droll that this Measure should have the enthusiastic support of both teetotallers and the licensed trade. It is probably well known to all hon. Members that licensees very strongly object to clubs, though not because they feel that the clubs are encouraging drunkenness. They believe, rather, that such a Measure as this might so inconvenience the clubs that they would have to close down, and that a proportion of their trade would become available to the public houses.
I sense in the minds of some supporters of the Bill that drink, of itself, is evil; and that if one introduces a child to within a few feet of a glass of beer, the child will be contaminated for life. That is a philosophy that I find very difficult to understand. As I have said previously in the House, on this and other subjects, when it comes to moral matters we cannot make people do the right thing by Acts of Parliament. I welcome the efforts that are made to discourage people from drinking too much, or from betting too much, but I do not think that either, in moderation, is necessarily evil. In fact, it could happen that to take children into places where only non-alcoholic drinks were available could be more harmful to them than to 1594 take them where alcoholic liquor was on sale.
For these reasons I hope the House will decline to give a Second Reading to the Bill since there is no evidence that it will succeed in its objectives.
§ 11.55 a.m.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins (Merton and Morden)
I beg to second the Amend-mend.
In giving his reasons for the rejection the Bill's Second Reading, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) covered a wide field. I shall limit myself to much narrower confines and merely refer to sports clubs, which were mentioned both by the hon. Gentleman and by the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons). I do not deny that in the case of many clubs some such Measure as this might prove beneficial, but a great many others would suffer; in particular, the sports clubs and one-room clubs.
The hon. Member for Brierley Hill said that he could not think of a reasonable way of amending the Bill so as to exclude the latter type of club—neither can I. I do not see how the undesirable club can be closed and the other remain unaffected. As we have both failed in this endeavour, I think the best thing is not to pass the Bill at all. I do not believe that inconvenience and hardship ought to be caused to very many people so that a number of others may be presented from doing something that is wrong.
My main concern is with one type of sports club where even the suggestion that permitted hours should be suspended from time to time would not be feasible. The House will know, I am sure, the great change that has come over the sport of sailing since pre-war days. It used to be considered the rich man's hobby, as no doubt it was, but the position has entirely changed. Today, large numbers of people take to the water to sail, to go about in motor boats, or simply to "mess about" in boats—
§ Mr. Atkins
This sport is growing all the time. The boats that used to cost so much are now 1595 of an entirely different nature. A great many people today own a boat which has been built by professionals that has cost no more than a television set. A great many more build their own boats in their backyards, lofts and the like. It is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the number of people who "mess about" in boats every year, but the President of the Royal Yachting Association gave an estimate of 220,000 in his annual report which was published a few days ago.
The evidence of increasing interest in this sport is plain to see. Attendances at the National Boat Show in London increase annually, and so do the numbers of sailing clubs. Comparatively few people live by the water, which means that if they want to enjoy the sea or fresh water they have to have some sort of a base, and so they build a club. As the Bill affects England and Wales only, I have looked up the figures and find that the number of clubs affiliated to the parent body, the Royal Yatching Association, was 203 in 1946 and that in the twelve intervening years up to today it has trebled to 623. There may be more —I do not know—but that is the number recognised by the national body, and every year between 40 and 50 new clubs come into being.
There are two interesting things about these clubs. First, the vast majority of them are small. There are, of course, the well-known big clubs, but even were this Bill passed it would not make much difference to those. Many of these clubs are built by the members themselves in their spare time. Some of them are ex-Army huts which are erected on the beach, and even if they are professionally built the object of the members is to build a club as cheaply as they reasonably can. Many of them consist only of a changing room, a drying room and a clubroom. It may be of interest to the House to note that, of these 623 clubs, only half are by the sea. The others are by rivers, lakes, reservoirs, disused gravel pits and anywhere where people can find a stretch of water on which to sail.
The other interesting point about these clubs is that virtually all of them make provision for children and young persons. There are very few which do not, perhaps the most notable example being the House of Commons Yacht Club. That 1596 does not provide for children and young persons, but, of course, it is in a slightly different category.
With an eye to the future, those people who are interested in sailing make a tremendous effort to encourage young people to take an interest in the sport. There are often special terms of membership, and there are also special boats for young people to sail. There is one class of boat known as the Cadet, the rule being that only children may race in this boat. Every effort is made to encourage this sort of thing.
I am sure the whole House would want to encourage children to take an interest in this activity. The children love it, and I think it is fair to say that it is one of the most healthy forms of recreation imaginable, not only physically but morally. The more children we can encourage on to the water, the fewer young people there will be in the other type of club to which reference has been made, because they will learn in these sailing clubs that that way of life is better than the other, and they will keep out of the clubs to which the hon. Member for Brierley Hill and I object.
This is a family activity. Here I must declare an interest. I have four children, all of them under 14 years of age, and they accompany me when I sail. We do it as a family activity, and we all enjoy it. There are not many sports in which the whole family, whether they are five or fifty, can participate. [An HON. MEMBER: "Fifty?"]
§ Mr. Atkins
Many families follow this sport. After we have been on the water we want to make use of the club facilities. I do not think anybody except a teetotaller would say that after a day's sailing it is wrong for adults, if they are feeling thirsty, to have a glass of beer, or if they are wet and cold to have something a little stronger. Therefore, I do not think it would be sensible for us to say that sailing clubs such as these should not in any circumstances serve drink. But if we do not say that and this Bill becomes law, the children will not be able to go into the clubs. That would be a severe setback to those people who are trying to encourage children to take 1597 an interest in this healthy activity, because if the children cannot enter the clubs the parents will not go. They will do something else instead—perhaps some-thing as beneficial and attractive—I do not know.
In view of the enormous increase of interest in the water and boats in this country, this Bill would be a disaster. In order to do away with a number of disreputable clubs, this Bill is at the same time hitting at a number of extremely respectable clubs which, in my view, are doing very good work and bringing up people in the proper way. These are respectable clubs. I cannot think of one instance of a sailing club having had proceedings taken against it for any infringement of the law since the war. Parliament should not stop the activities of these respectable clubs in order that the less respectable clubs may be dealt with. I cannot see any way of amending the Bill, and I hope, therefore, that the House will not give it a Second Reading.
§ 12.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
We have heard a very moving speech on behalf of sailing clubs, and I think even the sponsor of the Bill will appreciate many of the points which the hon. Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) has made in this connection. I am sure that there is a lot in what he has said about those clubs. I have no doubt that he has recruited a lot of people to membership of sailing clubs, but for the life of me I cannot understand what that has got to do with the Bill.
I feel that I would be justified in drawing the attention of the hon. Gentleman and of the House in general to the terms of the Bill. There are two main principles in the Bill, the first being contained in Clause 1 (1) which says:The Secretary of a registered club shall not allow a person under fourteen years of age…"—and I stress the word "fourteen" for the benefit of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) who referred to people of 16 and 17 engaging in games of cricket. This Bill does nothing whatever to keep people of 16 or 17 outside. It refers to people under the age of 14.
§ Mr. Royle
That is a very different argument from the one which my hon. Friend used previously. He was talking about people of 16 or 17 entering the premises of a club. Let me repeat:The secretary of a registered club shall not allow a person under fourteen years of age to be in any bar of a registered club during permitted hours.I say to the hon. Member for Merton and Morden that there is no reason on earth why those permitted hours should not be in accordance with the desires of the members of a club to suit their convenience. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. D. Griffiths) has said on a previous occasion that it is impossible to alter the permitted hours. But the permitted hours of many of these clubs are not in accordance with the permitted hours of public houses. These permitted hours have been granted to these clubs by the justices, and application could be made to the justices to adjust the permitted hours for the convenience of the members as they desire.
§ Mr. D. Griffiths
That is true; I accept that, I was also aware that a secretary responsible for a club has to make an application to the magistrates for the alteration of permitted hours.
§ Mr. John Howard (Southampton, Test)
In the case of sailing clubs, how is one to arrange about the tides? They do not follow licensing hours.
§ Mr. Royle
I do not think even that is beyond the wit of man!
The objections which have been made—and I agree there is something in them—are not objections as such to the Second Reading of a Bill of this kind. They are purely and simply Committee points, which can be cleared up, provided some understanding is shown on the part of two sets of people with different views of this matter.
§ Mr. Atkins
The long title of the Bill says that the purpose of it is to prohibit the entry into clubs of young persons. That is what I object to. I have never asked for any alteration in the principle that people under 18 should not be allowed to have drinks. I do not mind about that. What I object to is the suggestion that young people should not be allowed to go into clubs which have only one room.
§ Mr. Royle
I appreciate that argument, and I am not quibbling at all. All these are matters which can be cleared up by real understanding during the Committee stage. I would only remind the hon. Member for Merton and Morden that we are not in this Bill dealing just with that desirable and pleasant type of club to which he refers. I accept that there may be something to be said for that desirable type of club, and I am prepared to accept a great deal of his argument. On the other hand, I must remind him that there are many clubs which are most undesirable.
The first principle of the Bill is very simple; it is that children under the age of 14—we have not even gone so far as the school leaving age—shall not be permitted to enter the bar of any club. It is as simple as that. I know from my own experience, as hon. Members must know, of the undesirable dens which exist where the atmosphere is appalling for any child to be taken into. That is the kind of thing we have in mind. We strongly object to children of tender years being taken into a smoke-laden, drunken atmosphere of that kind of place.
Reference has been made to children being left outside on a cold night. My idea of parental responsibility is very much higher than that. I deplore the suggestion that there are many parents in this country of ours who are faced with only two alternatives, either taking their children under the age of 14 into the type of establishment I have referred to or leaving them outside on a cold night. In the course of my life, I have found no difficulty in providing the right type of family enjoyment without going into such places, and I am convinced that there are many alternatives for the employment of leisure hours in a family sense, without taking children into these appalling places which, undeniably, do exist.
The second principle is a simpler one, and I gather that very few hon. Members object to it. In 1956, I had the privilege, through a Private Member's Bill, of placing an Act on the Statute Book which provided that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed to obtain drink in occasionally licensed premises. At that time, I had particularly in mind some of our dance halls. The introduc- 1600 tion of that Bill arose from the fact that magistrates were discovering that many young people, not being served with liquor in public houses, were obtaining it in premises with occasional licences. Young people under the age of 18 were being charged with being drunk and disorderly, and it was felt desirable that that gap in the law should be closed.
In due course, without a word being uttered in the House, that Bill was placed on the Statute Book. I take it, therefore, that it is the will of the House that, if there is a further gap, and it is possible for people under 18 to obtain liquor in clubs, it, too, shall be stopped. I feel that this principle raises no objection in the House and it is not fair to argue it. Perhaps it needs no argument.
The other principle, that a child under the age of 14 shall not be allowed in the bar of a club, is something which each one of us should seriously consider. In the main, the sort of places we are thinking of are undesirable. The habit of going into them should not be instilled into any child under the age of 14. It is not an exaggeration to say that children hang about in those places until ten or half-past ten at night, in very undesirable surroundings. I do not want to exaggerate anything, but I suggest that, if we give the Bill a Second Reading today, we shall do something to improve the social conditions of our country.
§ 12.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Sumner (Orpington)
I am glad to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle). He asked us to keep to the terms of the Bill and not to indulge in special pleading, and that is what I mean to do now. I must say that I thought that what we heard about yacht clubs was most convincing, and that many other clubs could well be brought within the same illustration.
I oppose the Bill first of all on a matter of principle. One should not restrict the liberties of people or interfere with decent associations of people unless it is absolutely essential. Is there evidence that it is essential? When the matter was considered nearly a year ago, the then Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, now the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said that there was no evidence that clubs were in any 1601 way primarily responsible for juvenile drunkenness. I should like to say at once that I hope that those hon. Members who do not agree with my views will accept that I am as anxious as they are to cut out, or cut down, if that be i he most one can do, juvenile drunkenness.
Is this Measure necessary? My hon. and learned Friend the then Joint Under-Secretary of State said that the evidence which the police had been able to collect, difficult as it may well be to collect, was that the most frequent source of alcohol for young people was the public house—the public house, be it noted—despite all our legislation and the powers of enforcement. After that, the next source was friends or the home, and not clubs at all. With great respect, I see no evidence at all to show that the Measure is necessary, although I quite see that there are many clubs one would like to get at as being undesirable for both young and old.
I also dislike the Bill because I do not think that it would be enforcable. The police are to have no right of entry, and I do not think that one would wish them to have it; they would have to have a warrant to go in. Moreover, according to Clause 1 (4), a local education authority may institute proceedings for an offence under the Clause. I do not quite know what is envisaged. As soon as a person from such an authority were to put his foot into a club, he would, since he was only looking for evidence, be a trespasser, and he could be ejected with the minimum force necesary for the purpose. I am inclined to say that I should like him to be so ejected. I feel that the subsection would be an encouragement to the worst possible type of snooping; and, knowing and respecting local education authorities, I do not really believe that they themselves would want to take on the job. One is left simply with the police coming in with a warrant.
The matter I have just mentioned, is not, perhaps, the most important and might be put right in Committee. What is important is that the Bill would place a quite intolerable burden upon many decent clubs, for it would cover working men's clubs and all sorts of social clubs. I am not particularly interested in the bigger London clubs, although I am a 1602 member of certain of them. The Bill would affect some of them too.
Let us consider all decent clubs that have been run for many years in this way. I am familiar with many of them and I have seen children in all sorts—working men's clubs, British Legion Clubs and also London clubs. I do not think that there was anything terrible in that or that the children will suffer as a result. The reason the Bill places such a heavy burden is that the word "bar" is not properly defined. I may be told that I am beginning to make a Committee point. I hope I will not be told that This is the essence, the essential part of the Bill. When one starts to define the word "bar," one can see that some clubs would be in an intolerable position. An hon. Member says that counsel's opinion would be necessary. No counsel could cope with the present definition. It is a question of degree. It says in the Bill' 'Bar' includes any place exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption. of intoxicating liquor ".We all know the sort of club that I have mentioned, with one room which is very largely used for the consumption of liquor. It is also a place where very decent people take their children in the evening, not necessarily at a late hour. Another sort of club is the London club. I can think of one in particular which has a very large room used as a ladies' annexe. Nowadays, to keep clubs running one must have such rooms. In the old days it was a terrible thing that ladies should go anywhere near these places, let alone meeting their husbands and taking the children along. That sort of room would be ruled out under the Bill, because no secretary would run the risk of defining whether this large room with a bar running across one side of it was mainly used for the consumption of liquor.
Therefore, everybody would be in a difficult position. The penalties are tremendous. They are not merely small fines. If a young man of, say, eighteen years and one month is employed in a club, as he can rightly be employed, and he gives his pal of seventeen years and eleven months a glass of beer, the club can be struck off, because Clause 2 reads:The secretary of a registered club and any person employed in the club shall not knowingly allow a person under eighteen years of age to consume intoxicating liquor in any bar of the club ".1603 Suppose a club employs a youngster to stoke up the boilers, clean the boots or scrape the bottoms of boats, about which we have been hearing. He may not be a responsible person and he may be ignorant enough—I cannot say wicked enough—to give his friend a glass of beer on the premises. In those circumstances, the club can be struck off. I do not believe that the sponsors of the Bill want that sort of thing to happen to decent clubs, nor do they want secretaries to be put in that position of anxiety. Although one appreciates the motives of the sponsors of this Bill, I feel that they are unjustifiably interfering with a large number of very decent associations of people who perform a useful function.
§ 12.23 p.m.
§ Mr. David Griffiths (Rother Valley)
Like previous speakers, I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) on his sincerity in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. I must profoundly disagree, however, with the essence and substance of his argument. My hon. Friend says that it is a modest Bill. It may be short in words, but the implications entailed are far from being modest. Furthermore, I profoundly disagree with him when he states that misrepresentation is being made by the Club and Institute Union. I appreciate the sincerity of the sponsors of the Bill and that they are promoting their best objectives and desires, but surely no one is attempting to suggest for one moment that the people who have been writing to my hon. Friend are the only people desirous of the welfare, care and well-being of children and young persons. I hope that that is not being thought, let alone maintained.
Finally, my hon. Friend remarked about the observations of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the late Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. I suggest that they were giving a personal opinion and not an opinion of their respective churches and their congregations. In my view, this is a very prejudiced Bill. I belong to a Nonconformist family and was always brought up in the Nonconformist faith, and as a child I went to Sunday school and church twice or three times every Sunday until my teens. But I never thought, God forbid, that we should put on the Statute Book legis- 1604 lation to influence people, particularly responsible people, in how they should bring up their children.
I have sufficient confidence in present day parentage to know full well that, in the main, they are people who know how to bring up their children. Unfortunately, we have a few irresponsible parents, but by and large the overwhelming majority of parents in this country have first and foremost the well-being of their children at heart and desire to keep them abstemious, to educate them and bring them up to be good citizens.
I was appalled to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Salford West (Mr. Royle), as a magistrate, make a statement to the effect that he knew of clubs that were smoke-filled and just dens. If I were a magistrate, my duty would be to inform the police and to see that such clubs were struck off forthwith. That would be my duty as a magistrate, apart from being a Member of Parliament. But, if sufficient information is available that they are dens and unfit, uncontrolled, or at least badly controlled, that would be sufficient for a magistrate to indicate to the police that they have the right of entry and search. Therefore, I contend that my hon. Friend's argument is very unstable and unsound.
I should like to know why there is all this hysteria about our young people. I believe the exact words of my hon. Friend were, "The protection of young people has become necessary". Why "become necessary"? Surely we do not see today, neither in public houses nor in clubs, what we saw a number of years ago, particularly before the First World War. We could see it regularly with children in arms. I venture to suggest that we do not see that today, or if we do it is most infrequent. If we do what the promoters of the Bill want us to do with regard to clubs, then we might as well say to people in fully licensed restaurants or residents of hotels. "You must keep your children in an annexe and they must not go with their mother and father". Surely the argument is as logical for that as it is in a working men's club.
The information that has been imparted to the promoters of the Bill is of a prejudicial character. We have to go on statistics. I do not want to repeat what the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Sumner) said. But facts have been 1605 revealed repeatedly that there is not a great increase in drunkenness. There is not the increase in drunkenness, particularly among the young, that the promoters of the Bill would lead us to suggest, certainly not in proportion to the increase in population. Therefore, let us see the picture in proper perspective.
I do not think there is any hon. Member on either side of the House who would not desire to find means of cutting down, if not eliminating, such drunkenness as exists among people of all ages; but it cannot in any way be said that registered clubs are in any large degree responsible for it.
I have been a club man in the general sense for nearly forty years. Although I do not at the moment attend regularly, I do pay my subscriptions. It is, however, more than five years since I last went in, so no doubt I will shortly be told that am no longer a club man. I am, however, bound to defend the clubs as I know them. I do not deny that there may be unregistered clubs which are not run entirely as we would desire, but I cannot accept the views that the promoters of the Bill have put forward.
Are present-day clubs drinking dens? Let us analyse this and get it in proper perspective. Have some of those who are sponsoring the Bill really been inside, and do they know what happens in working men's clubs, where there are all sorts of social activities and amenities? Some of them have better public libraries. The club of which I happen to be a member has two part-time librarians. I suggest that there are hon. Members on both sides who have areas in their constituencies which are not as well catered for in the provision of library facilities as the area served by my club. We would all wish to cater for the well-being of all classes.
I suspect that there is an underlying motive. I do not want to be controversial to the extent of club versus "pub". My hon. Friend said that children were permitted to go in, and so they should. Clubs have a number of social activities—for example, football, tennis, cricket and other sport. What about the children's Christmas funds in the little villages? If the promoters of the Bill are making an honest endeavour to do good for the clubs, I would suggest to them that rather 1606 than attempt to deal with the majority which are doing a very good job and are catering for the welfare of their members, they should try to put legislation upon the Statute Book to deal with the bogus or spiv clubs. There are a considerable number of them- in this city and in all our big cities. I would certainly support them in that and would wish all power to their elbow; but when we hear allegations of the kind which have been made by the sponsors of the Bill, I am bound to object to them.
I may be told that this is a Committee point, but what, in fact, is a bar? When there is only the one room for the social activities for concerts, games and the like, it is a bar. What is to be done with the young people in the villages and small towns? Where can they go? Many of them do not have a public hall or church institute. Are they to be left on the street to do more damage to themselves or to other people's property than they could do by organised games in such an institution? It is much better to do this than to leave the children to go anywhere they like. It would be much better for parents to take them along and have control of them, regardless of the implications that some hon. Members are suggesting.
Another important point to which I should like to draw attention is the obligation which the sponsors of the Bill seek to impose upon the secretary of a club. I never heard of anything so absurd. If they were dealing with the clubs in London, where a permanent secretary is in residence, by all means let them get on with it, but in the clubs as we understand them the secretary is on the premises only for an hour or two a day. He is an ordinary working man. He may be a council employee, a miner or steelworker, a dock worker or a joiner. He goes in as his employment permits, perhaps for an hour in the morning or an hour or two in the evening. Must the secretary be responsible if a boy of 17 or 18 goes inside the premises? According to the Bill, this obligation would be upon him. Surely, that is unfair.
The Bill makes me wonder whether some of its sponsors have had a family or, possibly, whether they had their families so long ago that they do not know what little children or young 1607 persons are liable to do. When the steward—or his wife—goes behind the bar, he does not always think to close the door after him and a child could come toddling in to ask its father or mother for a bag of crisps or a bottle of "pop". It may sound a simple matter, but the fact remains that according to the Bill there would be liability for prosecution. That is absurd and something which we should not condone.
Far be it from me, or any other hon. Member, to encourage drunkenness. We want to eliminate it, particularly among our young people, but I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of people do not want the Bill. The Government certainly do not want it.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Even hon. Members on this side, when they were in power, did not want it and would not have it. I am not prepared, therefore, to throw the ball back. I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend makes, but responsible Governments have never been prepared to give in simply to pressure groups. There may be pressure groups of various sorts for various purposes, but I am not prepared to belong to any pressure group. I am prepared, like my hon. Friend, to have the courage of my convictions.
§ Mr. Holmes
My hon. Friend is putting his case very well, and says he is not prepared to be lined up with any pressure group, but does he agree that there has been pressure put by working men's clubs on Members of Parliament?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I do not know what pressure they have put, but they have certainly not put any on me—I do not allow them to. What I have been saying I have said from conviction and out of my experience. I allow my experience to guide me.
Because there are possibly a few ill-conducted clubs it is very unfair that the majority should be made to suffer, or that criticism should be made of them or a reflection cast upon them. These places, in the main, are designed and controlled for the well-being and the social activities of their members and their members' families. We have always prided ourselves on saying that an Englishman's 1608 home is his castle. Next to his home is his club. I am talking now about the majority of people, and next to a man's home is his club, whether a Labour club or a Conservative club or a Liberal club or a Unionist club—or whatever club it may be. People go to their clubs to relax, and they can go to them at hours when other licensed premises are not open, and not only to drink but for various recreations.
This is another liberty I am not prepared to see taken away from human beings. I have confidence in the overwhelming majority of the people who are the members and officials of the clubs, who are duly and democratically elected to run them. That is what they are, democratically elected to run the clubs as social centres for the well-being of the members. I am not now speaking of other clubs which have been mentioned, which I also have mentioned, or of the people who belong to them, clubs where at the price of £x they can do all sorts of things that are quite contrary to the law. The people I am speaking of are elected annually to serve the well-being of their members, and in their interests, in the interests of the masses of the people, I oppose the Bill.
§ 12.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril W. Black (Wimbledon)
I am somewhat intrigued to know by what authority the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. D. Griffiths) expresses the opinion that the Government do not want this Bill. I have been here ever since the start of the debate. We have not yet listened to any speech from the representative of the Government, who presumably in due course will tell us what the attitude of the Government is. I would remind the hon. Member for Rother Valley that when a very similar Bill to this was before the House in the last Session of this Parliament the attitude of the Government was—I think I am stating the case fairly—that they felt that the matter was one which should be settled by Members according to their own consciences and their own judgments. The Government expressed neither support for the Bill nor opposition to it. I have no reason to suppose—I do not know whether the hon. Member has—that the attitude of the Government is any different in this Session of Parliament from what it was in the last Session.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
The composition of the Government is a little different now.
§ Mr. Black
The hon. Member for Rother Valley has raised two matters of importance on which I should like to join issue with him. He has said that he would have confidence in the parents to see that their children do not do things that it would be undesirable for children to do; that it is undesirable that matters of this kind should be regulated by Parliament, and that it would be better to leave them to the parents concerned.
That is an extremely sweeping statement, which, if it were accepted, would lead us into the most extraordinary positions. For instance, does the hon. Member consider that parents should decide whether their children should attend day school or not? Does the hon. Member consider that parents should be left to decide whether their children should be allowed to drink in public houses or not?
§ Mr. D. Griffiths
Surely the hon. Member does not want to tell the House that I said something I did not say? What I said was that I have sufficient confidence in present-day parents to know that they look after the well-being of their children. The argument about attendance at day school which the hon. Member is attempting to relate to one about recreational activities is foreign to that argument. It is not germane to the question.
§ Mr. Black
I think it is entirely relevant to the statement made by the hon. Member.
I think we would be prepared to agree that the great majority of parents are responsible people who are concerned about the well-being of their children and who, in most matters, would take decisions affecting their children which would be in the best interests of the children: but down the years Parliament has found it necessary to legislate for the protection of children. We have laws whereby, whatever parents may wish, children have to attend school; we have laws by which, whatever parents may wish, children below a certain age are not allowed to be employed; we have, whatever parents may wish, laws restricting the right of children to enter upon or to consume liquor in licensed premises.
1610 Really, it is much too late in the day for any hon. Member to argue that parents are to be the sole judges of what their children should do. There are many matters in which, over a long period of time, Parliament has considered it necessary to intervene; and in my judgment the subject matter of this Bill is one in which Parliament can properly intervene in the interests and on behalf of the children concerned.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Does the logic of this argument lead us to say that the hon. Member would object to children being with their parents in an hotel lounge where liquor is being consumed?
§ Mr. Black
That is not at all the logic of it. I have not suggested that, and there is nothing in this Bill which deals with that matter.
The point has been made that there is no evidence that the increase in drinking and drunkenness among children and young people arises from their attendance at registered clubs and their consumption of liquor there. There are two matters which I should like to bring to the notice of hon. Members in relation to that statement.
The first comes from a publication entitled, "Social Problems of Post-War Youth". This is a publication not of a temperance organisation or of any organisation which may be deemed to have any bias in the matter. It is a publication of the Economic Research Council which is concerned merely with the ascertaining of facts and the making known of the facts when ascertained. This is what it says:For youths aged 14 to 16 the incidence of drink offences fell by nearly 50 per cent. between 1946 and 1949; but it increased fivefold between 1949 and 1954. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that easy money, the increasingly bad example of immediate elders, the difficulties of licensees, and the laxity of management of registered clubs have brought about this staggering reversal of trend.
§ Mr. Atkins
Does my hon. Friend remember that during the Second Reading debate on his Children and Young Persons (Registered Clubs) Bill, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department said in connection with this matter:We in the Home Office have asked the police to tell us, as far as they can, in the 1611 case of young persons who are convicted for drunkenness, where the liquor was obtained.The answer was,The real gravity of the problem does not lie in the clubs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 1607.]
§ Mr. D. Griffiths
But surely the hon. Member is not saying that it is just an opinion in the case of the Home Office? Surely that is factual evidence from the police, whereas what the hon. Member quoted is the finding of an economic body which possibly has a prejudice. The Home Office makes a statement of fact.
§ Mr. Black
May I give the hon. Member some further testimony on this matter? I think that he will agree that probation officers have as much to do with young people who may be in trouble in connection with drink or drunkenness as any section of the public. After I had obtained the leave of the House last Session to introduce my Bill, which was very similar to this Bill, I had a completely unsolicited letter from the National Association of Probation Officers. As I have been challenged on this matter, it is relevant that I should read the opinion of that Association to the House.
This is what the General Secretary of the Association wrote:We followed with interest your efforts … in introducing the Children and Young Persons (Registered Clubs) Bill but we imagine that the Bill has not succeeded in getting through Committee in time, though we have no completely accurate information about this. I only want to say that I think you would find most probation officers very fully in support of your efforts and that I hope you will be successful in the Ballot for Private Members' Bills or by some other means, so that your Bill may be re-introduced. The recently published statistics will not really cause any alarm, but show a continuing trend and I am sure your Bill will be one way of checking this.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
Can the hon. Member say where, in anything that he has said or read, there is any evidence 1612 that increasing drunkenness is due to registered clubs?
§ Mr. Black
I am afraid that I have not the slightest information about the habits of the General Secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers. To the best of my knowledge, I have never met him. I do not know whether he is a teetotaller, but he writes me a letter not in his personal capacity but as General Secretary of the Association. This is a matter of opinion, but at any rate it is relevant to consider the experience and the views of the National Association of Probation Officers. I would contend that probation officers are as well-qualified by experience to express an opinion on this matter as most of the people who have spoken today.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
That is not the opinion of the body, but a personal opinion. There is not the slightest indication that the Association has been consulted in this matter.
§ Mr. Black
I think that hon. Members are going too far in trying to suggest that the letter does not contain the clear meaning which I have suggested to the House. Does the General Secretary of a body write to me entirely out of the blue, on the headed notepaper of the Association which he represents, if the letter does not represent anybody's opinion except his own? I say that there is ample evidence that there is a vital connection between increased drinking and drunkenness among children and young people and the activities of the clubs.
I want to bring to the notice of the House one further quotation on this point. The Chairman of the Liverpool Licensing Committee recently expressed 1613 great alarm that in 1956 Liverpool had the highest number of convictions for drunkenness for thirty years. There were 4,187 conviction, representing an increase of more than 1,000 over the previous two years.
The Chairman said:The most disturbing feature of the increase was the fact that 626 of the convictions last year were of people under 20 years of age. 88 of them being 18.He concluded:I do not wish it to be assumed that these young people necessarily obtained the liquor in public houses.
§ Mr. Black
It is not unreasonable that I should now be allowed to make my own speech in my own way.
The great bulk of the criticism of the Bill so far has been of Clause 1, which deals with persons under 14 years of age being in the bar of a registered club during permitted hours, but hon. Members who have spoken about the Clause have failed to notice that since my Bill was before the House in the last Session, considerable additions have been made and incorporated in the present Bill to meet some of the difficulties which hon. Members have mentioned again today. In particular, think that hon. Members have overlooked the interpretation in Clause 5.
What my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) had to say about sailing clubs and one-room clubs was undoubtedly reasonable. I do not differ in any way from the reasonableness of what he said, the way he said it or the spirit and tenor of his speech. I would be entirely with him in not wishing to put difficulties in the way of clubs of the kind he mentioned, but the kind of sailing club to which the hon. Gentleman referred is, in my opinion, not affected by Clause 1. Under this Bill young people under 14 years of age are not debarred from entry into those parts of club premises in which 1614 there is not a bar. But, of course, we still have the difficulty of the club consisting of one room which is a social meeting place, like a British Legion hall or a village hall or some small place of that kind. In the Interpretation Clause we find that a bar is defined as:…any place exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.I suggest that the kind of sailing club described to the House cannot be regarded as being affected by the provisions of this Bill in view of that interpretation. Obviously the main purpose of that kind of club is to provide a meeting place or social centre for families interested in sailing. The bar activities are ancillary or subsidiary to that—
§ Mr. Black
I said that I would not give way again.
I suggest that that kind of club with a bar on its premises cannot possibly be described as a placeexclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.That interpretation was inserted in the Bill for the purpose of getting over the kind of difficulty mentioned by my hon. Friend, which is one we all desire to avoid.
§ Mr. Sumner
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not wish to make a bad point. He has now defined the place and talks as if it were the club. If he means that, he must say "club". The "place" is a room or part of a room. He is saying that "place" means the whole club, and that is not so.
§ Mr. Black
That is a Committee point, but I say to the House and in particular to my hon. Friend, who speaks of the difficulty of defining what is a place, that,exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquoris not a form of words thought up by the promoters of this Bill. It is a form of words which for many years past has been embodied in the licensing law of this country. So far as I am aware, it has not proved unduly difficult of interpretation.
§ Mr. Black
No, I cannot give way
1615 If the Bill receives a Second Reading and hon. Members consider that any textual alteration is necessary to make clear what is sought to be defined by this interpretation, I feel certain that those hon. Members who are interested in the Bill would be willing to consider any such revision. Certainly we do not desire to affect adversely in any way the kind of club described by my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden. I do not believe that that kind of club is in any way affected by this Bill for the reasons which I have given.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
Assuming that the hon. Gentleman is correct and that this is a Committee point, does it mean that some clubs will have exemption certificates and some will not? Who would define which clubs should be so exempted?
§ Mr. Black
I have endeavoured to make clear that in my view—I believe it to be a sound view—the kind of club about which the hon. Gentleman is concerned, which I gather is the same as that described by my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden, is not affected by this Bill. I submit that in a sailing club or any other sports club of a similar kind the bar if it exists is ancillary and subsidiary to the main purpose of the club. Certainly such a club could not be described as a place
exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.As I have said, if any better form of words can be found to please hon. Members who are anxious to safeguard this point, those of us who are interested in the Bill would give sympathetic consideration to any reasonable Amendment which might be moved.
The arguments which have been advanced are not reasons for the House to refuse to give a Second Reading to the Bill. The difficulties arise with regard to Clause 1 and nearly all the criticism has been directed to that Clause. That, I submit, is no reason why the House should refuse to give a Second Reading to a Bill, the main purposes of which have the sympathy of the majority of hon. Members.
Unlike the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. D. Griffiths), who suggested that this was an attack upon all clubs, I regard this Bill as one which should 1616 be welcomed by every bona fide club. We recognise that the great majority of clubs are well conducted and fulfil a useful purpose. No one has any desire to interfere unreasonably with the proper management of their affairs. There has been general recognition, even by the critics of the Bill, that there are bad clubs where undesirable things happen which are not for the benefit of the club movement generally or for the benefit of the young people we are seeking to protect by this Bill.
I believe that the Bill is in the interests of the club movement generally. There is a great fear that the majority of well-managed clubs will come under general disfavour and condemnation by the public because of the undesirable activities of a minority. The Bill will help to deal with the irregularities and undesirable practices of that minority, and in so doing it will benefit the club movement as a whole.
§ 1.10 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)
For the third Friday in succession, it is my duty to inflict a speech on the House so that the Government attitude may be known. It is less than a year since my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), who has just voiced his views so very fully, introduced a similar Bill to this one. I wish to join in congratulating the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons), not only for raising a subject of great social interest, but also for the courage he has displayed in the face of severe opposition in his constituency and, indeed, from his own supporters. I am sure the House will wish to join in my saying to him that he should not feel discouraged by that opposition, and that very often our own constituents respect us all the more if we disagree with them first.
My predecessor at the Home Office, in dealing with this matter a year ago, indicated what he termed the Government's neutrality towards the Bill then before the House. On that occasion, he found it necessary to deal at some length with the main arguments for and against the Bill, because it so happened that there was a rather short Second Reading debate, and as a result it was somewhat one-sided. In fact, nearly all the speakers 1617 were in favour of the Bill, and the arguments against it were not advanced at any great length.
Today, however, we have had the advantage of a succession of speeches representing both sides of the argument, and advancing the arguments adequately and thoroughly. Therefore, it is not necessary for me to attempt, as my predecessor rightly did, to strike a balance and point out the difficulties on both sides of the matter. Therefore, I can speak fairly shortly.
The main issue for the House to decide is whether there should be some restraint on children and young persons in registered clubs as there is in public houses. From one point of view, which we can all respect, such an idea is a perfectly reasonable and moderate extension of the provisions of the licensing law. The club movement itself, however, regards it as an unwarrantable extension, because it says that a club is basically an entirely different sort of place from a public house, and, in many respects, not very different from a private house. They say that what may be reasonable in public houses would be entirely unreasonable in clubs.
I think the supporters of the Bill also recognise that that is a fair point of view with which they have to contend, but, to be fair also to them. I think that, analysing the views which have been expressed, they may go on to say that it depends entirely upon the type of club. That, therefore, brings me to what I consider to be the main difficulty about this Bill—that it is very hard indeed to generalise.
The hon. Member for Brierley Hill and I have both been keen supporters for many years of the British Legion, and both of us have been chairman of the House of Commons branch of the British Legion. The hon. Member mentioned in a critical way what goes on in some British Legion clubs, but even among British Legion clubs it is very hard to generalise. Then, my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins), in a speech to which I thought the House listened with great respect, pointed out how remarkable would be the effect if this Bill were applied to sailing clubs, which often consist of a number of small boats, a hut, a bit of meadow and the ocean. There 1618 is undoubtedly a wide range of opinions on this Bill, as the hon. Member for Brierley Hill has already experienced.
I think that criticism and controversy is centred mainly around Clause 1, and I will deal with some of the issues which it raises. The possible exclusion of children from many club premises altogether, including the premises of some very worthy and desirable clubs, which might result from the provisions of Clause 1, is clearly a matter which the House must weigh carefully in coming to a decision on whether or not to give the Bill a Second Reading.
Let me repeat what was said by my predecessor on behalf of the Government last year, that we have no evidence of any social evils arising from the presence of children in clubs. Perhaps I should also repeat that such evidence as we have of drunkenness generally does not suggest that young people who are convicted of drunkenness obtain their liquor to any large extent from clubs. This is a very important matter. We are all against drunkenness, and I think we are all against children and young people having any alcohol at all. I think most people are, and it may therefore be of interest to the House to hear some figures of drunkenness among young persons aged 17 and under in England and Wales during the last three years for which figures are available.
In 1954, there were 464 convictions in 1955, 701; and in 1956, 907. I should point out that more than 90 per cent. of those convicted were youths and less than 10 per cent. were girls. These figures, most certainly, I suggest, put us on inquiry as to the causes. The difficulty of finding out where these young people get their drink arises mainly because the police have no power of inspection with regard to clubs in the same way as they have for public houses. There is nothing in the Bill—and I think very sensibly— to alter that, because to give the police the right of entry to clubs would be highly controversial and would drastically widen the scope of the Bill, and Parliament so far has never thought fit to grant that right in respect of clubs. A warrant has to be obtained from the justices.
We have tried to get some information from Chief Constables about where these young people who have been convicted 1619 of drunkenness get their drink. For the reasons I have given, the information is necessarily patchy and incomplete, but it may help the House to analyse the figures I gave if I say that in over half of the cases known resulting in convictions, it was impossible to find out, or it was not found out, where the liquor came from, but in those in which it was known, which, as I have said, were less than half, by far the greatest number of the young people got their drink from public houses, and the number known to have got it from clubs was insignificant. That is very relevant.
There is another point to which I should draw attention in connection with Clause 1, and it is a point which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. D. Griffiths), and concerns the definition of a bar. The last Bill was criticised because there was no definition of a bar, but the hon. Member for Brierley Hill, and those who support him and have their names on the Bill" have introduced a definition in Clause 5 which is based on, but does not entirely correspond with, the definition in the Licensing Act, 1921, which was carried into the consolidating Act, and is to be found in Section 165 of the Licensing Act, 1953.
The definition in the Bill differs in two material respects from that statutory definition. First, it refers to the supply of liquor, rather than the sale, and that is technically correct, because, when speaking of a club, there is not, strictly speaking, a sale when members buy drink. It is the club which has bought the drink—the members collectively or the committee—and they are the owners of it, before it is ever supplied to the individual members; so that that is correct.
There is a second and greater difficulty. The definition of a bar
includes any place "—a very broad term—exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.The 1921 Act says, not "supply or consumption" butsale and consumptionThe Act thereby makes it abundantly clear that if we bought drinks in one room and consumed them in another that 1620 other room was not a bar. The position would be different under the Bill and would give rise to considerable difficulty.
There is an important distinction in the small verbal alteration which has been made upon the original definition. I do not know whether the promoters intended it, but the definition of a bar could extend to any room in a club to which the members might take their drinks to consume them, after purchasing them at the bar. It might possibly extend to the premises generally, including the lawn, meadow, cricket field and so on.
If that were so, we might find that children under the age of 14 would be virtually excluded from club premises. I assume that this would accentuate the difficulties of clubs with small buildings although with plenty of space in land. It would probably increase the number of clubs which would be affected to the extent of their having to exclude children under 14 altogether. This fact surely emphasises that, whatever may be the moral or sociological arguments under Clause 1, the Clause would raise serious practical difficulties for many perfectly respectable clubs where no harm is at present done to children.
This point could undoubtedly be looked at in Committee, but I do not see at present how any practical Amendment could be made which would get over the major difficulty, which has already been mentioned several times in the debate. The promoter himself attempted to pay some attention to it. It would bear hardly on many respectable clubs that are of a family nature. We have performed some pretty remarkable feats of legislation in this House——
§ Mr. Paget
Does the Joint Under-Secretary really believe that the definition is workable at all? He has put the point of view that the definition might apply everywhere, but is it not equally a tenable point of view that it might apply nowhere? In the case of a tennis club, cricket club, darts club, etc., we might also say that drinking is everywhere ancillary to the occupation of the club. It is either everywhere or nowhere. The definition is quite unworkable.
§ Mr. Renton
I am performing the somewhat difficult task of trying to be impartial in the presentation of the difficulties of the Bill. The hon. And 1621 learned Gentleman is trying to draw me on still further in relation to one particular difficulty which I have mentioned. Therefore I shall not answer his question.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
No doubt the Joint Under-Secretary will remember that the same kind of Bill was introduced last year by his hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black). The Clause to which he is now referring was even more tightly drawn then than now, yet the Joint Under-Secretary of State of that day had nothing whatever to say about it. Why were we then not told of these difficulties?
§ Mr. Renton
The difficulties to which I am drawing attention arise from the fact that there is a definition of "bar" in the Bill and there was no such definition in the previous Bill.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The Joint Under-Secretary has pointed out the definition to some minds means a complete getaway for certain clubs which are properly conducted, whereas nothing of the sort occurred last year because there was no definition.
§ Mr. Renton
I do not want to repeat arguments I have already put forward. Although ingenuity might provide a most elaborate formula which would cover the wide variety of circumstances with which the Bill would deal, I must warn the House that even were such a formula contrived it might be very difficult indeed to make it work. I therefore suggest that the House should consider the Bill on the basis that there would be considerable difficulty in finding the workable and satisfactory definition of "bar" which would be necessary in order to make Clause 1 workable. That is something for the House to consider carefully even on the broad question whether the Bill should or should not have a Second Reading.
The attitude of the Government is the same as it was to the similar Bill last year. I have drawn attention to some of the practical issues. The Government are now content to leave the Bill to the judgment of the House.
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Iorwerth Thomas (Rhondda, West)
I think I speak with the full support of hon. Members present when I compliment the Joint Under-Secretary 1622 of State on his very practical and objective approach to this matter. He is in a position of strict neutrality between the bar and the pew.
The House is entitled to draw from the statements he has made one definite conclusion which is that, having regard to the many practical difficulties in the administration of the Bill and to the impossibility of improving the definition of "bar" in a manner that would be compatible with the best interests of the social clubs, the sponsors of the Bill and their supporters have only one step tp take, which is to withdraw the Bill altogether.
This is an abortive Bill; it cannot be operated. It defeats what might be the very sincere wish and desire on the part of the sponsors to establish parity between the clubs and the "pubs" on two or three points, and particularly on the admissions of children under 14 years of age into what are known as "bars". I am convinced, having heard the statement of the Joint Under-Secretary, that the Bill would not help in establishing that parity of clubs before the law, but would discriminate against the clubs that we have in our constituencies.
As the Joint Under-Secretary has illustrated, under the general licensing provisions I could take my family of young children to the Ritz this afternoon. I could go to the bar and order drinks and have them served in the lounge where my children were waiting for me. Those children would be in an atmosphere in which drinks are consumed, but the law would not be violated in any degree. Having regard to the definition in the Bill, the difficulty about a club is to define where the bar is, where it ends and where it begins. I have an advantage over the sponsors of the Bill in that I am a member of a club and can speak with inside knowledge, whereas, in the main, they have to rely upon evidence——
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Member is nodding his head. I do not know how many hours he has spent within the precincts of a social club. If he has spent much time there the statements he has made today were in conflict with his experience. This Bill will not only avoid parity, but will load the dice against 1623 these clubs. Some of the speeches made today nearly reached the point of defamation and libel of the members of clubs. We must remember that there is a history to these clubs; they have a tradition. In the main, the clubs I have in mind were formed quite voluntarily by workingmen in order to enjoy a higher standard of social amenities than can be provided by the average inn or "pub" as we know it.
If those who support the temperance movement want to clean up the drink trade and to fight what is known as "the trade," they should realise that their best allies in that battle are the clubs themselves. This Bill is calculated to antagonise the very elements in our society which are doing all they can to eliminate and modify the influences of the trade on young people and the population as a whole.
One Clause in the Bill which again shows lack of parity or equality before the law in respect of possible offences is Clause 3. Under it, if a secretary or officer of the club is found guilty of having supplied liquor to a lad under 18 years of age, that offence in itself would be an additional reason for the club to be taken off the register. In that Clause I see a great deal of malice and vindictiveness on the part of the sponsors of the Bill. If the manager of a pub is found guilty of having supplied liquor to a lad under 18 years of age, he can be taken to court and fined. That is the end of the matter, apart from any action the brewers owning the "pub" may take in order to appease the police by changing the manager of the "pub" but the penalty for that offence is restricted to the individual who has been found guilty.
In the case of a secretary or other officer of a club who knowingly permits the consumption of intoxicants by a lad under 18, not only is that person dealt with as an individual, but under certain circumstances the whole of the social amenities of 1,000 or 800 members of the club can be jeopardised and completely eliminated by the action of one man. The definition Clause says:'bar' includes any place exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor;1624 We know what "exclusively" means, but "mainly" would involve a battle among the lawyers. Clubs in my constituency have memberships of 700 or more. A good, honest secretary concerned with the good conduct of a club and in maintaining a good standard can be indiscreet by bad judgment in assessing the age of a lad under 18 who has been supplied with intoxicating liquor.
I welcome the intentions of the sponsors of the Bill to protect young persons and children from what we may consider to be bad influences, but as it stands, and even if it were amended in Committee, the Bill cannot accomplish that object. If the Bill succeeds it may accomplish a little good, but, in accomplishing that little good, in my opinion it will cancel out the greatest good which now exists in clubs. For that reason, I hope the House will not give the Bill a Second Reading.
I appreciate the difficulties of the sponsors but there is a certain streak in their arguments suggesting that they have scraped all the barrels in the country to get this evidence, which is suspect and biased. As reasonable men they should accept the factual, well-informed and sustained information emanating from the Home Office. I think the figures and the statement produced by the Joint Under-Secretary completely brush away all the suspect figures put before the House in support of the Bill. The attitude of those who support and express the views of the temperance movement is very unhelpful. Instead of dealing with this problem in a piecemeal fashion we require a comprehensive approach.
The clubs are apprehensive about the possible introduction of another Clause. They fear that if the Bill gets a Second Reading so that children are prevented from going into the lounge of a club or into any of the other rooms or into the garden the next step will be to take powers of enforcement. As it stands, the Bill is abortive, because it cannot be enforced since there are no rights of inspection. The Bill is punitive and vindictive because it will not give parity in law between clubs and public houses. It will largely destroy the social amenities now enjoyed by working men, who would resent such interference in their voluntary associations. For those reasons, I hope that the House will reject the Bill.
§ 1.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
I am sure that all hon. Members, no matter what view they may take about this very difficult problem, will agree that we should congratulate the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) on his courage and steadfastness in pursuing a view which he holds so strongly, in spite of considerable pressures put upon him to withdraw the Bill. It is not necessary to agree with all his arguments in order to admire his courage, and we can all offer our thanks to him for having persisted in the view which he holds and in bringing it before the House so that the House may make up its mind on the facts presented to it.
We can all agree that legislation to deal with registered clubs is needed. Something is needed to combat the undoubted evil of the mushroom clubs which are nothing more than drinking dens. Members of all sides of the House would welcome steps to deal with that social evil. At the same time, we do no good to the cause of those who seek to get rid of the bad by overplaying the case against clubs as a whole. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Brierley Hill is not now in his place, but I was distressed to hear him say that no club is a place fit for a child. That is going a bit too far.
There are clubs which are perfectly well run—for instance, some of the sailing clubs to which my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) referred. Some are well conducted places, and to suggest that all clubs are badly run is to go too far. The fact that there is a need for comprehensive legislation, such as that to which the hon. Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Iorwerth Thomas) referred, is generally admitted, although, I am sorry to say, not necessarily by the promoters of the Bill.
I remember in my early days in the House that, having been successful in the Ballot, I brought forward a humble, simple little Motion suggesting that the House should undertake a review of the licensing laws. I must confess that the heavens opened. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) fell upon me and said how wicked it was that such a Motion should have been brought 1626 before the House of Commons. I think that that was going a bit too far.
§ Mr. Black
In all fairness, it should be made clear that I have never opposed any inquiry into the licensing laws. I agree that there is a case for a comprehensive review of those laws. Where my hon. Friend and I differed was in the nature of the revisions of the law which he was seeking and which I felt compelled to tell the House seemed to me to be ill-advised.
§ Mr. McAdden
As my hon. Friend said earlier, this is a matter of opinion. His opinion was that it was ill-advised that my Motion should have come before the House to ask for a reform of the licensing laws. However, this is not the time to discuss a Motion with which the House dealt some time ago.
I draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, to whose views we always listen with respect, to the over-exaggeration of the evils which are to be found in some clubs and to the fact that it is unfair to apply that criticism to all clubs.
§ Mr. McAdden
I did not say that my hon. Friend said it. I drew his attention to the fact that arguments of that kind do no service to the case.
It is a fact that there are clubs which are excellently conducted. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon is familiar with the All-England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. He will know that during the tennis championships, when Wimbledon is crowded, one can see young schoolgirls, who have gone to Wimbledon to watch the tennis, drinking iced coffee alongside people who are drinking iced lager. There are no scenes of drunken debauchery, as one would expect if some of the stories which we have heard today were true. If those scenes of debauchery occur, my hon. Friend would be the first to come to the House to report them.
There are many clubs which are properly controlled and well-run establishments and well able to provide facilities for people with a reasonable amount of alcoholic refreshment and without causing grave offence or grave harm to the youth of the country. 1627 There is one matter to which attention should be drawn. Clause 1 says:The secretary of a registered club shall not allow a person under fourteen years of age to be in any bar of a registered club during the permitted hours.In principle, that is an excellent provision, but there are certain circumstances where the presence of such a child should not of itself be made a ground for striking a club off the register.
There are circumstances, for instance, in which the steward of a club might have a child who wanted to have a word with his parent while the parent was engaged in his duties as steward. Section 126 of the Licensing Act, 1953, says:Where it is shown that a person under fourteen was in the bar of any licensed premises during the permitted hours, the holder of the justices' licence shall be guilty of an offence under this section unless he proves either—
- (a) that he used due diligence to prevent the person under fourteen from being admitted to the bar, or
- (b) that the person under fourteen had apparently attained that age.(4) No offence shall be committed under this section if the person under fourteen—As I say, I am not a lawyer, but I would have welcomed some provision in the Bill that would have taken account of such cases as that. I do not know whether the matter has been considered by the promoters, but I think I am right in saying that an Amendment to that effect was put down to the previous Bill. I am, therefore, surprised that the promoters of the Bill, who have continually said that all the objections raised are Committee points, have not gone out of their way to try to meet what, I think, is a valid criticism.
- (a) is the licence-holder's child, or
- (b) resides in the premises, but is not employed there, or
- (c) is in the bar solely for the purpose of passing to or from some other part of the premises, not a bar, being a part to or from which there is no other convenient means of access or egress."
The hon. Member for Rhondda, West used what I thought was an unfortunate analogy. He said that the promoters of the Bill had been scraping the barrel in order to get information. I could accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon of many things—in jest, never in malice—but I am sure that no 1628 one would ever accuse him of scraping a barrel.
I hope that hon. Members will give their due consideration to the arguments advanced in support of and against the Bill, and that, before the matter is decided, the promoters will take the opportunity of saying whether they are prepared so to amend the Bill as not to make it an offence—for which thousands of members could be penalized—for someone under fourteen years of age to pass through a room in which there is a bar.
That seems to be intolerable, and I hope that the promoters will amend the Bill in such a way that the general objects —with which we are all in sympathy—can be achieved without inflicting a manifest hardship on well-run clubs that enjoy the support of many of us; the type of club, of which I do not doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon and others are patrons, because they are in general agreement with its objects, although not necessarily in agreement about the sale of liquor.
I find myself in a similar position. I am in general agreement with the objects of the Bill, but I find it difficult to see how, as the Measure stands now, it can be carried out without causing great hardship to innocent people. I should welcome an assurance that the promoters will take more active steps than they have taken since the last similar Measure was debated, to try to meet the valid objections that have been raised.
§ 1.52 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
I am as anxious as is the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) to keep young children from the harmful influence of alcohol, but I agree with him when he says that this Bill does not seem to be the right vehicle for that purpose. I think that most hon. Members came to the House today, as I did, genuinely puzzled as to their attitude towards the Second Reading of this Measure. My mind has been made up, first of all, by the general overstatement of the case by the promoters of the Bill and, secondly, by the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman was impartial, nevertheless, it seemed to me that his "impartiality" came down against the 1629 Bill. For instance, his definition of a bar made it quite clear that there is real danger to every well-organised club if the Bill is passed as it stands.
From the speeches of those supporting the Bill one gathers that they are seeking to deal with what is a minor abuse by using all the machinery of an Act of Parliament containing very punitive conditions for its breach. I think that their method is far too sweeping to deal with something that can better be dealt with by pressure of public opinion, by the organised membership of the clubs concerned, rather than by a Measure like this, which strikes impartially at the good and the had.
It is also quite clear from what we have heard this morning that the abuses with which the Bill seeks to deal are not applicable everywhere. In the North of England, in particular, by their own regulations, no person under 18 is allowed in the working men's clubs. I was in one myself last Friday, discussing this very Measure, and in that club they have a rule that goes still further. No one under the age of 21 is permitted to be a member. I therefore suggest that the best way of dealing with this problem is to get the clubs themselves to adopt rules prohibiting the abuses that we should all like to see removed.
Another point is that where there are rooms separated from the bar, they are easily definable. Clubs with such rooms permit children to use them, but not to use the public bar. It is obviously better, if children have to go to clubs with their parents—and I am not at all sure that parents are doing their job properly if they take their children—that they should be able to go into rooms like that rather than have to loiter about the streets, hang about outside public-houses or wherever it may be.
Have the promoters of the Bill realised that its provisions apply only to permitted hours, and that after ten o'clock, or whatever may be the closing hour, the children can enter the club? We would have them hanging about until closing time and then going into the club until their parents finally decided to leave. It should be remembered that, unlike a public-house, where the customers have to leave at the close of the permitted hours, members of clubs can, and do stay on for a considerable time after, per- 1630 mitted hours for games and conversation. That is why I think that the remedies contained in the Bill would have a harmful effect.
To my own knowledge, most clubs are extremely well run, the members themselves are proud of them, and they, play an important part in the social life of every community. I have said in my constituency that instead of having summit conferences in Moscow, Washington or Geneva, the ideal place would be the public room of a working men's club. I am sure that if we invited Mr. Khrushchev, the President of the United States of America and our own Prime Minister to be honorary members of one of these clubs for a week or a fortnight, they would reach far more sensible decisions on world affairs than they would by going to Geneva. I hope that they will take note of my suggestion.
These clubs are not drinking clubs, but just the opposite. When there are games or concerts, the sales of beer go down. When a club puts on a concert or a play on a Saturday night, receipts from the sale of refreshments go down as compared with other nights. Hon. Members may ask how I know about this, and to give the answer I must be a little autobiographical.
From the time that I was 10 years of age, until I was 21, my father was steward of a miners' welfare club, so that I know from personal experience the conditions that prevail. From 14 to 21, I spent every week-end, and pretty well every holiday, serving beer in one of these clubs. I can undertake to have served more beer than any hon. Member present has drunk, and probably more than they have drunk altogether. The influence on me has not been disastrous, as I drink, perhaps, as little as the Bill's sponsors. If the brewers depended on me for their profits, they would have a pretty thin time.
It is really an intolerable imposition to say, as Clause 4 does, that the steward's children shall not assist with the washing up, with the serving of lemonade, crisps and so on, or even, on occasion, with the serving of beer. Most clubs are served by a man and his wife acting as steward and stewardess. It is obvious that, in a large club, the parents must depend on the help of their children at week-ends and holiday times, just as 1631 a farmer depends on his family to help him with the farm.
It is, therefore, quite unreal to say that, until he is 18 years of age, the child of a steward shall be prohibited from going into the bar. The man's wife may be ill and there will be times when the steward has to leave the premises for natural purposes. The obvious thing for him to do is to say to his son or daughter, "Would you please look after the bar for five or ten minutes?" Under this Bill that could not happen and considerable hardship would be caused. I should like an assurance from the promoters that if the Bill has a Second Reading they will be prepared to withdraw Clause 4.
Now I come to the kernel of the problem, and that is defining when a bar is not a bar. It seems to me that it is impossible to define under the terms of the Bill. If we take the Interpretation Clause as expounded by the Under-Secretary, it is quite clear that it will cover the whole of the premises, and anybody who thought that it did not would be in peril of the law. For instance, the club at which I used to serve had a large concert hall attached to it. This was the only hall of its kind in that small town. It was used for public meetings, plays, school prizegivings and so on. Indeed, I am not sure that mothers' unions did not use it on occasion. Under the terms of the Bill that hall would be part of the premises. It is used for consuming beer when it is used as part of the club. All those other desirable activities would be prohibited.
Another point which occurs to me is this. That club had beautiful, extensive grounds where the members, their wives and families could play games or could sit and relax and drink their beer. The Under-Secretary said that the expression "bar" in this respect covered grounds, meadows and such places, and it seems to me that unless we are careful in our definition we should be in real danger of driving people from those attractive surroundings into smoky dens.
Therefore, on the balance of the case as I have heard it, I do not think I can give my support to the Bill, much as I am opposed to seeing children in these places. I have seen children who ought to have been in bed, in the smoky 1632 atmosphere of such places, but I do not believe that the solution to the problem is to be found by means suggested in this Bill. The solution is to create a definite climate of opinion which is against that sort of thing, and to get the club members so to regulate their clubs and their rules that that kind of thing is not allowed. Much good could be done if we were all to bring pressure to bear on the clubs; but I do not think we ought to put in peril the many thousands of good clubs, as this Bill would do.
§ 2.3 p.m.
§ Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)
I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) who, I think, has summed up the whole position most effectively. I regret that I was unable to be in my place when the promoters of the Bill and their supporters spoke, but I have been in close contact with them, and I am familiar with their reasons for promoting the Bill.
Cricket, football of both codes, tennis, hockey and other sporting organisations which have clubs are very anxious about the provisions of this Bill. Here I feel I should disclose an interest in that I am a member of the M.C.C., I am on the Rugby Union committee and a member of other football and cricket clubs. The reason for the anxiety of all sporting clubs is that probably 95 per cent. of our clubs have just one small room in the corner of which there is a bar, the rest of the room being used for recreation and tea-room purposes.
We are not concerned with Lords, Wembley, Twickenham or other similar great national gathering places. We must divorce from our minds the large gate-taking professional, and in some cases amateur, clubs. We are concerned about the thousands of small clubs where people gather together to play tennis, cricket, football or hockey, perhaps during the evenings in the summer or on Saturdays and occasionally at mid-day in the middle of the week. The effect of the Bill on those clubs will be that they will either have to build an extra room, which they cannot afford, or there will be grave danger of the clubs becoming disrupted.
These clubs are carried on mainly by the players themselves or by former players who still retain their interest and bring their families with them. If the 1633 young children of those members are kept out of the clubs, where they do no harm, we shall not be carrying out a desirable social function. It is a good thing that parents and children should attend together to watch games being played or to participate in them in their spare time. To give a simple practical example, take the case of a tennis club in the summer. The members play tennis while the children play in the grounds of the club in perfect safety. If it comes on to rain, they can all go into the club room, the father perhaps to drink a glass of beer, mother to drink a cup of tea and the children to have some lemon squash. Under this Bill that kind of thing might well become impracticable if not impossible. To prevent that kind of desirable social activity would not be in the general interests of the community.
The Rugby Union took advice on this matter. It wondered whether there was any way in which the Bill could be amended either to exempt sporting clubs or to permit the kind of desirable use of the club by families to which I have referred. However, it seemed that it was impossible to make a satisfactory amendment. The advice it got was that it was a formidable task largely because of the difficulty of limiting any proposed amendment which might be made, sufficiently to avoid its being abused, and also because of the argument—which I admit is a powerful one—that it would be wrong to discriminate in favour of one kind of club as against another.
For the reasons which have been stated in this debate, and which I have advanced, and because of the great difficulty of amending the Bill adequately, I submit that it ought to be rejected as a matter of principle. I suggest to the promoters that, in the light of what has been said in the debate, they should withdraw the Bill and have another think; they should see if there is any way in which they can reintroduce the Bill in a form which would exclude all these desirable clubs from its provisions while, at the same time, stopping any abuses which it might be desirable to stop.
I do not think it is possible to bring in such a Bill, and if that is so, then, as has been suggested, we should see whether there are other ways of overcoming whatever abuses may exist. With 1634 other hon. Members who have opposed this Measure, I believe that if the Bill were passed into law it might do more harm than good. For the reasons that I have advanced, I hope the House will reject the Bill as a matter of principle.
§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
It is to be regretted that the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) was unable to be in his place earlier and hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. My hon. Friend indicated that the promoters are well aware of the difficulties to which the hon. Member for St. Marylebone referred and were very willing, if it is possible, if the Bill reaches Committee, to find ways of preventing the clubs to which the hon. Gentlemen refers, and which we all support, not merely from going out of existence, but from getting into any kind of difficulty. As a matter of fact, if more young people went to that kind of club, the reasons for promoting the Bill would not be as urgent as many hon. Members think.
I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill on his good fortune in the Ballot, and particularly on his courage in promoting the Bill. As has already been said, whether we agree with what he is trying to do or not, we all realise that it has been an act of considerable courage on his part to go against a fairly strong section of those in his constituency. I hope that, whether they disagree with him on this occasion or not, they will realise that it is worthwhile in these days to have a Member of independent mind and support him when the opportunity comes.
I was present last year when this matter was debated on a Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black). It is rather astonishing, looking back, that the Second Reading passed without any opposition. If the Bill had been promoted earlier in the Session, and if there had been longer time, we might even have got the Committee stage in the same way. That was a very peaceful occasion compared with this day's debate. I think I am right in saying that today those who have spoken in favour and those against are more or less equal in number, and only if the Bill goes to a Division shall we 1635 see whether those against the Bill are the majority in the end. I sincerely hope not. I think the House would be doing the right thing if it gave a Second Reading to the Bill and then had a look at it in Committee to see what changes can be made to meet legitimate criticisms.
The hon. Member for St. Marylebone thought that the promoters should withdraw the Bill, look at the matter again, and bring in another. A much better way would be to let it go to Committee. When a Standing Committee has finished with it, if the majority of hon. Members still feel that it is not the kind of Bill they want to see on the Statute Book, they will then have ample opportunity to vote it down and get rid of it on Third Reading. If I may say so to the hon. Gentleman and to other hon. Members who may feel the same, it would be better if we waited to see what happened to the Bill in Committee, before cutting its little throat, or passing it on to another place, as the case may be.
As I say, the Bill last year got a peaceful passage, so far as it went. The astonishing thing is that the criticisms then levelled at it have been met, yet, although it is in almost every way a better Bill today and more certain of what it wants to do, the feeling against it has increased. Certainly, the Club and Institute Union seems to have been more active in working up opposition against it. Some hon. Gentlemen, perhaps, are against the Bill because they think that it is promoted by teetotallers and, by definition, in the view of some hon. Members of the House and others outside, a teetotaller is someone to be opposed whether or not one agrees with what he is doing or saying.
Although I cannot prove it, I think it possible that there are more non-teetotallers in favour of the Bill than teetotallers. At any rate, a very large number of people who are by no means teetotallers are in favour of it and want to see it on the Statute Book. It is untrue to say, as the Secretary of the Club and Institute Union said in the circular that he sent to every hon. Member, that it isa Bill promoted by a set of interfering, meddlesome, teetotal busybodies who dislike intoxicants.As a matter of fact, as has already been pointed out, the brewing interests are in 1636 favour of it. I do not think that they are in favour of it for the reasons given by one of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Peter Remnant (Wokingham)
Why does the right hon. Gentleman offer that opinion? I think that the brewers have indicated they do not take sides at all.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I accept what the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr, Remnant) says, but several speakers this morning did say that many members of the brewing industry are in favour of it, and those statements were not challenged. I assumed that they were correct. If they are not, naturally I wholeheartedly accept what the hon. Gentleman says.
§ Mr. Simmons
May I say that I have received support from the licensed victuallers' association in my constituency?
§ Mr. Remnant
I think that the hon. Gentleman is, perhaps, making the mistake of confusing the brewing interests with the licensed trade, referring to the one when he means the other.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I thought it was a little unfair to say, as one earlier speaker did, that the brewing industry or the licensed victuallers are in favour of the Bill, because they do not like the competition of the clubs. I should imagine that if clubs went out of existence less beer would be drunk than is drunk now. When the public houses close, quite a number of people go on to some club or another and continue their drinking there. Therefore, if their own interests were involved, I should imagine that large numbers of brewers would be against the Bill rather than in favour of it. But I do not wish to make too much of the point. It occurred to me, in order to stand up for the brewers once in a while, that they were not so selfish as some hon. Members seemed to think.
There are other Bills to follow this, in one at least of which, if not both, some of us are interested. I do not want to stand between the House and consideration of those Measures, particularly since it will, I think, be agreed by all hon.
1637 Members that what can be said both for and against the Bill has been said, and said very well, by hon. Gentlemen this morning. There is here undoubtedly an evil, and, so far as I know, those who oppose the Bill have not suggested any way of meeting it. There is growing drunkenness among adolescents and young people. It is a social evil which chief constables, magistrates, social workers, the Churches and all of us—Members of Parliament particularly—are worried about. It is a challenge which we must somehow meet. Although I cannot prove it—no one can, one way or the other—I think it likely that clubs have a considerable influence. Young people go to them and remain there until a very late hour in the evening, seeing their parents and others drinking, and this gives them a liking for drink at an early age and probably influences their lives later.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
My right hon. Friend is saying that young people go to these places and that evil befalls them. What would he have done about the "debs' parties"? Would he bring in legislation to deal with them?
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that he finds no proof that drunkenness in young people is provoked by the clubs, yet he goes on to say that it is likely. He is making a completely contradictory statement. There is no justification at all for what he says.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
If I am contradicting myself, it will not be for the first time. I was trying to be perfectly fair to both sides. Our difficulty is that the evidence is not conclusive on either side. It is, I agree, non-conclusive so far as the clubs are concerned. Perhaps I am again sticking my neck out, but we know very little about what goes on in some clubs.
None of us would deny that the majority of working men's clubs are well conducted. There is a large number of well conducted clubs in my division. That is not the type of club at which we are aiming. If it is a good and well conducted club, we contend that it has nothing to fear under the Bill. But if the club is badly conducted and is, as has been asserted, a drinking den where the atmosphere is such that none of us would like our own children to enter, I think it is Parliament's duty to see what 1638 can be done about it, and this Bill is an honest endeavour to do something.
I was not really surprised at the attitude that the Joint Under-Secretary of State took when he spoke. He said that the Government were neutral. But the whole tenor of his speech was directed towards damning the Bill. He put forward a lot of special pleading and put his own gloss on certain definitions in the interpretation Clauses which they may or may not bear. In any case, these are Committee points and the matter can be argued out there. Realising that the Home Office more than any other Department of State should be interested in the welfare of young people, I thought that what he said was deplorable and entirely different from the attitude which was taken by his predecessor about ten months ago.
§ Mr. McAdden
I dealt with these Committee points when I spoke. I pointed out that during the Committee stage of the last Bill a number of points were put forward. There has been no evidence of the willingness on the part of the promoters of the Bill to absorb these Committee points to which I drew attention about children passing to and from a bar.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I regret that I missed the first part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. I went out for a cup of coffee and a sandwich, but I hurried through both when I saw the hon. Gentleman's name go up on the annunciator, and I did catch the last part of his speech. In reply to him, I say that the speech made by the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Body) last year was, I am sure, carefully noted by the promoter of the Bill and his hon. Friends. Having recently gone over that debate afresh to see what was said, I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that nearly all the points of criticism which were legitimate have been embodied in this Measure.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Then that must have been the only one worth embodying. The promoters were anxious to make the Bill as good a Bill as possible, and they have not closed their minds to legitimate criticism.
Finally, we are not against clubs as clubs. There is no desire on the part 1639 of either the promoter of the Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill, or others associated with it to attack clubs because they are clubs. It is not the clubs that we are against but the evil which has grown up because of the mismanagement of certain clubs. Parliament should deal with this. It will have to deal with it at some time, so we feel it should deal with it now.
I do not wish to distinguish this side of the House when we were in power from any other Government. All Governments have been afraid to tackle evils in both the drink trade and clubs, All the legislation now on the Statute Book dealing with children and young people and intoxicants began as private Member's Measures. Lady Astor after the First World War, my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle), and now my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill have all directed their attention to this evil, as we think it is and the Government of the day have usually either sat on the fence or come down definitely against any change. This is a pity. The time has come when clubs should be put on the same level as public houses in this matter, and it would be an act of justice to do this. Therefore, I hope that the House will give a Second Reading to this Measure.
§ 2.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Howard (Southampton, Test)
This subject has already been discussed at great length, but I should like to put one or two major points. In common with most hon. Members I have received representations from both sides on this matter—from working men's clubs, sailing clubs, and various sports clubs in my constituency. I came here today intending to resist any changes which this Bill would bring about in the amenities enjoyed by those clubs, but I made a mental reservation that if the promoters were able to demonstrate conclusively that the legislation that they were proposing would bring about a diminution in drunkenness among youths and children, I would feel differently disposed towards the Bill. I do not think that that case has been made out.
The factual statement of the position submitted by the Joint Under-Secretary of State has put the whole situation in perspective. We all know that there are 1640 some unsavoury clubs, and that their activities get a good deal of Press publicity when they are struck off or when the police raid the premises. They are registered clubs, as are working men's clubs, sports clubs and sailing clubs.
It would be quite wrong for us to introduce legislation which would damage the family clubs because of the activities of a few registered clubs. I include in the definition "family clubs," working men's clubs and sports clubs. Those clubs are properly conducted. The committees are properly elected and the secretary is usually a conscientious member of the club. It is up to the committees of those clubs to ensure that the members conduct themselves in a proper manner, and that the abuses which have been described today, such as keeping children up until ten o'clock at night, and so on, are not condoned.
I am sure that the Bill is misdirected. What we should do is to make it more difficult for clubs to be registered. It is all too easy today to register a club. If legislation is needed—and I think it is—it should be directed towards the laws governing the registration of clubs. If we devoted our attention to that matter, we should be serving more effectively the purpose which I am sure we all have in mind.
§ 2.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Horace E. Holmes (Hemsworth)
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) I, too, heard the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary of State. I was not too impressed. I am not an old Member of this House, but I have been here long enough to know that a Minister, with the assistance of the Civil Service, can damn a Bill with faint praise. I also was brought up in a school where difficulties were made to be overcome. One of our old leaders used to say that the impossible merely takes a little bit longer. I have looked at this Bill purely and exclusively from the point of view of the children.
Like many other hon. Members, I know something of the educational movement. Throughout my life, a great deal of my spare time has been spent on school and educational work, as a school manager, a school governor and as chairman of school governors, and I have 1641 come in contact with child life from all angles. It is more than thirty years since I first sat as a magistrate I have always felt that the greatest asset of this nation is its young people. Much depends on how they are trained. From a varied and active life, I have learnt that one of the greatest social problems of today is juvenile and adolescent delinquency. I am not suggesting that that is attributable to club life.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Iorwerth Thomas) was fairly bitter towards anybody who dared to support the Bill. He spoke vehemently on behalf of the clubs and went so far as to say that anybody who spoke against them was prejudiced. Today, I suppose, we are all free agents. It is one of those days when we can express our own point of view. I have been literally inundated with letters for and against the Bill. To one club, I gave a carefully-thought-out reply. By return of post, I had a letter thanking me for my prompt reply and saying that my correspondent was now satisfied with the contents of the Bill.
We have to look at the Bill from the point of view of the children. I would like to think that there was today neither bias nor prejudice on a Bill of this character. We have heard a great deal said about the Club and Institute Union. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. D. Griffiths) also made a vehement speech on behalf of the clubs. He happens to be a constituent of mine and we have been friends for forty years. He painted a glowing picture of the club movement and I do not belittle it, because I believe that there are well-organised and well-conducted clubs; but, when my hon. Friend speaks in such glowing terms, I should like to point out to him that not one of the clubs could exist if it did not sell intoxicants.
§ Mr. Holmes
According to my hon. Friend, social life was the predominant side of club life. In fact, however, it is not.
We have a right to protect our children. One has only to examine the statistics of juvenile and adolescent delinquency. While we do not claim that this arises from the club movement, it is regrettable that every day in the week, every week in 1642 the year, we can pick up our newspapers and see that something of this character arises because of drink, although it is not always obtained in clubs. We have a right to see that our children are protected against themselves. If we saw them playing with fire, we should immediately run to their assistance. We are playing here with something that can shape the moral character of the children and their future lives. A Bill of this nature should receive a Second Reading.
There may be problems within the Bill, but they can be looked at in Committee. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West, I hope that some day either a Labour or Conservative Government will tackle the drink problem comprehensively, because it needs to be dealt with. As an interim Measure, however, the Bill should be given a Second Reading.
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Barter (Ealing, North)
The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Holmes) has said that we all have a right to protect our children. Every hon. Member would accept that contention and agree with it. The only disagreement between us concerns the degree to which we should go in doing so. Whilst I find myself very much in favour of some aspects of the Bill, there are certain features which cause me concern.
There are three what might be called reforming principles within the Bill. The first deals with the admission of children under the age of fourteen to premises where intoxicating liquors are sold, the second seeks to prevent the serving of intoxicating liquors to children under the age of eighteen, and the third seeks to ban the employment of children under the age of eighteen.
From what I have heard of the debate —and I have listened to the major part of it—I think that the majority of hon. Members support two of those three reforming principles. Where many of us find ourselves in difficulty is in supporting the principle which affects the admission of children under the age of fourteen to certain types of premises where intoxicating drinks are sold.
From an examination of the Bill, it appears to me that the inference which it contains is that it is always undesirable 1643 for children to be present when anybody is consuming alcohol. Alternatively, the inference may be that it is only undesirable for children to be present when somebody is selling alcohol for consumption, but I do not think that that contention holds good. It appears to be suggested by the promoters of the Bill that it is always undesirable for children to be present on such occasions. I cannot accept that principle, which to me does not seem reasonable. There are occasions, as has already been mentioned, when children are present when a drink is consumed at home.
The intention seems to be really to regulate the kind of conditions, atmosphere and environment in which children are present when drinks are being consumed, but that does not appear to be regulated by the Bill. I accept that the principles of the Bill as enunciated by its promoters are very well intentioned, but, then, it appears that the road to registered clubs is paved with good intentions. I cannot accept that in some respects the Bill goes as far as it might do.
Much as I am in favour of two of the principles of the Bill, I find certain other difficulties in supporting it. They are largely Committee points, which have been referred to during the debate, although, nevertheless, doubt has arisen about whether they can be met in Committee. I was comforted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) meet the suggestions which have been made about Clause 1 with what I regarded as a friendly and helpful approach. I think that the Bill would have a great deal more hope of passing all its stages if Clause 1 were not part of it. The other two principles are widely accepted, although one or two hon. Members have raised points of disagreement with them. If my hon. Friend and his colleagues would go so far as to say that they will withdraw Clause 1 during the further proceedings on the Bill, I should be much happier in my support of it, and I think that the majority of hon. Members would find themselves in the same position.
In conclusion, I would extend my congratulations to the many others which have been offered to the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) on both his good fortune in the Ballot and his courage in bringing forward this Bill.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
Everyone must respect the motives which have actuated the promoters of the Bill in bringing it forward, and I do not suppose that there is any single Member of this House who would not support anything which would help the cause of children and prevent an increase of juvenile delinquency, but it seems to me, in considering whether this Bill should be supported or not, that the question one has to put to oneself is, is there any evidence whatever to support the assertion that there has been an increase of drunkenness amongst children who are admitted to registered clubs? It seems to me that unless one can show that the answer to that is "Yes, there is such evidence," or unless evidence can be adduced of serious misconduct because children are present in these registered clubs, there is no case here for this Bill.
I have listened very carefully to most of the debate. I listened, for example, to the speech made by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black). He endeavoured to adduce evidence in that direction, but really all it came to was that there were a number of people who expressed the opinion, the purely personal opinion, that in some way or another children were affected by being admitted to registered clubs. I listened to the Joint Under-Secretary of State. He gave us what I suppose we must accept as being the most reliable official information on this matter. According to him there is no evidence whatsoever upon which one can place any reliance that among children being admitted to registered clubs drunkenness has occurred or any increase in drunkenness has followed from their attendance at such clubs or any question of serious misconduct has arisen.
Therefore I ask myself, why is this Bill being brought forward? We have the words used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), and it is rather important to note this. Everyone, practically, who has spoken in favour of this Bill has said, "We know most of the registered clubs are well conducted, and all we are trying to do is to bring in a Measure with regard to a small portion of them which are not well conducted."
1645 That is a very dangerous thing to do. It seems, from looking at the provisions of this Bill, and this is acknowledged by the promoters that we cannot by legislation, provide a satisfactory definition of the word "bar" so as to differentiate between a well-conducted club and a club which is badly managed. If that is true, here we have an attack made upon registered clubs most of which are acknowledged to be well conducted, and an attack in language which will not differentiate in its results in the treatment between well-conducted clubs and those not so conducted.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I, for one, should very much dislike it to go out from this House that any of us are attacking clubs. All we are trying to do is to deal with this question of whether young children from the age of five onwards can get double whiskies in clubs or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is what it is about.
§ Mr. Weitzman
I hope I represented what the right hon. Gentleman had said in argument correctly. He repeated the arguments used by all those who spoke in favour of this Bill.
I emphasise that when it is acknowledged by the promoters of the Bill that it is well-nigh impossible by this legislation to differentiate between the treatment of clubs which are acknowledged to be well conducted and clubs which are badly conducted it is surely wrong to say that this Bill should receive a Second Reading.
Having said that, I want to put what I suggest is the logical conclusion. Unless we establish a case for this Bill by reason of evidence which shows that the admission of children to clubs results in some evil we have no right whatever to interfere with individual liberty. I am a strong believer in the principle that one does not make any inroad into individual liberty unless one has justifiable cause. If no such case is proved here, then we have no right to permit the restriction of individual liberty in that way.
I have had letters from supporters of this Bill and from persons who are 1646 opposed to this Bill. I came here with a fairly open mind. I know it is very usual for that to be said when one gets up to speak here, and one does not very often believe it, but I honestly have tried to hear the arguments on both sides. I certainly listened with very great interest to the very fine speech by the proposer of this Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons). He marshalled all the arguments. However, I think that on fair balance the test I have applied is the right test, and it really comes down to this, where is the evidence?
I have in my constituency a very large registered club, a club which has been in existence for many years, a club with an excellent record. I understand that it has more than 1,500 members. It is a place of social meeting. It is a place where the members take their wives and their children. It is a place where a hall is let out for purposes of entertainment, for dances, concerts, and matters of that kind. I know that they are very strongly against the provisions of this Bill, and rightly so, because when I read in its context the definition of the word "bar" and when I hear the view put forward how the word "bar" ought to be interpreted, I am left with one impression and one impression only, that what this Bill is doing is to place a restriction on young people enjoying the amenities of any part of the club. That club is typical of many others.
I know that most of the arguments have been adduced for and against the provisions of this Bill, and so finally earnestly make this plea to the promoters of the Bill: do not let us in our zeal for youth make unnecessary inroads into such precious things as individual liberty. It is only when the proper exercise of true liberty must be limited or must be restrained because of some evil it creates that it should be invaded. No such case has been made out, in my view, here, and I shall, therefore, support the Amendment that has been moved.
§ 2.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
I should like to join my congratulations to those of other hon. Members on both sides of the House to the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) who is the promoter of this 1647 Bill. I shall certainly not now go in detail into and I really am not concerned at the moment with all these legal angles about definitions of some parts of the Bill. I do not believe they are incapable by human wit of being solved. We must have had much the same sort of legal queries when we first started our licensing laws in this country many years ago.
I am quite certain that, given goodwill on both sides of the House, these difficulties can be solved if the House wants the Bill to be placed on the Statute Book. It has emerged from the debate that the reputation of the club movement stands very high in the opinion of the House and of the people in our country. The movement makes a great contribution to fellowship and social life. What we seek to do today is not in any way to constrict or undermine the movement but rather to enhance its prestige and do what we can to assist it to go forward to greater success.
One of the great difficulties put to us in the debate has been the question of the one-room club. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) and others have dealt with that point. We understand that problem. We who support the Bill, as I do, have no wish to increase the difficulties of those clubs which have only one large room. I am sure that that point will be considered sympathetically and can be dealt with in the Bill.
It is good to find something at this late hour to say which nobody else has said in the debate, and I say that I am sure that 90 per cent., if not a 100 per cent., of registered clubs which have a separate part of the premises as a bar already have regulations or rules very similar to those which we are introducing in the Bill. Therefore, all that we are doing is to underline the present position of many of these clubs, and in that I believe we are doing good. I endorse what has been said on both sides of the House about there being nothing whatever in the Bill which would do anything but enhance the prestige of the club movement as a whole. No club has anything to fear from this Measure.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
Does the hon. Member not realise that many clubs, probably rightly, 1648 fear that police access will have to be given to their premises to enforce the provisions of the Bill? Indeed, an Amendment on those lines would have to be moved in Committee to make the Bill successful.
§ Mr. Cole
Clubs already work under a number of restrictions, including regulations governing licensed hours, and the police have no right of entry at present to enforce those restrictions. Therefore, if that arrangement works in respect of major matters such as licensed hours surely it would work in this case, and there would be no need for the police to have right of entry.
§ Mr. Remnant
Is it not correct that as long as a club's permitted hours do not exceed the maximum laid down it can select its own hours and notify them to the clerk of the justices?
§ Mr. Cole
Clubs are regulated by law as to the number of hours during which they can sell intoxicating liquor. The point made by the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) about right of entry is covered by the fact that the police have no right of entry under existing regulations. I think that I am right in saying, on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, that there is no intention to introduce any right of entry for the police to supervise the carrying out of the provisions in the Bill.
The Bill is designed entirely from the point of view of increasing the prestige of the club movement. There is nothing in our minds, or in the Bill, which would do anything to damage that position. I should think that as a whole the club movement would be grateful for the effect of the Bill, which in many respects will only underline what clubs as a whole are already doing. I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) threw away the moral 1649 basis for Clause 1 by his attempt to interpret it as generously as possible. The definition of "bar" in Clause 5 concludes the process of throwing away any moral justification for Clause 1. "Bar" according to Clause 5includes any place exclusively or mainly used for the supply or consumption of intoxicating liquor.Therefore, if children are taken into a club under the terms of the Clause, into a room mainly used for the consumption of liquor, it is illegal. If the room is not mainly used for the consumption of intoxicating liquor it is not illegal.
If the room is used 50 per cent. for the consumption of intoxicating liquor it is all right, but if it is used 51 per cent. it is all wrong. If this is what the promoters have in mind by this definition of "bar", they have thrown away the whole moral case for Clause 1. But those who have written asking hon. Members to support the Bill are asking them to keep children out of any club room in which liquor is consumed. I hope that the promoters will withdraw Clause 1.
I support the other Clauses of the Bill, and I believe that the difficulties in them can be met in Committee. But in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department who intervened in the debate, Clause 1 will make it illegal for any one under 14 years of age to be in what the Clause calls the bar of a club. In the opinion of the Joint Under-Secretary, that will almost certainly mean that no child can go to any club where it is legal for the club to sell intoxicating liquor—at any rate, in hours when liquor is sold.
I want to express the opposition to this Clause of registered clubs, although I am not a club man. I am not concerned with bogus clubs, and I hope that some day we shall deal with that problem. I speak of the common-or-garden working men's clubs and clubs of other social grades. To start with, they are registered and to obtain registration they must show that they are clubs with bona fide objects, that they are confined to members and friends of members, that they are self-organised with officers and a committee, and that they are conducted according to rules which have been approved. They have to supply the clerk of the justices with an annual balance sheet and list of members, and for any false statements their officers are liable to imprisonment.
1650 They can be struck oil the register for permitting drunkenness, for the illegal selling of liquor, and for being open to non-members merely for the purpose of buying liquor.
Their objects are manifold. They are bowling clubs, or cricket clubs, political clubs, old comrades' clubs, British Legion clubs. In the part of London in which I live, the Civil Defence unit has its own little social club composed of the civil defence volunteers of Kennington. My own town has Conservative, Labour and Liberal clubs—and also constitutional and workmen's clubs where the political line is not strictly drawn and the grouping is social rather than political.
All these clubs have some specific object apart from the selling of liquor. Hon. Members may be interested in the fact that the Woolston Trades and Labour Club in Southampton, among others, was founded by a former Member of this House, the late Ralph Morley, and it has one of the oldest Socialist and economic libraries in the country. Another workmen's club in Southampton, the Shirley Warren Workmen's Club, has a fine array of sporting trophies of all kinds as evidence of the tremendously keen interest of the club members in all aspects of sport. There are club leagues in almost every sport in which various clubs play. Many clubs make provisions for members who have fallen on evil days, for children and for the aged. I know from my own work for war charities that when I appealed for the Red Cross, for prisoners of war, for the Merchant Navy Fund and the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund, the clubs of England gave generously to every appeal which was made to them. They also maintain their own convalescent homes.
The weekend is the social time for these clubs. At one weekend there will be a concert given by an amateur or a professional concert party, and at another there will be a social evening with games and dances. I speak with knowledge as one who probably has provided more such entertainment in more clubs on more occasions than any other hon. Member. As I have suggested, these activities are confined to members of the clubs and their families. That has been a fairly recent development. Most clubs began as anti-feminist organisations, and most of them probably still are at heart and hang on as far as they 1651 can to the special privileges of males. But even so, in most clubs in the country there are parts of the week or the year which are devoted by the clubman to his family. In my opinion, this Clause would keep the children out of week-end social functions.
The Clause includes the word "bar," and it has been argued that clubs ought to have a room distinct from the bar to which children could go. I hope to show that many clubs cannot provide such a separate room. I am not clear what is the logic of having a separate room to which children could go unless it is a room from which the promoters of the Bill would exclude members of the club from bringing in beer that they had bought at the bar room. The only moral justification for such a room would be that it was a room in which children could go, but into which beer would not be allowed to be carried.
Many workmen's clubs have no such isolated room. Of the clubs in Southampton most have one large room with a bar at the end; or two rooms, a billiards room and a social room, with perhaps a bar serving as a kind of connecting link. Cricket clubs may have only a pavilion which contains a bar at one end. By the provisions of this Clause children would be excluded from any room containing a bar. I am all for preventing the sale of liquor to youngsters, but I thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) was below the usual high level of his speeches when he suggested that the was about whether we should sell whisky to young children—[HON. MEMBERS: "Double whiskies."]—yes, double whiskies. I can speak only from my own impression of what goes on in clubs, when I say that no decent club would sell liquor to a youngster. We should not find children at the bar in any decent club in this country. There may be difficulty about deciding whether a youth is over 18, but that is not confined to clubs. Whatever view we take about the increase of drunkenness, it is true that in some public houses youths under the age of 18 are getting liquor. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said that many of the clubs had an age limit below which no one can join, and that is often 18 or sometimes even 21.
1652 Last year, when the claim was made that this Bill was somehow to cut down drunkenness among the youth of England, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that there is no evidence to the effect that young people who are appearing before the magistrates are getting their liquor from clubs. I suggest that the onus is on the promoters of the Bill, who have made such a grave charge against the clubs of England, to prove that the increased drunkenness among our youth is really due to the clubs.
After all, clubs have existed for quite a long time, whereas the increase in youthful drunkenness is recent. If we want to look for the causes of increased drunkenness among our young people, I suggest that there are quite a number that leap to the mind. One was mentioned in the speech of the hon. Member for Wimbledon in the very high wages which we now give to our young people, and with which they do not know what to do.
I have watched with interest the growth of community life in the clubs. On the whole, clubs are community centres, except that they are community centres with bars, and I would regret father and mother being compelled by this Bill to go off to the club and leave their children behind. I lived in a very poor slum area when I was a boy, and I still have a picture of the children standing outside the public houses night after night. I would hate to think that a club should be regarded as such a place that what goes on in it is so bad that a father cannot take his children to it.
I have said before that I am not a club man. Probably I am not sociable enough for that, because I like my home. Incidentally, I am free in my own home, and even the promoters of the Bill do not try to prevent me from having liquor in the room in which my child was living.
To the club man, the club is an extension of his home, and I think he resents this interference with what he regards as an extension of his home. For instance, nobody has been bold enough to suggest today that the police could be used to enforce this law, and I seriously urge my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill, for whom I have a tremendous regard, to drop Clause 1, 1653 and let us legislate the rest of his Bill for the prohibition of the sale of liquor to all children under the age of 18.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Remnant (Wokingham)
I think that my connection with the licensed trade is fairly well-known, so perhaps I may say straight away that, so far as I am aware, I am in no way voicing the opinions of the licensed trade or a section of it. I have not been approached by either side, by part of either side or indeed by the whole trade, to put any particular point of view; but I take the view that, just because I happen to be connected with the licensed trade, that is no reason why I, with such knowledge of the licensing laws as I have, should not endeavour to put before the House the opinions of some, at least, of my constituents.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) and others have rather assumed that a vital social problem in regard to juvenile delinquency and juvenile drunkenness is caused by the clubs, but my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Office has said—he will forgive me if I took down his words incorrectly—that there was no evidence of any social evils arising from the clubs. He quoted the increases in the convictions for drunkenness among those of 17 years of age and under. That there is a problem there I would be the last to deny. Equally, I would be the last to deny that there is a problem that should be dealt with.
Surely, though, to produce a Bill which, in effect, stops young people from going into clubs, whether they are well-conducted, very well-conducted or badly conducted, without any evidence—as the hon. and learned Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) said—beyond the information, however valuable some of it may be, that they were taking excess liquor there, is using a sledge-hammer to deal with a very minor problem.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) stressed, quite rightly, parental responsibility, and I set very great store by it. I well remember my own father saying to me, shortly after I got engaged to be married, "Don't forget that if there is anything wrong with your children it is 75 per cent. the fault 1654 of the parents" That was not a bad admonition to give to a son on the brink of marriage.
If a child is to be stopped from seeing a parent drink—it may be only a soft drink while other people are taking drinks much stronger—there is no logical reason why we should not stop them seeing their parents drink in their own homes. If it is wrong to stop children seeing someone drink it is equally wrong for them to see some of the television programmes. It might be argued that watching television is bad for the eyes. Where do we stop?
My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) tended to say that clubs and "pubs" were only a little different from each other. If the hon. Member knew more about them he would know that they are miles apart. A club is not in the centre but is much nearer to the home than is the "pub". If anybody tries to bring the club and the "pub" close together everything will be against him, including the law, licensing law and other law as well.
I join with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in welcoming any proposals to wipe out the bogus club. That is the only thing that is wrong with the club system. There are sincere views about drinking being carried on and so on, but if the Joint Under-Secretary of State were to suggest some body to examine various aspects of club law and club life, I would welcome it. In the meantime, I am surprised that the clubs seem more determined to maintain their status quo than to protect their reputations from the harm done to them by bogus clubs.
Clubs should agree to having their licences renewed before licensing justices. I would agree to their having police supervision. The clubs might strongly disagree with this, but if they are to protect their reputations against the harm—one could use many stronger words—arising from bogus clubs they must make their contribution to eradicating the bogus club from the club system. If the Bill were given a Second Reading, I do not believe that it would do much harm to the bigger club—apart from the type of hall referred to by one of my hon. Friends —if the whole of a club's premises were banned to youngsters.
I shall not dwell on the question of small clubs, except to say that it is not 1655 so much a problem of leaving children out in the cold late at night as one of leaving them outside on other more normal occasions. Reverting to the case of the sailing club, the club boat may be brought in at five or six o'clock in fine weather and the child might have to wait on the lawn outside and have a soft drink brought out to it. Yet, according to the Bill as I read it, if the child goes through the one room of the club to the lavatory, an offence is committed and there is no protection whatever for the steward or anyone else concerned. The steward is put in a very awkward position. He is rather like a person assessed for Income Tax in that, unlike the position under the rest of our laws, he is adjudged guilty until he proves himself innocent.
It would not be very difficult to bring three charming young ladies before hon. Members and ask them to say which of the three is under eighteen years of age. I would undertake that hon. Members, like myself, would probably be wrong twice out of three times.
§ Mr. Remnant
It would be a nice experience; perhaps we might try it with three members of the male sex, who would not be so attractive. If protection is to be given to the steward, as it might well be, there is a provision in the licensing law already which could provide the wording for the sponsors of the Bill. I suggest they might look at it. I will give them the reference afterwards.
The provision by which local education authorities can start proceedings is one to which I take the strongest possible exception. It is included in Section 126 of the 1953 Licensing Act, but it was first introduced in the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, which was not, at any rate in the main, concerned with licensing matters. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will confirm that in fact those powers of local education authorities have not been used and prosecutions in licensing matters have always been dealt with by the police.
What is to be gained by giving local education authorities this power? It seems to me that it might well damage the relationship between them and parents. They have no right of entry to clubs any more than the police have.
1656 They have no power to seek a warrant to go into a club. If they are to get information, it must either be by hearsay or by obtaining it from the snooper's department of pseudo members. I should think that many excellent members of clubs who happen to belong to the teaching profession might be looked upon askance if local education authorities have this power. If it is believed that there is something wrong going on at a club, that information can be sent to the police and the police can undertake the prosecution, as they do now.
I do not want now to enter an argument about whether beer is as damaging as spirits, although that is an argument which I am perfectly ready to take up. However, the law does permit a lad, in certain circumstances, to take beer, perry and cider, although not spirits. Indeed, it may well be harmful for a youngster just out of school—where he is quite likely to be permitted to take beer—to find, after playing a game of "rugger" with his old boys, that, although the other fourteen members of the team are entitled to have a glass of beer in the club hut after the match, he is not allowed to have a glass of beer.
I do not want to quote various authorities, including a celebrated doctor from the constituency of the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. J. Howard), but if it comes to a question of producing opinions, I am prepared to take on any arguments about whether beer is good or bad for one—in moderation. Above all things, let us avoid excess, whether it be in debate or in the intake of intoxicants.
If the Bill came to be altered in Committee, it would be so chewed up, particularly Clause 1, that it would be unrecognisable. If the sponsors are wise, they will not allow the Bill to be torn to pieces in Committee, but will withdraw it for reconsideration and re-presentation on another occasion. I, for one, would be prepared to give them such help as I could towards putting it into proper form.
§ 3.23 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
I do not want to keep the House very long, because I am sure that most hon. Members are anxious to go to a Division. I earnestly hope that in that Division the majority of the House will register support for the Bill. I am, perhaps, 1657 getting the worst of both worlds today. Last Friday I must have disappointed some strict sabbatarians in my constituency by speaking and voting for a Bill to make some inquiry into the anomalies regarding Sunday observance. Today I shall no doubt disappoint some others in my constituency by supporting this Bill. That means that in my constituency there may be a certain disgruntled minority which if necessary is available to the Liberal Party if that party cares to exploit their feeling.
I support the Bill mainly because I believe that it is attempting to do something for children and young people. Many of the arguments adduced today have been reminiscent of the arguments used some years ago when efforts were being made to prevent children and young people from entering public houses. Not so many years ago, the then Members of the House were no doubt arguing in exactly the same way as hon. Members have been arguing today. I can remember in my early days that some people were most indignant because a Bill was about to he passed which prevented children from going into the bars of public houses and there were no doubt arguments then about the liberty of the subject, as there were today. We had better think twice before advancing that argument too far, because we now recognise, I hope, that it has been a good thing for our children and young people to be prevented from entering the bars of public houses.
If we believe that, surely the intention, at least, of the promoters of the Bill can be held to be equally excellent. In saying that, I do not, of course, equate public houses with clubs. I admit that there are many excellent clubs, and it goes without saying that the clubs in our constituencies are always excellent and beyond criticism. Those in my division are, I am sure, very good. On the other hand, I have noted some clubs in other constituencies than my own that certainly left much to be desired.
I shall not name them, except to say that some years ago I went to a by-election—to support the Labour candidate, of course—and, to my astonishment, I found that the committee rooms were over a working men's club—a Labour club, possibly. I had to grope my way through thick tobacco smoke, 1658 through a great cascade of noises, and, indeed, I had almost to wade through the swill on the floor.
§ Mr. Sorensen
That was obviously one of the worst types of club. They are certainly not all like that, because, as I have said, there are others that are excellent in every respect—
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Is my hon. Friend aware that it would be illegal to have committee rooms in premises like that unless there were a separate entrance, and that he would not, therefore, have to grope his way through the other rooms?
§ Mr. Sorensen
As a matter of fact, I thought that at the time. I expressed astonishment, made inquiries and found that this club and the committee room were legally thoroughly in order. I will give particulars to my hon. Friend later. I was under the same illusion as he is, but this club was, I assure him, thoroughly in order. However, I mention that merely by way of illustration. There are clubs like that—abominable places, as everyone would agree so far as children are concerned, whether associated with the Labour Party or any other. They are, I believe, exceptions.
What I am trying to emphasise is that most clubs are well conducted. I have been in them myself. Certainly, if there was no bar I do not suppose that they would exist. One must be perfectly frank about this. They are not merely social clubs. They are, of course, social clubs, and they provide recreation, and facilities for physical exercise, and they are often an enjoyable adjunct to the home, but, of course, were there not a bar many would not be open. I do not say that in any derogatory sense. I simply state it as a fact.
It has been agreed by some of my hon. Friends and other hon. Gentlemen that many of these clubs already voluntarily impose restrictions. They prevent drink being sold to persons under a certain age. They prevent children and young people going into some parts of the premises. The fact that there are clubs imposing these voluntary restrictions adds weight to the argument of those of us who urge that what has been voluntarily established 1659 in some of the better clubs should be included in the clubs that are not so good—
§ Mr. McAdden
Surely, the point is that whilst the members of many clubs are willing to frame voluntary regulations for the conduct of their own establishment, those clubs would be put in a disadvantageous position if, although those regulations existed, they would be breaking the law and liable to disqualification should a child pass through a bar from one part of the club to another.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I fully appreciate that argument, but again I say it is the sort of argument that was used years ago when it was sought to prevent children going into publichouses. After all, publicans as well as managers of clubs have children, and the same difficulty has been surmounted. It is not impossible, in Standing Committee to look into that, and other matters. I do not say that there might not be some improvement and extra safeguards—indeed, there should be.
§ Mr. McAdden
But in the public-houses legislation there is an express exclusion of licensees' children, but nothing of that kind is embodied here, although representations were made to the promoters of this Bill on this very question.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I am perfectly aware of that point. As a matter of fact, I believe that when the relevant publichouse legislation was being discussed that case was overlooked in the first place, but it was dealt with in the Standing Committee, in exactly the same way as this matter could be considered in Standing Committee. That being so, it does not seem to me to be a very substantial argument. Similarly I agree with the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) who mentioned athletic clubs and suggested that there might be the temporary use of part or whole of the premises for the serving of drink, and that they would be under a disability if, in the case of rain or for some other reason, children or young people had to be brought in. However, this is a subsidiary point which can be discussed in Committee, and there are other points which I believe can be discussed in Committee so that proper safeguards can be introduced.
1660 Not only do clubs have a right to exist, but I am glad they do exist. They meet a real social need. They may not be my "cup of tea," or "glass of beer," as the case may be, but that is all the more reason why they should exist because other people like different "cups of tea" and different means of enjoying themselves than I do. I am all for complete freedom in this respect, but I am certain that if one were to talk to the members of the best clubs one would find that they themselves appreciate that the atmosphere in some of the clubs is not the best atmosphere in which children should be.
We ought to grapple with that point. Just as we have grappled with the point in respect of public houses, let us grapple also with it in respect of clubs. We do not want to frustrate or obstruct genuine clubs. We do not want to introduce all kinds of petty restrictions, but in the interests of the young people we ought to be prepared, even if it means some limitation of our so-called liberty in this respect, to consider means by which we can protect them from some of the abuses and temptations of the age. Let us give them a decent chance in life. When they are grown up they can please themselves.
§ 3.32 p.m.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
I rise to put a question to the sponsors of the Bill. Like some other hon. Members, I have misgivings about Clause 1 in its present form, although I am sympathetic towards the general principles behind the Bill. On the other hand, it is asking rather a lot to suggest that the sponsors should undertake to withdraw Clause I altogether.
What I want to know is this. Is there any reason why exemption from the provisions of Clause 1 should not be applied for? Is there any reason why that matter should not be placed in the hands of the local licensing authority so that each case could be judged on its own merits? It seems to me that a provision of that nature would meet the case of the innocent clubs, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) spoke so eloquently. I should like to know from the sponsors whether there is any objection to that being done.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
I have listened to most of this debate, but I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) because I did not hear his contribution. I have known him for nearly forty years and have many reasons to be proud of my association with him. I have no doubt that he is very sincere in the presentation of this Bill.
Although I was unfortunate enough to miss my hon. Friend's speech, I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black). Obviously my hon. Friend must take responsibility for some of the statements which are made by other hon. Members in support of this Bill. If I understood the hon. Member for Wimbledon correctly, he appeared to produce a number of papers in support of his argument, including a letter from someone who said that he was the General Secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, saying "I think you will find that so and so is the case." The hon. Member produced that letter in support of his contention that, because of the presence of children in club rooms, there was an increase in juvenile delinquency and drunkenness.
I suggest that that is not evidence. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) said that no evidence had been produced that the presence of children in clubs was in any way conducive to juvenile delinquency or drunkenness. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), whose opinions we all respect, began to tell us of the days when children used to go into public houses. Where is the distinction to be drawn? The hon. Member for Wimbledon was tackled about the fact that, even today, we can take our children into hotels and we can drink as much as we like, even out of licensed hours. I have been a licensing magistrate for a considerable number of years, and I know perfectly well that one can go into an hotel and drink as much as one likes. There is, apparently, no objection to this by the promoters of the Bill, or they do not think it of sufficient importance to turn their attention to this aspect of the matter.
I am not a club man. I go into clubs now and again, but they are not the sort of places which I usually frequent. I 1662 like beer. Let me make that quite clear to my temperance friends and to all my fellows. I enjoy a glass of beer. I like going into a "pub". I like the atmosphere. Instead of canvassing the barren streets at election time, I can go into my "local", have a pint with the boys, and "Bob's your uncle".
I say quite definitely that, if I am prejudiced—I am sure the hon. Member for Wimbledon is prejudiced—I am prejudiced on the side of the beer drinker. I fail to see why, if I belong to a club, it should be undesirable that my child should sit with me in the concert hall and listen to a red-nosed comedian or to one of those ensembles which give us that highly delectable music which I cannot understand, and that it should be thought undesirable that I should take my child into a club room, myself have a pint of beer, my wife have a soft drink, and my child probably have a soft drink. Is it so pernicious that I should be there? Is it not more pernicious that I should go on my own to the club, leaving my wife at home, or, alternatively, go there with my wife and leave my children at home on their own?
The working men and working women members of clubs are not particularly interested in making money out of them. They are not waxing fat upon the proceeds. I imagine that the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Renton) was quite right when he said that the brewers had no interest in this contest at all. What does it matter to them whether they sell beer to the clubs or to the "pubs"? Wherever they can sell it, in come the shekels. My right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) who spoke from the Front Bench, for himself, of course, adduced the argument that the brewers were in favour of the Bill. He then amended it and said it was the licensed victuallers who were in favour. Licensed victuallers, of course—in case you are a teetotaller as well, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—are the licensees and tenants of "pubs". Quite obviously, a man who has a "pub" and has to pay Inland Revenue duty and rates and taxes is not very enamoured of an association of people who pay 5s. and get registered as a club. He has no economic interest which falls into line with the interests of the people responsible for running clubs.
In my area, there are two clubs. So far as I know, they are very well run indeed. 1663 Members of those clubs take the view that there are many old fuddy-duddies in this House who always want to be interfering with somebody. There are some old fuddy-duddies mentally, and some young fuddy-duddies, too, who feel that it is very bad for people like myself, who have been able to bring up a reasonably good family and pay attention to their responsibilities at home, to take our children into the atmosphere of the smoke and beer. My wife and I, as parents, have never been in the habit of taking our children into these awful places. As a matter of fact, I would not even take them to one of the champagne parties that the debutantes have, where they throw bottles at each other.
My colleagues in the working men's club say this to me:I have been instructed by my committee to write to you on behalf of our membership of approximately 750 workers.Further, they say:This club has been in existence for over sixty years".There was one bad thing to be said about it. At one time, Mr. Horatio Bottomley, who is not unknown to this House, was a member. But by democratic control and democratic election these men and women, whom I know personally, run this club. They provide boxing facilities in the club and teach the youngsters to be manly and capable of their own defence. They indulge in cultural activities. They take the old people to the seaside. They give them parties, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) said, whenever we appeal to them for assistance for something or other they are never slow in coming forward.
They say, "We are grown people. We are men and women. We are competent to carry on the affairs of this club. In the eyes of the public in this area, we are a responsible, decent and sane body". But along comes the hon. Member for Wimbledon, who says, "Oh, no; you are terrible people. If you dare to take your children into a club where somebody is drinking beer, you will be prosecuted." If my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) were here he would have something to say about building societies and property owners, but I dare not indulge in that subject. 1664 I should have thought that there are enough serious problems in this country and the world without our wasting the time of the House on an innocuous and foolish Measure like the one we have before us today.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)
I am sure that the House has profited from the many years of ripe experience that the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. H. Butler) has put at our disposal and from the advice he has given. In return, I wonder if I may offer him one small piece of advice. If at the next General Election, when he goes into one of the bars that he has described to us—
§ Sir H. Linstead
Then it is quite clear that the hon. Gentleman does not need the piece of advice I was about to give him. But if he were to do so, the result would not be, as he said, "Bob's your uncle"; it would be "Election invalid".
I had no intention of taking part in the debate; but I have listened to most of it, and I have come to the conclusion that the House would be well advised to give the Bill a Second Reading, for a reason that I do not think has been too clearly emphasised. We must remember a very old saying with which we are all familiar, namely, basically we cannot make people good by Act of Parliament.
I think it was the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) who spoke of the Bill as being a way of not leading children into temptation. That brought to my mind a saying by Mark Twain, by no means a blasphemous one:Sometimes, instead of praying 'Lead us not into temptation,' we might pray 'Lead us into temptation and give us the strength to resist it'.I am not at all sure that too much grandmotherly legislation might not provide a sense of attraction rather than of prohibition to the teenager concerning things like alcoholic liquor. Sooner or later in their lives, they have to meet the ordinary situations of having drinks with people. I should have thought that they would far better learn their lessons in the friendly atmosphere of reasonably well conducted clubs, very often in the presence of their parents, than they would do in other circumstances as a result of 1665 having been barred from ordinary, normal social contacts which might teach them, to use an old phrase, how to carry their liquor.
I cannot help feeling, therefore, that the good intentions behind the Bill may be somewhat misdirected and that possibly we are not strengthening, but rather weakening, the characters and the will-power of young people by putting this type of barrier between them and the ordinary temptations of the world which they have to meet as they grow up.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I have listened to practically the whole of the debate, and it has been a pleasure to hear the various viewpoints. The debate has dealt particularly with young children, and hon. Members have emphasised the special need to take immediate action concerning the club movement.
One of the outstanding features of our history concerns our children. Although people may say that we cannot make people good by legislation, there is no doubt that if we cannot actually make them morally good, we can, on many occasions, legislate to prevent a great deal of evil.
In past years, we had the tremendous evil of the long hours worked by children, the serious conditions under which they had to work and the fact that they were being worked beyond their physical powers. There is no doubt that when we introduced legislation to prevent the working of children for such long hours, and when we forced better health conditions upon the employers, while we might not have made the children good, we certainly prevented a tremendous amount of evil. Even if we cannot make people good, by preventing a tremendous amount of evil, we are, in fact, doing good. All these things must be taken into consideration.
One of the weaknesses of this debate, in particular the weakness of the argument of the promoters of the Bill, has been that while an attempt has been made to draw a picture for the House of a tremendous evil said to be existing, no proof has been submitted of its accuracy. The promoters of the Bill have not proved their case. Indeed, they did not go to the extent of trying to prove it. They have talked in a general way of the kind of club where the evil of which they have spoken takes place, they say, but 1666 they have given no statistics to show that the evil exists. They have given no instances of it. They simply made no attempt to prove their point. Therefore I think the promoters of the Bill have been weak in debate.
I take another and broader view of the debate. A problem is admitted to exist. Then how great the problem is must be pictured properly. That has not been done on this occasion. Friday debates on Private Members' Bills are useful, but, nevertheless, sometimes private Members take upon themselves responsibilities which, perhaps, they are not justified in assuming. We are elected as Members of Parliament to represent our constituents and to look after their interests and to consider the difficulties of the country generally, but I do not think that under the British Constitution we are really expected by means of Private Members' Bills to deal with large problems which are so much disputed as this. After listening to today's debate I find the question still remains with me, whether we are justified in dealing with the problem by means of a Private Member's Bill.
I have said that little if any evidence has been supplied to prove the case for the Bill. I think that any impartial listener to the debate, having listened to it, could only say, "Is not this a difficult problem?" He would, no doubt, conclude it to be so, but he would then come to another conclusion far more important, that this debate has indicated that the problem is of such a character and of such importance that we are not justified in passing judgment upon it when the evidence so far supplied has been so insufficient.
If a problem is of such importance that a Bill is thought to be necessary to deal with it, then it requires the attention and the considered judgment not only of a Friday meeting of the House and a comparatively small number of Members of the House but of the whole of the Members of the House, and I suggest that a Friday meeting, and a Private Member's Bill, is not the instrument to use to deal with it.
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division. Mr. BLACK and Mr. SIMMONS were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Question put accordingly, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.1668
§ The House proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. George Wigg(seated and covered) (Dudley)
On a point of order. Since you put the Question, Mr. Speaker, the Officers of the House have called in the Division Lobby, "Division off." Would you, therefore, consider the question of the confusion that must inevitably arise on your now calling a Division and it being known in the Division Lobby that a Division was not taking place?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not know that any confusion need necessarily arise. The first Division on the Closure was off. This is a second Division on the Question which I have just put.
§ Ayes 38, Noes 101.1667
|Division No. 74.]||AYES||13.59 p.m.|
|Barter, John||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Royle, C.|
|Beswick, Frank||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral, J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||8orensen, R. W.|
|Cole, Norman||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lipton, Marcus||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Davies,Rt. Hon. Clemen: (Montgomery)||Llewellyn, D. T.||Stonehouse, John|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Medlicott, Sir Frank||white, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Moyle, A.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hastings, S.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Holman, P.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Holmes, Horace||Proctor, W. T.||Mr. Black and Mr. Simmons|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reid, William|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Baird, J.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Paget, R. T.|
|Balfour, A.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Parker, J.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Hobson, John (Warwiok & Leam 'gt' n)||Peart, T. F.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Body, R. F.||Howard, John (Test)||Popplewell, E.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Pott, H. P.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hynd, H. (Aecrington)||Rees-Davles, W. R.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Russell, R. S.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Shepherd, William|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A.Creeoh (Wakefield)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Snow, J. W.|
|Deer, G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Delargy, H. J.||Kirk, P. M.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Edwards Robert (Bilston)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Fisher, Nigel||MacDermot, Niall||Weitzman, D.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Wlgg, George|
|Freeth, Denzil||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mellish, R. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Mikardo, Ian||Woof, R E.|
|Green, A.||Morrison, Jonn (Salisbury)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MoAlister, Mrs. Mary||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Mr. Mulley and Mr. Atkins.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Nairn, D. L. S.|
That thus House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which seeks to impose unnecessary restrictions, in present circumstances, on registered clubs.