HC Deb 14 July 1959 vol 609 cc203-4
39. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has now considered the representations made to him about abuses in Sunday drinking in Scotland; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Maclay

Yes, Sir. I propose to appoint a Committee of Inquiry to review the Sunday drinking laws and also certain other provisions of the Scottish licensing law which have attracted adverse criticism. The Committee's terms of reference will be as follows: To review the law of Scotland relating to—

  1. (a) the sale and supply of exciseable liquor on Sundays;
  2. (b) the hours on week-days during which the sale and supply of exciseable liquor are permitted;
  3. (c) the constitution of Licensing Courts and Courts of Appeal; and
  4. (d) the arrangements for granting certificates authorising the sale of exciseable liquor in areas of housing development and re-development; 204 to consider what changes in the law, if any, are desirable in the public interest; and to report."
I shall announce the membership of the Committee as soon as possible.

Mr. Maitland

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this announcement comes as a very welcome response to representations that I and others have made to him in the last few years? Can he state whether the Committee will consult, for example, the Presbyteries, the Church and National Committee of the Kirk, the police, local authorities and other interested bodies?

Mr. Maclay

I am well aware of the situation from the numerous representations I have received on this subject. The Committee will be able to receive evidence on the subject from anyone it wishes, subject to any rules it may draw up itself.

Mr. Woodburn

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there should be a general inquiry? Is there any truth in the announcement in this morning's Press that this is preliminary to handing back to private enterprise State public houses in Scotland, including Gretna?

Mr. Maclay

That is not a matter which concerns Scotland alone, and no deductions of the kind suggested by the right hon. Gentleman should be drawn from the statement I have made.