HC Deb 08 March 1961 vol 636 cc461-3
44. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport what concessions he has granted to restaurants on motorways which may, under the terms of a concession, include a licence to sell intoxicating liquor; and whether he intends to grant further concessions to include licences on motorways completed in the future.

Mr. Marples

Under the terms of the leases so far granted for motorway service areas, there is no prohibition on the lessee applying to the local licensing justices for a licence to serve drinks with meals. This applies to the two service areas on M.1 and will apply to the service area on the Birmingham-Bristol motorway on the northern section. I am currently inviting tenders on similar terms for the first service area to be developed on the Birmingham-Preston motorway at Keele in Staffs, and intend to do so in the near future for two further service areas on this motorway and one on the Medway Motor Road.

Mr. Digby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a considerable body of opinion is doubtful whether drink should be available on motorways at all, even in restaurants? I think that Members on both sides of the House agree on this. Will my right hon. Friend give this matter very careful consideration before he makes any more concessions and therefore make it possible for drink to be sold, because he is the only person who can make these concessions?

Mr. Marples

I am watching the Committee stage proceedings of the Licensing Bill with great care. I am sure that the question of drink, like that of local authority boundaries, cuts across party lines. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have different opinions which they hold passionately. As the law stands at the moment, the responsibility is with the local licensing authority. We must leave it there and see how the Bill shapes until it gets its Third Reading.

Mr. Mellish

In Committee, the Minister of State for the Home Office made it perfectly clear that in matters of this kind the Minister of Transport had the ultimate power, and that discussions would have to take place with the right hon. Gentleman on this issue. In order to support his right hon. Friend's point, will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that in future such licences will not be issued, not only to premises on existing motorways, but to premises on those which have yet to be built?

Mr. Marples

I should be out of order in referring to the Committee stage of a Bill which has not yet finished. Therefore, I would rather wait until the proceedings are completed and I have digested them.

Mrs. Slater

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the meantime these licences may be granted and that people who drive a motor car after they have had intoxicating drink are a positive menace on the roads? If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to build new roads, why should not he at the same time make sure that the people who use them are fit to drive a car and are not a danger to the public?

Mr. Marples

I must not anticipate legislation which is to come before the House. We will see what views the Government have on that matter very shortly.

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