HC Deb 07 February 1962 vol 653 cc400-1
7. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now give his consent to off-sales licences granted by the Licensing Courts in State management districts.

Mr. Maclay

It is my practice to examine on its merits each application for any authority to sell liquor in a State management district to see whether special circumstances exist which would justify my granting it.

Mr. Brewis

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer, but may I ask whether he could say what he is trying to prove by the State management experiment? Is he trying to show that the Scottish Office is at least capable of running a pub? Does not he think that things are managed better in England? If Woolworth's wish to sell drink in England, the matter is left to a licensing court. Why should my right hon. Friend incur political opprobrium by turning down an off-licence certificate to the Wholesale Co-operative Society in a State management district?

Mr. Maclay

Unfortunately, I find that in many of my functions I have to incur political opprobrium. The answer to the point raised by my hon. Friend would involve going into very deep waters, if that is the correct description in this connection. I do not think that Question Time is the time to go into the matter in full.

Mr. Hoy

Is not the Secretary of State aware that these licensed premises and hotels have played a very satisfactory part in the life of the local communities in which they exist? It must seem a little strange, even to the right hon. Gentleman, that his hon. Friends are so greedy and grasping and want to get for their own private interests profits which should go to the State.

Mr. Maclay

I am convinced that anything for which I am responsible is run very well and fulfils a useful purpose, but I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that there are strong conflicting views about the desirability of State management.

Mr. John MacLeod

It may be that they are well run, but why should these districts be treated in a way totally different from any other district in Scotland? Surely this experiment should be allowed to have some healthy competition within it when my right hon. Friend's own local licensing courts agree that there should be such competition.

Mr. Maclay

I am afraid that to answer all these supplementary questions would take me much more time than is permissible at Question Time.

Mr. MacLeod

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.